The Insider’s Guide to Finding the Best Stock Music for Film.
For a long while, I’ve had to make most of making my film projects with usually a $0 budget. So I’ve always had to resourcefully find music and audio for my video projects that compliment the message or the story being produced. The majority of the time It’s been me wrestling the internet trying to find quality free stock music. This can be insanely difficult as free stock music can be difficult to find, especially good quality music that doesn’t sound too “stocky” or has been overused.
My current go to for inspiration for my projects is Music Bed. They give the ability to listen to their library on the go using their app. This makes it a great tool for me to usually discover songs and artists whilst on the move. Their categorisation and tagging of their music library are fantastic, you can begin to discover some fantastic pieces of music by experimenting with a few different attributes, such as the desired length of the song, themes, mood, and characteristics.
Music and film are intrinsically linked.
Music and Film are a couple of bedfellows. In the video production arena, they are co-dependent. But in your projects, what comes first? The chicken or the egg? The Music or the film direction? For me sometimes the song can sometimes come first and the idea emerges from the themes and tone the song carries, which draws out new ideas in me. Many times coming across a piece of music can spark ideas for a new idea, or can take an existing idea in another direction. So whether or not you are prepared to purchase or have the budget to spend on licensed music. Take the time to explore different libraries and listening spaces, to let your inspiration and creativity find new levels of expression.
Choosing music for your video.
When choosing music for your videos, a small amount of thought as to what you want the music to achieve can go a long way, and can help you understand where to start looking. Music plays a powerful role in driving forward your message or story and creating emotion around your message. So think about feelings. How do you want your audience to feel when they watch your video. What sort of pace are you trying to achieve, what sort of tone are you trying to set? Picking the right piece of music is all about the correct context. Music licensing libraries like Music Bed and Marmoset provide a set of search tools that help you discover new pieces of music based on emotional attributed meta tags and other variables each piece of music carries. I often use these to help narrow my search in terms of pieces of music available but also in terms of finding the correct tone.
Here’s a quick run-down of my go to places and sites that I feel offer quality music for film.
Free Stock Music Resources
Soundcloud is an invaluable resource for me. Both for browsing and searching for music to help inspire me and help me define tone for a video. There are also a ton of creative commons tracks on their if you dig through their search tool.
Vimeo do such a great job at providing their film maker community with great tutorials and learning resources. In that mix they provide a substantial library of stock music. There are both paid and free options.
Youtube also have a pretty comprehensive library of music you can go and check out. They also offer stock audio effects too.
Wistia are a favourite of mine. Their blogs, learning library and tutorials of how to create videos for business and market videos are fantastic. if that wasn’t good enough they also created some quality background music
Juke Deck let you create unique or more like tailored pieces of music, by letting an AI . If your a small business or an individual you can use their music provided you attribute. Juke Deck tell us: “We’re making a system that can write original tracks according to your specifications, so that you can have customised music at the touch of a button.” Sounds pretty neat! The music you can generate is good, perhaps a little bit too predictable and “safe”, but a solid choice for somewhere to find some simple tracks and have fun at the same time.
A long standing favourite in the filmmaker community, and one that I see pop up a lot. Moby gives free music away for non-commercial projects, for the likes of film students, non-profits and indie filmmakers. Thanks Moby!
The team at Amostra provide some free and paid options for licensing music. Check their FAQ’s below each of their compilations to make sure you conform to their licensing terms. Their music is super atmospheric, orchestral and mostly dark in its tone pretty much perfect for a lot of indie films or video games.
Free music archive is a huge resource of various different types of free music to licence. The degree of how “free” some of the tracks are usually depend on the individuals artists. However there are plenty free tracks to find. Keep an eye on if they are for personal use or can be used for commercial purposes.
One of my favourites, simply sign up with your email and get a new royalty free piece of music to your inbox every week. No strings attached. Simples!
Paid Stock Music Resources
Music Bed is my go-to place for not only paid (licensing) music for film, but just as much as source of inspiration for my projects.
Another subscription service (also in Beta) based music library. At only $199 per year, they have a big catalogue of music that you can easily browse and discover with their search tools.
Full access to their full catalogue of music, loops and indents for only $99.
Filmstro still in a Beta stage of their product. They use a subscription pricing model thats pretty affordable. Filmstro gives you access to a growing list of music that you can alter and create custom variations of the arrangements. This can be ideal for when you want more control in how your piece of music changes and comes to life over the course of the piece. They provide simple controls for you to alter different attributes of the music allowing you to customise it to your needs.
Bandcamp is often a hidden treasure in my opinion. There are a lot of fantastic artists who give you access to their music for personal and commercial projects for close to nothing. It’s worth noseying around band camp, creating an account and start to follow artists you’re interested in.
Pro scores is a collection of cinematic music created by Video Copilot. They provide orchestral music tracks that have layered soundtracks, giving you more ability to customise the sound of each piece of music. It also comes with a bunch of great Music effects and building elements. Worth every penny!
Cheap, but perhaps you might have heard their more popular pieces before. Lots of “fun and playful” ukulele numbers…
From time to time there’s been a piece of music I’ve came across and become attached to, unfortunately I didn’t have the budget to purchase and it wasn’t free. At times when I’ve been in a little to no budget scenario, sometimes you just gotta hustle. The great thing is, most of the time it’s not too difficult to get in touch with the composer or whoever has produced the music.
Now listen up. I’m completely in favour of paying your way and honouring the fantastic work, the time and effort composers have put into making some great pieces of music. However sometimes a personal connection with a composer can make all the difference, try reaching out and explain what your trying to do, and in what way you could compensate their addition to your project.
The art of Discovery
It can be frustrating finding music. But more and more these days there are many places to find quality music. Like the rise of stock photography such as with Unsplash and Death to Stock, stock music is on the rise and becoming way more accessible. I tend to enjoy the hunt to find music for my projects. It’s often a background task, where I will put some playlists on and listen to some options over the course of a day. I’ll alway bookmark any music resource I feel might benefit me now or in the future, to speed up the searching process for future projects. Let it be a process that inspires you and guides you to making your project better. More often than not the right piece of music just strikes you in a moment, there’s an “aha!” moment or a piece you stumble across happens to have that organic fit you were looking for. Ultimately it all goes down to your project, your taste, and your budget. It’s always about working within your budget and creating a video/film that resonates with your audience.
- When buying rights or licensing, there is no one size fits all, check what you are buying into. Lots of different things have different rules attached to it.
- Start out how you intend to continue. Don’t compromise and think to yourself, “well I’m not making anything significant” or “not many people will see this”. So then it becomes okay to use just any song you come across. It’s not! Make sure you use music you have the rights to use. As you can see there are lots of places to look for something you can rightfully use. Doing this will put you in good stead of readily knowing where to find good music and keeping your videos useable and shareable.
- Play selections of music alongside any basic edits you might already have, or take some time to immerse yourself and imagine the video playing out as you listen to the music.
- Get to know musicians and composers who want to collaborate on projects.
- Be bold and get in touch with composers online through the likes of Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Share with them what you’re working on and what your budget is.