Guide to Royalty-Free Music and Sound Effects

Guide to Royalty Free Music and Sound EffectsCopyright laws prevent you from using popular music that might be in your music library unless you pay what is called a ‘royalty fee’. This is a fee that is negotiated with the song’s composers and publishers for the right to use their song.

However, there are a number of royalty free music sites where you can download and use songs for free. When a song is royalty free, a person doesn’t need to pay a royalty fee in order to use it, but there are usually some conditions that involve providing the composer or musician with credit. However, BEWARE: often sites advertise as ‘royalty free’, but they essentially ask you to pay a monthly fee so that you can access their collection of music. So, while the music library owners have already bought out the rights of their library of music from the composers and musicians, they are charging you for them.

Below you will find a list of sites where you can find royalty free music…that is actually free. These are not the only sites, by any means, but they offer you and your team a good start in the search for music to accompany your media work. This website features tracks that are characterized by mood such as ‘lover’s walk’, ‘gentle thoughts’ and ‘power juice’. You can use these in your media projects as long as you mention “music by” in your credits or provide a link to their site. This site arranges its music by genre – rock, polka, Latin, horror, etc. Free music with credit given as follows: “Music: Kevin MacLeod”. If you only use music from this site, this is all you need to write in the credits. Other conditions apply if you use music from other sources as well. Purple Planet is offering the same as the others: you can use the music if you credit them and then they spell out exactly how you should credit them.

These sites are just a few sites that come up on a Google search. They are not necessarily the best or most comprehensive. You can also search ‘royalty-free music’ in the iTunes’s store. Depending on the owner, they will ask you to credit them differently.

GarageBand – You also have the option of creating your own musical soundtrack. Using Apple’s digital audio workstation, GarageBand, you can create your own track using their synthesized instruments. It can be as simple as a steady beat with an oboe riff for a scene of a rejected boy walking alone down an urban street; or a recording of you whistling to convey the mood of a person walking through the park.

For a basic GarageBand tutorial, see this site:

Sound Effects

There are also a number of sites where you can download all kinds of sound effects. Here are three to start: This is a free-sound-for-credit site that offers both sound effects and ambient sound such as ‘Suburban Garden’ and ‘Restaurant Ambience Tandoori’. This site very clearly states the terms of reference, stating that, “You are allowed to use the sounds on our website free of charge and royalty free in your projects but you are NOT allowed to post the sounds on any web site for others to download, link directly to individual sound files, or sell the sounds to anyone else.” This is a ‘sound encyclopedia’ that, among other things, asks sound recording enthusiasts to devote their sound tracks recorded around the world to this site for the use of all, for free.

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