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Background Music for Video: Licenses + The Best Music Sites

Brian Peters
Brian Peters Team Buffer
Background Music for Video: Licenses + The Best Music Sites
Summary

9 min read
You will learn

In 2021, 87% of marketers said video content gave them a strong return on investment, skyrocketing from just 33% in 2015. With ever-increasing competition amid video marketers to snag consumers’ attention, you need a secret weapon to make your own video marketing stand out. Enter background music for videos.

Your background music has a huge impact on how consumers respond, influencing everything from spending behavior to brand perception. Choosing music that aligns with your audience and video content is key to engaging new customers and driving lasting brand loyalty.

However, finding the perfect track is only half the battle — the other equally important half is understanding basic music licensing to make sure you’re using the songs and sound effects legally. It’s no use getting a song for “free” only to end up paying a lawyer to defend you in a copyright infringement case.

But Buffer has your back. Not only did we put together a music licensing guide for beginners, but we also reviewed 50 different music sites and came up with a list of the best places to find background music for video.

Let’s dive in!

3 Basic Types of Music Licenses

Different music licenses accommodate varying budgets and use cases. Besides avoiding any legal problems, it’s important to understand licenses so you can quickly (and confidently) decide which one makes the most sense for a project. For example, if you needed a specific top 10 hit, you could most likely get it through a Creative Commons license but not for free under public domain.

1. Public Domain

Because they aren’t protected by copyright, public domain content is available as free downloads for both personal and commercial purposes. These are the “no strings attached” downloads — you can remix them, share them, and use them repeatedly without worrying about legal or financial problems. Yay!

2. Royalty-Free

A royalty is a payment made every time you use a piece of content. So, royalty-free background music means you don’t have to make recurring payments on songs (that’s usually taken care of by the organization hosting the music). However, you do have to pay upfront — but you can then use the song for as long as you want. Royalty-free music can be used for personal and commercial purposes.

3. Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit that offers content creators access to free, standardized copyright licenses. In turn, creators get credit for their work, and it can then be shared and used for free. It’s a win-win!

Here’s where things get a little tricky, though. While you can use Creative Commons content for free, you can only do so if you follow specific requirements. These vary across six different license categories: three for commercial use and three for non-commercial (non-business).

Commercial Use

  1. Attribution (CC BY): You can use the song as long as you credit the creator, link to the CC license, and note if changes were made to the original content.
  2. Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA): You can use the song as long as you credit the creator, link to the CC license, note if changes were made to the original content, and license the new work with the same CC license or a compatible one.
  3. Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND): You can use the song as long as you credit the creator, link to the CC license, and note if changes were made to the original content. If you do alter the original content, you can’t publicly share the new work.

Non-Commercial Use

  1. Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC): You can use the song for non-business purposes as long as you credit the creator, link to the CC license, and note if changes were made to the original content.
  2. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA): You can use the song for non-business purposes as long as you credit the creator, link to the CC license, note if changes were made to the original content, and license the new work with the same CC license or a compatible one.
  3. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND): You can use the song for non-business purposes as long as you credit the creator, link to the CC license, and note if changes were made to the original content. If you do alter the original content, you can’t publicly share the new work.

Pay close attention when using Creative Commons-licensed work to make sure you don’t mix them up and cause a legal and financial headache.

Now that you know your licenses, it’s time to find some background music for video!

The 11 Best Websites for Background Music for Video

With a range of licensing options and genres from hip hop to indie, this list has something for every video marketer. Try out a few platforms to see which hosting site works best for your business, your project scope, and your budget.

1. Epidemic Sound

Licensing: Royalty-free

Why we love it: Epidemic Sound is one of our favorite places to find high-quality background music for video. With a library of 35,000+ tracks updated every week, Epidemic has some of the best music offerings in the business. You can easily search music by different genres, moods, lengths, tempos, or vocals to find the perfect fit for your video. We love how Epidemic Sound bundles all the legal rights you’ll need into one main license that works across all social media platforms.

Price range: Single-track licensing starting at $99, personal subscriptions at $144/year, commercial subscriptions at $299/year, and quote-based enterprise subscriptions

Bonus: We’re super excited to offer a special discount code for Buffer customers! Code: wer987ev

2. YouTube Audio Library

Licensing: Public domain and Creative Commons

Why we love it: All you need is a YouTube channel to access more than 150,000 free tracks in the YouTube Audio Library. Like Epidemic Sound, YouTube Audio Library also has excellent search capabilities, including the ability to filter songs by how often they’re downloaded. Perfect for your next YouTube video or video project!

Price range: All tracks are free, but Creative Commons licenses require attribution.

Bonus: Don’t have a YouTube channel yet? No worries — check out our complete guide to getting started on YouTube.

