Don’t post a video on YouTube with background music from a copyrighted source. It’s probably going to be taken down. Instead, get free and royalty-free music from one of these sites.
It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping to be a viral sensation or just posting something for family and friends to see. If it’s free for the public to see, the copyright owner of that music can make a claim and remove your video. And yes, YouTube is notorious for making your favorite videos disappear because of this.
A better option is to use copyright-free or royalty-free music. These sites will give you background choices that are free, as long as you add a link to the source in your description.
Thematic (Web): Free Tracks From Legit Artists
Thematic is the service that most YouTube creators should be looking at for free songs from established artists and musicians. To get access, you’ll need to become a member of Thematic, but you don’t even need a credit card to sign up.
After you’ve become a member, you’ll get to see the full Thematic music catalog, which includes music from several indie as well as decently popular musicians like Olivia Lane or Kingdm. That’s right, you can use an Olivia Lane song without VEVO taking down your video.
Of course, there are some rules for that. Thematic members have to follow a particular attribution link and style to use the songs on YouTube or Instagram, and those are the only two platforms where you’re allowed to show your video. But as long as you follow the necessary requirements, you’ll get a fantastic, professionally-made song for your videos.
WOWA (Web): Unsplash for Music
WOWA has only about 20 tracks on the website. They vary in style, and you can download all of them for free. But this site is different from all the others here because the tracks come with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
In case you don’t know about Creative Commons licenses, the CC0 license lets you use any work for free, in personal or commercial causes, edit it as you see fit, and without attribution. This means you can do whatever you want with the music on WOWA, and you don’t have to add a link for it in the YouTube description or include it in any credits roll.
New tracks are added to WOWA only once in a while. If you want to know the next time new material is available, subscribe to the newsletter for alerts.
Icons8 Fugue (Web): Browse by Themes, Genres, and Moods
Icons8 is a well-known resource for free stock icons and photos, and they now also offer a great selection of royalty-free music and audio tracks. Each track can be downloaded to your drive as a free high-quality MP3, or you can pay to unlock the WAV file.
The music collection is divided into three categories: themes, genres, and moods. Each has its sub-categories to further refine your choices and quickly find what you’re looking for. You can stream any song in full before downloading it, and get information like runtime, visualizer, and so on.
Of course, there’s a search function as well. But you’re probably better off using the large number of tags on the site to browse and find what you need.
TeknoAXE (Web): One Musician, 1500 Free Songs
For nine years now, musician and YouTuber TeknoAXE has been making new songs and scores and letting anyone on the internet use them for free. The majority of these tracks are electronic dance music, rock, and metal, but there are plenty of thematic compositions too.
The CC 4.0 license only means you need to attribute the original link, and note if you made any changes. In exchange, you get a collection of almost 1,500 songs spread across several genres, and even moods like comedy, drama, horror, and so on. Listen to a few tracks and you might think, “Hey, I’ve heard this before.” That’s because TeknoAXE’s music has been used widely on YouTube already.
For his latest music, you can follow TeknoAXE’s YouTube channel. He usually uploads a new track every week, and this is a good way to find a new sound for your video before it becomes popular.
CCHound (Web): Hand-Curated Picks By Musicians
The internet is filled with royalty-free, Creative Commons-protected music, but not every song is a winner here. That’s why a few taste-makers got together to pick their favorites and put them on CCHound.
The collection isn’t actively updated anymore, but even with what exists, it’s a good way to find the cream of the crop rather than go trawling through the huge number of royalty-free tracks on sites like Jamendo or SoundCloud. You can browse by tags, genres, or search for something. And each song is clearly marked whether you can use it with attribution or not.
If you don’t find something on CCHound, you might need to go to its sources. This collection of sites with free Creative Commons music should help you find a track that suits your taste.
You Know Copyright, But What About Copyleft?
Finding the right music and using it legally will ensure that your video stays up for as long as you want. It isn’t subject to the whims and fancies of copyright takedown notices, or cease and desist letters.
That said, it’s best to familiarize yourself with a bit of copyright law, as well as some of the ways of using copyrighted material on the internet. In fact, the first place to get started is the new concepts of copyleft and copyright.