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Ultimate Guide: Stock Music, Royalty-Free Music & Custom Music

When it comes to making videos, it can be easy to get caught up in the visuals. A video’s style, composition and use of special effects are sometimes the first factors on people’s minds. But when you think about the experience of watching a video, the component that often has the most impact is the video’s music.

Think about how different your favourite movie scenes would feel with different music. Rose letting Jack drift away into the ocean just wouldn’t have had the same heartbreaking vibe with AC/DC jamming in the background. One YouTuber even made this compilation video to showcase this very idea; check out different versions of a “Pirates of the Caribbean” scene, each with a different musical style, to see firsthand just how much music changes the feel of a video.

While the power of music is evident in that clip, it’s also backed by research. One Nielsen study found that viewers thought ads with music were more informative, more emotive, more creative and more empathy-inducing than those without music. Because music is such a make-or-break component of commercials, explainer videos, video games, movies, and more, we’ve created this simple guide that outlines the different music options you have, how to find what’s right for your video, and 30 of the best stock music sites and custom music platforms you can use to source the perfect music for your project.

What Kinds of Music Options Are There?

While there are dozens of musical genres you have to choose from, the way you can procure your music is much more simple. There are three basic options you have when it comes to the type of music you can use in your videos: licensed stock music, royalty-free stock music, and custom music.

Stock music

Stock music is a general term for music that’s recorded and available for purchase but wasn’t created with one specific use in mind. Just like stock photography, there are stock music libraries online where you can listen to different tracks, find what’s right for your video, and purchase it in just a few minutes. Within the stock music category, there are two distinct sub-categories:

Licensed stock music
Licensed stock music comes with a set of fees that are dependent on factors like the type of project being created (a commercial, a video game, a personal project, etc.), the music’s distribution (whether the end product will be published online, on television, in a film festival, etc.), the total size of the advertising spend (if you’re paying to promote the video in web ads, on television or on radio) and the size of the company purchasing the music. As you can imagine based on those categories, licensed music comes with all different price points – especially when you get into music that’s been produced by Hollywood artists and is available for commercial use as well.

Royalty-free stock music
Royalty-free stock music is exactly what it sounds like: stock music that comes without any associated royalty fees. This means you can purchase this music one time, and regardless of how many times you use it or how many impressions your video makes, you’ll never incur any additional costs. This can be a great option for projects and companies with limited budgets, or commercials that are going to have a broad reach and could potentially result in hefty royalty fees.

Custom music

If you simply can’t find the perfect music for your video, custom music might be right for you. Custom music is composed and produced for a single, specific purpose. While custom music can seem like a pricey option, we’re going to share several resources later in this guide where you can find affordable custom music for your video.

Because there are so many different music resources available, we’ve included 30 of the best stock music sites and custom music platforms where you can find great music for video. So don’t worry – you don’t have to start your search alone.

10 of the Best Royalty-Free Music Sites

royalty-free-music

While licensed music gives businesses a lot of options, as you can see, it often comes at a cost. Let’s take a look at its more affordable counterpart: royalty-free music. Royalty-free music comes with several benefits, namely that it can be a very cost-effective option. This type of music comes with a one-time flat fee that will never change based on how long you use the video, where you distribute it, or how many people watch it. That also means you don’t have to go back and renegotiate the licensing agreement if you decide to reuse the video several years down the road.

However, because royalty-free music is affordable, you run the risk that someone else is using the same music in another video. You might also experience some issues with quality; as you can imagine, high-quality artists are going to charge more for their work than novice musicians. But never fear – we’ve included 10 of the best royalty-free music sites below that have plenty of music options that are both affordable and high quality.

1. AudioJungle
AudioJungle is a super affordable royalty-free stock audio platform that features tracks from more than 35,000 artists around the world. Their songs start at just $1 each, and while most of them are more expensive than that, they usually tap out at around $100. The site also offers sound effects for just a few dollars, so if you want to add even more pizzazz to your video, you can find everything you need on AudioJungle.

Audio Jungle

2. PremiumBeat
PremiumBeat might look like a normal stock music site, but when you give some of their tracks a listen, you’ll hear the difference. They have some of the best royalty-free music available online, all produced by independent artists. Their tunes have a high production value and sound like they’re radio-ready, giving your video an expensive, polished feel without the pop-star price tag. Their fees come in two tiers: $49 for a song that will be distributed online, and $199 for a song that will be distributed on the radio or on television. Either way, their one-time fees are a reasonable option for small businesses on a budget.

