Since podcasts are such an audio-based platform, music and sound effects play a big role in making it all come together. However, in today’s internet age, using music in your productions that is not originally your own can become really tricky. This is where royalty free music comes into play.
So first of all, what exactly is royalty free music? In its simplest form, royalty free is a license that requires a once-off payment in exchange for lifetime usage of whatever’s being purchased. This gives you the right to use the music that others have created for your own creative purposes.
With the massive growth of the podcast and video creators community, the market for royalty free music has grown right alongside it. Today there are many resources available online for music, all with different licensing options that are uniquely suited to your production needs. In this article, we are going to review 26 resources with varying membership and usage options. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Soundsnap is the largest professional sound effects library available on the internet and is powered by creatives of all types, from the recordists and designers who create their content to the developers and curators who keep their catalog organized, functional and just plain fun to use. Soundsnap has been used worldwide by companies like Pixar, Vice, HBO, BBC, Discovery, Microsoft, PlayStation, and many more.
We’re happy to call Soundsnap a partner at We Edit Podcasts and so are many of our clients.
Check them out here: Soundsnap
Audio Jungle is a subsidiary of the great Envato Market, who offers a variety of media (audio, video, website themes, photos etc) products. At AudioJungle you can buy and sell royalty-free music and sound effects that are completely Podsafe for just a few dollars, which includes a Buyer Fee. Discover 724970 Royalty Free Music tracks and audio files from only $1 on AudioJungle, home to a bustling community of audio composers and producers. While you will have to pay for music, Audio Jungle offers a massive selection of audio pieces. You can also have peace of mind knowing that audio from Audio Jungle is guaranteed top quality. Plus, every month there are new freebies ready for you to enjoy on Envato Market.
Check them out here: Audio Jungle
Incompetech features some really great music that comes with a very relaxed creative commons license. The music is free to use as long as credit is given. Although, an optional donation of $5 per piece used is suggested. For podcasts, credits for the music should be voiced on the show, usually at the end of the production. You can even edit the music and make it your own, as long as this is indicated.
Check them out here: Incompetech
Free Music Archive
The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America. The Free Music Archive is a platform for collaboration between curators and artists, and provides a legal and technological framework for curators, artists, and listeners to harness the potential of music sharing. All music found in the Free Music Archive is free for use to anyone and everyone. Certain tracks might have stricter licenses but this will be stipulated on a track-by-track basis. ALL tracks will, however, require credit to the original artist. Users can also “tip” an artist if they like what they hear, sending a donation directly to the artists’ PayPal account. While the Free Music Archive is free and open to anyone regardless of registration or other requirements, written and audio content is curated, and permission to upload/edit content is granted on an invitation basis.
Check them out here: Free Music Archive
Soundstripe gives content creators access to our growing collection of royalty free music for an unbeatable price. A membership with Soundstrip unlocks unlimited licenses for every song in our carefully curated music library. They offer a great variety of high-quality songs, and their unlimited licensing model is one-of-a-kind in the industry. Soundstripe represents only the best musical talent. They hand select every song that goes into their catalog and meticulously curate each playlist with the most relevant songs. Although they are specifically aimed to provide music for video content creators, their collection is a great source of music for all content createors. Memberships start at $15 per month.
Check them out here: Soundstripe
Marmoset is a platform that provides meticulously curated music for licensing. Their roster includes rare and emerging independent artists, bands, and record labels. You can buy licenses for instrumentals or vocals by simply adding the appropriate license to your cart (they even have one specifically designed for podcasts!). Their services also extend beyond licensing. If you’re looking for a song but don’t have the time to search for it yourself, their team of Music Licensing Creatives will pick through their roster with a fine-toothed comb, curating the perfect songs to fit your project’s specific needs. Pricing starts at $29 for a personal single use license.
Check them out here: Marmoset
Machinima sound was started to help creators who were facing violations and threats of content removal if they did not comply with usage rights. On Machinima Sound, when you buy a license to a piece of music, that music is yours to use for an unlimited amount of projects in any media (including but not limited to Games, Film, TV, Radio) worldwide, forever whether commercial or non-commercial. When you download a free listening version of their music, you can use that for listening purposes only.
