Picture this: You’ve created an awesome video and embedded your favourite song only to have YouTube throw a copyright strike at you, which means forfeiting your earnings and possibly having the sound removed from your video.
As you’ve probably guessed, most major artists and record labels don’t like you using their songs, even for a few seconds. It’s illegal, to say the least, as it is considered copyright infringement — especially if you are trying to monetize your videos.
This is especially true for videos made for commercial purposes.
Thankfully, there are a bunch of options for royalty-free music for YouTube videos and content creators that won’t get your video shut down or mess with your earnings.
In this post we will look at FREE places to get music that don’t require subscription payments or fees for personal use.
Personal Use vs. Commercial Projects
There is a difference between using music for personal use versus using audio tracks for commercial purposes.
Personal use usually refers to using the music for non-commercial, private purposes. This can include things like:
- Using the music as background music for a personal video blog (vlog) or home movie.
- Playing the music at a private party or event.
- Using the music in a personal, non-monetized YouTube video that doesn’t promote a business or generate revenue.
In personal use scenarios, you usually don’t need to pay royalties or obtain a special license for the music. Many royalty-free music libraries offer tracks that can be used for personal projects without charge, or in exchange for credit.
Commercial use refers to using the music for business-related or revenue-generating purposes. This can include:
- Using the music in advertisements, promotional videos, or commercials.
- Incorporating the music into a for-profit film or documentary.
- Using the music in a podcast or online video series that generates income through ads or subscriptions.
- Playing the music in a retail store, restaurant, or other commercial establishment.
In commercial use scenarios, you usually need to purchase a license for the music, even if it’s labeled as “royalty-free.” The cost of the license can vary depending on factors like the intended audience size, the duration of use, and the specific rights granted by the license.
Something to remember about royalty free tracks…
Royalty-free music doesn’t mean it’s necessarily free of cost. It means that after you purchase a license for the music, you don’t have to pay additional royalties each time you use it, as you would with traditional, rights-managed music.
Look for Creative Commons licenses on music tracks
Creative Commons (CC) is a licensing type that allows creators of music tracks to specify the permissions and restrictions for the use of their creative works.
If audio is released with a Creative Commons license, it means that the creator has granted certain rights to the public while retaining others.
Creative Commons licenses are designed to make it easier for creators to share their work with others and to allow for a more flexible approach to copyright.
In terms of music usage, Creative Commons licenses come in several variations, each with its own set of permissions and conditions. The most common types of Creative Commons licenses for music are:
CC BY (Attribution): This license allows others to use, remix, adapt, and build upon the music for any purpose, even commercially, as long as they provide proper attribution and credit to the original creator. This could mean including their name and link in the video or video description.
CC BY-SA (Attribution-ShareAlike): Similar to CC BY, this license allows for the same uses as CC BY but also requires that any derivative works are released under the same or a compatible license.
CC BY-ND (Attribution-NoDerivatives): This license allows others to use the music for any purpose, including commercial use, but they cannot create derivative works or remixes. Attribution to the original creator is still required.
CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial): This license allows others to use, remix, and adapt the music for non-commercial purposes only. Commercial use is not allowed under this license, and proper attribution is still required.
CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike): Similar to CC BY-NC, this license allows for non-commercial use, remixing, and adaptation, with the added requirement that derivative works are released under the same or a compatible license.
CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives): This is the most restrictive Creative Commons music license. It allows others to download the music and share it with others, as long as they provide proper attribution and do not change it in any way. Commercial use is not allowed.
When using music under a Creative Commons license, you must adhere to the specific terms of the license.
This includes giving proper credit to the original creator (attribution) and respecting any restrictions, such as non-commercial use or the prohibition of derivative works.
Creative Commons licenses provide a valuable way for musicians to share their work with the world while maintaining some control over how it’s used.
With that covered and understood, you should keep the Creative Commons license in mind when searching for free background music, individual tracks, or sound effects for your creative projects.
How to use CC music on YouTube
From full instrumental songs to single free sound effects, I’ve found some of the best sites on the web where you can download that perfect track for YouTube videos or other video content — without worrying about copyright issues.
When creating your video, you’ll want to ensure that any audio tracks you use have creative commons licenses or are specifically listed as royalty free music for YouTube or “copyright free songs”.
Free Music For YouTube?
As long as you have permission to use the music as discussed above, you can freely use it without worrying about copyright claims.
Where to get free Royalty Free music for videos
Alright, the part you’ve been waiting for. Here are some of the best royalty free sites to get free stock music, free music downloads, and original tracks that fall under the CC license.
YouTube Studio / Audio Library
Link: http://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music – The most popular and best place to find the right music for your video would be to use free music from the YouTube official audio library. Here, you can choose songs from different categories that require no attribution or ones that require an attribution such as a copyright notice and/or artist link in your video’s description. The interface is easy to use and you can sort by music style, genre, length, and more.
Free Music Archive
Link: http://freemusicarchive.org – The Free Music Archive is a legal music download library. The free music site lets you choose from different genres like blues, hip hop, folk and more — and also filter the music by top charts. You can easily preview music and download songs instantly without needing an account. FMA believes in Creative Commons and music sharing and every song use is determined by the music rights-holders themselves.
No Copyright Music
Link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQsBfyc5eOobgCzeY8bBzFg – This is a YouTube channel that uploads creative commons free music for YouTube videos. They include links to download the tracks in each of the video descriptions. Sources include free music from SoundCloud creators and more.
No Copyright Sounds
Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/NoCopyrightSounds – This YouTube channel operates like the one above and features copyright free music from various creators. The links to download each track is shared in the description of the video. With over 20 Million subscribers, this is a great source for unique tracks for YouTube Creators!
Link: http://www.soundgator.com – If you need free sound effects for YouTube videos, Sound Gator specializes in sound effects. If you need certain noises or sound effects in your videos, this is a great site! Button sounds, nature sounds, household sounds… you can find a great collection here. You will need a free account to download the files.
Link: http://www.bensound.com – BenSound has been around for a long time and is a great free music library. All of the tracks on this site are released under creative commons attribution licenses, meaning you just have to insert text credit to the creator within your video or the video’s description. You can sort by genre and also have the option of getting a pro license for unlimited access if you need more usage options.
Link: http://www.looperman.com/loops – Looperman specializes in free loops, sounds, and samples for your YouTube videos, all uploaded by individual users. You can select from a wide range of different genres and use these loops in your YouTube videos. You’ll need a free account to download
Link: http://pond5.com – Pond5 allows you to search the world’s largest database of stock video, but they also have royalty free music! Click on the Music category on the main page or search for a specific genre or title. At the bottom filter options, choose the Public Domain checkbox. Click on the track you want and then add it to your cart (don’t worry, it should be $0!). You will need to create account to download the track.
Link: http://purple-planet.com – This site features music written and performed by Geoff Harvey and Chris Martyn and you can grab a free download for your own projects. They only require that you credit them if you use their tracks, and offer an option to purchase a license if you want to use them for commercial use.
Link: https://www.epidemicsound.com/ – I had to mention Epidemic Sound because they are probably one of the more popular royalty free sites. Remember how we talked about how royalty-free doesn’t always mean FREE though? This site charges a monthly fee starting at $9.99/mo but offers one of the largest databases of tracks (40,000 tracks, 90,000 sound effects currently). Sometimes it pays to get a good track and have the peace of mind knowing that you are allowed to use it freely.
Have any other places to get royalty free music for YouTube videos? Let us know!
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