Music is critical to creating your podcast’s culture. It sets the emotional tone. It becomes a shared moment for your listeners.
Even just a few notes can do more than a hundred spoken words.
Your podcast needs music. 🎵
But what happens if you don’t have a music budget yet? 😬 Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we provide a list of websites where you can get free music tracks for your podcasts.
But first, read on to learn where you need tracks in your episodes, tips on editing songs especially for video podcasts, and music usage basics (rights, royalties, etc).
Picking the Perfect Music for Your Podcast’s Content
Before we get into the specifics of rights, royalties, subscriptions, indie vs corporate use, etc., let’s take a step back and talk about where you need songs in your podcast.
This is probably THE most important song you need to make sure is perfect for your show. It needs to set the mood you want your listeners to settle into. The intro song should reflect your show’s genre.
For example, if your podcast’s content is about Sci-Fi, play a song that sounds ‘other-wordly’ or maybe techno. 👽🛸
But don’t forget that the intro song also needs to be high-quality and something your listeners will enjoy. You should be able to find a free song that fits perfectly, but if there is any song to consider spending money on, this is the one. 💪
A good background track is one that most listeners won’t even realize is playing.
It shouldn’t compete with your podcast’s other audio content like you or your guests’ voice. 🗣️ It just needs to help maintain the mood and genre of your content, as well as drive your narrative.
When searching for good background songs, look for tracks that don’t draw attention to themselves but rather keep a relatively steady pace.
Background tracks can be great for podcast trailers, so also keep that in mind.
A transition song is a song you use to signal to your listeners that you are changing gears. 🚨 It can indicate a change in thought, the passage of time, or maybe the beginning of a specialized segment.
Using a transition song helps your listeners process what they are hearing and more deeply engage in your content. It is one of those overlooked ways to take your podcast to the next level in terms of quality and retaining your listeners. 🚀
The outro track sets the mood for how you want your listeners to feel as they exit a podcast episode. 🤔
👉 If your podcast’s genre is true crime, you probably want your listeners to feel suspense, craving the answers that will be revealed in the content of the next episode.
👉 If your genre is life advice, you probably want your listeners to be uplifted by your outro track, feeling refreshed and empowered.
Don’t forget: The podcast outro is a great time to credit the creators of songs you used in your episode. 🤝
For a lot of music, both free and paid, part of the rights agreement that allows you to use the music is the requirement that you credit the creators whose content you use in your projects. Many podcasts have the host read the song creators names during the outro and also put the creators’ names in the show notes.
Some of the top sites that provide free songs also provide free sound effects. ✨ Podcast sound effects can be fun and you should definitely feel free to experiment with them in your content.
However, they can come off as gimmicky so just make sure to use them with caution and always make sure they fit with your project’s genre and mood.
Editing Your Songs, Especially if you have Video Podcasts
Even if you pick the perfect songs for podcasts, if you don’t edit them well, they will lose their quality as well as their impact on your listeners. 📉 But don’t despair!
Look on the positive side: A few quick edits can take a boring song and turn it into a really cool five second track that fits perfectly with your podcast content, genre, and mood.
The main rule of editing music for your podcast is to find the song’s beat and make your cuts on beats. 😎 This is especially important if you have a video podcast. You want to cut the song on a beat while also cutting on a visual action, so the audio action and the visual action correspond.
For example, if you have multiple guests on your video podcast, during introductions cut to the person being introduced on beat. Or if you just have still images that appear as video as the podcast plays, cut to each new still image on a beat.
Even when you are fading out a song, like for an intro, still pay attention to the beat. A lot of times it is best to fade significantly right on a beat and then fade more slowly for a couple seconds until it has faded out completely.
Why is this so critical, especially if you are making video podcasts?
Because listeners’ brains are unconsciously, or sometimes even consciously, feeling the flow or the conflict between the audio and the visuals. Lining up a video’s music beats with visual changes will make you podcast pop and seem really professional. 🚀
If you are new to editing songs, it can take some practice to find the beat and the right times to coordinate with visual cuts on video. We strongly recommend looking at the song’s waveform so you actually can see the beat when you are editing. 🌊
Use your song as multiple tracks
The other good news about editing songs for your podcast is that you can take one song and use it as multiple tracks. For example, maybe a song’s intro isn’t perfect for your podcast’s intro, but there are a few seconds in the middle of the song that will work perfectly.
In fact, if you are on a budget and can only buy one song total, you could edit that one song into pieces to cover the intro, the transitions, and the outro without losing any of its quality! 🔥
So keep that in mind as you search for music for your podcast!
Basics about Rights, Copyrights, Licenses, Royalties, and Paid Subscriptions for Free Music
Ok, now that you have a good idea of how to use music tracks in your podcast content, you are ready to search for the perfect ones! 🤩
Let’s go over the jargon you are going to see on your search and what it means in terms of if you are allowed to use it and if you have to pay for it. A lot of these basics also apply to rights to visual images as well, so keep them in mind as you make video content for your podcast too.
There is a whole field of law dedicated to all the ins and outs of copyrights, licenses, royalties, sound tracks, audio, downloading, etc. We won’t pretend to be experts and we definitely aren’t attorneys.
We just want to provide some basic background information so you know how to generally navigate this area when creating podcasts. This section is broken into two sections: Type of Rights and Types of Payment.
Copyright is a very broad concept. It just means that if you create something then you are its author and creator.
You get to decide who can use it and how. On the user end, just because something is copyrighted, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it for free. It just means you have to then look at its licensing to see if you are allowed to use it for free. 💰
Copyrights do expire. 😫
The idea is that once the creator has died and enough time has passed, then the work should enter into the public domain for everyone to enjoy. In the US, this means any song created before 1926 is now public domain.
