Top 6 Best Royalty Free Stock Music Sites for Filmmakers
Royalty free music has come a long way since the cheesy lounge style tracks you used to get. There are a lot of myths however it has improved massively over the last few years with much higher production standards than ever before. In this fast paced world video production companies don’t always have the time or resources to produce music in house – so that’s where royalty free music comes in!
The quality can vary slightly from one royalty free music site to the other as it boils down to how it’s vetted (whether the stock music is hand-picked or not). Price is also an important factor when deciding, which is where licensing models play and crucial part. You can find Royalty Free music anywhere from $5 to $500 on certain websites, which is less the production costs and more down to the licensing options.
Obviously there are a lot of royalty free music websites out there however we have come across a few which stand out. Take a look at our top 6 favourite royalty free stock music websites below based mostly on price, quality and licensing.
Flexible → Soundstripe
Average Track price: $15/Month or $135/Year (Unlimited Downloads)
SoundStripe is relatively new to the royalty free music market and is one of the first places we look for tracks for our video content. Promoting itself as “unlimited music for filmmakers”, Soundstripe offers you full access to their entire stock music library for just $15 a month or $135 for the year. What makes them one of the best stock music sites is that they continually update their library every week (adding 150-250 new songs each month).
All of their music is ready to go and already licensed for any format (YouTube, TV Broadcast) which is great. We like their simple interface along with the advanced filtering options which allows you to sort by genre, mood and the narrative of your video (with playlist categories to help you find what you need instantly).
If you are looking for more hip, electronic-style music then SoundStripe has the best selection. They are one of a few stock music sites who make some of their music in house and have a highly curated list independent artists
Value for Money → AudioBlocks
Average Track price: $149/Year (Unlimited Downloads) or 7 day free trial
AudioBlocks is a sub domain of the popular stock video website, VideoBlocks. They focuse on a variety of audio elements including sound effects and music tracks. AudioBlocks operates a simple pricing model with an annual fee of $149/year for unlimited downloads. This makes it one of the cheapest royalty-free music subscription service on this list.
They have hand picked and exclusive tracks with free watermarked versions for you to test in your project (which is a great help). A lot of their tracks have looped versions (15, 30 and 60 seconds) along with the full track which is handy if you only need part of the song. Their library is vast with over 100,000 audio tracks to choose from so chances are you can find something to fit your needs. They have filters to help narrow down you search such as duration, tempo, instruments, genre, and mood – as well as a service to help you find the track you need.
You can view their entire library before signing up, but AudioBlocks offers a free 7-day trial anyway. This means you can access the entire royalty free music library at no charge for the first week (and then cancel your account before the trial period ends).
Reasonably Priced → AudioJungle
Average Track price: $19
When it comes to affordability, AudioJungle is definitely at the top with tracks starting at $1 (the perfect option if you’re on a budget!). Even though their prices are cheap, they still deliver a wide range of stock music and it’s very easy to find a decent track.
What is more, they also offer sound effects and music kits in addition to music. Not all of their songs are exclusive however they have a massive library (over 500,000). Certain tracks are made for looping which is great time saver and you can download previews to use in your edit (their demo files have an AudioJungle watermark until you buy a license).
You can view the entire library and listen to the tracks without making an account. Because of their wide selection, simple licensing options and affordable fees, they should be included on any filmmakers list.
Simple → Pond5
Average Track price: $35
While primarily known as one of the top stock video sites, Pond5 also boasts quite the collection of stock music and sound effects. Tracks are reasonably priced and musicians can set their own prices (there is even an option to contact the musician directly). Pond5 also offers a membership pricing plan, where you can download audio tracks from a pre-selected stock music library.
There is a useful search and categorizing system, allowing users to search by duration, date of upload, artist, sales, views and price. All royalty free music is quality checked before being added to their library and can also sample the track before you buy. Whether you’re working on a short promo video, corporate shoot or commercial, Pond5 has stock music for all types of projects.
Intuitive → Shutterstock
Average Track price: $49
Shutterstock is one of the most popular stock photo sites out there and since a few years ago have moved into Royalty Free music as well (including a stand-alone stock music service named Premium Beat).
They have a pretty basic 2 tier licence system, starting with a Standard license ($49 per track) which gives you the right to use the file in broadcast projects up to 1 million viewers (for one country only). They also have an Extended license ($419 per track) which gives you right to use the file in unlimited broadcast audiences (in as many countries as you wish).
The site has a pretty intuitive search feature (keywords are screened to ensure the effectiveness of the search) and you can easily start adding additional keywords, genre’s, or duration to quickly find relevant music. Shutterstock have a pretty vigorous quality review process and you can also sample the track before you buy.
Impressive → MusicBed
Average Track price: $199
MusicBed is the first choice for many professional filmmakers and production companies due to their high-quality content however this also means they are not the cheapest. The prices can rise significantly depending on the type of usage. For example, the cheapest license is for a home movie ($49), yet anything commercial starts at $199 and up.
Th website interface is fun and sleek, making for a really pleasant browsing experience, with visual waveforms allowing you to preview the tempo and structure of a song. Their list of genres covers all your basic needs and they have a lot of modern sounding content derived from more than 600 artists and composers (with lots of popular artists as well as alternative/indie based musicians). Search for songs based on a wide variety of genres such as dubstep, gypsy, mysterious, and raw.
Things to consider when buying stock music
When you’ve spent quite a bit of time looking for stock music, a lot of little things can add up to big time savings. Time saved looking for music, means more time to edit, which means a better, more polished project. Look for stock music sites which show waveforms on the tracks as it is incredibly helpful, especially when previewing a track in the browser as you can easily see where changes are going to occur and jump to them. Look for tracks that actually go somewhere, either with builds, breaks, solos or crescendos that you can then edit together as your project requirements dictate. Also think about the beats per minute (BPM) of the track you’re looking for. This is especially helpful when the client has asked you to change the music as your edit is likely flowing at the same tempo, and so finding a track with a similar BPM, or divisible BPM can help set you on the right course. Finally, look for stock music sites that allow you to download watermarked previews as you can then drop them into an edit and have a play (then decide later if you want to purchase the track!).
What Royalty Free Music licence should I purchase?
The two main types of royalty free music licences are Standard (for YouTube, personal websites, non-commercial video/films/theatre) and then Extended (for Television, Film & Radio Advertising). The first licence is the most common and allows you only pay one single price regardless of the amount of video views and how long it’s online. The second is a little more complicated and basically includes the standard licence plus a variable track usage fee (which includes an amount of plays or media copies).
Don’t bother trying to use copyrighted tracks, they sound great but will get you into all sorts of trouble if you’re caught! Royalty free music is a great way to quickly and easily license stock music for legitimate use in your video projects. So, next time you purchase royalty free music, feel good about it knowing that you’re supporting your fellow freelancer!
Do you have any you’d like to add to our list? Let us know in the comments! If you’re looking for stock video then check out our article on stock video sites.