Premium Beat

3. Pond5
Pond5 is a massive stock asset hub with more than 63 million digital files available for licensing. Their royalty-free stock audio collection is impressive, but the best part is everything else that’s available on the platform. Pond5 has stock sound effects, photos, and video footage, so if you’re looking to spice your video up with music and some stunning 4K video, you can get both in one place.

Pond5

4. Soundstripe
Soundstripe is a royalty-free music library that uses a subscription model so users can access their entire library for one low annual fee. Their library features everything from summertime chill melodies to hard rock headbangers and everything in between. Soundstripe’s basic subscription costs $135 per year and gives users unlimited licenses. However, enterprise-level customers should consider their pro-level plan, which is custom-priced to meet the needs of each business.

Soundstripe

5. Audioblocks
Another subscription-based platform, Audioblocks, has more than 100,000 sound and music tracks that are available to customers without any hidden or future fees. On top of a huge collection of stock music, the site also hosts sound effects and loops that are included in the subscription plan. Their basic membership is priced at $12.42 per month, and will meet the needs of most small businesses. However, larger companies should look into Audioblocks’ custom enterprise packages.

Audio Blocks

6. Music Vine
Music Vine is a royalty-free stock music site that specifically houses music from independent artists around the world. Their founders created Music Vine because they wanted to offer businesses an easier way to license music – and they’re doing just that. Most of their tracks are available for a flat fee of around $50. As an added bonus, Music Vine also offers a suggestion service, so if you’re not sure what kind of music is right for your video, their team will help you find the perfect tune.

Music Vine

7. Bensound
Bensound is a royalty-free stock music site that produces and licenses all of their own music. Their tracks range from pop to jazz to rock, and give users plenty of options to choose from. Their two-tiered model features a standard $150 subscription for online distribution and an extended distribution subscription for television, advertising and more that costs $615 per year. You can also use Bensound’s music for free as long as you credit the website. Free stock music? You can’t beat that price.

Ben Sound

8. Productiontrax
Productiontrax features a wide range of stock music options, covering obscure sub-genres like dixieland, asian fusion and flamenco. If you’re looking for something specific and affordable, check out their site. To make things even better, they’ve got easy licensing down to a science. Their one-time licensing fee covers all media, all distribution outlets, and businesses of all sizes in perpetuity. If you’re looking for no-hassle stock music licensing, Productiontrax might be right for you.

Production Trax

9. YouTube Audio Library
It makes sense that global video giant YouTube would offer their users access to tunes that turn up the quality of their videos. They offer a collection of free stock audio that come at no cost if published on YouTube’s platform. But that’s where the licensing stops; if you publish your video outside of YouTube, you’ll be breaking their copyright agreement. This option is perfect if you’re making a video specifically for YouTube, but if you want to publish it on your website or another platform, it’s best to pursue another avenue.

YouTube

10. Stock Music Site
Stock Music Site offers more than 800,000 music tracks, many of which have been produced by award-winning musicians and composers. Stock Music Site proves quality doesn’t have to come with a steep price tag; their full-length tracks start at just $44.95 with steep discounts available for customers who purchase more than 10 songs. If you’ve got a collection of videos to produce and you’re looking for high-quality music, Stock Music Site might have the balance of quality and affordability you’re looking for.

Stock Music Site

10 of the Best Licensed Music Sites

licensed-music

Music licensing is the act of paying musical artists and owners a fee to use their copyrighted music. Licensed music comes in all shapes, sizes and price points; while licensing a song from a freelance musician for your explainer video could cost you $25 in licensing fees, licensing a Beyoncé song could cost you more than $25,000. It’s important that you do your homework and thoroughly read an artist’s licensing agreement so you don’t take on unexpected costs down the road.

There are many pros of using licensed music in your video. First, opting to use licensed music makes the world your oyster. You could license a popular song, like Walmart did when they launched their free 2-day shipping service. Their video features the well-known classic “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward – because what song could be more perfect to launch a delivery service?

