Multimedia Music Resources
What makes music “legal” to use in your video? Simple. You have the artist’s permission to use it. And no, buying a CD doesn’t automatically confer the artist’s permission for you to rip your favorite track off it and stick it in your video. Sorry. And no, "crediting" music you don't have a license for does not confer permission to use it. But all isn’t lost!
“Royalty-free” is a phrase you are going to hear a lot when you start doing your own videos. What does it mean? Most commercial music artists make their money from concerts, album/CD sales/iTunes sales/ OR they get paid a fee each time their music is played on the radio. This fee is known as a royalty and it can be Big Bucks. If you use a track from a well-known artist in your video which you posted on YouTube, technically you owe the artist that fee every time someone plays your video on their home PC. This could be a lot of money! So we use royalty-free music instead and avoid paying those big bucks. This is music that you either download free or that you’ve paid a fee to use in your videos, on which the artist has waived that every-time-it-plays-fee.
Most of us in the Multimedia SIG are using one or the other of two basic types of royalty-free music sources, which are:
Note that the music in either case is still protected by copyright. The owner or creator of the music (not always the same person) has just given their permission to you or licensed you to use it in your video. And always look for any licensing requirements! Even the completely free sites will still usually require some sort of attribution/credit for their music in your video’s credits. You should always comply with their requirements because the music is, after all, free.
The sites listed below are just a few of what is available out there. Do some research and you’ll be astonished at what you can find. No. We're not going to list all the ones we know about. Do some research! But these are some good ones to get you started.
Pixabay: A very easy service to navigate and find royalty free music with a huge selection.
YouTube Music: Another free resource for royalty free music, but the catch is the music can only be used on YouTube.com
These all have varying fee structures, from pay-per-piece to monthly or annual subscriptions. All will let you listen to their offerings before you lay down your money. These are just a sample of some top-notch sites! (There are a lot of fee-based music sites. This is just a small sample.)
Derek & Brandon Fiechter’s Music Store: A great all instrumental site with a huge selection of royalty free music with songs as inexpensive as $1:00 per song.
Envato (Audio Jungle): Another great pay service with almost two million royalty free audio tracks.
Storyblocks: Lots and lots of royalty free audio tracks and sound effects.
Sound is half of your video. For many of us, music makes up the majority of the sound in our videos, so music is — obviously — important. If you want a quality end result, you’ll quickly find that this is going to take real effort on your part. No kidding, the more effort you put into it, the better the result. Once you’ve been doing this for a while, when you watch others' videos you will be able to tell very quickly who has made that effort… and who has not.
Some extras for you! Here’s some additional background on sound, music, and editing.
[And finally, an Easter Egg for everyone who read this far — you’ll like it!]
Last Update: Sep. 19, 2023