Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Free music for your videos

OK - so we all know we are not supposed to use music without permission. So, what do you do if you need some music, you're on a tight budget and you want to stay legal?

Well, there are a bunch of sites where you can find good music you can use for free in your video. Some like ccMixter are community sites with loads of composers brought together, others are run by individual composers and artist who want to get their music out there, by any means, to get some publicity.

Pretty much all these sites licence their work under the creative commons licence. There are four types of licence, which you can read about on the Creative Commons site http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/

Mostly you'll find these composers will let you use what ever you want – however you want. All you need to do is give them a credit at the end of your video. But, do check which licence each composer is using to release their work.

So where to start?

This is all music composed and/or produced by Kevin MacLeod, who believes that: "If your art isn't experienced by people, it serves no purpose in society."

He is offering his royalty-free music for free under the creative commons license. Give him a credit and you can legally use his music in your video. He also does a nice line in different types of graph paper (including storyboards).

The best page to start is here http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/  You can browse by genre, by feel (from action to uplifting) or do a keyword search.

In the genre section there are a few classical pieces from Mozart, Bach and Saint Saens.

Once you have listened to the music and chosen something you like just click the download button to grab yourself a copy.

Music 4 Your Vids
The title is a big hint. Rick Clarke (also known as RickVanMan) is also offering free to use royalty-free music. Like Kevin (above) all he asks is you give him a credit and he would appreciate a link to his site. A small price to pay as there is some really good music here.

Searching for music can be time consuming, so I really like his idea of putting samples of his music together in short compilation videos. Within a few minutes you can get an idea of what is available and which tracks you want to hear in full.

The Vimeo Music Store
Vimeo is usually the place I recommend to upload videos. But, they obviously realised that their subscribers need music and have now opened their own music store.

It is simple to search by composer, genre or keyword. Finding the right music is time consuming so you want to be able to bookmark something interesting, so I like that I can save my favourite tracks for later.

Some of the results will be free and some will be modestly priced ($1.99) if it is for personal use. But, some are expensive if it is for commercial use

Hang on, this is Vimeo - they have a video to explain all this.

"ccMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want."

The looking for…? page is a good place to start as it shows everything the site has to offer. There’s loads of music, mixes, samples and acappellas to be had. You'll easily spend hours listening to it all. Just click the play icon and the music will play straight off the page. If you like it – you can download it just as simply. There is no need to register to downoad.

The Freesound Project
"Freesound focusses only on sound, not songs."  http://www.freesound.org/

So, if you need the sound of someone hammering, perhaps the sound of forest birds singing in the evening or some punching and slapping for that extra dramatic effect – this is a great place to come.

The files are usually .wav files 44,100Hz, 1411kbps, 16-bit, Stereo.

Just click the play icon and the audio will play straight off the page. If you like it – you can download it just as simply. But, you must register and login to download.

Audio Farm
Audiofarm: "It´s the best and easiest way to find new and interesting music and audio recordings from around the world."

This has a wide range of audio from Punjabi jingle bells (honest) to Electronica. You can search, check to see what is the most liked and take a peek at what's new. Once you click on a link it opens on the clips page and the audio starts to play automatically and almost immediately. There is no need to register to download.

Yes, the multi award winning composer and performer is giving away his music – kinda.

If your video is part of a not-for-profit project – then Moby has very generously opened up some of his music. http://www.mobygratis.com/film-music.html

You will need to register and let him know what his music is being used for. There is some good stuff on the site (if you are a Moby fan).

Musopen calls itself a musical warehouse "our mission is to set music free". You'll be able to find music by composer, performer, instrument, genre and also by period.

Not all of the music here has the full ambience of a professional orchestra in London's Royal Albert Hall, but there a a few gems worth downloading - everything is free.

Jewelbeat sells individual WAV and MP3 tracks from 99 cents, and has more than 35,000 tracks in its library (the full library costs $999 and will be delivered to you on disk). There are also JewelSticks (themed libraries of hundreds of tracks on a USB stick) for $99.

For flexibility, like most traditional music libraries, there are multiple versions of tracks, with alternate mixes, 60-second, 30-second, 15-second and 10-second versions, and stingers.

There are also more than 1,000 free sound effects and loops available with any purchase (even a single 99 cent track).

If your project is non-commercial or educational there are some dowloads here you a can use for free.

Royalty Free Classical Music
If you can afford to pay then Royalty Free Classical Music is a great place to start. Each music download is $34.99. Compilations of 10 tracks are also available for $129.99.

The music here has high production values with a full professional orchestra - not some guy in the spare bedroom with a synth. If you know your Brahms from your Verdi - then search by composer. Alternatively you can check out their most requested top 200.

Shockwave-Sound.com offers lots of royalty-free tracks, although not FREE music, including what it claims to be the largest selection of royalty-free classical music on the web.

It does have a lot of good information about royalty-free music, and many articles about using music in your video, sound mixing, some hardware reviews, etc. Worth a look.

AudioJungle has a wealth of good cheap music. Some cost as little as $2 up to $14 for royalty free music tracks in over twenty different genres.

I also liked the Logos and Idents section for short snappy music clips between 10 and 30 seconds long.

I've been recommending Pond5 video stock footage to my clients for ages. But, over the years they have branched out into music (plus photos and illustrations). If you have footage you want to sell they do a good deal too.

For ease of use, they have to be the best.

For music click on the music tab at the top of their webpage. There you'll see around 40 different categories to choose from. But, you can also use search words too. Once you've narrowed it down I'd recommend you place put them in order... If you use the - Sort by: PRICE - starting with cheapest first - you'll see some great bargains. Some tracks start at only $2. If you are in a hurry try doing a sort by NUMBER OF SALES. that way you'll quickly see which are the most popular.

Your results will all appear on screen and listening to them is so simple. Just hover your mouse of the music waveform thumbnail and you can hear the music and see how much it cost. If you want to know more about the track - just click on it and you'll be taken to the info and download page.

OK not a download site - but, this music software is simple to use...and you'll own the copyright as you created the music.

 If you are a Mac owner you already have GarageBand loaded on your machine. There is help on the Apple site to show you how simple it is to make music - even with limited musical ability.

I often recognise background music on UK TV programs that was created using GarageBand music loops.

Find Sounds is a site full of free sound effects www.findsounds.com


A couple of years ago Karen Abad left a post on a Vimeo forum of suggestion for music resources. It has been added to over the years - you'll definitely find something useful here

If you can afford to pay, go to the Performing Rights Society website

The UK Intellectual Property Office has a wealth of info on copyright.

Impress your friends with your legal knowledge... read the UK copyright act at legislation.gov.uk

If you are in the UK check out the Institute of Videographers (IOV) - they have simplified buying a music licence.

Public Domain 4 U hosts music, old and new, which is in the public domain. You can download to enjoy - but  you would have to check with the artists if it is OK to use their music in your video. 
Some of the old 78 stuff is very evocative - complete with scratches and fluff on the needle.