The lighting is perfect. You’ve color corrected everything and applied a rather nice grade to make the images pop. This is going to be a stellar example of cinematography and storytelling. You finally arrive at a rough cut that you feel delivers the message you want to convey to your viewers but, it just feels empty. That emotional evocation that you were attempting to conjure seems to have fizzled out and disappeared. A key ingredient is missing from this production that you have poured all of your creative energy into. Suddenly, it hits you like 120 volts of electricity…you need music for video!
Now what? You aren’t a musician. You have burned through your budget and can’t afford to hire an audio producer. How are you going to find a good track to finalize your video project in time to meet your deadline?
In this article, I am going to provide you with a few audio sources that Storm Cloud Marketing has either used in our own video productions or have at least investigated and considered using at some point. However, before we dive into the rabbit hole of finding that perfect track, we need to understand the legality of using music produced by other artists within your own works.
Did You Get a License For That?
It seems obvious these days, but not everyone realizes or understands that throwing your favorite pop song into the background of your videos can lead to some serious legal problems. Many content creators have had to face the reality of unlicensed music as YouTube or Facebook flags their creations for using music they don’t own. This can result in demonetizing your videos or even having the video removed from their servers altogether. Furthermore, the use of unlicensed music in nationally or globally syndicated advertisements could potentially become even more serious. To understand how you can avoid these situations you need to understand what types of licenses are available to you.
There are three main types of licensing scenarios that you will likely run into: Royalty-Free, Public Domain, and Creative Commons.
Royalty-Free music provides you with the right to use copyrighted music without having to pay royalties to the owner of the music. This allows you to pay for the license one time or pay a subscription that allows you to use the licensed track as often as you like. However, don’t be fooled by the name; the music is definitely not free, it only means that there are no royalty fees incurred once the track has been purchased. The providers we are focusing on today fit into this category.
Public Domain licensing refers to music that is not protected by copyright and allows you to use the track without permission or compensating the producer of the music. Essentially, the artist has provided the content to be used by the public free of charge and can be copied and distributed however you like. To learn more about Public Domain licensing, this website has more information.
Finally, Creative Commons licensing is a form of public licensing that allows free use of the music with the expectation that the user of the music will credit the creator for their work. This essentially means that the creator isn’t seeking to be financially compensated for their work as long as they are attributed to creating it. For more information about Creative Commons licensing, please visit this link.
Bring the Noise!
Our first contender is Epidemic Sound. This is a subscription-based music service built for YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and podcasters and has one of the largest audio libraries anywhere on the internet. As of the writing of this article, they boast that they have over 32,000 tracks and over 64,000 sound effects. With such a large catalog of music and many ways to filter categories to find what you are looking for, Epidemic Sound is trusted by the biggest names in online content creation.
You can begin with a 30-day free trial and they offer three tiers of subscriptions. For personal use, $12 per month (if paid annually, $15 per month otherwise) you are covered to use any track or sound effect on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch. You are allowed to add one channel per platform and it includes monetized content.
If you are a freelancer or business producing work for clients, a commercial subscription for $25 per month paid annually (or $49 per month if paid monthly) gives you the benefits of a personal subscription plus the ability to be covered on social media and websites and unlimited use in digital ads.
It gets a bit more pricey if you are needing licensing for television and cinema or prefer to license single tracks without having a subscription and you can contact their sales department for more enterprise options.
My personal favorite, Soundstripe, was founded by three professional musicians, Soundstripe is obsessed with audio quality and ensures every song in their library is exceptional. A Soundstripe membership (various different levels are available and slightly more affordable than Epidemic Sound) gives you access to unlimited music licenses, curated and data-driven playlists, an Adobe Premier Pro extension, over 40,000 sound effects, stems of each track, and pre-released music before it even debuts. You also have the option to license single tracks or only subscribe to their sound effect library.
With its simplicity and curated playlists making it easy to find just the right track for your video, Soundstripe is definitely worth checking out.
Another great subscription-based provider of royalty-free music and sound effects is Artlist.
Similar to both Epidemic Sound and Soundstripe, Artlist is yet another slick and professional service that offers thousands of tracks and sounds that you can plug into your videos with a focus on indie artists and lets you filter artists based on moods, video themes, or whatever genre you are aiming for. You can even find tracks based on the length of your video and the tempo of the music you desire. Their subscription pricing is similar to both Epidemic and Soundstripe and offers unlimited usage and universal licensing.
But wait, there’s more…
While those would be my personal choices for music providers, there are countless others that you might be interested in checking out. Doing a quick Google search for ‘royalty-free music’ presents you with a ton of options. Services such as Premium Beat, Pond5, Soundcloud, and even YouTube are all viable solutions for your music finding woes.
Whatever the theme and content of your videos, there is no shortage of music out there for you to pick from. Now, go find the right track for your project and make that video sound amazing!
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