Top 9 sites to find free music for video editing
Free Music Archive
The FMA works with artists, creators, radio stations and Creative Commons enthusiasts to offer a large selection of free stock music. It was founded by the non-commercial radio station WFMU and is one of the driving forces behind free music on the Internet.
To find out how many songs are available, we saw that electropunk, a relatively obscure genre compared to most others on the web has more than 600 music tracks available.
On the other side of the spectrum, ambient electronica includes almost 7,000. FMA lists sixteen different main genres, from spoken and instrumental to hip-hop, rock and blues. Each genre has numerous sub-genres listed to help you find what you are looking for.
Most of the music offered on this site is available under Creative Commons licenses of various kinds, but some uses an FMA license that only allows downloading and personal listening. So be sure to take a close look at any songs that interest you.
If you're interested in trying your hand at creating your own mixes, ccMixter is a great place to start. Musicians upload tracks and vocalists upload their creations. You are free to mix them however you like (or use them individually).
dig.ccMixter is a subdomain focused entirely on music, so it's a great place to watch music videos. The music is available under an attribution licence, so you can use it for whatever you want as long as you credit the artist.
You can find thousands of tracks here, but it can be difficult to navigate at first. Your best bet is to use the tag search, which opens up a list of tags with which you can narrow down the tracks - there's even a "music_for_video" tag!
If you are interested in using music for non-Creative-Commons uses, you can check out TuneTrack, a website that offers royalty-free music without attribution for a fee.
Although HookSounds has subscriptions and licences for all types of content, they also offer a licence for non-commercial use and mention, which is free. This is a good option if you are looking for original music, but unfortunately not everyone can use it.
There are certain criteria you must meet to avoid any copyright infringement, and this is where it gets tricky. To use HookSounds music for free:
- You cannot monetise your content. Therefore, if you publish a video on your YouTube channel, you cannot place advertisements or sponsored content. In general, if you are making money with your content, you will need a paid licence. Otherwise, if it is for a personal video project, for example, you will have the free license to use and mention.
- The content must be for personal use only, so if you are a freelancer or a company, you will not be able to use it. If you are a student or instagrammer posting videos such as reels or IGTV that are not sponsored, then you may make use of this licence.
- You must give attribution to HookSounds by crediting them in the description of your video or by tagging them on social media. Credits must include the website link.
You will need to meet all three criteria; otherwise, you run the risk of receiving copyright claims or having your video demonetised. We recommend that you keep a close eye on the terms related to the use and mention licence to avoid problems once you have published your video or podcast.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the tracks under the Use & Mention licence are the ones that are not labelled as Premium. There are around 1000 tracks that you can use for free on HookSounds. The good news is that they are constantly updating their library, so that number is sure to grow.
While the interface is not as modern or intuitive as other options, you can find a lot of music in FreeSound. But you can also find other things, such as sound effects, noise, people talking and natural sounds.
Whatever kind of sound you need, you will most likely find it here. The list of tags on the website is the best way to navigate:
You can also use the search bar if you have an idea of what you are looking for.
Each sound has an associated image, shown on the category page, which tells you what kind of licence it has. Many include CC-BY licences, but there are also some CC0 and non-commercial options.
And if you're interested in music editing, there are tons of instrument samples you can put together to create your own track.
While it lacks the tens of thousands of songs present on FMA and ccMixter, Incompetech makes it easy to find what you're looking for and provides attribution. Everything on the site is available under a CC-BY licence, so you only need to provide a link to Incompetech when you use it.
Incompetech's filtering tool allows you to select a number of criteria to narrow down your selection. Choose a feel (such as "aggressive", "groove" or "mysterious"), tempo, genre, duration or any combination of the two.
Select a piece of music for a brief preview and then download it with one click. The site also gives you full attribution so you can copy and paste it wherever you need to.
If you are looking for electronic music, go to Cctrax. This site specialises in electronic music (although it also offers some rock, jazz and modern classical music).
One of the biggest advantages of using Cctrax to download music for videos is that you can filter their tracks by Creative Commons license type. You can also filter by genre, label, tag and artist to get the exact type of music you're looking for.
Although the interface is a bit dated, you can find a lot of good music for video editing if you're willing to spend some time looking for it.
Cctrax is also the only site here that features music videos. Not all of the videos are CC licensed, but many of them are, so if you're looking for a stock video or want to submit a music video, this is a good place to start. (Though you'll notice that there's no filtering system for the videos; you'll just have to watch a bunch of them to find what you're looking for.
There are two different parts of the Jamendo website: a listening section and a licensing section. Everything in the listening section has a Creative Commons licence, so you can use these tracks for your videos.
Unfortunately, you can't sort the tracks by the type of CC licence they have. So you'll have to browse each one. To see what type of licence a track has, click on the down arrow on the right side of the screen; you'll see play counts and symbols that correspond to different types of Creative Commons licences:
Because Jamendo is primarily focused on listening, you can find easy-to-listen features such as radio stations, playlists and communities. This can be a good way to discover music if you're not sure what you want to use in your video editing.
If you have an idea of what you're looking for, you can use the genre lists to browse the available tracks or the search bar to narrow down the list.
Just remember to check the type of Creative Commons licence available before downloading!
SoundCloud has one of the largest music libraries available online. Launched in 2008, SoundCloud was created to bring musicians together and connect them with listeners and creators around the world.
And many of the music tracks available on SoundCloud can be deleted and used for commercial purposes.
Here's how to use SoundCloud to find royalty-free background music for your videos:
- Go to SoundCloud.
- Sign in to your account or create a new one.
- Search for the type of music you need for your online video, e.g. hip-hop, EDM or ambient.
- In the menu on the left, select "Tracks".
- Under "Filter results", find and click on the copyright symbol ©. Here you can choose the different licences, including "For commercial modification" and "For commercial use".
- Select "For commercial use". You will now see all music tracks available for free download and commercial use.
Just remember to check the type of Creative Commons licence available and the type of attribution the artist is requesting in exchange for their music.
YouTube audio library
If you want to add music to a YouTube video, the YouTube Audio Library is a great way to do this. You can also download these tracks for use in other videos, although you may want to double-check the licensing agreement of the song you chose if you do so.
Simply go to the Audio Library in your YouTube Studio and use the filters to find tracks by genre, mood, instrument, duration or licensing agreement (you can choose songs and music tracks that require attribution or not). Click play to preview a track and hit the download button to save a copy.
From there, upload it to your YouTube video or use a video editor to add the track to your video.
One of the cool features of YouTube's music library is that you can highlight your favourite tracks and come back to them later. So, if you're looking for music for a particular video and you find something you like, but it's not suitable for your current project, you can save it.
In short: check the licence of each track.
I've mentioned this several times already, but it's worth reiterating: every track has a licensing agreement. And it's a good habit to double-check that agreement to make sure you can use that music to edit videos.
In most cases, if you violate the license agreement, you'll just get an email asking you to remove it. It's not a big deal. But there's always the possibility of legal action, and that's something you don't want to deal with.
These Creative Commons music sites will help you find royalty-free music for videos, but you still need to make sure you follow the correct attribution procedures and don't use non-commercial tracks for commercial purposes.
As long as you do that, you'll be ready to download and use all the music you want!
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