Star Wars. The Lord of the Rings. Home Alone. And most recently, Guardians of the Galaxy. Each of these films are outstanding.
Some of us weren’t even born when Home Alone premiered, but 24 years later, it still holds up (it’s our favorite Christmas movie, by the way). And while Macaulay Culkin’s penchant for mischief and Joe Pesci’s inability to curse are two of the more enjoyable elements of Home Alone, the soundtrack is what truly holds the film together.
From beginning to end, the soundtrack of Home Alone – and the soundtrack of each the aforementioned films – provides the bedrock that supports the entire film.
Suffice it to say: John Williams will find you.
But what if you don’t have John Williams scoring your latest video? To answer that question, we point to Guardians of the Galaxy. What we find most interesting about this film was the soundtrack. Instead of an original score, the memorable music from the movie was comprised of songs from the 70’s. And this wasn’t just a way to set the tone for the movie, it was a central plot point as well.
Point being, using existing songs in a soundtrack can be just as powerful as creating originals. It all comes down to finding the right song. Which, of course, leads to the question: Where can I find awesome music for my videos?
Before we list our favorite sites for finding audio tracks, we want to quickly cover the dull, but necessary, topic of licensing. The sites listed below all sell audio tracks that are“royalty-free.” This means that once you purchase these tracks, you have the license to use them without needing to pay royalties.
Guardians of the Galaxy did not have this right with the songs they used. For instance, their use of Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede would be subject to royalties. The song belongs to the artist, so each time Guardians of the Galaxy uses it, a fee has to be paid to the owner of the copyright). Licensing fee administration can be a complicated and expensive procedure, so this article focuses solely on royalty-free tracks. If you want to know more about using licensed tracks in your videos, this is a helpful article.
Here’s our personal suggestion. We use only music that is royalty-free in all our website,advertising, or social videos, and we suggest you do the same.
We’ve listed eleven excellent sites below that sell royalty-free audio tracks. Truthfully, there are thousands of sites that do this across the web. But we’ve made loads of videos and we’ve never strayed from these sites. We’ve always been able to find what we’re looking for. We’re confident you will too.
Each of the sites below comes with a brief description and a rank out of 10 when it comes to price, quality, and our overall experience with them.
1. Soundstripe (The Single Best Option)
Soundstripe is the most important site on this list. Why? Because they’re disruptors. Licensing audio has always been an expensive task. A single track can easily cost upwards of $100. But Soundstripe has flipped the licensing model on its head. Instead of paying a flat fee for individual tracks, Soundstripe operates on a subscription model. Unlimited music for $10/month. It’s insanity. And this is the single best option for any business or anyone.
Bottom Line: Soundstripe offers unlimited access to every one of their tracks for just $10/month. It’s the best option, period.
Price: 10/10 (You won’t find a better deal than this)
Overall Experience: 9.5/10
Find Music On Soundstripe: Click here
2. Art List
Similar to Soundstripe, Art List uses a subscription model for licensing their audio tracks — but instead of a monthly cost of $10, they charge a yearly fee of $199. More expensive than Soundstripe, yes, but a great deal nonetheless (remember, a single track can easily cost $100 from other music sites). At Newcastle Creative Co, we use Soundstripe and Art List as our two primary sources for royalty-free music. Unlimited access to every track at these prices just can’t be beat.
Bottom Line: Art List offers unlimited access to every one of their tracks for $199/year. A tremendous bargain.
Overall Experience: 9/10
Find Music On Art List: Click here
Marmoset wants to help you find the perfect soundtrack for your next story. Personally, what we love most about Marmoset are the playlists. Every month Marmoset releases a mixtape for the given month and, more than that, Marmoset releases timely playlists. For instance, when the Stranger Things phenomenon was at its peak, Marmoset released a playlist called Stranger Things. And considering how many businesses pulled inspiration from Stranger Things, this mixtape likely came in handy for a bunch of them.
Marmoset also offers a podcast license. Podcast licensing can be tricky because the track needs to be re-used over and over. And this can get pricey. But Marmoset has a license dedicated to podcasting that’s very affordable.
Bottom Line: Marmoset does a great job of compiling playlists based on season and culture. They also offer the best podcasting license.
Overall Experience: 8/10
Find Music On Marmoset: Click here
Storyworks is a newer royalty-free music site. Storyworks’ claim to fame is that every track available on the site has a single licensing fee of $129. Obviously, for most smaller projects this isn’t exactly a bargain. But as we’ve mentioned several times already, royalty-free music licensing can get very expensive, very quickly.
For instance, productions with a large audience can easily require audio tracks licensed at more than $1000 each. And that’s where Storyworks really shines.
Bottom Line: Storyworks isn’t the best option for businesses working on small projects. But for a bigger production that would typically require a hefty licensing fee for audio, Storyworks may be the perfect solution.