If a song is public domain, you can use it for free in your podcast, however you want, wherever you want, not questions asked. 🥳
A license is an outline of when and how you get to use somebody’s piece of work.
Types of license you may see is:
- You can use the item for free, you just have to cite the author.
- You can use it for free for a noncommercial purpose. But you can’t use it for free for a commercial purpose (indie podcasts are usually considered noncommercial; corporate podcasts are usually considered commercial).
Creative Commons (CC)
Creative Commons is a nonprofit that provides templates of licenses that creators can use especially if they want to make it clear that the work is theirs. But they are happy for other people to use it to create something great of their own. 😁
Many times these CC licenses will say you can use the music for free on podcasts, you just need to give the creator credit. But be sure to check the details: There are different types of CC licenses!
Bottom Line When It Comes to Rights
Always, always, always read the actual license to see what you can and cannot do with a piece of music.
You might find the legal jargon intimidating at first, but the licenses usually aren’t actually very complicated or long. 🤓
Type of Payment
A royalty is a kind of payment system. It means that every time you use a person’s work, you will pay that person some money. 💰
So for example, if a TV show uses a pop song for its intro music, it has to pay the song’s creator royalties for every episode. Royalties are typically used in very corporate, commercial projects.
Just because something is royalty-free, doesn’t mean it is free. It may just mean that you have to pay one lump sum for it, or more commonly, you have a paid membership subscription to a music library for it.
Some of the top subscription based music libraries are :
- Audio, Jungle,
Even if you have a subscription, there may be limitations to how you can use the song– many times you have to pay more if you are using the song on corporate or commercial projects.
A Quick Plug for Our Library
If you want the easiest path to getting the best intro/outro and background music, as well as sound effects, that you know for sure you are allowed to use for your podcast, we, of course, suggest ourselves.
As part of your Ausha membership, you get access to a huge library of music that you are free to use. 💜 No need to worry about licenses or royalties. No headaches, no sweat, and a team that will help you with whatever questions you may have.
Free Music Sources for Your Podcast
Now that you have a general understanding of some of the jargon, let’s get to the good stuff. Sites where you can find and download the best free music to use on your podcast’s intro, background, or outro!
Free Music: Public Domain
Remember, Public Domain means the Copyright has expired. No one needs to be paid, no one needs to be credited.
Musopen 👉 This website has old, classical music that you can download and use for free.
Type of music: Beethoven, Orchestras, etc.
Open Music Archive 👉 This is another site where you can find music that is old enough to be in the public domain, so anyone can use it for any purpose, for free. Download away!
Type of music: 1920s bluesy music
Free Music: Don’t Have to Give The Creator Credit
There are some big sites on the internet where you can find free music that you can use without crediting anyone.
Typically on these sites, there is a blanket license like a Pixaby License or a YouTube Audio Library License that says you can use the music for free and don’t need to credit the creator.
Pixabay 👉 All music tracks that are on Pixaby is covered by the Pixbay License. The license says you can use the items for free without crediting the creator.
Types of music: All kinds. It even has a category called “Podcast Music.”
Studio Youtube 👉 If you go into YouTube Studio (not just general YouTube), on the left side of your screen, if you scroll down you’ll see “Audio Library.” All the music here is free. Some of it you must credit the creator, some of it you don’t.
To figure out which songs fall under which requirements, you can use the search filters “Attribution Required” or “Attribution Not Required.” Or you can look at the individual song and find the “License Type.”
It will either be a Youtube Audio License, which means you don’t need to credit the creator, or “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0” which means you do need to credit the creator.
Types of music: All kinds.
Free Music: Just Give the Creator Credit
Lots of times, you will see this referred to as Creative Commons music, but remember, Creative Commons is just a set of license templates people can use. So the details of Creative Commons license can vary.
Luckily for you, we’ve already done a little background research. Here are some sites that have libraries full of tracks that only require credit to the creator :
ccMixter.org 👉 Part of the free music culture movement, ccMixter.org, is a platform where artists from all over the world can upload their music so it can be enjoyed and used by everyone. Be sure to double check the license of whatever song you pick, but most of them are free to use as long as you credit the creator.
Type of music: Instrumental and lyrical tracks.
Incompetech.com 👉This website belongs to Kevin MacLeod. He has made over 2,000 audio tracks that you can use for free as long as you credit him. What a guy!
Types of music: Soundtracks, World, Holiday
Audionautix 👉 This website belongs to Jason Shaw. As long as you credit him, you can use his music for free. Again, what a guy!
Types of music: Soundtracks, House, Rock, Techno
Purple Planet 👉 This website, you guessed it, belongs to some guys (Chris Martyn and Geoff Harve) who make free music tracks you can use as long as you credit them. It specifically says on the website that you do not need to pay for the music if you are using it for your podcast.
Types of music: Ambient, Cinematic, International.
Freebeats.io 👉 To use the free music in this library, you have to take one, tiny extra step than just crediting the creator: You have to follow them on social media. Seems fair to us!
Types of music: Rap, Hip Hop, R&B.
Create Your Podcasts from a Place of Respect and Gratitude
At the end of the day, most podcasters and musicians come from the same place: They create because they love what they do and they want to share their creation with the world.
Respect your fellow creators. 🙏 Give credit profusely. Let the artists know that you appreciate their talent and labor. If you can send them a small donation, consider doing it.
We are all at our best when everyone is heard and appreciated! 🚀
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