Where to Find Background Music for Your Screencasts

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musical_designWhen you want to use music in your screencasts, unless you create it yourself or get explicit rights from a composer, you will generally need to obtain a license to use that music.

You might think that music you downloaded on iTunes for your iPod would work perfectly… but think again! When you buy a CD, or a song from iTunes, you are really only buying a license to listen to that music in the privacy of your home or car, and in your own music player.

To use that music for your promotional screencast or podcast would require a different usage license. So what are your options? You can compose music yourself, you can find artists who are willing to give away the usage rights to use their music, you can pay per-usage fees for rights-protected music, or you can use royalty free music.

Royalty free music

For many, including me, royalty free music is the most cost-effective route. Royalty free music means that you only pay a one-time license fee to use the music, and you do not pay a per-use royalty to the composer or publisher. There are millions of royalty free songs available – usually not what you’d hear on the radio – but perfectly suitable for many projects.

Where to find royalty free music

Online royalty free music libraries abound. Most sites have a standard license agreement that includes royalty free usage for corporate, educational, and promotional videos; websites and online media such as podcasts; presentations, and promotional media. However, many sites require additional licensing for higher end applications such as TV advertising or for national or worldwide broadcasting. So be sure to check the license agreements for your particular usage before you buy.

Here are a few good-sized royalty free music libraries that I have used, or that have been recommended to me:

Musicbakery.com

  • Organization: They sort their catalog by Purpose (action, horror, weddings, etc), Genre (hip-hop, rock, new age, etc) and Mood (angry, peaceful, scary, etc)
  • Variations: For each track you can choose from several lengths for your download, from as little as 10 seconds to the entire track
  • Cost: Music is priced by the number of seconds/minutes you want to download.   Most of the music I was looking at was around $39 for 60 seconds. But there’s not a huge range of price. The 7 second and 11 second tracks were often $27-$34– so not much different from buying the 60 second version.
  • Formats: Music is available in .MP3, .wav, and .aif formats for each track

Neo Sounds:

  • Organization: They sort their catalog in several ways: Music Styles, Production Genres, Mood/Emotions, Instruments
  • Variations: Depends on the song. Some songs only have the full track available, others have 60 second, 30 second and several loops available
  • Cost: They have more of a range of prices than Music Bakery. They have snippets for as low as $5.95. Generally, a 60 second clip runs between $19.95-$24.95.
  • Formats: Music is available in .MP3, and .wav formats

This site also has sound effects. I did a search for an “eating” sound effect, and came back with 20 or so different types, including a particularly horrifying one called “Biting into flesh. Horror – Eating, biting into flesh.”

Premiumbeat.com

  • Organization: Alphabetically by genre (corporate, heavy metal, soundtrack, etc)
  • Variations: Music comes in only in full track or a loop set
  • Cost: Full tracks are generally $25.95
  • Format: Music is available in .wav format

Shockwave Sound

  • Organization: Alphabetically by music genres, with a handy search box that can be limited to just a genre or to the whole collection
  • Variations: Music comes in multiple versions; often tracks will have several 30 second versions, several 60 second versions a few loop sets and a full track
  • Cost: Depends on the length of the track. Generally 60 second versions are $19.95 for the MP3 format, and $21.95 for the .wav format (they always charge $2.00 more for the .wav format)
  • Format: Music is available in .MP3, and .wav formats

This site also has a nice collection of sound effects

The Beat Suite

  • Organization: Organized alphabetically by one long list of types/genres/purposes
  • Variations: Music comes in full track or loops
  • Cost: $60 for full track,  $20 for loop
  • Format: Music is available in .MP3, and .wav formats

These are just a few of the many sites out there. If you have a site you use that you’d recommend, let our users know!

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22 Comments

    • Thanks Lorna,
      This looks like a great free site for music. However, it appears to give rights only for non-commercial purposes. This may work for education-related screencasts, but for those promoting websites or products in their screencasts, the rights might not be inclusive enough. Here is their license statements for anyone who wants to check them out. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/nc-sampling+/1.0/.

  1. Let’s not forget how easy it is to create your own musical backgrounds with GarageBand. At it’s most basic, it’s a simple matter of assembling loops and if the built-in loops aren’t enough, you can buy more from Apple and others. You can even find free Apple loops such as at: http://www.macloops.com/

  2. t appears that you have placed a lot of effort into your article and I require more of these on the net these days. I sincerely got a kick out of your post. I don’t really have much to say in response, I only wanted to comment to reply wonderful work.

  3. Hey guys, don’t forget the most the BEST option of all for background music – GarageBand! You all have it!

    Start a new file when you open GB by choosing loops, then go in and play around with one or two. You do NOT need to be a musician. I am not and I have made several AWESOME video intros bu just combining a few loops and sound effects.

    • Thanks Turtleknife (& Frank above) — of COURSE GarageBand is an excellent resource. (I don’t know how I forgot to include it). If you have the time and creativity to create your own tracks, you’re guaranteed that your screencast will end up sounding original!

  4. For the U.S. educators among us, there is also the concept of “educational fair use” defined in the Copyright Act of 1976 and refined by the TEACH Act of 2002. Not a blank check, of course, but you do have more latitude than other media users.

  5. My apologies for being the no shame inclusion. Thought it may be helpful to those looking for music.
    I am writing in from http://www.opuzz.com/
    Thought I’d add to your list Lynn.

    http://www.opuzz.com/

    * Organization: By music downloads, music CDs or hard drive options.
    * Variations: All tracks uniformly have 10, 15, 30, 60, 120 seconds and a full mix and stinger version. Some tracks have an alternate mix version as an additional.
    * Cost: Music downloads are from $2.99 onwards. CDs are $49 each or $69 if you buy 2 CDs etc. Hard drive with 50 CD at $499 or complete library with 321 CDs or 22,000 tracks for $999.
    * Format: Music is available in both .MP3, and .wav formats

    Notes: Music is 100% royalty free. Opuzz owns all our music and our composers are not signed with performance rights organizations so you are guaranteed that there will be no additional fees.

  6. Hi Softstor, don’t download background music for free.
     
    First, you’ll be disappointed by the quality of the sound you may get. Then it doesn’t take a genius to consider the huge return on investment you’ll make buying the right recorded music you need. There’s a large choice of music licenced websites on the web, it’s not that hard. Music is good for any business and helps to keep your customers happy. It’s proven though. http://www.musicworksforyou.com/shops/instore-music.html

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