If you’re creating a video or podcast to post online, it’s important to make sure that any background music you use is royalty-free. Just because a song is free to download or even if you paid for it, that doesn’t mean you have the legal right to use it in your own content.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at eight resources that you can use to download royalty-free music at no charge.
Free Resources for Royalty-Free Music
There are tons of websites and apps that allow you to download music for free or listen to music online. Unfortunately, just because something is free to listen to or download (or even if you’ve paid for it yourself) it may not be legal to use in your own content. If you’re looking for background music or sound effects for your videos, podcasts or other content, you’ll want to make sure you’re only considering royalty-free music. Fortunately, there are several ways to find royalty-free music that you can use for free.
Here is a list of eight different websites and apps that provide access to free royalty-free music. In the table below, I’ve included information on the platform where each resource is available, its average app rating between the App Store and Google Play and what I found to be the best feature of each resource.
|Resource:||Platforms:||App Rating:||Best For:|
|YouTube||Website and App (iOS and Android)||4.5||Finding new music|
|Internet Archive||Website and App (iOS and Android)||4.4||Finding all royalty-free elements|
|SoundCloud||Website and App (iOS and Android)||4.5||Independent artists|
|Musopen||Website and App (iOS and Android)||4.8||Mobile experience|
|ccMixter||Website||N/A||Connecting with a music community|
|Bensound||Website||N/A||User experience online|
|Mixkit||Website||N/A||Free sound effects|
|SIlverman Sound Studios||Website||N/A||A variety of genres|
When you visit one of these websites or download the app, you may have to create a free account to continue. Still, you shouldn’t have to enter any payment information to access and download royalty-free music.
Below, you’ll find more detailed information on these eight different places to find royalty-free music that you can use at no cost.
YouTube Audio Library
YouTube has always been one of the first resources I check to stream popular music online for free. You can also find quality downloadable royalty-free music on YouTube.
All you have to do is search for it in the search bar. The Audio Library channel will likely be one of the first search results. On this channel, which has more than 3.5 million subscribers, you’ll find a wide variety of copyright-free songs that can be used in your own content. You can download royalty-free songs directly from Audio Library’s website using links under the YouTube videos.
As with any other resource, just make sure you verify that the music you’re about to use is royalty-free. As you may know, a lot of the content on YouTube is licensed and not available for download or use by content creators.
Internet Archive is another resource that provides access to free royalty-free music. You can download tons of tracks from this website/app for use in your own content. When I typed “royalty-free” into the search bar, 7,631 results turned up. The results included a range of royalty-free music, stock videos, photos and more.
Click on the “Music” tab on the top of the screen to browse different types of audio. You can check out what’s popular, search for specific music, moods or genres and filter/sort your search results in order to find the perfect sound or music for your project. Just make sure that you see royalty-free or copyright-free in the song’s description before you download and use it.
The Free Music Archive page is a great place to start on archive.org. Tribe of Noise acquired Free Music Archive’s website in 2019, so while you may find the content on the Free Music Archive a little dated, it may still be worth checking out.
When you first visit SoundCloud, you’ll need to create an account to download music. You’ll simply enter your email address, password, age and display name. You’ll also be asked to select your favorite music genres to get started.
While you can stream any of the tracks for free online, only some of them are available to download. You can click the three dots below each track listing to see if there’s a “Download file” option. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean a song is royalty-free. To find a selection of music that you can use in your own content, you can search for the royalty-free hashtag. This will show you the copyright-free music downloads that are available.
With more than 72,000 followers, the channel Royalty Free Music is a great place to start on SoundCloud. You can browse popular tracks and check out pre-built playlists full of songs that are available to download and use. At the time of writing, featured playlists included “Best Background Royalty-Free Music for YouTube Videos,” “Motivating Inspiration Indie Pop Rock,” “Happy Cheerful Ukulele Pop” and more.
Musopen focuses on providing access to free sheet music, educational materials and apps for teachers and students. However, you’ll also find royalty-free music recordings that you can listen to online or download for free.
