Podcast Tools
30
min
July 19, 2023

20 best places to get royalty-free music for podcasters

Resound.fm Team

Music adds that special touch to a podcast, right? It infuses soul into your show and keeps your audience hooked and engaged. 🎶

But hold on a sec. You can't just grab any tune you like and drop it into your podcast. It's essential to be aware that several legal pitfalls come with using music.

But don’t worry, because in this post we've got the solution to your music needs.

Let's dive in and find the perfect royalty-free soundtrack for your podcast! 🎧

What we’ll cover: 

Best free sites for royalty free music

1. Free Music Archive

2. Pixabay

3. Freebeats.io

4. YouTube Audio Library

5. Podcast.co

6. Silverman Sound Studios

7. Incompetech

8. Audionautix

9. Purple Planet

10. SoundCloud

1. Free Music Archive

Image source: Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive is a platform that offers a huge collection of original royalty-free music created by independent artists from across the globe, and it's all free! Plus, you don't even need to credit the artist when you use their tracks.

The platform is user friendly, allowing you to explore their extensive collection by genre, popularity, and application. 

Short on time? FMA's charts reveal the platform's most popular tracks, saving you from sifting through the entire collection.

2. Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay

Pixabay offers royalty-free music for your podcast, available for free download. Their user-friendly collection provides diverse tracks to elevate your podcast, including intros, outros, and advertisements. With genre, mood, movement, and duration filters, you can easily find the perfect music to suit your needs. Pixabay Music offers affordable, high-quality tracks that enhance your podcast without breaking the bank.

3. Freebeats.io

Image source: Freebeats.io

Freebeats.io offers a wide selection of royalty-free beats and instrumentals. The best part? You can download all the tracks with no tags simply by following them on social media. This saves you money for other vital expenses like equipment, studio time, and promotion.

You can choose from rap beats, R&B beats, hip-hop beats, club beats, and trap beats.  Also, becoming a member unlocks even more benefits, including high-quality WAV downloads, convenient direct downloads, early access to new beats, and a private beat catalog.

4. YouTube Audio Library

Image source: YouTube Audio Library

YouTube Audio Library is a collection of audio tracks, including music and sound effects, that you can use in your videos without worrying about copyright strikes or demonetization - all for free.

You can browse thousands of music tracks under the Free Music tab, using filters for genre, mood, artist, duration, license type, and recency. Additionally, the library provides a variety of sound effects under the Sound Effects tab.

5. Podcast.co

Image source: Podcast.co

Podcast.co offers curated podsafe music, meaning royalty-free music for podcasters. No licensing fees or credit is required. 

Their first album, "Keep Calm and Podcast," is available for download, featuring acoustic grooves, chilled house vibes, and downtempo beats. They're also preparing to release their upcoming album, "Podcast & Chill." 

6. Silverman Sound Studios

Image source: Silverman Sound Studios

Silverman Sound Studios provides high-quality, royalty-free music created by Shane Ivers. The music is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, allowing free use with artist credit.

You can conveniently filter your search based on style, feel, instrument, and length to find the perfect music that matches your desired vibe or mood.

For those who prefer not to give attribution, Silverman Sound Studios offers a non-attribution license for a small fee. 

7. Incompetech

Image source: Incompetech

Incompetech offers fantastic royalty-free music composed by Kevin MacLeod. The music is available under a creative commons copyright license.

You can use the music for free by giving credit or purchase a license if you prefer not to provide credit.

With easy-to-use filters, finding the perfect music for your podcast is a breeze. You can search by feel, genre, tempo, or length, ensuring the music matches your podcast's vibe while respecting copyright requirements.

8. Audionautix

Image source: Audionautix

Audionautix is a site that offers free background music created by the talented Jason Shaw. All the music on Audionautix is completely royalty-free, meaning you can download and use it for free, even for commercial purposes, as long as you give credit to the artist. 

You can easily search for music based on your desired mood, genre, or tempo. Whether you're looking for something upbeat and energetic or calm and soothing, Audionautix has got you covered. 

9. Purple Planet

Image source: Purple Planet

Purple Planet is a collection of royalty-free music created by the talented duo Chris Martyn and Geoff Harvey. You can freely use their pieces, just remember to credit them.

