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Where to find background music for free

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Written by Becky T

Published Jun 20, 2024

When it comes to creating great content, finding the perfect background music can be the difference between a dramatic and engaging video experience and a forgettable one... Music adds depth and emotion to your videos and ensures that you stand out amongst a sea of generic content. But when budgets are tight, finding high-quality free music for a video can feel like a pretty arduous task. Thankfully, we're here to introduce you to several online platforms that offer wide selections of background music for free, making it easier than ever to find the perfect soundtrack for your content!

Contents

  • Understanding free music
  • Where to find background music for free
    1. YouTube Audio Library
    2. BenSound
    3. Uppbeat
    4. Incompetech
    5. Purple Planet Music
    6. Free Music Archive
    7. NCS

Understanding free music

When looking for free music for a video, you'll often notice it comes with a Creative Commons license. This is a public copyright license authorised by American non-profit, Creative Commons (CC). The network is devoted to expanding the range of free creative works available for others to legally use and share. A Creative Commons license enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work, and is used when authors want to give others the right to use and share their creations for free. Creators still own the content and those that use the work will have to give attribution (credit) to the licensor, which usually includes their name and the source.

There are other types of music licensing that provide free access to tracks, such as YouTube Audio Library licence. If you're looking for background music for free, whether its music for YouTube, Twitch or elsewhere, you should always check the license that you're using, and ensure that you comply with all of the requirements. If you fail to comply with the licensing conditions, you are breaking the terms of the licence are committing a copyright violation. The licenser is still entitled to seek damages for that infringement, and so you could have to pay a hefty fine.

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Music licensed under Creative Commons or other free music licensing is not the same as that in the Public Domain. While Public Domain music is free for anyone to use without restrictions, Creative Commons and other free licenses come with specific terms and conditions set by the creator. These terms can include requirements such as giving appropriate credit to the original artist, not using the music for commercial purposes, or not altering the original work.

These licenses provide you with a legal and cost-effective solution for incorporating free music for a video. Instead of worrying about copyright infringements or facing hefty fines, you can confidently use free background music knowing that you have the necessary permissions. If you're looking for more ways to source free music for a video, check out our post on AI music generators for creatives.

Where to find background music for free

1. YouTube Audio Library

YouTube Audio Library logo

YouTube's Audio Library offers a wealth of background music for free, which will either come with a YouTube Audio Library licence or a Creative Commons licence.

Use the filters and search bar in the "Free music" tab to find free tracks for your videos. You can also find music by the track title, genre, mood, artist name, attribution and duration.

If you're using a track with a Creative Commons licence, you must credit the artist in your video's description - this is called attribution. To generate attribution info:

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio
  2. From the left-hand menu, select "Audio Library".
  3. Find the track that you want to use.
    • Note: To browse all music with a Creative Commons licence, click the filter bar > Attribution required.
  4. In the "Licence type" column, click the Creative Commons icon 
  5. In the pop-up window, click the Copy symbol to copy the attribution text. Then paste this info into your video's description.

If you want to find free music for a video that doesn't require attribution, select music that has a standard YouTube Audio Library licence by clicking the filter bar and selecting "Attribution not required".

2. BenSound

BenSound website landing page

BenSound provides a catalogue of free background music available with their Free License with Attribution.

To find this, head over to the "Free Music" section and download the music track that you want to use. You can search by theme, genre, mood, instrument, energy level and duration.

  1. Once you've downloaded a free track, a pop-up will appear with the attribution text.
  2. Copy and paste this text into your video description, exactly as it appears.
  3. You can watch BenSound's step-by-step guide here, to avoid getting copyright claimed.

It's important to remember that each attribution text can only be used for one video and cannot be reused for new videos.

3. Uppbeat

Uppbeat website landing page

Uppbeat is another great platform for creators who want to discover new background music for free.