3. AudioJungle

Licensing: Royalty-free

Why we love it: AudioJungle is a service through Envato Market, a digital global marketplace that lets users share and sell creative assets like background music. All tracks must meet certain quality and functionality standards before they can be posted, so you know you’re getting top-notch audio. AudioJungle offers a staggering amount of royalty-free tracks (more than 1.8 million). And listen up, students: you get a 30% subscription discount!

Price range: Individual tracks starting at $1, Envato Elements personal subscriptions at $16.50/month, teams subscriptions starting at $14.50/month per member, quote-based enterprise subscriptions

4. Storyblocks

Licensing: Royalty-free

Why we love it: Storyblocks is one of our go-to music sources for the Buffer Podcast and social media videos. One of our favorite features of Storyblocks is how, in addition to search categories like mood, genre, and instrument, you can search by duration. This is super helpful for nailing specific timing in videos. Storyblocks also offers targeted collections like “Music for the Gram” and “Background Music” that make finding what you need a breeze.

Price range: Individual subscriptions ranging from $10-$30/month, quote-based enterprise subscriptions

5. Free Music Archive

Licensing: Public domain and Creative Commons

Why we love it: Owned by fair trade music licensing business Tribe of Noise, Free Music Archive hosts more than 150,000 songs from singers and songwriters across the globe in its music library. We love their commitment to supporting independent artists and their FAQ guide that breaks down the different attribution requirements for Creative Commons licenses.

Price range: All tracks are free, but Creative Commons licenses require attribution.

6. Jamendo

Licensing: Royalty-free

Why we love it: With seven different search filters, it’s super easy to navigate Jamendo’s diverse catalog of more than 250,000 tracks. In addition to single tracks, Jamendo offers an in-store radio background music bundle that features 27 different ad-free playlists. Pro tip: check out their radio recommendations tailored to a variety of businesses, from airports and amusement parks to fast-food restaurants and hospitals.

Price range: Commercial single track licensing from $49-$299, monthly subscriptions at $49/month, annual subscriptions at $299/year

7. SoundCloud

Licensing: All Rights Reserved, Some Rights Reserved, and Creative Commons

Why we love it: With more than 265 million songs from global artists, SoundCloud smokes the competition in terms of volume, which means you’re basically guaranteed to find the right music you want. The company supports independent creators with “fan-powered royalties,” where the more an artist’s music is played, the more money they make. Just make sure you pay extra close attention when downloading tracks because they aren’t all free to use, and many are protected by copyright.

Price range: Creative Commons tracks are free as long as they’re attributed correctly.

8. Freeplay Music

Licensing: Creative Commons

Why we love it: With over 50,000 free tracks available for non-commercial use, Freeplay is a great choice for educational or personal content. It’s definitely on the pricier side when it comes to using background music for commercial purposes, but you get a year out of it. Freeplay offers different pricing based on where the content will be used, from business podcasts to film trailers.

Price range: $0-$0.99 (personal use), commercial use ranging from $25-$500/year, quote-based blanket use

9. Bensound

Licensing: Royalty-free

Why we love it: What's cool about Bensound is that all tracks are created, uploaded, and managed by artist Benjamin Tissot. From animations and corporate videos to commercials and documentaries, Ben’s work has been featured all over. We love his quirky cover art, his song variety, and his site's easy search function.

Price range: Free for non-commercial use (with attribution), single track licensing between $38-$664, standard subscriptions at $159/year, extended subscriptions at $446/year

10. dig ccMixter

Licensing: Royalty-free and Creative Commons

Why we love it: dig ccMixter is a consistent fave among marketers who want awesome background music for video. The site features original content from around 45,000 global musicians and has thousands of tracks to choose from. We appreciate how you can search by license type — how you can use the music is crystal clear.

Price range: Royalty-free licenses from $22-222, Creative Commons tracks are free as long as they’re attributed correctly.

11. BeatPick

Licensing: Royalty-free

Why we love it: With big-name customers like 20th Century Studios, Samsung, and Puma, BeatPick is known for its music quality and quantity. A lot of the content is geared toward filmmakers and video games, so it's a great place to find cinematic music. It has features that make your life easier, from a “Beatlist” where you can save tracks to its “License Song” feature that automatically gives you a price based on what you want to use the song for. You can also search songs by language, which is especially helpful for international brands.

Price range: Licensing ranges from $34-$34,000 based on your project (e.g., personal vs. advertising), quote-based subscriptions

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Did you know that you can seamlessly schedule video content with Buffer? Buffer for Video works smoothly with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram!

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More of Our Favorite Video Marketing Resources

Over to You

We hope you take what you’ve learned in this post and use it to bring your video marketing ROI to the next level.

Have you used any of the websites above to find and download background music for video? Did we miss any of your favorites?

We’d love to hear about your experiences with the video creation process. Drop any questions you have in the comments below, and let’s keep this conversation going.

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