Purple Planet offers a wide range of tracks that are both high-quality and easy to search. Purple Planet also offers collections of tracks that align with your podcast's theme.

Purple Planet also provides an option to obtain a license for a small fee. This gives you the flexibility to use the music without the need for attribution if you prefer.

10. SoundCloud

Image source: SoundCloud

SoundCloud houses both royalty-free and copyrighted music, so it's essential to be mindful of your selections.

To find royalty-free music, you must filter your search by this license type and ensure that the specific song you're interested in is truly royalty-free.

It's always a good idea to check the individual creator's guidelines on how to use their music, such as whether you need to credit them or if you're allowed to remix their work.

Best paid sites for royalty-free music 

1. Artlist

2. Soundstripe

3. Epidemic Sound

4. Storyblocks/Audioblocks

5. Premium Beat 

6. Pond5

7. Jamendo

8. Musicbed

9. Depositphotos

10. AudioJungle

1. Artlist

Image source: Artlist

An Artlist subscription gives you unlimited access to a vast collection of high-quality, royalty-free music created by talented independent musicians worldwide. You get a license suitable for any video, live stream, podcast, or commercial project. 

The Music and SFX plan starts at $9.99/month (billed annually).

Artlist allows you to use a song repeatedly and across multiple projects.

2. Soundstripe

Image source: Soundstripe

Soundstripe gives you top-notch music and sounds at your fingertips. It offers unlimited music, SFX, and video downloads. With 9,000+ label-quality songs and 60,000+ studio-grade sound effects, you'll find exactly what you're looking for. 

They provide curated playlists, intuitive search and filters, and seamless timeline integration for faster collaboration. They automatically clear copyright claims and provide stems for every track. 

Prices start at $9.99/month for the Creator Plan. 

3. Epidemic Sound

Image source: Epidemic Sound

With an Epidemic Sound subscription, you get access to over 40,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects without worrying about copyright, royalties, or extra fees.

Remember that while you have a vast library, there are some restrictions. The music is meant for background use in videos and podcasts. You can use complete tracks or separate stems like bass, instrumental, and vocals. However, using the music in audio samples, sound libraries, music beds, or through third parties is not allowed.

The Personal Plan is available at just $7 per month, offering an affordable way to enhance your projects. The Commercial Plan costs $25 monthly if you require more extensive usage rights.

4. Storyblocks/Audioblocks

Image source: Storyblocks

Storyblocks offers unlimited access to a vast collection of the highest quality, royalty-free music for users, offering a fresh and polished selection.

With intuitive navigation by genre, mood, or instrument, finding the perfect music for creative endeavors is effortless.

The Starter plan is $15/month (billed annually) and includes 5 monthly downloads. The Unlimited All Access plan provides unlimited downloads for $30/month. The Pro plan, priced at $35/month, offers unlimited downloads, advanced features, and benefits for professionals.

5. Premium Beat

Image source: PremiumBeat

PremiumBeat stands out with its impressive collection of 204 music collections. You can easily explore and find the perfect tracks with expertly curated collections, trending tracks, and new releases. It allows you to filter your search by genre or mood for a seamless browsing experience.

It offers a monthly music subscription starting at $12.99 per track, with five tracks available each month. They also offer single purchases for music and sound effects. Choose from the Standard License, starting at $49, or the Premium License at $199 for different distribution options.

When you purchase music, you pay once and can use it forever without worrying about copyright issues. Their content is 100% copyright clear, ensuring a safe experience on platforms like YouTube.

6. Pond5

Image source: Pond5

Pond5 is a platform for accessing affordable royalty-free music with options for one-time fees or subscriptions.

Starting at $5, their stock music collection is highly affordable. With a monthly subscription starting at $25, you receive 10 monthly downloads.

You can search for music using detailed filters like keywords, genre, mood, and collections to find exactly what you need. 

The best part is that their license allows you unlimited use of their music across various platforms.

7. Jamendo

Image source: Jamendo

Jamendo offers a vast music library with over 250,000 royalty-free tracks.

Once you pay for a perpetual license, there are no additional fees, pro fees, or royalties to worry about. 

Jamendo provides an official ownership certificate to prevent copyright claims and ensures fair treatment of artists by allocating up to 65% of revenues back to creators. 

