The right music choice is critical.
Like voice-over, music connects deeply with audiences, influencing how they feel about your message.
And if you are looking for the best music licensing for your video content or film – you've come to the right place! This article is a quick roundup of the top-rated music libraries used by film directors and video producers worldwide.
Once upon a time, browsing and identifying suitable or relevant music for video production was, of course, an entirely manual affair. Consequently, license negotiation brought additional complexities, as the policies of individual publishing companies uniquely dictated them—how times have changed. Today, the vast majority of accessible music library tracks are purchased from subscription sites. And that's not a new thing. You need only look at the overwhelming success of Spotify to see how the reach and accessibility of music, in general, has shifted dramatically to subscription-based models.
As with many creative industries, the development of world market models has created explosive market routes and has been highly disruptive to the old, long-established norms of previous decades. It's fair to say that it's been a painful transition for many musicians. Nonetheless, Subscription music libraries are here to stay, and that's despite some of the harsh criticism many such services have received from artists/composers (reflected in some of the reviews linked below). That said, with more and more video maker apps on the market, making video production affordable to the masses, the opportunity for composers is enormous. And clients have more choices than ever.
I've purposefully not ordered this list from Best to Worst. Every platform here offers value. What you consider good or bad will come down to the kind of content you are creating. A social short or website explainer is unlikely to have the same level of treatment or budget as a cinema commercial or short film. Therefore, you may want to spend less or more on the music, depending on the production budget.
Although many of the platforms featured here have low-scoring reviews, please take these with a pinch of salt. Many of the reviews are by composers unsatisfied with the changing industry. Please take some time to read the reviews before deciding.
Whatever platform you choose, don't underestimate the power of quality music. It will completely change the feel of your content.
Voquent's Top 5 Picks
My personal favourite is Epidemic Sound, but some of the Voquent team swear by the other platforms in this list (In alphabetical order). Review scores are correct at the time of writing (August 2021).
Audio Network offers a variety of purchase options and subscriptions. Singletrack/single-use from £6.99 per track for personal projects or £588 per year for a business subscription (for one individual). This subscription offers unlimited downloads and unrestricted use. For larger creative teams it's best to reach out to discuss your needs with their research team.
Part of the EnvatoMarket, they offer royalty-free music and audio tracks for $1. However, most tracks are priced between $10 – $20 for a standard license and offer additional license types to cater to mass-market commercials, television or film projects. Always carefully read the license to ensure it fits your needs.
Epidemic Sound provides a generous 30-day free trial and simple subscriptions providing access to 35,000+ tracks. Two subscriptions are available—£96 per year for personal use and £239 per year for commercial use. However, if your project is for TV or commercial streaming, you'll need to contact them for a quote. Individual tracks can also be purchased from £79 for a standard license. Epidemic Sound also are partners with Adobe Stock and Getty Images Music if you're looking for an alternative way to access their music library.
Musicbed is the go-to for many professional filmmakers because of the high-quality music available, but it's one of the pricier options for commercial use. Subscriptions start at $249.99/year for personal use or $1,079.88/year for small/medium business use. Not all music is included in the subscription, and you may still have to buy tracks. Music is not royalty-free, but you can monetize your videos with SyncID, a content clearance system.
The Unlimited Audio package is only £149.04 per year with no restrictions on the project budget, making it desirable for creatives. They also offer an Unlimited All Access subscription which includes HD/4k stock Footage, Photos and After Effects Templates for £348.96 per year. It's one of the most highly-rated platforms featured here.
The best of the rest
Still not sure about the best music licensing platform for your video or film? Here's a quick summary of some other popular sites (again in alphabetical order).
'Most popular' package is £239.99 per year, giving you ten standard assets a month, including music. They also include Epidemic Sounds and Jamendo music libraries. For Premium assets and music, you need to buy credit packs which start at £29.95 for five credits or £600 for 150 credits.
Many of the reviews cite (somewhat unfairly) the annual billing as the reason for the low score. Annual billing is par for the course, with most music libraries, and it's clearly stated on their site, so take the 3.6 with a pinch of salt! It's $299 per year for unlimited music + SFX or $199 per year for music only. You can use the music in any broadcast medium, but if you work in a larger team, it's probably worthwhile reaching out to enquire about the enterprise license.
At this writing, Audiio is the new kid on the block with around 5k+ curated songs. They offer an Audiio Pro subscription for $199 per year, or optionally, you can buy Lifetime Music for $299, including some upgrades for TV and OTT. They are well-reviewed and both users and musicians are enjoying the service.
4.4 on Trustpilot (5k+ reviews)
Despite the impression their name might give you, Depositphotos is one of the webs largest online music libraries. Their Unlimited Subscription starts at £199 per year, or you can buy music on demand. Businesses with Teams will be glad to know there is an Enterprise plan (contact them for a quote). They are by far the most highly reviewed site on this list.
4.3 on Facebook (50+ reviews)
The difference with Filmstro is that it's not just a music library. They provide the tools to edit the music to your video. They also offer a plugin for Premiere Pro. Three packages are on offer. YouTuber for $14.99 per month, Pro for $37.99 per month and Pro Plus for $74.99 per month. The latter allowing you to use the music in a TV film or advertising, cancel anytime. Right now, they offer Lifetime Pro Plus access for a very competitive $189 (usually $499 per year).
