Free Background Music around the Web

This page lists different sites where you find and download free background music for your videos, presentations, websites or other multimedia projects. There are quite a few composers and musicians willing to let you use their music for free, especially for non-commercial purposes. It is important to distinguish between (1) music that you actually use for free and (2) music that is royalty-free (which means you can use the music but you have to pay a one-off licensing fee) and (3) music that you can download for free but that requires an annual licensing fee if you want to use it in your video (e.g., the deceptively named Freeplay Music offers this type). This page focuses on the first type and includes five sections.

  1. Free Music Libraries at YouTube and Vimeo
  2. Composers/Performers Offering Free Music: Songs to Download and Go
  3. Sites with Some Free Music with Other Songs that Require Payment
  4. Sites where you Search for Public Domain Music and Music Issued under Creative Commons Licenses (if you want to know more about public domain and Creative Commons, you can check out my page here: longzijun.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/music-public-domain-and-copyright
  5. Composers who May be Willing to Produce Custom-made Scores.

If you are a composer and would like to be added to (or removed from) this list or would like to change any information provided, please let me know. My own background music page is here: Background Music Preview Page (Do stop by if you haven’t already)

1. Free Music Libraries at YouTube and Vimeo

For the last two years, Vimeo has been offering free songs that you can download and use in your your videos and now YouTube has joined the party. To be sage, you better use these audio services with their respective video sites; that is, you should use the YouTube library for videos to be posted on YouTube and use the Vimeo library for videos to be posted on Vimeo.

In YouTube you need to have an account and be logged in. Go to Video Manager and select Creation Tools and Audio Library (see the left column).

the free audio library is available by selecting Creation Tools

YouTube’s free audio library is available by selecting Creation Tools

When the audio library page opens, you can browse by genre or search using key words. Here is a direct link to the page (must be logged in): www.youtube.com/audiolibrary

As far as I can see, you can use the music for just about any purpose; according to the terms of use, the only restrictions are that you cannot distribute the music by itself and that the music cannot be used in an illegal manner or with any illegal content.

Select and download free mp3s

Select and download free mp3s

In Vimeo, you need to be logged in and select the Create tab at the top of the page.

Select Create

Select ‘Create’

The Vimeo Music Store page will open. Some of the tracks are issued under the Attribution Creative Commons licence. This means you can use the tracks for (for free) for commercial and non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the composer/performer. For other tracks, you need to pay a licensing fee. The amount depends on whether you are an individual or an organization/business. The individual licenses are very inexpensive.

This pages feature free (Creative Commons) tracks as well as songs you would need to licence

This pages feature free (Creative Commons) tracks as well as songs you would need to licence

2. Free Background Music to Download and Go

If you are a hurry and need something immediately, the following composers allow you to use their existing work as long as you follow their term of use (e.g., by linking to their homepage, providing a credit). For many of the composers, the songs are free for non-commercial use. However, you should note that if you are making monetized videos, these would NOT fall under non-commercial use.

Composer Style and Influences Listen, Contact & notes
Dan O Over 50 free songs in different kinds of pop, soft rock and ambient styles. www.danosongs.com/
Use for free if you provide a link/credit. Pay $10 for non-credited use
Audionautix Includes acoustic piece, film scores, rock and electronic Audionautix Homepage
Use for free if you provide an attribution or link
Teknoaxe Over 200 free songs in different genres—electronica, dubstep, rock, orchestral, etc www.youtube.com/user/teknoaxe/
Provide attribution and link to your video
DST A few hundred songs with an emphasis on electronic, ambient and and dance styles DeceasedSuperiorTechnician
The songs are issued under a Creative Commons attribution license (commercial use is also OK); you just need to provide an attribution
Incompetech Hundreds of songs in different genres, lengths and styes incompetech
Just provide an attribution that includes the licensing terms. You can see an example here incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/faq.html
Marc Dtwo Mainly rap-style beats with a dramatic, cinematic feel YouTube Channel
The music is free to use for personal and commercial projects (including monetized videos). Just provide an attribution (i.e., mention the YouTube Channel)
RickVanMan Over 20 songs in electronic (techno), cinematic and ambient styles) music4yourvids free music
Just provide an attribution
tacoMusic Cinematic, romantic, jazz Several free songs, plus a range of additional premium songs are available at the website (www.free-background-music.com/). For the free songs, you need to provide a link to the website
krayze & hot Urban styles: rap instumentals & beats with some techno. www.youtube.com/user/krayzehot
Use for free if you subscribe to the channel, favorite the video and provide a link back to the channel
MusicByPedro YouTube Channel with songs added weekly, mainly soft & melodic styles www.youtube.com/user/musicbypedro
Songs can be used on YouTube for commercial or non-commercial purposes; just mention the channel name, provide a link to the channel in the video description and include the song title
FunkCX 16 tracks, mainly very upbeat electronica www.youtube.com/user/FunKCX/
Add a credit, notify the composer (e.g., send a link)
Accelerated Ideas Around 30 short electonica intros/outros (10 sec. to 30 sec.) www.accelerated-ideas.com/FreeMusicTracks/
Add a credit (e.g., a link to the website)
longzijun my own stuff—26 free songs and a few short intros Preview page
May be used for non-commercial purposes (add a credit: music by longzijun)

 

3. Some Free Music, But Mainly Royalty-free Tracks

These channels offer some free music, but mainly deal in licensed music (i.e., you pay a one time fee)

Composer Style and Influences Listen, Contact & notes
Jewel Beat (various) Around 100 free repeating loops (10 sec. to 30 sec. in different styles. www.jewelbeat.com/free/free-background-music.htm
(the free music is located at the bottom of the page)
SophonicMedia InstrumentalsFree Mainly rock, but includes some other styles This is a new site, so the selection isn’t very large at the moment. Some tracks are free (as long as you provide a credit) and some are royalty-free (which means a small payment is required). Website: www.sophonic.com)
YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/SophonicMedia. The free songs are here (as long as appropriate credit is given):http://instrumentalsfree.com/

 

4. Other Sites to Get Background Music

Caution: The following sites focus on Creative Commons licensed music and Public Domain music. There are two things you need to bear in mind.