You can choose from different license options like Standard License ($19), Large License ($49), and Enterprise License (custom pricing). 

8. Musicbed

Image source: Musicbed

Musicbed has an impressive roster of musicians and a user-friendly interface. Their subscription service grants access to one of the largest paid music libraries. 

Their advanced search filters based on genre, mood, artist, attributes, and more make finding the perfect music easy. 

What sets Musicbed apart is its ability to license any song worldwide. They offer coverage options for businesses and individuals, with pricing ranging from $59 for a single song (one-time usage) to an annual subscription starting at $29.99 per month for unlimited songs.

9. Depositphotos

Image source: Depositphotos


Depositphotos offers an incredible library of royalty-free music tracks and sound effects alongside their visuals. 

With over 1.4 million audio files, you'll find the perfect tunes and sounds for your projects. Explore music by genre, mood, and length with ease. 

They provide affordable options with unlimited subscriptions starting at just $12.99 and an on-demand plan for specific tracks starting at $39 per download. 

10. AudioJungle

Image source: AudioJungle

AudioJungle offers affordable access to a diverse collection of royalty-free music and audio tracks, starting at $1.

You can search for music effortlessly by genre on AudioJungle. They also provide sound effects, music kits with drag-and-drop sections, and music packs featuring tracks within the same genre.

Remember that your license from AudioJungle only allows you to use the music in one end product. If you need the same track for multiple episodes, you'll have to purchase additional licenses, potentially incurring unnecessary costs.

Why music matters

Imagine listening to a podcast without any music. It would feel a bit bland, right? Music can set the mood of your show. It helps to captivate and connect with listeners on an emotional level.

When you're starting a podcast episode, the right music can help create anticipation and build excitement. It can act as a familiar cue, signaling to your audience that something interesting is about to happen. Similarly, when wrapping up an episode, a well-chosen tune can leave a lasting impression and make the content more memorable.

Using sound elements like music, jingles, and sound effects to establish a distinctive audio identity for a brand or a podcast is called sonic branding. It's like a musical signature that people can associate with your show.

Sonic branding goes beyond just having a catchy tune. It involves carefully selecting music that aligns with the tone and message of your podcast. 

You might choose upbeat and cheerful music if you have a lighthearted and comedic podcast. On the other hand, if your podcast explores deep and introspective topics, you might opt for more reflective or contemplative melodies.

For example, the theme song of Culpable carries a somber and introspective vibe, hinting at the show's pursuit of justice after a tragic event. It sets the tone and reflects the heaviness of the subject matter explored in the series. You can listen to it below, starting at 3:48.

Tips for choosing music (from a professional audio engineer) 

Choosing the right music for your podcast is an important part of your podcast to-do list. To help you out, we’ve got some expert advice from a professional audio engineer.

Dayton Cole is the lead Mixing Engineer at Resonate Recordings. With extensive experience in audio editing, mixing, and mastering, he has brought six shows to the #1 spot on Apple Podcasts. Dayton holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Industry Studies and certifications in Dolby Atmos Mixing, Pro Tools, and iZotope RX. He is recognized for his contributions to award-winning podcasts. He believes in the power of podcasts to connect people through storytelling and generate new ideas.
Below are some of his insights. 

Tips for picking music

1. Match the music to the show's style: If you're creating content related to health and wellness, go for vivacious and upbeat tunes that align with the theme and energize your listeners.

2. Evoke the right emotions: Music can remarkably convey emotions, so think about what feelings you want your audience to experience. 

3. Make a memorable intro: Your show's intro is crucial as it grabs the listener's attention from the start. Use captivating music that instantly draws them in. 

4. Enhance the show: Music should enhance the listener's experience by complementing the narrative, reinforcing key messages, and creating an immersive atmosphere. 

5. Strategic placement: Consider using impactful music at crucial moments such as the beginning, end, or during transitions. Well-timed musical cues can amplify the impact of these moments and leave a lasting impression. Poorly-timed musical cues can distract or cause the listener to feel something that doesn’t align with the message. 

6. Less is more: Avoid overdoing it with music. Sometimes simplicity is better, allowing the content to shine. Be selective and use music sparingly to maintain balance and prevent it from overpowering the message you're trying to convey.

