When I got started on YouTube the one thing I knew was that I wanted the best music I could find in my videos. I knew there were rules — like you couldn’t use copyrighted music (or you could, but then you couldn’t earn money from ads). So I set about looking for sites with great free music to download and… I was really disappointed with my Googling that day. What I found were a bunch of crappy looking sites with terrible, outdated music selections. How were other YouTubers finding great music for the videos? Well now that my channel is well established and growing at a rate of about 20 subscribers per day (still early days, admittedly) I have a pretty good handle on the best places to find free — or cheap / affordable — music for YouTube videos.
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!
The first thing you need to know is what royalty free means (because you’re going to run into that term a lot as a YouTuber looking for music and it’s a bit different than just being free). Free means you pay nothing. Royalty free (or royalty-free) means you may pay something up front but then can use what you bought without having to pay for each use. If you’re confused, just know this: royalty free music is what you want for your YouTube videos. You’ve probably heard of stock photos — we’ll this is stock audio/music.
Your budget for music is going to depend on what type of videos you’re planning on producing. If you plan on uploading daily vlogs like Casey Neistat or FunForLoius or Ben Brown then $.99 per track might sound pretty affordable. If you’re going to make a high-quality indie film every 2 months then you might find that $199 for a song is affordable. And if you’re a brand new YouTuber with absolutely zero budget (no problem there — we all have to start somewhere) then free probably sounds just about right to you.
Now you should know (and maybe you already do) that YouTube and Vimeo both offer libraries of free music which you can use. The YouTube Audio Library has far more songs than the Vimeo Music Store and they work a bit differently. While you will find lots of free songs in the YouTube Audio Library, you’ll also find some sound effects and a few popular songs from mainstream musicians you can feature in your videos (but which you won’t be able to monetize as the artists themselves will end up getting that money). The Vimeo Music Store, on the other hand, has some great music but not all of it is free.
One last note: if you’re looking for some original music on the cheap, you could always make it yourself using an app like 4Beats… just sayin. It might not be as hard or complicated as you might think.
Now before we get to the 10 best free and cheap music sources for your YouTube videos, let me say a word about SoundCloud. Yes, there is some free music on SoundCloud. You can try searching for “free” or “royaltyfree” tags, but I’m generally not impressed by what is available for free on SoundCloud. So why do you see some popular YouTubers (again, like Casey Neistat) using music from SoundCloud day in and day out? Well those people have worked out deals with each other (probably for promotion). In my experience, SoundCloud is not the best place to find royalty-free music for YouTube. But here are some really great free and cheap music for YouTubers for you to explore:
The best choice for free original music tracks.
The goldmine for new and/or daily YouTubers is free original music that doesn’t suck. And that goldmine has a name: Jukedeck. Jukedeck uses AI (artificial intelligence) to spit out one-of-a-kind music from several different categories which is yours to download and use however you’d like. Categories include folk, rock, ambient or electronic. You can also choose different moods like uplifting, melancholic, angry, corporate, chilled or more AND you can even set the time/length you’d like the song to be! Unfortunately there’s no rap/hip-hop category as of yet. But you know what? The music really sounds pretty great — especially for being FREE (every now and then you’ll recognize an element you’ve heard in another AI-generated song— but so what?)! More specifically you’ll get 5 free downloads every month — after that you’re looking at $21.99 per download.
The best choice for really cheap royalty free music.
Alright — so free music is the best, but if you’re looking free really, really cheap royalty-free music then you should head to Amazon. We’re talking tons of tracks for $1 or less each. Ya. And there are even a few free songs here and there. There are nearly 30,000 tracks to choose from and if you’re an Amazon customer already, this makes a LOT of sense. The depth of categories will blow you away (they’ve got everything): soundtracks, dance and electronic, pop, international, rock, rap, holiday, latin and even Christian — and plenty of others I didn’t feel like typing out.
Lots of good music for under $100 per track (often $20 or less).
