Editor’s Opinion: Royalty Free Music 2020. Be inspired!

Krystal Tan

Krystal Tan

Editor

You've received a project to work on but you need inspiration, you need music. Royalty Free Music can be a minefield of options. Here's my opinion for 2020.

Music can be a big stumbling block. It was what I struggled with when I started out as a video editor. A piece of music can definitely make or break your video.

Captivated by the music in shows that you watch? That’s how much of an impact it is to your edit. Good news, we don’t need to attend music lessons and be a world class composer/musician to create a piece of music for our video. 

You don’t need to be the next Joe Hisaishi or Blake Neely. 

What I did was, simply type in “Royalty free music download” in Google. Now let’s break down the options. 

This happened…

Confused at which to click? Which is not worth my time clicking? Will I be able to find the kind of music I’m looking for in the next 5 websites I’m going to enter? Don’t panic, I got it all covered.

I’m going to give you my opinion, as a full time editor – which royalty free music libraries work and which ones I would steer clear of for you TV shows, corporate videos, documentaries, short films, commercials. Then, at the end I’ll tell you what I use, which is really the best, if you can afford it;)

Claims

“Score the perfect music.
Exclusive music library. Stress-free licensing.

Range

Commercials, corporate, documentaries, short films

Price

US$49 per track
Licenses are valid for one track and it includes the full song, loops, short clips and stems.

Verdict

I do like their pieces. They are well-rounded and tastefully composed. Their tracks do not speak ‘cheap’ at all. 

It also helps that their website is easy to navigate, making my search for music relatively simple. The categories to narrow down your search are well organized. They even have their own keyboard shortcut for music browsing on their website.  

The price at USD49 per track is quite steep. However, if you were to do a one off commercial or corporate video, I will say, it is worth your time browsing.

And yes… it will help you to score the perfect music but with a price. Provided your client is not on a budget.

Claims

“Extraordinary music. Simple licensing.”
Get the best royalty-free music tracks, handpicked by industry experts.

Range

Corporate

Price

Unlimited music plan, US$16.60/month
Plan billed annually, US$199/year
They also have single licensing. It goes for US$49 per track.

Verdict

Their music doesn’t excite me at all. It doesn’t give me the urge to start editing. A lot of the pieces fall flat. 

Just don’t waste your time here if you’re looking for great pieces. The price for single licensing is the same as Premiumbeat. I’d rather you spend your time there.

However, there is something interesting that I found – Audio Logos. They are short pieces of 10s-25s to be paired with your logos. You can check them out if you’re looking for something in this niche. 

Fun fact: Shutterstock owns Premiumbeat….makes sense.

Claims

“Unlimited Royalty Free Music.”
Expertly composed and handpicked.
Discover and download music tracks across all genres.

Range

Commercials, corporate, short films

Price

Unlimited downloads, US$16.50/month. Cancel anytime.

This price includes:

  • Creative digital assets
  • Stock photos
  • Courses & Tutorials
  • Simple commercial licensing

For all students out there, they are offering 30% off subscription. That works out to US$11.55/month.

Verdict

When I hear the tracks, it feels like I’ve heard them from somewhere. It’s like when you see a person and you go, “You seem familiar.” And probably that person’s face is all over the MRT station. 

Envato is really catered for typical corporates and commercials. I mean, there’s nothing wrong in that. If you’re doing short corporate videos or commercials, I’d say go ahead.  

The good thing about this pricing is it’s flexibility. And yes, with US$16.50 you can download more than one track, compared to US$49. And cancel anytime? Sure.

Claims

“Royalty free music for video.”
Get a full year of unlimited music downloads.

Range

Commercials, corporate, documentaries, short films

Price

Unlimited music, US$16.60/month (US$199 billed annually)
Unlimited music + SFX, US$25/month ($299 billed annually)

Verdict

Trendy music. I can imagine these pieces on a Netflix show. I love it. The pieces are what I call ‘inspirational’ – they inspire your edits. 

They have a search category ‘Video Theme’. Some examples of ‘Video Theme’ are Business, Technology, Fashion, Landscape. This is very useful when searching for your desired piece of music. It is straight to the point. 

Another plus point will be their SFX library. 2 in 1, why not? Whooshes, reactions, drum loops… and many more.

The downside is you have to sign up for the annual plan. They do not sell individual tracks. I guess they are targeting more businesses than individuals.

Claims

“Royalty Free Music by BENSOUND”

Range

None

Price

Unlimited downloads
€139/year for social media
€390/year for social media, broadcast, web advertising

This licensing is so complicated. There are also a whole bunch of restrictions on their music.

Verdict

Just don’t bother. The pieces felt like they were from year 2000. There are not many choices either. It seems like they have not been updating their library. 

This website should just give away their music for free. Free because the quality is bad and their range is limited. It’s just not worth the price. And by far, it is the most expensive one.

Claims

Drive action and enhance your videos with executive background music.”
Epic terms and affordable commercial licensing.