Common mistakes new podcasters make with music

We asked Dayton what mistakes he sees podcasters making the most with music. He mentioned three common problems you want to avoid: 

1. Bad editing: Music is often poorly edited, with issues like being too loud or quiet, awkward transitions, or abrupt stops.

2. Overuse or improper use: Some podcasters use music excessively or without a clear purpose, failing to add value to their content.

3. Distracting music: Complex songs can distract from the dialogue, so it's important to choose music that complements without overpowering it.

When and how to rebrand your podcast music

The last thing we talked about with Dayton was rebranding. There comes a time in every brands life where the need to refresh their style to stay relevant, but it’s a complicated thing to do. Here’s what Dayton had to say about rebranding with new podcast music: 

1. When: Consider rebranding your podcast music when you have completed several seasons or when the current music goes out of style. This helps keep your content fresh and in line with evolving trends.

2. How: Explore options such as cutting the theme shorter, creating alternate versions of the theme, or remixing the existing music. These approaches allow for a refreshing update while maintaining some familiarity for your listeners.

3. Example: Good Mythical Morning is a YouTube show that renews its music every season.

How to use music in your show

Intro/outro music

You want to make a memorable first impression, so you need an amazing intro music that captures the essence of your show. 

Just as you need a strong entrance, you also need a memorable exit. Outro music wraps up your episode with style and leaves a lasting impression on your listeners. 

Many podcasts use the same theme music for both their intro and outro, so unless you have a specific reason for using a different song for each section we recommend keeping it simple when you’re getting started. 

Remember, intro and outro music should align with the tone and genre of your podcast. 

Think of intro and outro music as the bookends that hold your podcast episodes together. With the right musical choices, you'll hook your listeners from the start and leave them with a lasting impression that keeps them coming back for more.

Sound beds 

These are like the background music accompanying your storytelling or discussions throughout the episode. They're fantastic for narrative-style shows because they can really amp up the emotion and impact of the episode. Let's say you're hosting a true crime podcast called "Mystery Files." You could add a chilling and eerie sound bed in the background during intense moments when you're revealing shocking details or building suspense. It'll send shivers down your listeners' spines! Some shows that do this exceptionally well include Culpable, How I Built This, and Business Movers.  

Music transitions

These help you smoothly move from one segment to another or from one topic to the next. They keep the flow going and maintain your audience's attention. Picture yourself hosting a sports podcast called "Game On!" When transitioning from discussing one game to another, you can use a short, upbeat instrumental track to bridge the gap and keep the energy high. It's like passing the ball seamlessly from one player to another.

Music for ads

Ads can sometimes feel like interruptions, right? But adding some catchy and relevant music can make them more enjoyable and less intrusive. Say you're promoting a new fitness product during your health and wellness podcast, "Fit Life Chronicles." You can choose uplifting and motivational music that aligns with your show's vibe. It'll pump up your listeners and get them excited about getting in shape! That said, some podcasters avoid using music in their ads if they are doing a host-read ad because it makes it easier for listeners to skip through the ad section if they can hear where the music ends. 

Music copyright 101

When it comes to using music in your podcast, it's essential to understand your different options to ensure you're doing it legally. There are three main categories of music to consider: copyrighted, royalty-free, and public domain. Let's break them down!

Copyrighted

Intellectual property laws protect copyrighted music; using it in your podcast without proper permission or licensing can lead to legal consequences. If you want to use copyrighted music, you'll need to obtain explicit permission from the copyright holder, usually the artist or their record label. This involves negotiating licenses and potentially paying royalties for the use of their music. 

Another option for legally using music in your podcast is to explore the vast collection of Creative Commons-licensed music. A Creative Commons license is a type of copyright license that allows creators to grant permissions to others regarding the use of their creative works. It provides a standardized way for artists, writers, musicians, and other creators to share their work while retaining some control over how it is used. There are several types of Creative Commons licenses, each denoted by different conditions.

Royalty-free music

Royalty-free music refers to tracks that you can use without having to pay ongoing royalties or additional fees. However, it's important to note that royalty-free doesn't mean the music is free of copyright. Instead, it means that the initial license fee covers your usage rights. You can find a wide variety of royalty-free music libraries online, both free and paid, where you can browse and download tracks that suit your podcast's style and mood. Just carefully review the licensing terms and any restrictions associated with your chosen music.