Licensing popular music is a great option for big brands who have large budgets and want to leverage the cachet of popular songs to earn viewer’s attention and increase sales. But licensing a Katy Perry song isn’t always a practical option for small- to mid-sized businesses. Luckily, there’s a wide range of music available for licensing – and a wide range of licensing platforms. Here are 10 of the best licensed music sites to kick off your search.

1. Musicbed
Musicbed is a music licensing site with an extensive collection of popular music available with just a few clicks of your mouse. From hip hop to club mix to classical, this site has it all. Their massive music library – which features tunes by popular and independent artists alike – is sure to have something to fit the mood you’re looking for. However, their prices can range from affordable to astronomical based on the type of project and business you’re working for. Most projects will require a custom quote from their team, so be sure to pad your project timeline with a few extra days to accommodate talking with their customer support team.

Music Bed

2. Marmoset
Marmoset is one of the best licensed music sites that specialises in new and emerging music. If you’re looking for something trending and cutting edge, but not quite as pricey as the latest Bruno Mars track, Marmoset might be right for you. Their licensing fees are based on the type of project and the size of your company. If you work for a small business with fewer than 20 people, you can expect a track to range from around $100 to $200. However, if your company has more than 250 people, you’re going to need to contact Marmoset for a custom quote that will likely exceed $1,000, making this site a great option for small teams looking to make the most of their budget.

Marmoset

3. Audio Network
Audio Network is a music licensing platform that features more than 140,000 original tracks from artists around the globe. Their tracks are already pre-approved for use in any type of media in any part of the world. The platform features several affordable options. For just $99, you can license a song for use in a corporate video – like an explainer, how-to or testimonial video – or for use in a social media ad campaign with a spend of less than $2,000. Anything outside of those use cases will require a custom quote from their team.

Audio Network

4. SongFreedom
SongFreedom is a great option for teams who create lots of videos that aren’t promoted through paid platforms like television and social media. For just $60 per year, SongFreedom subscribers get access to their entire library. The only catch is you can only use that music in corporate videos like explainer and how-to videos. If you decide to commercially promote a video, you’ll need to reach out to their team for a custom licensing quote.

Song Freedom

5. Jamendo
Jamendo is a super affordable option for licensing music for commercial purposes. While their library doesn’t include tracks from well-known artists, there are thousands of options. And since their site lets you filter songs by mood (corporate, motivational, energetic, etc.), it’s easy to find the right tune for your video. Jamendo licenses songs to businesses for $49 and $99 depending on your video’s distribution; larger projects still require a custom quote, but the $99 license includes radio and TV distribution – something most other sites on this list don’t include. Jamendo also has great bulk discounts, so if you’re shopping for tracks for multiple projects, you could save upwards of 30% by purchasing them all through Jamendo.

Jamendo

6. Ricall Express
You won’t find any radio hits on Ricall Express, but you will find some great deals to keep your project within budget. Their licenses include uploads to any site that hosts videos, like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram and more. If you’re looking for a song to use in a video that will be distributed mostly online, you’ll find plenty of options on Ricall Express for less than $100.

Ricall

7. Addictive Tracks
Addictive Tracks takes licensed stock music to the next level. They only offer music produced by premier and award-winning musicians, meaning you’re getting access to the cream of the musical crop. While their library is vast, they don’t list any pricing information online. In order to get a quote, you’ll need to contact a member of their customer service team.

Addictive Tracks

8. dig.ccMixter
dig.ccMixter might look like your average stock music site at first glance. You can browse a library of tracks, find one that’s right for your video, and download it for use. However, what’s different about dig.ccMixter is their music is sourced from artists who are looking to make a name for themselves – and are willing to give their music away for free. All you have to do is give credit to the musician, and you can use any track on dig.ccMixter’s library for free. If you don’t want to credit the musician, you can also purchase a license for around $88.

Dig.cc

9. Audiosocket
Audiosocket is a music licensing hub created by music enthusiasts who wanted to make it easier for independent videographers and artists to collaborate. While the site was created to serve those two audiences, Audiosocket is a great resource for businesses looking for unique music with an edgy, indie flair. Audiosocket prices their licenses based on your company’s annual revenue. Companies that make less than $10 million in a year are looking at a licensing fee of $199, while companies that make between $10 million and $40 million will be charged $695. Companies who bring in more than $40 million will require a custom quote from the Audiosocket team.

