Royalty Free Music

Royalty Free Music – Where to Find It.

Videos need a music track. Music adds more depth and power to a video.  Without it, videos feel incomplete. The problem is that you can’t download your favorite pop song or heavy metal track and add it to your video streaming channel. If music is not in the public domain you don’t have permission to use it.  Period. That is when copyright becomes an issue. Thanks Copyright!

What is “Royalty Free Music”?

Music that you don’t have to pay royalties to use is “royalty free music”. It includes:

  • Public-Domain music
  • Music published under a Creative Commons License

Public domain music is not under copyright and can be used freely. You don’t need permission from anyone.  Think of it as old music.  You have to be careful about this though.  Even though Bach’s “Salve regina” is not under copyright this long after the composer’s death, a performance of it by another artist or orchestra is. Unless that performance is also very old.

Creative Commons license music is under copyright and does require permission to use. As long as you have permission you can use it without paying any royalties. What it can be used for depends on the terms of the specific Creative Commons license, so it’s important to check the fine print first. Many Creative Commons licenses restrict use to non-commercial purposes, for example.

There is a lot of sources of both public domain and Creative Commons music all over the Internet.  Some of those are described below:

Public Domain Music

Public Domain 4U has music categorized by genre. Ballads to blues to jazz to country and many more. It has 35 different genres in all. One thing tough. The site can’t guarantee that all the music on the site is in the public domain. That being said, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that the music you download from the site is really in the public domain before you use it. Mistakes are on you, not them.

Musopen also has public domain music. They focus more on classical composers.  A plus to them is that they have sheet music and educational material.  Like Public Domain 4U, check and make sure that a song is truly public domain before using it.

Creative Commons Music

Permission is usually included in the license for Creative Commons music even when the song is copyrighted. So you don’t have to pay royalties on it.  You just need to pay attention to the terms of the license though. In almost all cases you must include attribution and a link back to the source.

Creative Commons have a huge variety of music and other creative work published under a Creative Commons license. It can be a little overwhelming at first to find things than on other sites until you get used to it.

Incompetech adds something different besides of searching by genres. The system will let you search also by “feel”. You can search songs sing feels like aggressive, bouncy, humorous, etc. All the music is royalty free.  The site asks only to provide a reference link and proper credit.

Moby Gratis has a wide selection of music and is available royalty free music. The site requires a membership and an application to use a song track. Another requirement is that the video containing the music must be published on a free distribution site like YouTube or Vimeo.  A link to the Moby Gratis site is also required.

Final Word

We are at an age that rich media content is a must for any website or blog to succeed. The availability for royalty free music has never been greater and easier to acquire. You still need to be careful not to infringe copyright, though.

Always make sure that you read and understand the terms and conditions of the site you are downloading music from. Ultimately, the responsibility is yours, not that of the download site.

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