Free background music
Last updated: 29 January 2017
Where to find free background music?
- CC mixter: Music that can be freely remixed under terms of Creative Commons licences.
- Free Music Archive: Search function allows to select a filter for specific licences. They also have a useful License Guide.
- SoundCloud: The search function allows filtering on licensing option, for example To modify commercially.
- The Public Domain Project: Music as well as other media files in public domain. Both old recordings and new - I found for example music released as part of the Musopen Kickstarter Music project. Try the music search.
- Musopen: Plenty of classical music with ratings of both quality of recording and quality of playing. Unfortunately you cannot search by the ratings or by a licence - there is a mixture of public domain and various Creative Commons licences.
- FreePD: About 700 MP3 files in public domain, both music and sounds. There are categories but no search function.
- Youtube Audio Library: Offers both music and sound effects. It seems to be a mix of public domain and Creative Commons Attribution licences. You need a Google account in order to access it.
- Incompetech: Music composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod. All tracks I checked seem to be available under Creative Commons Attribution licence or alternatively under a paid royalty free licence.
- Josh Woodward: A musician who records a variety of music, mostly with vocals. About 200 tracks written, recorded and produced by him available under Creative Commons Attribution licence or alternatively under a paid royalty free licence.
- Jamendo: Unfortunately this site will try to steer you towards paid music. Stick with non-commercial part of it and always check specific licence details of your chosen track. There is plenty of great tracks that can be remixed, just that they are not always easy to find. Some tracks are available in both areas. You can try searching the commercial part (it has much better search function) and once you know author and track name, try looking for it in the free area.
Issues with Creative Commons tracks on Youtube
I experienced issues while uploading my slideshow videos to Youtube a few times. I was using music licensed clearly under Creative Commons licences that allow remix (important for videos). I also included clear licence information in the video itself and in the description during upload. Yet I was accused of copyright infringement by some dumb bot.
In order to remove the notice and release my video I had to dispute the copyright infringement notice. That includes claiming that I have a valid licence and clicking on half a dozen warnings that my account will be deleted if I am lying. In the justification for my claim I included URL of the track showing clearly the Creative Commons licence it was published under. Usually it took less than a day to sort out but it put me off uploading to Youtube. Now I am using Vimeo instead.
Please let me know if you notice any issues in this article.