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7 Best Places to Get Free Music for Your Podcast [2020]

It'd be great if you could Google your favorite song and make a clip to use as your podcast's intro, outro, or background music. Unfortunately, copyright laws and music licensing make finding legal podcast music a bit trickier to navigate.

In this blog, we'll show you how to get free (or affordable) podsafe music, and debunk some common myths around using copyrighted content. 

What kind of podcast music can you use? 

The vast majority of music is subject to copyright; artists want to protect their music and get paid when it's used (rightfully so).

It's illegal to use copyrighted music on your podcast — full stop. You might get away with it for a while, but eventually, someone will take notice. Record companies utilize teams of lawyers to find people who violate copyright laws and can have your podcast taken down, or even sue you for violation.

So what kind of music can you use without getting into legal trouble?

Three types of music licenses and a description for each within a blue box

#1 Creative Commons Music

Creative Commons music allows artists to share their compositions with the world for free. Although Creative Commons licenses come in all varieties, they usually let you use a piece of music without getting permission, as long as you give credit to the artist.

*Some CC licenses allow for commercial use, but not all do. Be sure to read terms of use carefully before using a specific song.

#2 Royalty-Free Music

As the name suggests, royalty-free music means you don't need to pay royalties to the artist every time you use it. Creative Commons music is royalty-free, but royalty-free music can also include any song you need to make a one-time payment for or have a subscription to use.

*Royalty-free music typically includes a lifetime license, while others are active only as long as you have a subscription from the service you found the track.

#3 Public Domain Music

Copyright on a song eventually expires, and when it does, the track enters the public domain where you can use it however you see fit. A lot of older music like classics and old children's songs fall within the public domain.

Note: You can also broadcast any music you get explicit, written permission to use by someone authorized to do so. Obtaining the rights to popular songs is far out of the price range of most podcasters, but you can easily ask a musician friend or smaller bands and artists to use their track on your show as long as you give proper attribution.

Top 10 podsafe music resources (7 free & 3 paid)

Thankfully, there are a lot of excellent "podsafe" music resources out there for creators. All the resources on this list are safe to use for your podcast, but we still suggest reading the terms of service for each song carefully as licenses vary.

Best places to get free podcast music:

1. Pixabay: Copyright-free stock music by a community of creators
2. YouTube Audio Library: Huge selection of royalty-free music
3. Incompetech: Wide-array of tracks created by solo artist, Kevin MacLeod
4. The Free Music Archive: Expansive, free music library for podcasters
5. 909 Music on Soundcloud: Modern, cutting edge, podsafe songs
6. Musopen: Classical music tracks 
7. CCMixter: A community music remixing site 

Pixabay

Pixabay is a completely free resource for quality royalty-free stock music, images, and even video. The platform lets you browse music based on genre and mood and offers a wide variety of sound effects perfect for audio dramas and narration.

All content on the site is copyright-free and released under Pixabay's license, so you don't have to give the artist credit or pay a fee. 

Youtube Audio Library

Many creators aren't aware that Youtube has an extensive selection of royalty-free music available for free use and unlimited downloads. You can search the music library by mood, track name, artist, or genre. 

If you upload your podcast to Youtube, you can overlay the downloaded track on top of your footage directly on the site. Downloading songs is easy, and all you need is a YouTube account to get started.

Incompetech.com

This resource is one of the older, more well-known royalty-free music sites. All of the music on Incompetech comes from a single artist named Kevin MacLeod — you might recognize some of his songs from other podcasts or Youtube videos.

There are hundreds of songs to choose from in a wide variety of genres, but remember, you do have to give credit to the artist to use a track for free. 

909 Music on Soundcloud

909 Music offers a small but quality library of royalty-free music from a few different artists. Their music tends to be more modern and cutting-edge — perfect for contemporary intro music, outro music, or theme songs.

You can download unlimited music from the site and don't need to worry about attribution — just find the track you need, download the file, and incorporate it into your podcast.