First, people will sometimes upload their songs and mistakenly state that the music is in the public domain or available through a Creative Commons licence. One example, would be someone uploading their piano only arrangement of a hit pop song and being unaware that the composition itself (melody, harmony, structure) is protected by copyright. Therefore, if you were to use that arrangement, you would be in violation of copyright law. You should familiarize yourself with the concepts of Creative Commons and public domain (see the links in the preceding paragraph) so that you can assess whether the music you use is really OK.

Second, sometimes people change their mind and ‘withdraw’ the Creative Commons licence or ‘remove it’ out of the public domain. Such actions are wrong (Creative Commons cannot be revoked, and once something is legitimately released into the public domain the copyright holder, it stays there), but people still do them. To e safe, when you download Creative Commons or public domain music, you should jot down the download date and the source and also get a screen capture that shows the song is under Creative Commons or in the public domain.

Archive Org: http://archive.org/index.php
Video, music and text in the public domain or issued under Creative Commons licences

Freesound: www.freesound.org/
Music recordings issued with Creative Commons licences

FreePD: www.freepd.cp,/
Music recordings issued with Creative Commons Licences

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/
An audio uploader that features many Creative Commons licensed music tracks. Try searching for a style of music (e.g. dub step) and then select one on the Creative Commons attribution qualities on the right. Not all music uploaded here is under Creative Commons

CMixter: http://ccmixter.org/
A site of Creative Commons licensed music tracks

5. Request Permission or get Custom-mades Scores

There are several composers who may be willing to provide free background music and/or compose and produce custom scores for your non-profit creative film or animation projects. You can also negotiate fees with them if you are working on profit-making films. I should warn you, however; some of the composers may not be very prompt or attentive when it comes to responding to your requests.Most of the composer/musicians on following list posted messages on the forum at: www.studentfilmmakers.com

Composer Style and Influences Listen & Contact Notes
Charlotte Partt Can work in any genre, buy specializes in emotive music & underscore (piano, synth, strings) Her website
charlotte@charlottepartt.com
Looking to build up a portfolio by scoring films. Will consider doing free custom scores for student filmmakers
Simon Electronic (deadMaus, Massive Attack) Soundcloud page
SimonSK@me.com
Looking to build up a portfolio by scoring indie films and student films
Adam Hachey Electronic, Pop MySpace page
arhachey@gmail.com
Interested in gaining experience in film
Jarodd Camp Classical contemporary, avant garde, microtonal, atonal Soundclick page
jarod.dcamp@gmail.com
Interested in working on horror, suspense or art films
Karl Antonin Orchestral MySpace page
kr.antonin@gmail.com
Is interested in doing film scores
Lisa Cole Different genres from dramatic scores to children’s music and corporate ID clips Lisa Cole
Audio Jungle portfolioleesecole@me.com
Is interested in building up her portfolio and doing film scores
Rogier Wildeboer & Hugo Aben Orchestral scores YouTube Showreel
Hugo’s YouTube channel
contactdoublescore@gmail.com
Interested in doing film scores
Daniel Heath Orchestral scores Free Film Score
info@freefilmscore.com
Filmmakers submit their film; selected films are scored for free
Terry Owen Electronica website now offline

terry@t-toe.co.uk
Looking to branch out into scoring for film/animation projects
Steven O’Brien Orchestral scores, Classical Steven O’Brien Net
steven@steven-obrien.net
Is mainly looking for paid work, but will consider working for free on low budget projects that interest him
Richard P John Solo piano music: New age (blend of pop, folk and classical) MySpace Page
welshpianist@yahoo.co.uk
Can use his existing compositions for non-profit projects
Alex Ford Orchestral and electronic Alex Ford
info@alexander-ford.com
Is mainly looking for paid work, but will consider working for free on low budget projects that interest him
Josh Mongan Electronic and orchestral josh.mongan@hotmail.co.uk Music student interested in building up a portfolio

Why are People Offering Their Work for Free

Why are these composers letting people use their work for free? Well, some of the composers listed above are looking to create careers as soundtrack composers and are now in the process of gaining experience and building up their portfolio. Some are already experienced composers/producers in other fields who are looking to expand their skills to include film work. Some, like myself, have music lying around that we have created for other purposes, so why not let others, especially people like students who don’t have a budget to spend on paying for scores, make use of it?

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10 thoughts on “Free Background Music around the Web

  1. If this page is still being used I would like to add Electronic and Orchestral to my styles if possible.

    Thanks

    Josh Mongan

  2. Thanks for the great music. It’s the first good music I’ve found. I’m using it for a presentation for class. And it’s nice to see someone else with a WordPress blog!!

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