5 Sources of Royalty-Free Music for Social Media
Social media conglomerates take audio copyright pretty seriously, particularly YouTube. After three “copyright strikes,” your account may be removed. Even Facebook and Instagram have been known to take down posts using audio without permission from the creator.
Often, business accounts have more restrictions. On Instagram, for example, regular users can browse the entire Apple Music library and play any songs over their stories and reels. However, the same does not apply to business accounts that profit from content.
Basically, if you’re a social media manager or business owner, you need to use royalty-free music that won’t earn you copyright infringement. Here are some of the best places to find it.
In layman’s terms, ‘copyright’ protects all creative works, including images and audio. It determines who owns the work and how others can use it.
In the United States, audio is covered by section 106 of Copyright Law. The law stipulates that only the copyright holder can reproduce the copyrighted work, distribute it to the public, perform it publicly, and transmit the work digitally. Furthermore, only the owner can make derivatives of the copyrighted work.
Other creators can only use copyrighted audio with permission. In essence, you need a license to do so.
Obtaining a license can be a time-intensive and expensive process. If you just want a simple backing track for your business’s videos, there is no way you want to go through all this effort.
Luckily, there are ways to find audio that isn’t copyrighted. Some artists make their art part of the Creative Commons, allowing others to use it for free.
To find these tracks, you need to look for a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License. Alternatively, the music might be attribution-only, which means it’s free to use as long as you credit the artist.
You probably don’t want to spend hours researching CC0 audio, so we have compiled a list of some of the best places to find backing tracks.
There are some internet libraries featuring thousands of royalty-free tracks. Epidemic Sound is one of the most popular, offering over 35,000 tracks that are updated weekly.
Users can search for sound by genre, mood, length, tempo, or vocals. It’s easy to set up an account and find the music you need. Plus, Epidemic Sound compiles all the legal information you need into one license that works across all your social platforms.
The downside is that Epidemic Sound costs. For an account, business owners are looking at $99 for single-track licensing or $144 per year for a subscription. Commercial subscriptions will set you back even more at $299 per year.
Artlist is another subscription-based program. Again, it creates a license you can use for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Vimeo, Twitch, and much more.
At $119.88 for a year, it’s a slightly cheaper option for small business owners. A commercial license is a little pricier at $202.80 for the year.
It’s also possible to seek tailored plans for organizations; simply contact Artlist via the website for a quote.
Anyone with a YouTube account can access the Audio Library. Some of the tracks there are licensed under Creative Commons, which means they require attribution, but there are also plenty of CC0 tracks. Plus, if it’s the former, you can simply credit the artist in the caption.
Alongside music, Youtube’s Audio Library also features sound effects.
On other platforms like Instagram, business owners can access a library of free music for reels and stories. It’s a smaller library than what regular accounts can access, but it’s something. It’s also easy to use, but it’s not so easy to search for the tracks you’re seeking unless you know the name or artist already.
Please note that if you try to download the video to your phone after posting, the audio will be removed for copyright purposes.
Some artists produce free-to-use music and promote it through their social channels. Lots of them require only attribution, and some don’t even ask for that.
A great example is Corey Gagné (@not_theking), who produces plenty of royalty-free tracks. They’re ideal for small businesses to use as backing tracks. However, Corey asks that businesses who are using music for monetized content send him a DM to sort out some terms.
There are plenty of similar artists, including @iksonmusic, who allow track use provided attribution is given.
Owned by fair trade music licensors Tribe of Noise and run by the radio station WFMU, the Free Music Archive compiles the site’s most popular music over a set timeframe.
The Archive contains over 150,000 songs, and it’s easy to search by genre and mood. It’s also a great educational resource, with the FAQ section detailing the various types of licenses to explain what you’ll need.
Additionally, you can filter the search results by license type.
Unlike some of the other databases in this list, Free Music Archive is free to use (it’s in the name).
Finding the perfect backing track for your videos can sometimes feel like such a chore, especially when you’re hit by the disappointment of paying royalties. Artists work hard on their music, and they do deserve a cut for their efforts, but for some small businesses and creators, it’s just not possible.
Some royalty-free databases work via a subscription model, which helps to support the artists. If you own a company and plan to use lots of different tracks, it might be best to go down this route and save some money in the long run.
However, there are some audio libraries that are free to use, including those built-in to some social platforms.
It might still take some time to find the perfect track, but this list will hopefully make it a little easier.