If you’re recording 2-3 podcast episodes a week, can you imagine the costs to pay musicians a royalty fee every time your intro with their song is played?
That’s where royalty-free music comes in. Royalty-free music means you can use that piece of music and not need to pay any royalty fees to the artist. Royalty-free songs aren’t always the easiest to find, so I’ve collated some of the best royalty-free music sites that offer music you can use for your podcasts.
Otherwise, let’s get into the details surrounding music in podcasts and where to get royalty-free music for podcasts.
Why Use Music in Podcasts
Podcasts are all about hosts talking about various topics, sometimes by themselves and other times with guests. So what’s music have to do with podcasting then?
Podcasts still utilize music, especially with intros and outros. Music can be played in the background while telling a story to set a certain mood. Music affects people’s emotions and drives people to behave or act in certain ways. Lively music can make us dance, sad music can make sob, and even horror sounds can make us flinch.
And with podcasting, it may not seem significant, but it does have an impact. It lets you tell a story better since music can engage your listeners’ moods. With that said, it doesn’t mean that you should replace your whole podcast episode with music. Otherwise, it’d end up becoming a music channel, rather than a podcast.
By including a few music snippets here and there, it could make a difference. When adding these, it doesn’t even have to be lyrical music. It could be instrumental music in the background or sound effects that can be added to certain parts of your audio for emphasis. As for the part where and when it is best to place them, it’s entirely up to you. It boils down to your creativity and style, and how you’d like to direct your overall podcast style. Just remember to keep your balance and don’t go haywire in doing this. Otherwise, you might end up delivering negative results.
There are a lot of successful podcasters who pay musicians to create original music for their own podcasts. But there are also just as many podcasters, if not more, who use royalty-free music for podcasts. So, don’t feel insecure if you don’t have original music, at the end of the day, your audience will appreciate you and what you say more than the music itself.
How To Use Music For Podcasts
Now that we know why you’d want to use music, let’s look at how and where you can use music in your podcasts. Using your music effectively can make a big difference when properly executed in the podcast. Even the smallest tones and beats can be a gamechanger.
Liven Up Your Intro
The podcast intro sets the stage for your podcast episode and gets your listener pumped and ready to actively listen. You’ll want to have an intro paragraph for every episode to hook in the listener and get them to stay to the end. Your intro will be over a section of music that is tied to your podcast. Your intros should be different, but familiar.
Music at the intro also lets your listeners know that the episode is about to start and signals you to settle so that you do not miss anything. When the music stops, that’s usually when the episode begins.
Each episode has a different intro and the music makes it familiar. This is all part of finding a consistent brand for your podcast. One of the keys out of searching for music is to find royalty-free intro music that’s going to give your intro energy.
Fade Out-ro with Music
Imagine hearing a podcaster say “…until next time, bye!” and then suddenly it gets cut at the end. Wouldn’t you feel a bit left hanging? We know that this may not feel significant, but if you listen closely – you would feel that it is a bit of a cliff hanger. A proper outro could leave a few seconds lingering at the end of the segment. This enables your listeners to adjust and accept that they have reached the end of the episode.
Some podcasters might prefer to have silence in their outro, but I prefer incorporating music. Fading out music in your outro is much more of an elegant exit.
Using Music In Between Segments
When you’re delivering a segment in your podcast, there are occasions when background music could be integrated. It could be for emphasis, for background noise replacement, for subtle overlays or even to fill an awkward pause. It depends on how you would like to use them.
We recommend to only use them when you see it necessary. So, if you do not want to ruin a segment, it is your call to put one or not. However, when you do see the value for a particular segment to have some music, then don’t hesitate to play around and experiment with what works. Especially when you put the music to fill out the pause, it helps listeners relax if there was a segment you feel might’ve been tense, sad, or other moods you want to break from.
Don’t Use your Favorite Songs
Don’t use what’s currently in your go-to music playlist. Those are all copyrighted and you’ll be sued if you use them in your podcast or elsewhere without getting the rights.
Yes, finding the right music can be a challenge. But I’d imagine you want to steer away from lawsuits and copyright infringes as much as you can. There are different ways to handle this. One way that you could do is to search online for royalty-free background music for podcasts. Another approach is to, of course, acquire the copyrights if you are keen on having that particular music. However, for beginners – we would recommend the first approach. This way, you’ll save money starting out and can figure out at a time later when you have the funds to invest into original music.
Your audience should hear you
One of the reasons why you don’t want to use popular music, besides copyright, is that your listeners immediately recognize music. They’ll start wondering if you’re associate with the artist in some way.
Why you wouldn’t want that is because you’ve just filled their head with something that’s not about what’s going on in that episode. What if they now have the song stuck in their head and are humming it throughout.
Remember, your audience should be hearing you and your thoughts. They can always run to an artist’s playlist if they want to listen to their music.
There are copyright laws that are implemented depending on the state and country. And you should be aware of what they are so that you can reduce the negative impacts on you. You may be faced with legal actions in case of misuse. Depending on the severity of the case, it can result in a fine or sometimes, imprisonment. These are serious matters at hand so please do keep an eye on the legal side. Make sure that you understand them and don’t fall into potential copyright infringement cases.
On the other side of the coin, you’d also want to understand copyright infringement for your own sake. As you grow, there’ll be copycats out there copying you.
So to avoid copyright infringement and big costs from hiring your own musicians to create original music, we have royalty-free music.
What is Royalty-Free Music?
