On this page, I will introduce 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. There is a good chance that you won’t be able to find exactly why you are looking for, especially if you have a specific pop or rock song in mind, but if you look hard enough you should be able to find something that meets your needs.
It is important to distinguish between:
- Music that you actually use for free and
- Music that is royalty-free (which means you can use the music but you have to pay a one-off licensing fee) and
- 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 four sections.
- YouTube’s Free Music
- Composers/Performers Offering Free Music: Songs to Download and Go
- Sites with Some Free Music with Other Songs that Require Payment
- 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
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 free background music and free music for intros is available from this page: Free Background Music and Intro Themes. You might find what you need here.
1. Free Music Library at YouTube
YouTube has a lot of free music you can use (Vimeo used to provide a similar service, but recently stopped offering free music). In YouTube, you need to have an account and be logged in. Go to Creator Studio and select Create (see the left column) and then Audio Library or simply go to this link: www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/
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.||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
|CeeeX||Mainly dramatic songs and upbeat electronica||www.youtube.com/user/FunKCX/|
Available for non-commercial use. Add a credit, notify the composer (e.g., send a link)
|Accelerated Ideas||Around 12 free songs||www.accelerated-ideas.com/freemusictracks/aisearchtracks.aspx|
3. Other Sites to Get Background Music
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: archive.org/
Video, music and text in the public domain or issued under Creative Commons licences
Music recordings issued with Creative Commons Licences
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
A site of Creative Commons licensed music tracks
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