The Upbeat Free plan gives you access to 30% of Uppbeat's music & SFX catalogs with an allowance of three downloads, replenished with one new download each month. This license is ideal for individual creators who are stepping into the world of solo content creation and want to find free music for a video. If you want to access more tracks and unlimited downloads, you can upgrade to Uppbeat Premium or Uppbeat Business for a cost.

To find free background music, simply browse through the range of genres and themes, and select any that come with the Free plan (Premium tracks will either be listed separately or labelled with a pink star symbol).

You'll need to provide attribution by including your Uppbeat Credit in your video's description. If you want to use the same track across multiple videos, you'll need a separate Uppbeat Credit for each video.

4. Incompetech

Incompetech logo

Incompetech is a catalogue of free background music made by Kevin MacLeod, who offers a wide range of tracks available under Creative Commons licensing. You can use the tracks for a wide range of creative purposes, including live productions, live-streaming, and YouTube videos, but you must provide attribution.

Credit should not be obscured and should be highlighted somewhere "such that a person who wants to know where the music came from should have no difficulty in finding it". If you need free music for something where attribution isn't possible, such as a radio or TV ad, corporate presentation or commercial short, you'll need to purchase a Standard License.

For free music downloads, MacLoad suggests an optional donation of $5 per piece, and whilst this is not mandatory, it is a great way to show your appreciation for a fellow creator trying to make creative pursuits more accessible for all.

Simply select the titles, and copy and paste the below credits into your work, replacing the word "Title" with whichever tracks you have used:

"Title" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) 
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

5. Purple Planet Music

Purple Planet Music logo

Purple Planet Music is a collection of free background music written and performed by Chris Martyn and Geoff Harvey. With their free option, you can use their tracks across monetised YouTube channels, social media, your website, vlogs, films, and podcasts.

Once again, you must provide credit to use any free music you've downloaded by including the following text in the description box (or for other mediums, somewhere else that easily visible):

Music: https://www.purple-planet.com

You can't try to pass the music off as your own or anyone else's, and you can't make the tracks available for download, or redistribute them in any form aside from its part in your production. For more details on conditions, check out Purple Planet Music's free music page.

6. Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive website landing page

Free Music Archive offers free access to original music by independent artists from across the world. 

The FMA offers a vast collection of high-quality, free-to-use music from various genres and artists, all curated by WFMU, a renowned independent freeform radio station. Most of the music available on the FMA is licensed under Creative Commons, allowing creators to use it legally in their projects as long as they adhere to the licensing terms.

Simply download the tracks you want and provide credit by following the template below:

Song title, artist name, source (Free Music Archive) and license type (e.g. CC BY)

For full details on conditions, visit Free Music Archive's Licensing Guide.

7. NCS

NCS website landing page

NCS is the largest copyright-free record label in the world, with a catalogue of over 1500 songs spanning a huge range of genres and themes. Specialising in electronic music, the UK-based record label and music community dedicates itself to supporting the next generation of artists and creators through its free-to-use licence model.

NCS music is free to use for independent creators, even on monetised videos. You just need to make sure you provide credit follow the guidelines in the NCS usage policy. To provide credit:

  1. When you select to "Download" a track, you will be shown the information required to credit, as well as the opportunity to directly copy and paste. If there is not one to copy, please put a link to the source in your description.
  2. Paste this information in the description of your video.
  3. If you are using our music on Twitch Stream or YouTube Stream, simply put "Music provided by http://spoti.fi/NCS" in your stream description.

Wrapping up

Platforms offering background music for free allow content creators to enhance their creative projects without the burden of copyright restrictions and licensing fees. The growing number of platforms offering free music licensing is helping to democratise access to essential creative tools, which aims to encourage the sharing and dissemination of art in a legally compliant manner. So whether you're looking for a cinematic score for a short film, background music for a podcast or Twitch stream, or an engaging track for a YouTube video, the diverse range of free background music available ensures that there is something suitable for every project.

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