Public domain music

Public domain music refers to creative works whose intellectual property rights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable. This means anyone can use, modify, or distribute these works freely without permission. However, remember that the rules surrounding public domain works can vary, so it's essential to verify their status and usage requirements before including them in your podcast.

Examples of shows with the best music

1. The Daily

The theme music of "The Daily" podcast has become an inseparable part of the show. They've created this incredible combination of piano, viola, drums, and guitar that grabs your attention and sets the mood for the entire episode. Whenever people hear that music, they know they're in for some thought-provoking and insightful reporting. 

2. Serial

Serial's theme music is a haunting and suspenseful instrumental piece that sets the mood for the true crime storytelling format of the podcast. The composition creates a sense of tension and anticipation, drawing listeners into the gripping narratives presented in each season of "Serial."

3. Business Movers 

Business Mover’s podcast has 2-3 unique songs that play throughout the episode, plus the same theme song that happens a few minutes into each episode. What’s unique about their approach is that they use the same music across every episode of their podcast, and every season of their show. However, they keep things fresh by chopping up the music and playing different parts of it based on what is happening in the voiceover narration. 

Bonus: How to find a music producer for creating custom music

For the majority of podcasters, the platforms we listed above are an excellent place to get music for your podcast that is on-brand, legal to use, and affordable if not free. But if you’re a professional podcaster looking to go above and beyond, custom podcast music can be a great differentiator. You’ll need to find a Composer/Music Producer to help create your intro music. 

1. Define your musical style and vision.

2. Determine your budget for the project before reaching out to music producers. Be realistic about what you can afford and seek a producer whose rates align with your budget. While budget is important, don't compromise on the quality of the music production. Look for producers with positive reviews who have a track record of producing music in your preferred genre.

3. Ask friends, fellow musicians, or industry professionals if they know any music producers who specialize in the genre you're interested in. 

4. Browse profiles on freelance platforms like SoundBetter, AirGigs, Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer to see a wide range of music producers available for hire. You can browse their profiles, check their reviews, and directly communicate with them to discuss your project requirements.

5. Consider working with up-and-coming music producers building their portfolios. A quick search on Twitter Advanced Search or Instagram for the term “music producer” or #MusicProducer should help uncover people in your area. 

6. Check out local music events, open mic nights, and showcases in your area. These events provide opportunities to connect with music producers and see their work firsthand.

7. Reach out to a few potential music producers and ask for demos or samples of their work that align with your project. 

8. Clearly communicate your vision for the music project and discuss your goals. Effective communication and shared understanding are crucial for a successful collaboration. 

Custom music is not required to craft a successful podcast, but it can be a powerful differentiator. If you’ve never considered it, hopefully this section helps you to see that there is a ton of talent available for hire to bring your vision to life, if you’re willing to look for it and spend some money. If not, see our list above for a faster way to get intro music.   

Enhance your podcast with captivating music and flawless editing

Music is a powerful tool that can take your podcast to the next level, adding emotion, ambiance, and a memorable touch. 🎙️

However, it's essential to know the potential risks of using music without proper permission or licensing. Using copyrighted music without authorization can not only harm the integrity of your podcast but also put you at risk of legal consequences, including takedown notices or even legal action. 

By using royalty-free tracks, you can confidently enhance your podcast with captivating music while staying on the right side of the law.

Apart from finding the perfect royalty-free music for your podcast, it's super important to ensure you have the right podcast editing software. If you're curious to learn more about podcast editing software, you should definitely check out our blog, The 7 best podcast editing software apps, where we talk about the best options available. 

And guess what? If you're new to the podcasting world and need a comprehensive podcast starter kit, read our blog Best podcast starter kits (for every situation).

But that's not all! Once you've selected your music, you can edit your podcast with Resound, an incredible podcast editing software. With Resound, you can seamlessly integrate your chosen tracks, create a polished final product, and enhance your podcast's overall quality. It's a powerful tool that streamlines the editing process, allowing you to focus on what you do best—creating amazing content. 🎧

Happy podcasting! 

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Resound.fm Team
Resound's team is building the future of podcast editing: An AI podcast editing app for creators. Here at Resound we're writing about the creative process to help content creators thrive. Picture is Ernst Chladni, the inspiration for our brand. Hear his story at resound.fm/about
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