Check them out here: Machinima Sound
ccMixter is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under Creative Commons licenses. With this license, you are free to download and sample from music on their site and share the results with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Some songs might have certain restrictions, depending on their specific licenses. Each submission is marked clearly with the license that applies to it. This site is unique in the sense that the intended purpose is for collaborations between musicians, singers, and DJs. Again, all tracks are free for use, with some having certain restrictions. Each track will have its license clearly indicated.
Check them out here: ccMixter
FyrFly-SongFreedom licenses Top 40, iconic, indie, epic cinematic, and other amazing music so you have the freedom to choose the type of music that best fits your needs. FyrFly-SongFreedom began as the bridge connecting visual and musical artists. This bridge now supports over 800 creatives and includes electrifying Top 10 artists such as Lady Gaga and singer-songwriters like The Royal Foundry. Their commitment to building community will be unparalleled via a simple membership program. Since commercial/promotional type licenses are more of a case by case purchase, they will be an additional fee and not included in the subscription price.
Check them out here: FyrFly-SongFreedom
Jamendo is a platform for the online distribution of musical works providing services for artists, users, and companies. All the Jamendo artists have stated being 100% independent artists, meaning not being affiliated to any Performance Rights Organization (PRO). Jamendo is an innovative platform where musicians and music lovers from all over the world connect. They have brought together a worldwide community of independent music, creating experience and value around it. Over the years, Jamendo Licensing has gathered 200,000 tracks and brought an easy and fast licensing solution to 30,000 clients worldwide and across all industries.
Check them out here: Jamendo
909 Music is a Royalty Free Music library dedicated to licensing, producing, and providing modern day, cutting-edge, quality rich music for Film, Ads, Games, Videos, Apps and other media. They are hosted on SoundCloud, the world’s largest music and audio platform, and neatly organizes some of the top indie stock music into easy-to-download playlists.
Check them out here: 909 Music
Musopen is a non-profit focused on improving access and exposure to music by creating free resources and educational materials. They provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, their mission is to “set music free”. Musopen aslo offers paid memberships, starting at $20 a month. Paying members have access to new music up to 2 weeks earlier than free members. A paid membership also allows members to prioritize the music that is acquired by placing requests in the Musopen wishlist. Those at the top will be obtained first.
Check them out here: Musopen
Partners In Rhyme
Partners In Rhyme has been delivering royalty free music online since 1996. The license you receive for your one-time fee is truly royalty free. Unlike most royalty free music companies, Partners In Rhyme do not require you to submit cue sheets or report to any of the performing rights organizations, no matter how big the project. Each piece again has its own individual rights but the majority are offered free for commercial use.
Check them out here: Partners In Rhyme
Dan-O is a singer-songwriter who also creates his own instrumentals, offers an assortment of tracks totally free for commercial use. However, donations are encouraged! Once you pay you do not need to credit Dan-O in your published media. But if you want to you can say “Music by Dan-O at DanoSongs.com”. His music is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Last.fm, Xbox Music, Deezer, Rdio, and every other major music service. He also releases electronic music under the name Graycraft92 and acoustic songs as Dan O’Connor. Not all of his tracks are on the site for licensing but are still available for listening through these services.
Check them out here: Dano Songs
Purple planet is a three-man team based out of England that produces very high-quality music that combines the “natural feel” of instruments with software instruments and sample collections. They offer a free download section that requires credit. You are welcome to use all the music in their free download collection (in the top categories on the homepage) for a variety of projects. They simply require that you credit them saying “Music: http://www.purple-planet.com”. They do not make a distinction between commercial and non-commercial use. If you are promoting your business, that’s fine. Simply credit them.
