Unless you’re an avant-garde filmmaker or a musician yourself, you’ll probably appreciate this list of high-quality, royalty free music for your next project originally compiled by Black Chip Collective:
It’s hard to overstate the importance of music in post-production. Particularly in short form projects, music sets the tone and can inspire the style. While custom music is wonderful and I have never once regretted hiring a composer, there are always situations where the budget does not allow for such expenditures. Although free licensed music is fairly common, it’s surprisingly hard to find consistent sources- even the Creative Commons site links to defunct and paid sources- so we compiled a list of the best sites to find music if your remaining budget is around the $0 mark.
These are pretty much all licensed under creative commons 3.0, so don’t be a jerk about it, follow the guidelines they’ve put in place. These composers and producers are offering you their product for free, the least you can do is properly attribute it.
We’ve added a few other sources we’ve come across at the bottom of the list as well.
Free Music Archive
A wellspring of high quality free music, FMA has done a lot of the work for us. They’ve created a large library of creative commons music, which is searchable by genre and license type.
The website of composer Kevin MacLeod, it is one of the earliest and best sources of creative commons music available. The feature film ‘Hugo’ is among MacLeod’s over 2000 IMDB credits. While FMA now hosts much of Kevin’s music as well, Incompetech’s search tools are more robust and intuitive. The mp3 versions of songs are freely available, but high quality audio files, often containing multiple versions of a given song are available for a very reasonable sum.
Like Incompetech, Bensound is a site from a single, prolific source, french composer Benjamin Tissot. While Bensounds terms are slightly more restrictive, you are still free to use tracks in videos, including for certain commercial uses.
Opsound is a library featuring CreativeCommons music from many artists, searchable by genre and tag. The licenses of songs vary slightly by artist, but most are available for commercial use in videos. The site does make the distinction that use of a song in a video constitutes a derivative work, so for any No Derivatives licenses, you’d have to contact the artist to receive permission to use it in a video.
Netlabels hosts albums that aren’t all necessarily Creative Commons, but a high enough percentage are that it’s still a useful source. Be sure to check the license of any song you’re interested in, because they vary pretty significantly from artist to artist.
Under the umbrella of a source for collaborating musicians, digCCmixer contains thousands of free to use tracks, including a huge portion that are licensed for commercial use. The site features handy search functions, including an instrumental filter, license type, genre, instrument, and style tags.
While Pond5 is probably best known for stock footage and royalty free music to purchase, they also play host to a variety of free music. While many of their free tracks are lo fi archival music, they have a fair assortment of other works, including a good selection of classical songs.
A collection of, unsurprisingly, electronic music but with tracks in a variety of genres. Available under creative commons 4.0, requiring only attribution.
A source for music in a variety of different categories. The tracks can be used in commercial or non-commercial projects with attribution, but are subject to other restrictions, such as broadcast.
The site of composer Ian McCullough. He provides tracks for free under creative commons 4.0, requiring attribution and share alike.
In addition to their archive of 20,000+ free professional quality sound effects, ZapSplat has royalty free music that is perfect for any film, cartoon, animation, presentation, commercial, etc and can be used for both commercial and non-commercial work, including work that is boadcast. ZapSplat music is also YouTube safe.
Another newer archive of CreativeCommons music submitted by creators. Each track may have a different attribution required, but they insist “The music on this website is not a subject to any copyright issues.”
Musopen is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on increasing access to music by creating free resources and educational materials. They provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, the Musopen mission is to set music free.