Finding Royalty Free and Public Domain Music for Videos and Web
What? How can I find great music for my video production, computer game or website? Where can I get it without paying an "arm and a leg"?
The Answer: I had this problem and did a bunch of research to find the answers. Here is what I found:
If your project needs music, you must get legal music to support it. It is required by U.S. and foreign copyright law.
Many websites will sell you music at high prices. The trick is to find good music either free, or at reasonable cost.
I found several websites that provide low cost music for use in both commercial and non-commercial projects.
Many instrumental music cuts are available. Only a few vocal cuts are available
Below I summarise the best internet sources of music I found as of March 2020
Where to Find It and Will It Change?: : Websites for low cost music are changing rapidly. I did my research in March 2020 and noticed changes in the websites as I worked to develop this article so don't be surprised if some of the sources below "dry up" or radically change their distribution policies. Always check current policies before you buy or download because the web changes fast! As of today, here are the best I found:
Source of Music: Josh Woodward
Creator/Manager: Josh Woodward. Free license for private or commercial use. Musical credit required - see below.
Example Music: Music 1: The Maze (see attributions)
Music Style: Vocals with guitar support. Original music. Mostly folk & easy listening
Cost: Free download. Donations welcome but you must credit Josh Woodward using format below:
Music Credit Format: "Music Title" by Josh Woodward. Free download: http://joshwoodward.com/
Uses: movies, TV shows & other films are OK for use with attribution. Website background music OK with attribution. Video games OK with attribution. Live stream is OK but credit must be spoken or shown on screen while song playing. Podcasts are OK with Attribution.
Limitations: No re-license or sub-license. In-store music, on-hold music & advertisements will require a traditional license.
Can I use it in my project: Per Josh: 'Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution. That means you can use it in your projects with a single small requirement: you need to list me in the credits.' Use details summarised above, but see Josh's website for current information.
Can I pay more and get permission to use music without posting a Creative Commons attribution? Yes you can. As of March 2020 looks like $30 but please check Josh's website to make sure you have the current cost.
Source of Music: Jabot7
Creator/Manager: http://jaybot7.com/blog/ use prominent link off main web page
Example Music: Music 2: Mosca (see attributions)
Music Style: Instrumentals in a variety of styles
Cost: Free download, but you must credit the source. See blog for format
Music Credit Format: "Yes, you can absolutely use this in a commercial project (the kind that you charge money for). No, you don’t have to pay me anything. Just make sure you contact me and give me credit somewhere as stated above.
Uses: video games, movies, commercials, podcasts, youtube
Limitations: No re-license or sub-license
Source of Music: Brett Van Donsel
Example of Music: Music 3: Manchester Mystery (see attributions)
Music Style: Instrumentals from "wild west fist full of spaghetti" to jazz
Cost: Donations requested. March 2020 price of $6.00 per cut to download. Music credits also required, see below.
Music Credit Format: Attribution 4.0 International Creative Commons license. Purchase + required credit for radio commercials, TV commercials etc. Dionysus.biz website use was approved with no issues by e-mail.
Uses: from website: "Brett Van Donsel provides affordable music options for film makers, YouTubers, gamers, podcasters, advertisers and more. Most of the music is royalty free. As more and more people expect all music to be free, Brett needs your support in order continue producing great material.Limitations: No re-license or sub-license"
Limitations: prohibited reposting, re-license or sub-license
Can I pay more and get a license that does not require posting of attribution back to Van Donsel? Yes you can. Please go to Brett's website and contact him directly for details.
Can I get a piece custom commissioned for my application? Yes and the price is pretty reasonable if you don't want exclusive rights. But please contact Brett directly with what you want and inquire about the price.
Source of Music: Kevin MacLeod et. al.
Note: This Website is in transition. It may go away or change ownership & conditions soon
Example Music: Music 3: Piano Etude (see attributions)
Music Style: Instrumentals in wide range of flavours from Jazz to meditation to military marches, to ethnic
Cost: Wide range of music for sale. Also a Public Domain section enables download from hundreds of quality .mp3 songs for $10 blanket download fee (i.e. you can download a bunch of songs for $10).
Music Credit Format for Public Domain Music: As of March 2020, no attribution is required but a music credit back to imcomputech.com is appreciated. See website for purchased songs.
Uses: Public Domain music should be without restrictions. Allowed use for other music per current website.
Limitations: The usual limitations prohibiting re-license or sub-lease
Source of Music: Alexander et. al.
Example Music 5: Music 4: Epic-battle-music-Grzegoroz... (see attributions)
Example Sound 6: Music 5: Rain-On-Window (see attributions)
Music Style: Instrumentals - mostly synth music. Some wide ranging & orchestral cuts.
Sound Effect Style: wide range including rain, thunder, traffic sounds, buzzers, walking steps, cats, birds etc.
Cost: Range of music & sounds for sale. Free non-commercial Creative Commons with Attribution required license available for most mp3 sounds and music. Commercial use of sounds allowed at reasonable cost (e.g. $4.00 for sound of rain).
Creative Commons license generally prohibits rehosting of music for distribution, but allows non-commercial use provided 'musical credits' identify name of cut and www.orangefreesounds.com as the source. Check OrangeFreeSounds.com website for current attribution requirements.
Limitations: The usual limitations prohibiting re-license or sub-lease
There are many commercial sources of music, photographs etc for use with videos, games, web, advertisements etc. These typically charge $30 to $75 per musical cut and they typically do allow commercial use, often without attribution. Always check the use conditions and duration of use rights of any service before download and use.
1. A practical conclusion is that any distributed production with music, or images that reaches beyond your (immediate) family requires legally obtained music, photos etc. that are contained within the distributed product (see Summary Article for more specific definition of distribution & copyright law). This is required by U.S. and International copyright laws to protect the artists who create the things we enjoy. It can be challenging to find affordable music to support such projects and I have identified several sources that I personally have used.
2. Do you need to register a copyright for what you create? If you create material, it is legally protected by copyright law whether you register it or not. Registering your copyright gives you greater legal authority to 'go after violators'. But you should always provide an adequate copyright notice on all of your material. See notice at the bottom of this page as an example.
3. What if the music I buy is the Wrong Kind of File Format? There are many formats such as .mp3 or .wav or .aif etc.. If you are creating videos, web sites etc. and need music, it may come in a format you can't use. On the web, .mp3 format generally works well for both Windows and Mac. "WavePad" software from Australia does a good job of translating from one format to another. There are also free "on line converters" but I feel "wavepad" more "virus safe".
"The Maze" by Josh Woodward. Free download: http://joshwoodward.com/
"AOD_Mosca from JBot7
"Manchester Mystery" from Brett Van Donsel
"Piano Etude" from incomputech
epic-battle-music-grzegorz-majcherczyk-heroica.mp3 from http://www.orangefreesounds.com
Rain-on-window-sound from www.organgefreesounds.com from http://www.orangefreesounds.com
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Copyright 2020 by Paul F. Watson
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