Do you need background music for your videos or media projects?
It’s easy to think that, because music can be found pretty easily for free on the Internet, we can use it freely as well on any video that we’re creating.
Nothing further from reality.
Let’s see first the pros and cons of using free music and then we will explain how can we download it:
- Of course… it’s free.
- Usually, it’s easy to find.
- Perfect for using it on personal projects.
- You will not be able to use it in professional projects.
- You will have to attribute the author -mention it- somewhere.
- Every webpage and every song are under different free licenses. You must read and understand what they mean, one by one.
- The free license can change at any given moment by the author to become a paid license.
- The Youtube algorithm, called Content ID, can detect that you don’t have the rights to use that music.
- You will not be able to monetize your video or product that has the music.
The world of Royalty-Free music on the Internet is complex, as there are a wide variety of types of licenses and it is not always clear to which we should stick to.
Not playing by the rules can lead to bad surprises, like your video being removed from Youtube or Facebook because of Content ID, receiving copyright complaints and, even in the worst-case scenario, a lawsuit, since the ignorance of the law does not exempt from its fulfillment.
To clarify the subject, we have made a brief summary below with all the basics:
SOME CONCEPTS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE DOWNLOADING FREE-MUSIC
- What does copyright mean?
Royalty-Free Music primarily refers to a type of music license that allows the buyer to pay the corresponding license only once and use the music for as long as desired in a single final product or video.
However, this term has been extended, often including also free music that we can use in our projects – either under ‘Public Domain’ or ‘Creative Commons’, as we will see below – and also has been widely confused with the term ‘music without copyright’.
- Music under Public Domain
Music under ‘Public Domain’ consists of all works that are not protected by copyright and which can, therefore, be used without permission or without having to pay to the original author. Either because this has expressed it or because some time has already elapsed since his/her death (that amount of time, usually between 50-70 years depends on every country or region).
If you want to know more about it, visit our in-depth article about Public Domain.
- Music under Creative Commons Licenses
Here is the author himself who establishes the limitations for the reproduction, distribution, diffusion and copy of his work.
There are 6 different types of Creative Commons licenses, some more restrictive than others. It is essential to know them well if you want to use some of these songs on your projects.
these icons help us to differentiate the Creative Commons licenses
TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION BEFORE DOWNLOADING A SONG!
Have in mind that, almost always, if you download a non-copyrighted song for your project or video and it’s free, it’s going to be under a Creative Commons license.
This means that most of the times we will have to attribute -mention- the artist. Attribution means that you have to explain in the video description -or inside the project- who’s the author of the music.
For example, if you use the song ‘Odyssey Drums’, from artist Kevin MacLeod and you have downloaded the song from the webpage Incompetech.com, you should write a phrase like this one below:
Odyssey Drums from Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution license (Creative Commons – Attribution 4.0 International – CC BY 4.0)
That said, it’s very important to read carefully all the legal terms (there are different Creative Commons licenses and each one has his own different terms) and legal advice of the web page from which you’re downloading the music.
If you don’t find any term or you’re not sure about the conditions, don’t risk yourself or your project!
PAGES TO DOWNLOAD ROYALTY-FREE MUSIC
The best sources for high-quality free Royalty-free music on the Internet are:
- Youtube Audio Library: Within its audio library has both music and sound effects of all genres, 100% free. Most of the times we would have to attribute the author. More information on how to do that below.
- Free Music Archive (FMA): Free songs under Creative Commons license. To use them, we should mention the artist in our project.
- Bensound: Over 70 songs ready to download. The use is limited to personal projects, if we want to put their music on professional ones or on Youtube we will have to purchase a license.
- Incompetech: Royalty-Free Music. Creative Commons licensing by attribution is free (attribution MUST be given to make this legal), but they do suggest a $5 donation as a kindness. If not, we can buy the music for $30 each.
- NewGrounds: Experimental sounds and songs for video games. Enter here only if you didn’t find what you’re searching for, they have good music.
- Soundcloud: In between the millions of songs that there are on Soundcloud, there’s some that are available for free use. You will distinguish them because there’s an option to download it legally.
- Audionautix: Well classified between genres and moods, there are hundreds of songs on mp3 format for their immediate download.
- Musopen: On this web page you’ll find royalty-free classical music classified by the composer, from Bach to Beethoven.
Click on any of these links to download songs that can be used in your personal projects without a problem. However, it is essential that you understand under what kind of licenses these songs are, to know how far their use extends and what you can and cannot do with them.
I DON’T WANT TO RISK MY PROJECT OR I DON’T WANT TO ATTRIBUTE THE ARTIST. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Imagine that you are making a video or audiovisual project. Maybe you’re in one of those situations:
- You want to use royalty-free music but you don’t want to mention the artist.
- You want to use the song on a Youtube video and monetize this video.
- You want to use the song in a professional project, like a corporate presentation, a movie or a broadcast advertisement.
In any of these cases, it is best to purchase a paid license.
This doesn’t mean an expensive an time-consuming process, you just have to visit Envato Elements, for example, perform a search for the type of music you need, download it and use it. Subscriptions are really cheap since for $16.50 per month you can access a whole library of thousands of songs and download everything you need.
Paying $16 a month may seem a lot to a person who is used to download free songs, however we have to keep in mind that both products have nothing in common: we are paying a license to use that music in another final product that will be distributed and viewed, and not for a simple personal use.
Artists who create Royalty-Free music are not usually famous, but a team of people working in a studio or a company dedicated specifically to it, as in our case.
Yes, downloading free background music is oftentimes easier and convenient. Also, there are times in which a person doesn’t really have a budget to do otherwise.