There’s lots of good music to be had at Pond5 and I really like the fact that you can easily narrow down the pricing based on what you’re willing to spend (from $0 to $100). Rather than just the traditional music categories, you’ll also find tracks listed by mood: action, adventure, cinematic, suspense, uplifting, dramatic, playful, etc. I like the interface: it could be prettier, but it’s easy to use and very unique. As soon as you hover over a track it’ll start playing a sample. There’s even an extensive section of free (public domain) tracks which is great if you’re on a tighter than tight budget.
Lots of really decent music for around $20 (or cheaper) per track.
AudioJungle’s been one of my personal goto resources when it comes to high-quality royalty-free music for YouTube. Why? I like their selection and the pricing is pretty reasonable. For several of my recent videos I’ve spent in the neighborhood of $15-20 per track (and used 1 track per video). I like the fact that I can favorite songs which effectively lets me browse through and save a bunch that I like — then I can go back through those favorites and add a few to my cart and checkout. AudioJungle probably has one of the best interfaces among any of the resources listed here. Plus, there are lots of additional resources aside from music — sound effects, music packs and more!
A large selection of good music — get the whole library for $99!
AudioBlocks not only has a great selection of music that’s perfect for YouTubers, but I’m really digging the $99 annual unlimited downloads subscription option. As I just mentioned, I’ve been paying about $20 per track using AudioJungle and, since I personally make in the neighborhood of 4-6 movies per month, it would save me over $1,000 if I sourced all my music through AudioBlocks on the annual subscription plan. If you’re a YouTuber who plans on putting out a lot of content but you want a bit of a more premium and creative sound that what you can get for free, this is a great option for you. Had I known about it in the first place, it’s probably how I would’ve gotten started when my channel was new.
Really nice music for soundtracks starting at $39 — or get a monthly subscription for $50.
Total Soundtrack is a great source of royalty free music for indie films. There’s less genre (although that is a search option, but popular choies like rap/hip-hop, electronic or ambient) and more mood (happy, calm, action, fear). If your keen, you can also search by instrument (drums, guitar, keyboards, strings, etc.). The interface is very simple and clean — but there doesn’t seem to be quite as much to choose from here as other stores. Still, it looks like a great option for the right type of YouTuber.
Good music — each track costs $39.95.
There’s some really cool music to be had over at PremiumBeat. The entire experience is really nice: great interface, great selection and even great prices — depending on who you are. If you’re a daily vlogger, you’ll find the prices steep. If you’re a filmmaker though (or perhaps want to license some music for an ad) this is going to be a stellar find. I like that you’ll always know what to expect and plan on in terms of pricing — that’s great for budgeting. There are lot’s of categories to choose from here including some you won’t find elsewhere (like Motown, Reggae and Electro Pop). You can also browse by mood — and again there are more moods to choose from here than at other sources (crime/thriller/spy or fashion, for instance).
Really high quality music as cheap as $199 per track.
Musicbed is a top-notch music licensing site. Of the resources listed here, it’s definitely the cream of the crop. And you pay for that quality (on a sliding scale depending on the size of your audience and budget and a few other things). It looks like the cheapest you’ll get a track for here is about $199 and it can climb up to $599 for a production with a budget over $1m. The music is the best you’ll find anywhere and the site is top-of-the-line and incredibly well designed which means this is probably the place you should go if you want the highest possible quality tracks for your videos.
FMA – Free Music Archive
Lots of free music that’s surprisingly usable.
Now if you’re truly looking for some seriously free music then you definitely need to stop by Free Music Archive (or FMA). There’s a lot of really decent music here that might surprise you. And, like the premium sites, it’s easy to search/sort music via categories. And on top of that you can also search/sort by curators and charts. It’s sort of setup more like a blog than anything else, which is fine. Find the music you want using the main menu or the sidebar and you’ll be good to go. Once you’re browsing through a genre you’re interested in, I do recommend changing the view from “Date Added” to “Most Interesting” which will give you a better picture of what’s available.
Work with professional music curators and musicians to find the perfect music.
Synkio is different. Rather than browsing through a list of songs and genres and moods and categories, you start with a brief survey. Then, the Synkio team gets back to you with a curated selection of tracks that fit your project and budget. You’ll get access to a premium network of musicians and see clear and simple pricing for each track. Synkio isn’t going to be for the average YouTuber. But there are plenty of above average channels out there and this is a great way to take your content to the next level.