No reviews were found.
Foximusic offers three different packs with different license levels. Basic is for individual content creators, Standard is for unlimited online use, and Extended is for Film, TV and Radio use. The tracks are competitively priced, and buying ten tracks is significantly cheaper than buying one. E.g. 1 Track on a Standard license is $39, 10 Tracks is $14.90 each.
For $348 per year, content creators get an all-access pass to the music library and unlimited downloads. The business plan is $588 per year and includes a license to use the music for 3rd parties and even get a custom track once per month.
No reviews were found.
Marmoset is a full-service music agency and help with sound design and licensing. There are no subscription packages. Licenses for library tracks start at $49 for one track for single-use podcasts. Small business commercial licenses for up to 250 employees are $999.
For a simple, one-time payment you can get access to thousands of tracks – ready for entertainment, commercial, or educational use. There is no need for recurring payments; Music for Video offer consistent music tracks, for worldwide broadcast, in perpetuity. No strings attached!
They offer two subscription prices: Pro-Lite (£179.88 per year) for small-scale productions and Pro Standard (£323.88 per year) for advertising and entertainment projects. However, the licenses are granted with a budget cap which means you will need to be careful about the usage. E.g. YouTube creators earning more than £60k revenue will need an extension option (which requires contacting Music Vine). They also offer pay-per-use licenses, which vary in cost by type and duration.
4.7 on Trustpilot (10k+ highest rated)
Pond5 has the best reviews of all the reviewed sites. Music is £5 to £80 per track for an individual license. Licenses for Business and Premium use vary from £200 – £400 usually. You can also buy credit packs which provide around 10-15% bonus credits to spend. Annual memberships are £815, including ten downloads per month and access to other stock media from the Membership Collection.
The subscription is $779.40 per year for up to 60 tracks with standard licenses. You can also buy track licenses individually. Standard and Premium licenses are available for $49 and $199 per track, respectively. Shutterstock owns PremiumBeat, so many music tracks are also available there.
Individual tracks are £45 for a Standard license or £349 with an enhanced license.
Subscribe for $204 / £159 per year with unlimited downloads, but you'll still need to purchase an enhanced license to use tracks for broadcast projects.
Soundstripe is a popular choice for YouTubers, with prices starting at $149 per year for their unlimited music subscription. They've also got a helpful Adobe Premiere Pro extension and entire stems for the audio files on all songs. All of which should make editing a breeze. For Premium music, you'll need to get in touch for a quote for the enterprise plan.
Splice is more geared towards music producers and songwriters than filmmakers. It provides royalty-free samples, sound packs and plugins. We've included it here as it still may be relevant to many content creators. Subscription packages start at $9.99 per month for 100 downloads or $19,99 for 200 downloads, or $29.99 per month for 500 downloads. You can also rent-to-own plugins, and there are integrations for FL Studio and Ableton.
5.0 on Facebook (no recent reviews)
With five different licenses to choose from, there is something for everyone. It's free to use ten tracks per month purely for personal use or non-monetized YouTube channels. Most professional users will want the Standard license at $39 per month, which grants online ads, public spaces, apps/games, and audiobooks. An extended and unlimited license is also available for movies and TV projects.
Tune promises content creation without limitations. The basic plan is $69 annually and includes unlimited licenses for up to 10k subscribers for personal use. The Pro Plan is better for businesses. You can use the music for client work and even video games and apps. You'll need to contact them for a quote for broadcast use.
For only $6.99 per month, you can download ten tracks per month. They also offer a Lifetime Plan for $199.99, providing unlimited access to all music tracks, or a 3-year plan for $99.99. The service is heavily geared to YouTube creators and streamers, but you can use the music anywhere.
Eight cheap or free royalty-free music platforms
If you want music for personal projects and don't want to spend a lot on music licensing for video, these cheap or free, royalty-free sites are worth a look. Most allow you to use their music as long as you credit the artist.
Audio Library is a YouTube channel dedicated to making music freely available to content creators. They have over 4 Million subscribers on YouTube. It's 100% free to use the tracks, but you must attribute the artist.
Prices from $0.99 / £0.79. Lots of individual tracks or compilation libraries on CD or for download.
All the tracks on Filmmusic.io are royalty-free for most users, and it is only 20 Euros if you wish to buy an extended license for commercial use.
Free Stock Music is a 100% free music library with a vast selection of music. You can license the music in anything with a simple attribution in the credits.
They don't have a vast selection, but most tracks are $8 each, and there is no subscription.
Powered by EnvatoElements, Mixkit provides a curated selection of stock music for free. The license covers podcasts, social media and online ads but doesn't cover CD/DVDs, TV/Radio broadcasts or video games. It is entirely legit and is a popular choice for user-generated content.
Altogether free royalty-free music tracks. Not an extensive selection, but it's all free, so take your pick. Just make sure to credit the author.
YouTube's audio library is accessible to anyone with a YouTube account and includes royalty-free music and sound effects. It has a few thousand tracks to choose from and has helped many YouTubers to get their channels started.
I hope you agree that there is something for everyone on this list. I wish you the best of luck with choosing the best music licensing for your video or film project.
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