Music and movies go together like the moon and the stars. But for producers of independent movies and people like YouTube content creators, sourcing high-quality music at affordable prices was very tricky. I say was because now there is Art List which recently launched in beta. I’ve been testing Art List and have some thoughts for you on the service, but first let me explain a bit about why a person like me (who creates several YouTube videos every week) can get so excited about it.
If you’re interested in becoming a YouTuber check out my book From You to YouTube. Also, be sure to check out my list of the 100 best tools and resources for aspiring YouTubers. And before you get any further, make sure to check out Tubebuddy if you’re a YouTuber!
Let’s start with the obvious: good music can elevate your video project in major ways. It can add emotion, excitement, context and can help editors and storytellers get more creative in the way the final project turns out. The opposite is also true: movies without music can be boring, mundane and even seem a bit soulless.
For most of the last year I have sourced music for my videos from Audio Jungle. I liked a decent amount of the music I found on the site, but WOW: that was very expensive. Tracks on Audio Jungle were routinely costing me between $14-30 a piece. So in a typical month I could easily spend over $300.
The worst part about sites like Audio Jungle? The licensing. Most songs are available to be used in one end product. One measly video. That is SO lame. Okay, so one loophole is if you have a series going: it’s okay to use the standard license for up to a year in such a scenario in several videos that are part of a series, but only for a year. Then you’ll need to renew.
Yes, for YouTube creators like myself, Google has made available several music tracks for free as part of the YouTube Audio Library. This is not a good option for professionals. Not only is the music extremely overused (I’ve heard the same songs in so many different videos that the face palm comments are never ending). Plus, let’s be honest: the selection is anemic (and rather dated).
Yes, there are other options which I’ve rounded up in the past, but they suffer from the same issues I’ve already outlined above.
So… Art List. Art List charges just $200 a year for unlimited — YES UN-FREAKIN-LIMITED — music. You can download up to 20 tracks per day (far more than you’ll ever need) and you can use those tracks in as many projects as you’d like. If you cancel your subscription you can STILL use those tracks in as many projects as you like. You know, unlimited.
Obviously, from a financial standpoint, this pricing makes a lot of sense for a person like me (or indie movie teams). Whereas in the past I could be spending more than $300 per MONTH on music, now I can spend $100 less than that for an entire YEAR (or lifetime, really, for the music I download in that time). So annually that is like saving over $3,000 for an operation like mine. Amazing.
Okay, so the pricing rocks, but what about the music. Is it any good? Uh, ya. In just the last week or so I’ve already downloaded close to 40 tracks that I fell in love with for my projects. When I first signed up it was almost like an addiction sifting through the available tracks looking for another hit.
Finding music is as easy as searching by mood, video theme or instrument. So if I need some music that is uplifting, atmospheric or dramatic I can easily find it. If I’m making a business, educational or sports related movie I can quickly jump to the most appropriate tracks. Same goes for instruments: drums, piano, acoustic guitar… all easy to sort and search. And you can further filter via tempo (low, medium or high).
One thing I’d like to see, though, is a way to sort via genre. For instance, there are some great hip-hop tracks on the site, but they could be easier to find. At the moment, you kind of have to stumble into them.
Overall I feel like the music on Art List is of a higher, more artistic quality than music found on sites like Audio Jungle. I’m not putting down the talented people posting to other sites; I’m just saying there seems to be a few extra layers of thought and feeling and even skill baked into the music I’ve found on Art List. It’s sounds (and feels) more refined and harder hitting, emotionally speaking.
Most of the music on Art List at this point seems to be instrumental, but there are a number of tracks with vocals and several of which give you two options: vocal or instrumental only (again, the creative options here are vast).
I can definitely say that I’m definitely loving the electronic music selection on Art List.
Is Art List perfect? No. Keeping in mind it’s beta status, one area where Art List could drastically improve is in the speed of the interface. I’ve got a speedy internet connection (I can easily stream 4K content, for instance) but the interface often operates quite slowly for me. It’s a minor inconvenience at this point and one I’m sure will be dealt with in the very near future.
Would I recommend Art List to independent movie makers and YouTube creators? Absolutely — without a doubt. This service is, in my opinion, the very best place (and way) to source incredible, creative and high-quality music for video projects (and no, that’s not an overstatement).
If you’re looking for a simple, affordable way to obtain bespoke music for your movies, Art List is my best recommendation. I’ve already come to love it and I’m positive that it won’t take long for you to follow suit.