Where do I find royalty-free background music for my project?
Lots of people ask me where to find royalty-free music for their audio projects.
Audiobooks, radio commercials, explainer videos – the list goes on.
Music isn’t always a requirement, but it’s likely to make the production more exciting and interesting to hear.
Music can make your explainer video more memorable and set the tone for the viewer before the voiceover even says a word. While some radio ads work well with just a voiceover, music in the background can make them way more compelling. Have you ever listened to an audiobook and thought you might go nuts if you heard the narrator’s voice one more time without some kind of break or change of pace? Heck, music can even assuage the grumpy caller listening to an on-hold message for the umpteenth time while trying desperately to reach an actual person.
But where do you get the music?
This can be a problem. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the idea of “intellectual property,” if you just want to produce a piece of audio without worrying about it getting yanked off the internet due to copyright claims, using stock music is the way to go.
It can be confusing and overwhelming to search for stock music, though.
In fact, it can be confusing and overwhelming just to search for places to search for stock music!
Google “stock music” or “royalty free music” to find out (and prepare to be overwhelmed with lots of stuff that probably doesn’t meet your needs.)
To help save you time, I’ve put together a list of place that I personally use to get stock music for my audio projects. I’ve used these websites to produce podcast bumpers, radio commercials, explainer videos, phone systems, and even in audiobooks.
Royalty free stock music works similarly to how stock photos do. You purchase a license that includes being able to use it in any way you want, including in a product you sell, an unlimited number of times. Alternatively, with certain music you do not need to purchase such a license because the artist has released it into the public domain or under a creative commons license that allows you to use the music freely, or with some minor limitations, such as crediting the artist.
Here’s a list of my recommendations for stock music:
This is my go-to as it has the best search capabilities, generally the best or at least great quality, and a big selection of excellent full length songs, :30 and :60 music beds, stings, audio logos, sweepers, and all kinds of sound effects. You can find music and sound effects for as cheap as $2 – $5, on up. For 30-second music clips I can usually find something I like in the $10 – $30 range. The search feature is really good and you can even search by vague terms such as the “feeling” the music evokes – happy, playful, sinister, mystery, futuristic, etc. – and come up with results that match what you’re looking for.
UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this post, Pond5 has released a collection of public domain stock media – including not just music and sound effects, but also videos, photos, and even 3D models. These are available for free download and you can access the collection here.
As far as music goes, some of their tunes are better than Pond5, but also not as well categorized, and the selection is more limited. Having said that, there are some real gems on Audio Jungle that you can’t get anywhere else, and they are worth purchasing.
A mix of mostly creative commons attribution licensed songs, which means you must credit the artist, and sometimes cannot use them songs for commercial purposes. But there are some real gems on here. Free Music Archive is where I got the awesome chiptune music for my podcast Sex & Science Hour – eventually the artist found my podcast, was cool with us using his songs, and even wished us luck with the show.
Curated by musician and composer Kevin McLeod, and featuring several of his own songs, all of the music here is in the public domain – which means you can use it, remix it, modify it… or do pretty much anything you want with it, without asking anyone’s permission or giving credit to the artists behind it. Some of the music is not that great, but again, you get what you pay for. The “sci-fi” section is amazing for creating deliciously cheesy audio fiction – my partner Brian and I have used it extensively for his podcast, Sovryn Tech, of which I am the producer. Kevin is an amazing composer and will even do custom stock music (you have to hire him for that, of course, but why wouldn’t you want to hire him? He’s awesome.) By the way, Kevin says he “slogged through 45,000 Public Domain sermons to find this stuff.” Now that’s dedication!
If you create a login, you can download free, royalty-free stock music (though in terms of the quality, “you get what you pay for” applies.) Their business model appears to be to upsell you to a membership at AudioBlocks, which is a membership site with higher quality royalty-free music. Disclosure: I haven’t personally used Free Stock Music yet for any of my projects, but I found it on a search just before writing this post and plan to try it when the opportunity arises – it was one of the few I saw that didn’t completely suck. 🙂
As I mentioned above, Pond5 has recently released a collection of public domain stock media – including not just music and sound effects, but also videos, photos, and even 3D models. These are available for free download and you can access the collection here.
There you have it! I hope you’ve found this list of places to find stock music helpful.
Once you’ve found your perfect piece of stock music, why not hire me to add a great voiceover to complete the project?