Video Monetization

Top Sources for Free Music: Royalty-Free Tracks for Video Creators

By Daniel Kosmala
12 Min Read
editing royalty-free music for video

Adding music to your video makes for a more engaging media experience. And there are lots of places you can find free background music for videos online—you just need to know where to look.

We’ve curated the best sources of royalty-free music for video editing here. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should be enough to get you started!

Before we jump into the list, though, let’s talk about free music licensing.

Licensing Music for Video Editing – How it Works

The world of music licensing is a complex one, and it’s difficult to navigate. But it’s important to understand your rights when you download a piece of music so you don’t find yourself in legal trouble.

In general, it’s better to err on the side of caution. If you’re not totally sure whether you can use a particular piece of music for your video, get in touch with the artist and let them know what you’re thinking of doing. They’ll tell you if it’s alright or if you’ll need written permission.

Most of the music you’ll find on the sites listed here are offered under a Creative Commons license, which means you can download and share them freely. But there are many types of Creative Commons licenses, each with specific requirements.

Here are five that you’ll see often:

  • CC0: Completely free. You can download, use, remix, share, and do anything else you want with this track, and you don’t have to credit the artist.
  • CC-BY: Attribution. You can use this however you’d like, but you need to provide an attribution link to the original artist.
  • CC-BY-SA: ShareAlike. With this license, you need to make anything that uses the piece of music available under the same license.
  • CC-BY-NC: NonCommercial. The track can’t be used in anything that’s intended for monetary gain, including monetized YouTube videos , without written permission from the artist.
  • CC-BY-ND: NonDerivative. You can’t put this track in a video without written permission from the artist.

There are other Creative Commons licenses as well. Wikipedia has a useful list that includes the six most commonly used CC licenses and other less common options.

Your best bet for safely using music in your videos is to only use CC0 or CC-BY licenses. With CC-BY, you’ll need to credit the artist. If you’re using a license other than that, it’s a good idea to carefully check the requirements.

When in doubt, get in touch with the artist. It’s not worth waiting and dealing with the inconvenience later after you’ve used the track as background music for your video.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the best places to find high-quality royalty-free background music for videos.

11 Places to Find Royalty-Free Background Music for Your Videos

  1. Free Music Archive
  2. dig.ccMixter
  3. HookSounds
  4. FreeSound
  5. Incompetech
  6. Cctrax
  7. Jamendo
  8. SoundCloud
  9. YouTube Audio Library
  10. Filmstro
  11. Thematic

Let’s go!

1. Free Music Archive

The FMA works with artists, curators, radio stations, and Creative Commons enthusiasts to offer a huge selection of free stock music. It was founded by the non-commercial radio station WFMU, and is one of the driving forces behind free music on the internet.

Screenshot from Free Music Archive of an example artist

To give you an idea of just how many songs are available, I looked at electropunk, a relatively obscure genre compared to most of the others on the site. Despite being a niche genre, there are over 600 music tracks available.

On the other side of the spectrum, ambient electronic includes almost 7,000. FMA lists sixteen different main genres, from spoken and instrumental to hip-hop, rock and blues. Each genre has numerous subgenres listed to help you find what you’re looking for.

Most of the music offered on this site is available under Creative Commons licenses of varying types, but some use an FMA license that only allows personal downloading and listening. So be sure to take a close look at any song you’re interested in.

2. dig.ccMixter

If you’re interested in trying your hand at creating your own mixes, ccMixter is a great place to start. Musicians upload tracks, and vocalists upload acapellas. You’re free to mix them how you choose (or use them individually).

dig.ccMixter is a subdomain focused entirely on music, so it’s a great place to check out music for videos. Music is available under an attribution license, so you’re free to use it for whatever you want as long as you give credit to the artist.

You can find thousands of tracks here, but it can be hard to navigate at first. Your best bet is to use the tag search, which opens up a list of tags that you can narrow tracks with. There’s even a “music_for_video” tag!

Music for Video Tag Custom

If you’re interested in using music for non-Creative-Commons uses, you can check out TuneTrack, a related site that offers royalty-free music without attribution for a fee.

3. HookSounds

Even though HookSounds has subscriptions and licenses for all kinds of content, they also offer a Use & Mention license for non-commercial use, which is free. It is a good option if you are looking for original royalty-free music, but unfortunately, not everyone can use it.