Music royalties refer to the fees paid to the legal owners of the intellectual property. In most cases, these are the artists and their management. The royalty payments go through a web of complex processes and organizations to payback the artist for their music. The bottom line, music owners are paid back based on the percentage of earnings sold by any and everywhere.
Before you start thinking that royalty-free means it’s free music – it’s not. Although it doesn’t require any payments to the original creator, royalty-free music doesn’t mean it’s free.
It depends on how you are going to use them and where. The main difference between royalty-free and the latter is that this has more relaxed policies when being used. As mentioned above, royalty-free means you’re not paying the original creator / copyright owner each time that you use or play the song.
Companies, musicians, music sites, and other places you’d find royalty-free music usually have legal terms published for you to adhere to as part of the royalty-free license agreement. Some sites may require having certain wording for proper credits, while others might require a one-time payment for the royalty-free license. So, before you use royalty-free podcast intro music, we suggest that you first check the restrictions that apply.
Sites that offer Royalty-free Music
For music that doesn’t specify whether they are royalty-free or not – chances are that they are not. That is why it is important to look for the fine print published on a website before downloading them.
Below is a list of some sites that offer royalty-free music, whether Free or Paid, that can be used when podcasting:
Incompetech has been around for quite some time. Of all the royalty-free music sites, it’s one of the longest-standing sites that has been offering a large library to choose from. All of the music that is published here is created by a single artist, Kevin MacLeod. For as long as you give credit to the artist, you can use any songs for your podcast. Kevin has hundreds of songs published in the site across different genres. So, it doesn’t hurt to at least give him some credit when you use his music.
Shutterstock is well-known for providing the best stock images out there. They’re not on the low-end of prices, but because of their pricing structure, those images are not overused by others out there. Same with their music. The music they have is exclusive to Shutterstock and you won’t be able to find them anywhere else.
They provide some of the best royalty-free music out there for $199 per year ($16.60 per month) for an unlimited music plan. Or if you only want one music track, a standard license for one is $49, which covers podcasts.
The Free Music Archive
The Free Music Archive has a library of songs that can be used for podcasting. It generally follows an open-source content distribution, however, there are still some exceptions. Each song has individual rights that you would need to check first before using it. Just make sure you understand the rights before downloading.
Musopen is a place where you can get classical music for your podcast. The library is huge and gives you a great collection to choose from. The cool thing about this library is that it goes beyond distributing classical audio files. It even allows you to retrieve sheet music and stream radio tunes of classical songs online.
Danosongs is a community site that offers royalty-free music that you can also add to your podcast. Initially, the library was built by one contributor who published hundreds of royalty-free songs. And from then on, the library grew. Songs in their library range from electronic, acoustic, classical, cinematic and voice tracks. By default, songs that are downloaded here can be for personal use. However, if you choose to publish your podcast, according to their permissions, you would need to make a donation or pay for the license. One great thing about their business model is if you donate $50, you can get a license to use ALL songs in their royalty-free music library.
CCMixter has a library full of remix songs, samples, and acapella that is built by over 40 thousand musicians globally. The music here is published for free however, it may take a while to search for the right song. This is because this open-source site has a large consumer base that encourages to download, edit, and share content with the community.
Purple Planet Music
Purple Planet Music was started by 2 individuals from England. Specifically, Geoff Harvey and Chris Martyn. This duo composed many songs, recorded them, and sometimes made mixes accompanied by guitars, percussions, and bass sounds. All songs here are classified as royalty-free and can be used as long as credit is mentioned. Some of their content also has an electronic vibe, if that’s something that works for your podcst.
YouTube Audio Library
YouTube is a popular platform for video of course. But that same popularity extends to their audio library. They have a wide selection of royalty-free music that is available for download.
Soundbible specializes in its collection of sound effects. As we have mentioned earlier, the music that you can integrate can go beyond typical songs. With sound effects, you can bring more emphasis and comedic effect to make your podcast livelier. Overall, Soundbible provides a good selection of free sounds that you can integrate into your podcast for free.
Silverman Sound Studios (Paid)
Silverman Sound Studios provides one of the best royalty-free music libraries. However, most of their content requires premium payment for you to be able to add to your podcast. For that payment, you can expect that their music is high-quality and you can add the music directly to your podcast, videos and other media.
Audiojungle by Envato is a good site if you are looking for premium content. Although they require payment subscriptions, their content is well-liked. Since free music tends to be acquired by many, there is a high possibility that your music is also used elsewhere. Buying some premium music can help set you apart since you can have access to more unique songs by indie artists. Just make sure that you read their terms and conditions carefully as some may feel a bit confusing.
There are many free and paid options for royalty-free music for your podcast. Be sure to check out the different sites above and see which site(s) offers the type of music that you’re looking for.
Think about your brand and what type of style you want to put out there for your listeners when they listen to your podcast.
- Where Can I Get Royalty-Free Music for My Podcast?
There are many Free and Paid sites out there. The biggest royalty-free music sites out there to check out are Incompetech (Free) and Shutterstock (Paid).
If you go with the Free option, you might run into music that's being used by many others. If you go with a Paid option, the music is usually of higher quality and there's less risk of duplicates out there.
- What is Royalty-Free Music? Does That Mean I Can Use the Music for Free?
Royalty-Free music means that you don't have a to pay to use the music each time you use the music. The most common ways of acquiring the royalty-free license is by either paying a one-time fee to the song rights owner or by crediting the rights owner whenever using the music.
In those cases where you can use the song by crediting the rights owner, you're usually not asked to pay any fees. Which means that you can use the music for Free.