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How to Properly Source Music for Videos
You’ve decided to take the plunge into video creation, and you want a little bit of background music. So you download the latest tune from your music sharing app and pop it into your video.
Easy peasy, right?
Wrong! You can’t just use any music you want. Music copyright laws are complex, and even some websites offering free music don’t get it right. So what is a budding video creator to do? In this article, I am going to share some of my favorite places to get music that you can legally use in your videos.
What Do the Terms Mean?
If you are familiar with the proper way to use stock photography, most of this will be familiar. Music works pretty much the same way.
Royalty Free: you do not have to pay royalties or license fees for the use of the music, but you still may need to buy it. Royalty Free does not mean that there is no cost. It means you don’t have to pay every time someone watches your video.
License: that document nobody reads that spells out what you are and are not allowed to do with the music. Seriously, read the license before using it and see what you are allowed to do with it. Some will allow you to use it for non-commercial videos, some will let you use it for anything for an extra cost.
Creative Commons License: the music is free to use but usually requires attribution. Depending on the license there will be limitations as to what you can do with it. Get details at Creative Commons.
Attribution: credit the musician in your video, usually required under creative commons licenses. Read the license that comes with the song to know how the artist wants it done.
Public Domain: music that is no longer under copyright law. There is much confusion about this, but for purposes of this article understand that in the United States, no sound recordings (anything you would download to put in your videos) will be in the public domain until 2067 at the earliest.
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To Pay or Not To Pay When You Properly Source Music for Videos
Should you buy music from a royalty-free website? Or only use those under the creative commons license?
The debate is similar to the use of paid or free stock photography. The music on paid royalty free sites tends to have a higher production quality. And since it is paid, you are reducing the number of people that are going to be using it. Plus, you may not be able to use music licensed under creative commons for your desired purpose.
For my purposes, the quality and licenses available on the free sites are more than enough for what I do. It might be different for you.
Paid Royalty Free Websites
Premium Beat is the Shutterstock of Royalty Free music… literally. The site is owned by Shutterstock and works much the same as their photo site. Tracks are $49 each.
Neo Sounds offers tracks from $10 – $35 (depending on length)
Free Soundtrack Music has some free music and some that require “credits” (ranging from $1 – $3.50 a credit depending on how many you buy).
AudioBlocks is a subscription-based service with unlimited downloads for an annual fee. They also have a library of sound effects.
The Tune Peddler is a subscription-based service with a few free tunes. The monthly subscription cost is only $5
No Cost Royalty Free Websites
Did you know YouTube has a collection of free Royalty Free Music you can add to your videos? The best part is you know these are going to pass YouTube’s copyright inspection.
The following sites offer music licensed under a Creative Commons license. You can use most of the tracks on them for free, but you need to give them credit. Most also provide “attribution free” licenses for a small fee. Be sure to read the license and attribution requirements on each site.
- DanO Songs
- Free Music Archive
- No Copyright Sounds
- Orange Free Sounds
- Partners in Rhyme
- Purple Planet
Or Create Your Own Music for Videos
If you, or a family member or friend, is a musician you may want to create your own background music. You will guarantee yourself something that is legal, completely unique and exactly what you are looking for.
Hopefully, this helps you create the proper mood for your videos and keeps you from getting the dreaded notice from YouTube that prevents you from monetizing your videos.
Here are a few more sources I learned about recently:
Josh Woodward (creative commons 4.0 – free to use with credit, or $30 per song or $300 for full 200 song library)
Shiny Heads Productions ($29 per track)
Melodyloops (pricing starts at $29 for 3 tracks)
Soundstripe (membership of $135 a year or $15 a month for unlimited licenses)
Let’s Talk About Sourcing Music for Your Videos
Do you have any favorite sites for royalty free music I may have missed? Or any other tips for when your source music for videos. Let me know in the comments below.
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