Check them out here: Purple Planet
Audioblocks offers a unique unlimited downloads subscription model with no restrictions or hidden fees. This site is very affordable and convenient, with membership plans starting at $79. All tracks provided on Audioblocks come with the right to use them royalty free for personal or commercial projects. There are absolutely no hidden fees. You will have unlimited access to the library- including more than 100,000 tracks. There are no download caps, so you can download and use as much as you want.
Check them out here: Audio Blocks
Epidemic Sound was founded in 2009 and was recently described as ‘Sweden’s best-kept secret’. Their sole purpose is to help individuals and companies soundtrack their stories with quality music. They make it their mission to find and work with the most talented musicians in the industry, working super closely with them to create awesome tracks and then making them available for anyone, at any time, to soundtrack their story on any platform. Head over to their website to see their pricing plans.
Check them out here: Epidemic Sound
PremiumBeat, a Shutterstock company, provides exclusive, high-quality tracks and sound effects for use in new and traditional media projects, including videos, films, apps, games, and television programming. All their royalty-free tracks are handpicked by music industry experts. Whatever project you’re working on, their music experts have a curated playlist to match.
Check them out here: PremiumBeat
Pond5 was founded by artists for artists. Our mission is to serve creative communities globally by giving them access to world-class content while also allowing them to monetize their creativity through our innovative licensing platform. Pond5 is the world’s largest, most vibrant video-first content marketplace, providing filmmakers, creators, and producers of all kinds with the content, inspiration, and tools they need to improve their projects. Pond5 is innovating daily, making it easier to find and use the content that creatives need to bring their vision to life.
Check them out here: Pond5
Music Vine is a new royalty-free music website with a simple passion for great music. They represent some of the most esteemed and exciting independent musicians in the world. Their clients range from revered marketing agencies and global brands to independent filmmakers and hobbyists. They’ve built a platform to make the finest, most expressive music accessible to productions of all shapes and sizes.
Check them out here: Music Vine
Freesound was started in 2005 and aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, and sound effects released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse. They also aim to create an open database of sounds that can be used for scientific research and be integrated into third-party applications. Using the Freesound API researchers and developers can access Freesound content a retrieve meaningful sound information such as metadata, analysis files and the sounds themselves.
Check them out here: Free Sound
AudioMicro provides a great collection of royalty free music and sound effects at affordable prices. Their contributors are GRAMMY-winning composers and Oscar-winning sound effects artists and production houses. They have an incredible dedication to customer service and a friendly and knowledgeable staff. Their mission is solely focused on finding your project’s success!
Check them out here: AudioMicro
SoundBible offers thousands of free sound effects, sound clips, and straight up sounds. These sounds can be used in a variety of sound projects including Video Sound Scores, Movie Scoring, Game Design, Powerpoint Presentations, Prank Calls, Sound Boards, and the list goes on. SoundBible.com is a great source for copyright free sounds. The Royalty Free Sounds can indeed be used for commercial uses. The free sounds can only if they are under the Creative Commons Attribution or Public Domain License.
Check them out here: SoundBible
Artlist believes that every creator should have access to incredible music. That’s why they’ve searched the globe for the best musicians, then curated their music into a powerful platform where producers can always find something inspiring, evocative, or moving to underscore their work. They are not a jingle factory, but a community of artists who put their heart and soul into their music, just as you put your heart into your video or podcast productions. By offering direct and unlimited access to their entire catalog of inspiring music for a single annual subscription fee, they believe that Artlist is the solution.
Check them out here: Artlist
The Musicbed A&R team handpicks every song from their roster of indie musicians, bands, and composers, so you can spend less time digging and more time creating. Playlists are created with your projects in mind. They believe that every creative should have access to great music.
Check them out here: Musicbed
At SoundGator, their licensing terms are simple: You may use the sound effects you download in your films, videos, multimedia projects, presentations, apps, games and just about any other project – but you are not allowed to sell, license, distribute or post online the sound effects on their own, in any form as standalone sound effects (audio, video or data), even if you modify them. Youtube Users: While you may use our sounds in your videos, you may not post our sounds as “sound effect videos” to any website.
Check them out here: SoundGator
Featured Image by MusicOomph