Overall Experience: 7.5/10
Find Music On Storyworks: Click here
Jukedeck wants you to have the ability to create your own audio track tailored to your precise acoustical needs. When you land on Jukedeck’s homepage you’ll see a simple formula: Style + Mood + Length = Your Custom Track. Fill in the variables and Jukedeck’s algorithm will pump out a custom tune for you with your exact specifications in 30 seconds or less. It’s a novel concept, but it can be helpful if you need a track of an exact length.
Naturally, the quality of the tracks aren’t as high at Jukedeck as other sites on this list, but that can only be expected when you’re enforcing as many restrictions on a track as the Jukedeck formula demands. Though, what wasn’t expected was the pricing. If your business has 10 or less employees, Jukedeck’s tracks are free if you give the site credit, or just $0.99 if you don’t want to them credit.
Bottom Line: Jukedeck’s formulaic generator is a novel concept, but the quality of the tracks leaves something to be desired. With that being said, the pricing is insanely affordable at just $0.99 per track — and having the ability to set the precise length of your track can be very helpful.
Overall Experience: 8/10
Find Music On Jukedeck: Click here
Audiojungle is one of the most inexpensive sites on this list. The cost per track ranges from $10-$18. AudioJungle is part of the Envato marketplace, and that means artists from all over the world are contributing to the selections of music. AudioJungle also has a wide selection of sound effects – not just audio tracks. I used AudioJungle almost exclusively when I began creating videos. You can find higher quality tracks elsewhere, but the price is hard to beat when you’re just starting out.
Bottom Line: The majority of music you’ll find in the Audiojungle marketplace is very low-quality, but if you’re willing to spend some time digging, you can find hidden gems at a very affordable cost.
Overall Experience: 7/10
Find Music On Audiojungle: Click here
One of my favorite features of PremiumBeat is that your purchase of a song comes with loops as well as the full version. This is especially useful for videos and interviews where the length of the video is always undetermined. Each track will cost you $49. And that will give you the full version of the track, the loops, and a short version as well. PremiumBeat’s licensing is also very generous: simply purchase the license once and you can use it for an unlimited number of projects.
Bottom Line: Every PremiumBeat track comes with three different versions: short, long, and loops (I’ve found the loops to be especially helpful). Moreover, PremiumBeat’s license allows you to use your purchased tracks for an unlimited number of projects.
Overall Experience: 7.5/10
Find Music On PremiumBeat: Click here
Musicbed’s current tagline is “Licensing quality music to the world’s biggest brand.”And there’s a reason that Nike, Netflix, and Google all use Musicbed when they need to license royalty-free audio. Musicbed is the cream of the crop when it comes to royalty-free music. Their website’s UI, their catalogue, customer service, and quality of music are all world-class. But, in this instance, if you want the best, you’re going to pay the most. The exact price of a track depends on a variety of factors (you may even need a custom quote), but you can expect to pay approximately $100 per song.
Bottom Line: Musicbed offers the largest catalogue of high quality royalty-free music, but at the highest price.
Overall Experience: 7/10
Find Music On Musicbed: Click here
9. YouTube Audio Library (Free)
YouTube offers its creators a free audio library searchable by genre, mood, instrument, and duration. You’ll also find sound effects here too. The tracks you’ll find in YouTube’s Audio Library aren’t exactly geared towards cinematic storytelling, but depending on the project you may be able to find a track that works for you.
Bottom Line: If you have an account with YouTube, you have unlimited access to their YouTube Audio Library. The quality of tracks you’ll find here is hit and miss, but hey, it’s free.
Overall Experience: 6.5/10
Find Music On YouTube: Click here
10. Soundcloud (Free)
Soundcloud has a special distinction for tracks uploaded under a Creative Commons license. You’re free to use these tracks in your productions as long as you follow the rules of the specific license. Granted, finding these tracks on Soundcloud can be difficult. There isn’t a Soundcloud moderated playlist or section of tracks so you’ll need to go digging yourself.
One way to do this is search for tracks with the ‘to modify commercially’ setting applied to filter results (you can do that by clicking here). Another option is to find a playlist compiled by a Soundcloud user of Creative Commons tracks – here’s the best one we’ve found so far.
Bottom Line: Soundcloud has thousands of free tracks that you can use under the Creative Commons license, though it will require some digging to find the right track for your production
Overall Experience: 7/10
Find Music On Soundcloud: Click here
The royalty-free music landscape is changing rapidly. Companies like Soundstripe are coming along and undercutting the market with insanely affordable subscription models. And this is forcing longtime juggernauts of the industry like Musicbed to change their focus.
Musicbed used to be the site for indie filmmakers to find their perfect track, but now that more affordable sites have come along, Musicbed has shifted their focus to the biggest brands in the world. All of this has happened in just about 18 months — which that speaks to the fluidity of the industry.
With that being said, each of these sites has their own claim to fame and their own strengths and weaknesses. How you use each site can and should be different, but we’re confident you’ll be able to find whatever you need for a wide range of projects.