On this week's Creator's Tip, we show you how to source and download free music to accompany your videos, even if those videos are for commercial purposes. Music is an important component of video and can be used to enhance the footage, create a certain mood, or to fill in the space between any talk or voiceover. But, if you are operating on a budget or want to keep costs as low as possible, where do you find music to use that is both #1) cost free and #2) free from any copyright issues so you can still monetize your video content? We show you how:
Royalty Free Music and YouTube Monetization
Royalty Free does not mean it’s free music for you to download and use as you like. It just means it’s free of any royalty fees. In other words, once you buy the track, you can use it in a video project, usually once, and not have to pay anything else regardless of if the video is seen 10 times or 1,000,000 times. You pay one flat fee and you are covered.
Another thing to remember is that just because you find music online that is royalty free, it doesn't necessarily mean that you are free to use it for commercial purposes. If you are going to monetize your videos on YouTube by running ads against them then you need to clear any content you use in your own videos or you will be making money off other people's work. This will be issue somewhere along the line, either from the ContentID system or a claim by the original artist or their publisher.
Free Royalty Free Music Resources
The kind of music that falls under the "free royalty free" tag is:
- Completely free to download and use.
- Royalty free so no licenses to purchase.
- OK to use for commercial video content (so the videos can be monetized).
With that criteria in mind, there are four websites we recommended that provide music for you to use. In exchange for the free music, all they ask is that you credit them for the use of that music, which is something you can easily do within the description on YouTube or on your site's video landing page. Sometimes they want the attribution embedded on the video itself, perhaps on the end slate. Check the conditions of use per site. Each of these sites also permits commercial use, meaning you can use their tracks in your videos and monetize your video, which you can’t do with non-commercial royalty free music. So, let's take a look at the four sites in question:
Incompetech is the granddaddy of free royalty free music sites, and tracks that you hear on many YouTube videos can be attributed back to them. It's probably one of the most easily searchable sites available and allows you to select music based on genre, mood, or by instrument. It has a decent sized library and allows you to listen to a preview before you download.
The trick to using CCMixter is to select the 'Free for Commercial Use' licensing option, from the drop down menu in the top right hand corner. The site doesn't have the best search feature, but if you take some time to browse you can find some quality tracks here.
Josh Woodward is a musician who records a variety of music, mostly with vocals. All music is written, recorded and produced by him personally. He has 10 albums worth of music, some 180 songs in all, all free in exchange for giving him credit and sharing his site where you can, particularly via social media. Some great stuff here, ideal for background music if you are looking for something with or without vocals.
All creators should be aware of the free music resource over at Youtube.com. It has a lot of music content that's completely free and pretty searchable. For instance, you can search by genre, instrument, mood, or duration, and you can bookmark pieces as favorites for later use. You can even use the tracks without any kind of attribution needed! However, despite coming from YouTube, we know many creators who have still had issues with these tracks being flagged by Content ID. If you appeal the claim, your videos should be released, but it’s still an annoying risk to take.
Let us know your favorite free royalty free royalty sites below, we'd love to hear from you.