I’ve been getting this question a lot recently. Especially when you take a few steps in the film world and realize using Jay Z’s latest song on your film is not acceptable or legal. How do you find free background music for videos? How do you find free music for film?
“Can I use this song?”
“What’s Creative Commons?”
“What if my film is just for fun?”
“What if my film is a commercial project?”
“Free music for non-profit work?”
Music is a tricky thing to find – there are so many laws and red tape that surround using free music for film.
These are all questions I’ve asked myself over the years when it comes tracking down the perfect film score. Let me break down what I’ve learned over the years when it comes to finding music for your videos.
If You Want Free Background Music for Videos, or Free Music for Film Check The Online Thrift Stores
If this is your demand then you have to check out ‘royalty free’ tracks. These are tracks you can use on films / videos and you don’t have to pay a dime. I’m talking free music for film!
A lot of these tracks are put out by nice composers or amateur musicians that are trying to get their tracks out there. Also, included in this category is a lot of older music that has an expired copyright. These are great resources for free background music for your videos.
The problem with Royalty Free music is that it generally is ‘cheesy.’ Just like old clothes, people tend to give away articles that don’t fit or look ‘ugly.’
This is the ‘thrift shop’ version of music for films. You may have to scour some of these sites for hours, but you could find a few gems that are valuable and fit.
Here’s a list of Royalty Free music sites to find free background music for videos:
- http://www.partnersinrhyme.com/ (mostly free loops)
- http://www.pacdv.com/sounds/free-music.html (credit them)
- http://www.publicdomain4u.com/ (copyright expired music)
- http://www.musopen.org/ (copyright expired music)
Creative commons also falls into this category of ‘free.’ For these tracks though you have to credit the artist. That’s the form of payment in a way! Same applies above though – these are the ‘thrift clothes’ of film music. You have to sort through a lot of junk to find the good free music for film.
Creative Commons Music Sites
Here’s a helpful video on finding ‘creative commons’ tracks on Soundcloud.
Next up: Mass-Produced Quality Tracks, The Retail of Music
The next level of music that you can find for your films is licensing tracks. This is the retail version of finding music for your films. You go in and pay for quality. The more you spend, the better quality of track you will receive. There’s a TON of different sites you can license music on. Some sites offer cheaper solutions, other sites offer more boutique solutions.
To sum up these sites if you’ve never heard of them: you pay a fee for the ability to use a music track. Some of these sites charge a one time fee for a film. Others charge a repeat fee. Also they may charge differently based on the size of the project. Is this music going to be used for a tiny non-profit film? Or is this music going to be used in a Super Bowl ad shown to millions of people around the world?
You’ll have to check out the sites to see what things cost for free background music for your videos.
Again using the clothing analogy, you typically get what you pay for. Buying a shirt at Forever 21 may cost way less. But if you buy a shirt at Gucci you are getting something made with more care.
Check out these sites and you’ll immediately find some quality tracks to use in your film. You still have to do the searching and find something that you like and fits your film.
Use a Liscesing Site:
Last, the custom score, hand-made!
The custom—tailored version of film scores is hiring somebody specifically to write a score custom fit for you film or video. This can get pretty pricy. But if you have the budget it is 2nd to none to hire an amazing composer. It’s like getting a suit that’s custom tailored for you. It drapes over your body perfectly and looks ‘right.’
https://www.musicbed.com/ offers custom licensing and puts you in contact with specific musicians to get you the ‘right sound.’
If you’re thinking, “I want the custom score, but I don’t have the budget? What do I do Chris???”
Then you’re in luck. Here are two alternatives to getting cheap scores that are custom made for you video.
Find a Musician Buddy
I’ve done this for my films in the past. I have a few friends who write music for fun (not even film scores). I approached them about a project I was doing. Then I gave them some ‘inspiration’ tracks that I was wanting the track to sound like. I then let them do their thing. Obviously you have to feel it out and get them excited about the project in order to get free background music for your videos.
“What if I don’t have any musician friends Chris?”
Check out my article on Networking in the Film World to find some musicians in your town.
The Last Option, Write it Yourself
This has been my route for the past few years. I play a little guitar and piano on the side. Over the years I’ve learned how to create ambient tracks on my own. Check out some of my tracks here, download them below!