If you click on the “Music” tab, you’ll see the full selection of free tracks that you can stream or download as well as the song’s title, mood, instruments, length, rating and licensing information. When you’ve found a song you’d like to download, simply click the download button to the left of the track.
You can search for specific keywords or browse by composer, instruments, periods, moods and more. In addition to downloadable royalty-free music, Musopen also provides streamable radio online and via the Classical Radio app for iOS and Android devices. Unfortunately, you can’t download music using the app. But you can always download tracks to your computer from the web and then sync them to your smartphone later.
Best for: Connecting with a music community
ccMixter is a great resource for finding a community of music lovers. It was created by Creative Commons, and all music on the site is licensed under a Creative Commons license. According to the website, you are free to download music on the site and share the results with anyone, anywhere, anytime.
When you first visit the website, you can browse through editor’s picks, remixes, highest-rated tracks, a cappella and more. You can also visit dig ccMixter to find music that others have uploaded for your film, video, commercial project or video game.
You can stream music online to preview songs before you download them. When you do find a song to download, you’ll be prompted to give credit to the musicians before proceeding. You can copy a pre-written text box that includes information on the music’s source to use in the description of your content.
Best for: Online user experience
Bensound is another great place to find free royalty-free music. The website has hundreds of audio clips available to download and use at no charge. You can preview a sound first by clicking the button under the title, and if you like what you hear, you can click the “download” button to save the file.
If there’s a certain mood or sound that you’re looking for, you can use the search bar to narrow the selection. You can also browse by genre including acoustic/folk, cinematic, corporate/pop, electronica, urban/groove, jazz, rock and world/others.
According to the website’s licensing page, all music on Bensound is available under the Free License at no charge as long as you credit Bensound.com. While you can purchase a pro license to use on these tracks, it’s not required as long as you make sure to credit the source.
Best for: Free sound effects
Mixkit is another website that allows you to listen to and download royalty-free stock music absolutely free. In addition to music, MixKit also provides royalty-free videos, sound effects, templates and photos.
In the “Music” tab, you’ll find a collection of royalty-free music that’s free to stream and download. You can narrow the results by genre, mood, tag or enter what you’re looking for into the search bar. If you click on “Sound Effects,” you can search for a specific sound or browse different categories for genre or specific use including transition, nature, technology, animals, transport, human, warfare, instrument, lifestyle, games and more.
Once you’ve found something you’re interested in, you can click the button to play by the title to preview it. Then, simply click the download button if you’d like to save it to use in your own content. Of course, it’s always smart to credit the source, so don’t forget to mention Mixkit if you use sounds from the site.
Silverman Sound Studios
Best for: A variety of genres
Silverman Sound Studios is actually a resource that’s privately owned by UK musician and composer Shane Ivers. He creates music for games, films and other content that he gives away for free under the Creative Commons license.
On this website, you’ll find dozens of tracks that you can stream and download. You can search for something specific or narrow the results by genre or mood including aggressive, ambient, bouncy, bright, calming, classical and more.
Like other resources on this list, it’s important to give credit if you use music from this website. You can purchase an individual license if you want to avoid this step. You can learn more about the licensing and how to credit Silverman Sound Studios on the company’s FAQ page.
All of these websites/apps are worth checking out if you’re looking for no-cost royalty-free music.
If you need a big selection to browse while searching for the perfect song, be sure to check out YouTube or SoundCloud first. If you know what mood or genre you’ll need for your content, Bensound and Silverman Sound Studios are great resources for narrowing down the options.
To connect with a music community and get feedback from others, ccMixter is a great website to visit. And if you’re looking for royalty-free elements beyond music, you can find stock videos, photos, sound effects and more at Internet Archive and Mixkit.
While all of these resources are great on the computer, if you’re looking for a mobile experience, Musopen’s app has the highest average rating.
No matter where you decide to download free royalty-free music, just make sure you’re using it legally. That most likely means you’ll have to give credit to the website or artist in some way. Of course, this can be a simple link in the description of your YouTube video or a brief mention at the end of your podcast.
What are your favorite websites/apps for finding free royalty-free music? Let us know in the comments below!