Musopen.org

This nonprofit organization offers a wide variety of royalty-free music, with a focus on mostly classical tunes. You can search based on instrument, composer, or time period (i.e., Renaissance, Baroque, or the 21st century.)

Musopen's search function is intuitive, their rating system makes it easy to spot a good song at-a-glance, and you don't even have to make an account to download tracks.

CCMixter.org

CCMixter is a global music community of over 45,000 musicians around the world. The site has music, remixes, samples, acapella, and encourages users to download, cut up, sample, and share the music however they like.

Since users can upload their own music to CCMixter, it's a less curated experience and might take some time to find your diamond in the rough. But if you need your music for free, we think it's worth checking out. 

Freemusicarchive.org

Free Music Archive has an "open source" approach to music, just like CC Mixter. The archive has a library full of high-quality songs you can safely use for podcasting (be sure to read their FAQ to understand exactly how you can use each song.) You can also access their library of songs on Android or iOS devices through the FMA app.

Affordable paid podcast music services 

Free music sites are an excellent option for many creators, but some podcasters want to use highly original music listeners are unlikely to hear anywhere else.

These paid resources are a great alternative if you want a more extensive selection of higher-quality jingles and theme songs!

StockMusic.com ($2.99+/track)

When you pay for a track on StockMusic, you get a lifetime "synchronization" license (which means you're free to use the song on your podcast indefinitely.)

You can browse StockMusic's database by album, track, genre, or even keywords like "relaxed" or "somber." Once you create a StockMusic account, you can create a cue sheet to help with production or curate a full playlist where you can download and pay for all your tracks at once. 

Audiojungle.net ($5+/track)

Audiojungle is part of Envato Market and has over 35,000 professional creators and thousands of royalty-free tracks starting at $5 per song. You can search through the corporate-sounding stock music tracks or find more unique songs composed by indie artists. 

Note: Audiojungle's terms of service are tricky to decipher, but it appears you have to purchase an SFX Multi-Use music license to use a track in more than one episode. 

Soundstripe ($11.25/mo)

If you use a lot of new music on your podcast and don't want to worry about each license's limitations, Soundstripe could be the perfect option for you. 

Run by professional musicians, Soundstripe's sound engineers only accept the most exceptional music and sound effects. The site has 24/7 customer support and unlimited access to thousands of premium songs. 

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    Misconceptions about using copyrighted music

    Laptop with a question mark overtop and a blue background

    At this point, you might be thinking there's a way to get around copyright law so you can use your favorite songs under the radar (spoiler alert: there isn't!). 

    Just to drive the point home, here are some common myths floating around the internet concerning music copyright.

    Myth #1 I can use any music if I'm not making money off it.

    Truth: You're subject to copyright law even if you have a small podcast with only a few downloads and no plans to monetize.

    Myth #2 It's okay if I play less than 10 seconds of the song.

    Truth: The amount of music that you play has no bearing on whether it's legal. Artists can get into plagiarism disputes even if their melody sounds too similar to an existing song!

    Myth #3 I can use any music under "fair use."

    Truth: While fair use is a legitimate defense for using copyrighted material in some cases, you can't use a copyrighted song with the intent to claim fair use.

    Myth #4 As long as I give attribution, the artist will understand. 

    Truth: Giving credit to the artist doesn't exempt you from copyright law.

    Myth #5 It's okay to use because I review music on my podcast.

    Truth: Playing a song you don't have the rights to is a copyright violation, even if you only play a short clip of the track with the purpose of reviewing it.

    Summary: You cannot use copyrighted music (regardless of length, intent, or monetization) unless you obtain the rights or get explicit permission.

    Make your podcast better with podsafe music!

    As you can see, there's no shortage of podsafe music options, so you shouldn't have a problem finding plenty of top-notch tracks for your show.

    Once you download some songs, check out these resources to learn how to leverage podcast music to take your episodes to the next level!