Imagine this: you spend endless hours recording a video, editing it, searching for the perfect songs, creating a website to showcase your work, and sharing it across social media. All that, only for it to be muted or deleted due to copyright infringement. This is the worst nightmare for many video creators, especially beginners in the field who are not aware of how music licensing works or simply can’t afford to pay for said licenses.
Songs are such a crucial part of any multimedia content, yet finding free background music for videos is far from a simple task. Not only do you need to find a legal place from which to download high quality tunes, but you’ll also have to make sure you’re entitled to use these files on your work. Luckily, there is a wide range of options available online for all uses, if only you know where to look for them.
Ready to start creating jaw-dropping videos? Here are the ten best sites to find free music for videos:
How to license music for videos
Before we deepdive into each of the best platforms to download free music for videos from, let’s take a quick look at the legal side of using these free music clips for your work.
Technically, you could use any song ever written on your videos by simply adding the right file to your free video editing software of preference. In reality, however, this only works if you’re planning to keep said videos for yourself - that is, not using them for commercial products or sharing them with other people.
Using copyright-protected music without permission is against the law and can lead to different punishments, from muted videos to civil court. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you fully understand the permissions of the files you download. In case of doubt, don’t be afraid to reach out to the artist and let them know how you’re planning on using their music.
When looking for royalty-free music for videos, you’ll see that most of it is offered under a Creative Commons license. While this license gives you permission to download and share the content, there are different degrees of freedom within it. The five most popular types of creative commons licenses are the following:
CC0: Unrestricted. Publish, share, modify, and commercialize the work without restrictions.
CC BY: Attribution. Unrestricted license as long as you credit the author.
CC BY-SA: Attribution-Share-Alike. Derivative works can only be distributed under the same license.
CC-BY-ND: Attribution-No-Derivatives. Derivative works and remixes not allowed.
CC BY-NC: Attribution-Non-Commercial. Cannot be used for commercial purposes.
Other common license types you might come across in your search for free video music are “royalty free” and “public domain”:
Royalty free licenses are those which give the right of using a work without paying fees each time.
Public domain is the most open form of licensing, as works can be used for free for any purpose.
Type of license: CC BY and CC BY-NC
Born as a Creative Commons project, ccMixter is a collaboration platform for musicians that promotes derivative works. Singers upload original vocals, musicians share their samples, and DJs mix the two together into fascinating songs.
On its dig.ccMixter subdomain you’ll be able to find tens of thousands of free music for videos, which can be browsed by genre, instrument, style, and more. You can either use the search bar function or the valuable “tag search” page, which offers a long list of different categories that will help you narrow down your search.
Type of license: CC BY
Incompetech might not boast the broadest free video music offering, but it’s still widely considered one of the best royalty-free music sources. The platform is the work of American composer Kevin MacLeod, who has composed thousands of sound effects and songs for free use.
The site is very user friendly, allowing visitors to search for the perfect background music for videos based on genre, topic, feel, length, mood, popularity, and more.
03. YouTube Audio Library
Type of license: Royalty Free and CC BY
Chances are you’re planning to create a YouTube channel for your videos and later share them on your video website and other social platforms. If that’s the case, why not get your free video music directly from YouTube?
The YouTube Audio Library allows you to filter a long list of free music clips by genre, instrument, mood, duration, and license type. In addition to free music clips, the YouTube Audio Library also offers a huge selection of free sound effects for your videos.
04. Free Music Archive
Type of license: All CC types and Public Domain
Commonly known as FMA, Free Music Archive works with radio stations, artists, and industry enthusiasts to offer one of the largest available selections of free music for videos. Users can search by song title, clip duration or type of license, as well as browse the more than a dozen genres and hundreds of subgenres available.
While the vast majority of the songs are licensed under Creative Commons, some of them are only available for personal download and listening. Make sure to double check before you start working on your project.
Type of license: All CC types
Jamendo’s homepage offers two main platforms: Music and Licensing. Jamendo Music is a streaming platform where all songs are licensed under a Creative Commons, while Jamendo Licensing offers royalty-free music for commercial. Even though the latter has a nice button that reads “music for videos,” you should head over to the former if you want to browse and download free music for videos.
The downside of Jamendo Music is that most free music clips cannot be used for commercial purposes. While there are some that do, the site does not allow for license type search and therefore you’ll need to open each song you’re interested in in order to access this information.
Type of license: Public Domain and all CC types
Musopen is a non-profit chasing the dream of “setting music free” by offering free music for video editing, educational materials, and sheet music. The vast majority of the files available are orchestral pieces, either registered as public domain or under a Creative Commons license.
On the site, you’ll be able to download free music clips from historical figures like Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, as well as renowned pieces such as Carmen, The Valkyrie, and The Barber of Seville. You can filter the library by composer, orchestra, period, mood, length, and more.
Type of license: All CC types
As one of the most popular musician networks, SoundCloud boosts a library of more than 125 million songs. While the default licensing type is “All rights reserved,” many users choose to protect their work under a Creative Commons license.
To see only free music clips licensed under CC, simply search for the type of song you’re looking for and then change the default “To listen to” filter setting for the intent of your project. Afterwards, you’ll be able to narrow your results through a list of tags.
Type of license: CC BY-ND
Bensound offers thousands of royalty free music for videos, websites, animations, and more. The platform can be browsed by genre, popularity, uploading date or tags. Although it once contained only the work of composer Benjamin Tissot, ,owner of the site Bensound, now includes the works of other musicians’ as well.
The vast majority of clips on the platform are offered under an attribution no-derivatives CC license. This means you can use them as free background music for videos as long as you credit the site and don’t remix the tracks or use them to create new songs.
Type of license: All CC types
ccTrax contains a wide variety of royalty free music for videos licensed under Creative Commons. The site’s library includes thousands of albums and individual songs on a broad range of musical genres, from dub and techno to modern classical and rock.
One of the main advantages of this site over others is that you’ll be able to quickly search for free music for videos based on their license type, rather than having to look into the details of each clip. You can narrow down your search by choosing from a set list of genres and tags, as well as labels and artist names.
Type of license: CC BY
Composer Jason Shaw created AudioNautix to share his own free music clips with the world. He uses his passion for music to help others create their own projects without getting in trouble with copyright infringement.
All you need to do to use his free music for video editing is give credit to the composer, be it Jason or a guest composer. The platform’s music library can be browsed by genre, tempo, and keywords. Furthermore, you’ll be able to select diverse moods to ensure that the results are as close to your vision as possible.