Audio Socket

10. Triple Scoop Music
Triple Scoop Music is a music licensing site with 35,000 hand-picked songs from more than 1,000 independent songwriters, artists and composers around the world. Their music has been used by major companies like Google, Lego and Canon, and has even been featured in Grammy- and Emmy-winning projects. Triple Scoop makes it easy for you to browse genres like optimistic, business marketing soundtracks and cinematic tracks to find exactly what you’re looking for. They assess their licensing fees based on the type of project you’re working on; fees range from $60 to $299 depending on how you plan to distribute their music.

Triple Scoop

10 of the Best Custom Music Sites

custom-music

Stock music can be a great, affordable solution, but sometimes you need something super specific to get the exact right feel. Enter: custom music. Custom music is music that’s been written and produced specifically for a single use case.

As you can imagine, custom music comes with several significant benefits. First, no one will ever be able to use your song in any other context; it’s yours to use and own forever. Custom music can also be crafted to match the emotional cadence of your video; when you work with an artist to design a unique piece, he or she can identify critical moments in the video and reinforce those moments with a change in tempo, increase in volume or other sound effects.

However, custom music has flaws too. The process of producing custom music can be time consuming; sharing your creative vision with a musician, going through rounds of iterations, and finally landing on the right end product can seem like a full-time job. It can also be expensive; custom music takes more time, talent, and resources – and thus requires more budget.

To create custom music, you can partner with a creative agency or find an artist on a number of online platforms that pair creative talent with businesses like yours. To get started, check out the 10 custom music providers we’ve included below.

1. Bespoke Music
If you’re looking for a catchy tune to get stuck in the heads of your target audience, look no further. Bespoke Music is a music production studio that specialises in jingles. Unlike background tracks, jingles can become a core part of your company’s brand (who could forget Meow Mix’s “I want chicken, I want liver” jingle or Toys R Us “Magical Place” commercial, both of which were stuck in the heads of people around the world for years?). For around $170, Bespoke Music will record a custom jingle that includes 4 cuts – different speeds and versions of the jingle – and a 2-year license to broadcast the jingle on a single station. Outside of that, you’ll need to work with them to craft a custom licensing agreement.

Bespoke Music

2. Felt Music
Felt is a custom music production studio that’s staffed with experienced composers who work with brands to take their music to the next level. They’ve worked with global brands like Pepsi, State Farm and Volkswagen to outfit their commercials with custom tracks tailored specifically for their TV spots. Everything Felt does is on a client-by-client basis, so if you’re looking for a quote from this esteemed group of musicians, contact them directly.

Felt

3. Media Music Now
Media Music Now is a one-stop-shop for custom music, sound effects and voice over tracks. Their team of composers, vocalists and instrumentalists have been working together since 2005 to deliver high-quality music that’s been used in commercials, documentaries, video games and more. They’re so committed to providing a bespoke solution that they pair each client with a composer whose expertise best lends itself to the client’s needs. Contact their team to start a conversation about your project and to get an estimate.

Media Music Now

4. Global Fire Creative
Global Fire Creative is a full-service agency that offers custom music production and voice over work – a great combo if you’re producing a video that requires both and want the music and VO to sync perfectly. The team has worked with brands like Vodaphone and Xerox to create custom tunes, so you can expect their work to be top-notch. Global Fire Creative’s work is all priced based on the project at hand, so reach out to their team for a quote.

Global Fire Creative

5. Crucial Custom
Crucial Custom is a music production platform that offers companies a unique way to find the perfect song for their needs. Crucial Custom will pair you with five indie musicians in their invite-only community. They pick artists to work with you based on your needs, and each of those artists will prepare a demo for you. You then select the option you prefer and only pay for that song. Five custom options for the price of one – what could be better than that?

Crucial Custom

6. MusikPitch
MusikPitch is a global marketplace that pairs your company with talent around the world based on your unique project. Once you sign up online, MusikPitch will ask you a few questions about your music needs, budget and preferences. Songwriters can then review your pitch and submit their work for your consideration. As a final step, you listen to each submission, select a winner and pay for their work based on the budget you set in your initial brief. MusikPitch’s model is a simple, cost-effective and fun way to approach purchasing custom music.

musikpitch

7. Audiodraft
Audiodraft is an audio branding agency that produces all things sound, including voice overs, music, sound effects and more. They start working with new clients by diving into your industry to see how your competitors are using sound to shape their brands. After presenting that research to you and making a recommendation about how your brand can better leverage audio to reach your marketing goals, they’ll start producing your custom sound work. The company offers several different packages, from single-song productions that start at $595 to comprehensive branding packages that cost upwards of $20,000. Visit their website to see what package is right for you and to start a conversation with their team.