HookSounds royalty-free music service

To utilize the Use & Mention license, there are specific criteria that you’ll have to meet:

  • You can’t monetize your content. Therefore, if you are posting a video on your YouTube channel, you can’t place ads or sponsored content. In general, if you are earning money from your content, then you will need a paid license. Otherwise, if it is for a personal video project, for example, you are eligible for the free Use & Mention license. 
  • The content has to be for personal use only, therefore if you are a freelancer or a business you won’t be able to use it. If you are a student or an Instagrammer posting videos like reels or IGTV that aren’t sponsored, then you are all set for this license.
  • You must give attribution to HookSounds by crediting them on the description of your video or tagging them on social media. The credits must include the website’s link.

You will have to meet the three criteria, otherwise, you will risk getting copyright notices or your video being demonetized. We recommend you keep a close eye on the terms regarding the Use & Mention license to avoid getting any problems once you have published your video or podcast. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the tracks that fall under the Use & Mention license are the ones not tagged as Premium. There are around 1000 tracks that you can use for free at HookSounds. The good news is that they constantly update their library, so that number is for sure increasing. 

If you’re a content creator looking to monetize your content and ready to invest, we recommend the Premium subscription. Tailored for content creators, it grants access to HookSounds’ entire library (music, sound effects, and intros), allows monetization across up to 5 channels, provides access to their AI Studio (an AI music generator based on your video), and much more.

4. FreeSound

While the interface isn’t as modern or intuitive as other options, you can find a lot of music on FreeSound. But you can find other things too, like sound effects, noise, people talking, and natural sounds.

No matter what kind of sound you need, there’s a good chance you can find it here.

The site’s tag list is the best way to navigate:

Free Sound homepage screenshot

You can also use the search bar if you have an idea of what you’re looking for.

Each sound has an image associated with it, displayed on the category page, that tells you the type of license it has. Many include CC-BY licenses, but there are a few CC0 and non-commercial options as well.

And if you’re interested in music editing, there are tons of instrument samples that you can piece together to create your own track.

5. Incompetech

Though it lacks the tens of thousands of songs present on FMA and ccMixter, Incompetech makes it easy to find what you’re looking for and provide attribution. Everything on the site is available under a CC-BY license, so you’ll just need to provide a link back to Incompetech when you use it.

Incompetech’s filtering tool lets you select criteria to narrow your selection. Choose a feel (like “aggressive,” “grooving,” or “mysterious”), tempo, genre, length, or any combination of the two:

Incompetech royalty free music selection

Select a piece of music to get a short preview, and then download with a click. The site also gives you the full attribution so you can copy and paste it wherever it’s needed.

6. Cctrax

If you’re looking for electronica, head to Cctrax. The site specializes in electronic music (though it does also offer a bit of rock, jazz, and modern classical).

One of the biggest benefits of using Cctrax to download music for videos is that you can filter their tracks by the type of Creative Commons license. You can also filter by genre, tag, label, and artist to get the exact type of music you’re looking for.

CCtrax homepage

Although the interface is a bit dated, you can find a lot of good music for video editing if you’re willing to spend some time looking for it.

Cctrax is also the only site here that features music videos. Not all of the videos are CC licensed, but many of them are, so if you’re looking for stock video or want to feature a music video this is a good place to start. (Though you’ll notice that there’s no filtering system for videos; you’ll just have to watch a bunch of them to find what you’re looking for.)

7. Jamendo

There are two different parts of Jamendo’s website: a listening section and a licensing section. Everything in the listening section has a Creative Commons license, so you can use these tracks for your videos.

Unfortunately, you can’t sort the tracks by the type of CC license they have. So you’ll have to explore each one. To see the type of license a track has, click the down arrow on the right side of the screen; you’ll see play counts and symbols that correspond to different types of Creative Commons licenses:

jamendo royalty free music licensing page

Because Jamendo is largely focused on listening, you can find listening-friendly features like radio stations, playlists, and communities. This can be a good way to discover music if you’re not sure what you want to use in your video editing.

If you do have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can use the genre listings to browse available tracks or the search bar to narrow down the list.

Just remember to check the type of Creative Commons license available before you download!

8. SoundCloud

SoundCloud has one of the largest music libraries available online. Launched in 2008, SoundCloud was built to bring musicians together and connect them with listeners and creators around the world.

And many of the music tracks available on SoundCloud can be cleared and used for commercial purposes.

royalty free music available on soundcloud

Here’s how you use SoundCloud to find royalty-free background music for your videos.

  1. Head over to SoundCloud.
  2. Log in to your account or create a new account.
  3. Search for the type of music you need for your online video, for example, hip-hop, EDM, or ambient.
  4. From the left menu, select ‘Tracks’.
  5. Under ‘Filter Results’, find and click the © Copyright Symbol.
  6. Here you can choose the different licenses including ‘To modify commercially’ and ‘To use commercially’.
  7. Select ‘To use commercially’.
  8. Now you’ll see all the music tracks available for free download and commercial use.

Just remember to double-check the type of Creative Commons license available and the type of attribution the artist is asking for in exchange for their music.

9. YouTube Audio Library

If you want to add music to a YouTube video, the YouTube Audio Library or as it’s now called ‘Creator Music’ is a great way to do it. You can also download these tracks to use in other videos as well, though you may want to double-check the licensing agreement on your chosen song if you do this.

Just head to Creator Music in your YouTube Studio and use the filters to find tracks by genre, mood, instrument, duration, or licensing agreement (you can choose songs and music tracks that require attribution or not). Click play to preview a track, and hit the download button to save a copy of it.

YouTube's creator music library

From there, upload it to your YouTube video or use a video editor to add the track to your video.

One of the nice features of YouTube’s Music Library is that you can star your favorite tracks and come back to them later. So if you’re looking for music for a particular video and you come across something you like, but isn’t a good fit for your current project, you can save it.

10. Filmstro

Even though Filmstro offers licenses for content all the way from Indie productions through to Theatrical, they also offer free music that you can download straight from their music library pages.

This music is even cleared for your monetized YouTube videos, which means you keep all of the monetization rights on your content even though the music is free.

screenshot of filmstro's user interface

Filmstro is a bit different to any other music library as you can edit all of their tracks to change the emotion of the music in their web app. However, that’s not covered in the free music which is just like any other music library and consists of pre-mixed ‘static’ music of a fixed length.

If you want to create a bespoke soundtrack you’ll have to look into their licensing options, but for their free tracks just download what you need.

There are just a couple of things to bear in mind with the free music:

  • First, you will need to add a ‘keyword license’ to the description of your YouTube video. This is one very short sentence provided by Filmstro that credits them and, at the same time, automatically removes any copyright claims that YouTube’s system will automatically generate. After you upload a video with the keyword license it will take somewhere between 5-10 minutes (sometimes quicker) for the copyright claim to be removed and then you’re good to go.
  • Second, be sure to upload your video as unlisted first so that the system can do its thing and you don’t lose out on any monetization revenue. Once you’ve received a message from YouTube informing you that the claim has been removed, you’re good to go.

Please note that uploading the video as private will not work and you will receive a claim that won’t be removed until it’s either ‘unlisted’ or set to public.

11. Thematic

With Thematic, you can find a wide variety of copyright-free music and sound effects specifically curated for bloggers.

Thematic’s vast audio library and song filtering options allow you to explore various genres, moods, and tones so that you can find the best song to complement your vlog in minutes.

The heart of Thematic’s mission is to foster a collaborative ecosystem where creators and artists thrive together. Creators using Thematic’s service are required to credit the artists, a process made seamless by the platform. This credit ensures artists receive the recognition they deserve and supports a community-centric approach to content creation.

Navigating through Thematic is a breeze thanks to its user-friendly interface. Creators can easily search for the perfect track by mood/vibe, genre, or artist, and have access to curated playlists designed to inspire and complement a wide range of video projects. The platform is dedicated to keeping its library fresh and dynamic, regularly updating its music selection to provide new and exciting options for creators.

The best part is that Thematic is completely free to use, but there are Premium and Pro options for creators looking for additional features and unlimited access.

Reminder: Check Each Track’s License

I’ve brought this up a few times now, but it’s worth reiterating: every track has a licensing agreement. And it’s a good habit to double-check that agreement to make sure that you can use that music for video editing.

In most cases, if you violate the license agreement, you’ll just get an email asking you to take it down. It’s not a big deal. But there’s always the possibility of legal action, and that’s something you don’t want to deal with.

These Creative Commons music sites will help you find royalty-free music for videos, but you still need to make sure that you’re following the correct attribution procedures and not using non-commercial tracks for commercial purposes.

As long as you do that, you’re set to download and use all the music you want!