Audio Draft

8. BCN Sound
BCN Sound is an original music production studio led by producer, composer and instrumentalist Simon Smith. During his multi-decade career, Smith has worked with brands like Nike, Red Bull and Nissan to deliver high-quality, custom music for video commercials, radio spots, movies and more. If you’re looking for a highly personal experience where you can be in direct contact with the person writing and producing your music, a partnership with BCN Sound might be right for you.

BCN Sound

9. Box of Toys
Box of Toys is a music and sound design agency skilled in producing music for use in anything from commercials to short films to video games. Their client roster includes big names like Gucci, Hyundai and Porsche, so you can be sure when you partner with Box of Toys, you’re working with industry-leading music talent. Reach out to their team to talk about your project needs and to get a quote.

Box Of Toys

10. Echoic Audio
Echoic specialises in composing music for commercials and film. They bring a unique perspective to their work; because their team is also skilled in producing video, they’re able to write music with motion and visuals in mind so the two perfectly complement each other. Their large body of commercial work includes custom tracks crafted for brands like Ecco, Jaguar and Louis Vuitton. Like many of the other custom composers on this list, their work is priced on an individual basis, so contact their team to discuss your needs and get a quote.

Echoic Audio

5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Pick the Right Music

pick-the-right-music

Now that you’ve got an idea of the options available to you when it comes to selecting music for video, you’re likely getting close to making a decision. But before you do, you should ask yourself a handful of questions that will impact your final decision.

1. What kind of message is my video trying to get across?
Music is a powerful way to create an emotional connection with your audience. Think about the last time you listened to a song and had a powerful response; maybe you were listening to a high-intensity song to pump yourself up for a trip to the gym, or perhaps a romantic song you shared with your sweetheart made you feel nostalgic. As you pick the right song for your video, think about what kind of emotion you want your audience to feel, and what kind of message you’re trying to convey. Your message and your music should work hand-in-hand to create a single, cohesive experience for your viewer.

2. Who is my target audience?
Just as you craft your message for your target audience, you should also craft your music for your target audience. For example, if you’re creating a video to promote a local hospital’s premier neonatal care, your video’s music should be soothing, hopeful and sensitive to capture the attention of expecting parents and inspire them to trust the hospital’s staff. A song that was aggressive, on the other hand, would create a confusing brand experience, turn off your target audience and lead them to seek out your competition.

3. What kind of image does my company have?
In addition to considering the message of the video at hand, you should also think about your company’s brand image. If you have a very corporate, buttoned-up brand and use an authoritative tone of voice, a whimsical, playful song will contradict that tone and create inconsistencies in your brand – which is never a good thing. As you’re searching for the perfect song, be sure the spirit of your music and the spirit of your brand pair well together.

4. Does the music sync well with the moving visuals?
Similar to the way your message and music should complement each other, your visuals and music should work together as well. If your video features fast-paced, high-intensity motion graphics, your music should support that vibe. Also be sure the song you select is long enough for the video you’re producing; many stock music options are less than two minutes long, and if you’re creating a longer piece, you’ll encounter some problems in the editing room.

5. What is my budget?
We’ve included tons of budget-friendly options in this guide, but you should still be aware of your budget and select an option that fits your cost restrictions. If your budget is $100, you might want to consider royalty-free stock music. On the other hand, if your budget is $2,000 and you’re looking for the best of the best, consider partnering with a composer to produce a custom track just for you.

Wrapping Up

As you’re concepting your next commercial, explainer video or how-to, keep in mind how much music can change the feel of your video, and remember to think about these important factors while shopping for music:

Your options: Consider whether licensed stock music, royalty-free stock music or custom music is right for your project.
Your brand, target audience and message: Select a genre and musical style that complements your company and the tone of your video.
Your budget: Use the resources we’ve included to find the best option that fits within your production budget.

Kick off your search by reviewing our collection of the best stock music sites and custom music platforms online, and refer to this guide ongoing as you continue to craft a powerful video that evokes the right emotion from your audience and compels them to take action.