Range

Corporate

Price

Standard
Multiple online projects, US$39 

Premium
Broadcast + Online, US$129

Packs Discount
US$39/track
2 tracks – 10%
3 tracks – 15%
5 tracks – 25%

Verdict

It is what it claims – Epic terms and affordable commercial licensing. This website is specifically targeting background music only. Their music is better than Bensound. Foximusic targets corporations. 

One time payment and you can use their music for a lifetime. That’s a pretty smart move. This website knows that their music and range are not the greatest so what attracts people is their price point. 

If you’re looking for online publishing only, the US$39 is great. Broadcast? No. 

Individual track goes at US$39. Their strategy is to get people to sign up for the one time payment. But if you’re considering using only one track at the moment, the one time payment is definitely worth your money. Because you might use more of their tracks in the future.

Claims

“Royalty free music and audio tracks from $1”
1,084,637 tracks and sounds from our community of musicians and sound engineers.

Range

Commercials, corporate

Price

Individually priced, single digit to low two digits. 
The pieces also include full, loop, medium and short versions.

Verdict

Audiojungle is linked with Envato. The difference is that Audiojungle allows users to buy the tracks individually. No commitment at all. Tracks are priced differently. Their range can be from a single digit to a low two digit. 

I used to use this website while working for a small production company. It gives you the option to download a preview (watermarked) and edit with it. If you’re happy with it, just buy and replace it in your edit. 

Their range is impeccable. From instrumental to heavy metal. They do offer sound effects, logos & idents sounds. They have built up a strong community and library over the years and are continuing to do so. Commendable. 

However, most of their pieces are not for broadcast use. Be careful, read the description before you purchase it.

Claims

“Exclusive & Inspiring Videos. Endless Creativity.”
Explore the world’s largest collection of royalty-free stock video, with music, motion graphics and more to elevate your projects.

Range

Commercials, corporate

Price

Single track purchase, can range from a two digit to three digit. 

Monthly membership
SGD $305/month
10 downloads/month
Price lowered for HD +4K videos

Annual membership
SGD $1510/year
10 downloads/month
Price lowered for HD +4K videos

Verdict

Similar to Audiojungle. The variety of music is not as much as Audiojungle though and price wise, it is much more expensive. 

However, Pond5 has much more to offer like videos, sound effects, After Effects template, images, 3d models. If you’re looking for the whole package, it’s for you. I’m just going to focus on music here.

But, 10 downloads per month? 

I’m not sure about this business model. It’s my first time seeing their membership prices. Shocked.

Claims

“Unlimited music for video.”

Range

Commercials, corporate, documentaries (depends), short films (depends)
More for peaceful, happy, mellow videos. Indie videos.

Price

Standard 
US$11.25/month 
Billed yearly, or $15/month billed monthly
Unlimited music license

Premium
US$21/month
Billed yearly
Unlimited music licenses
Sound effects
Songs with stems

Business
US$66.25/month (more than 50 people)
Billed yearly, or US$75 billed monthly
Unlimited music licenses
Sound effects
Songs with stems
Team member accounts

Verdict

Very indie. I love their website. It doesn’t feel like I’m choosing music for my video. It feels like I’m just going about my day, opening up my Spotify playlist. And yes playlist, they do have plenty. Home workout. Yoga. Top Hits. Bathtub Chill. 

But, the range is quite disappointing. I simply cannot edit a trailer or promo with this website. A yoga video? Yes. A personal video? Yes. You get it. 

I do hand it to them for giving me a different experience. If I’m a certain kind of YouTuber or Instagrammer, yes I will consider.

Claims

“Beautifully produced music for film and video.”

Range

Commercials, corporate, documentaries, short films

Price

Pro Lite
US$19.99/month
Billed $239.88 annually
For small-scale productions, corporate, wedding, content marketing and indie films

Pro Standard
US$35.00/month
Billed US$431.88 annually
Full clearance for marketing, advertising, entertainment and informative content

Verdict

Only 4000+ tracks from 200+ world-class artists but quality over quantity. This number is increasing by the week. Soon, they will have a vast amount of quality music streaming in. 

Call it a subscription investment, your investment will bloom as time goes by. 

You can choose to wait it out, for more ear inspiring pieces to be added but I’m not sure if the price will go up as the years go by.

Claims

“Bring your ideas to life with unlimited stock media subscriptions.”
Storyblocks provides unlimited stock for creatives with flexible subscription plans that fit any budget so you can create more, fast.

Range

Commercials, corporate, documentaries, short films

Price

For Individuals:
Basic Audio
US$8.25/month
Billed US$99 annually
3 downloads per month

Unlimited Audio
US$12.42/month
Billed US$149 annually
Unlimited downloads of music, sound effects and loops

Unlimited all access
US$29.08/mth
Billed US$349 annually
Unlimited downloads of music, sound effects, loops, 4K footage, After Effects templates, photos, vectors & illustration

For Businesses:
Get a quote from them

Verdict

Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms – don’t you just love to use classical music for a change sometimes? Storyblocks gives you that option. How delightful. 

I think I’m going to be stuck on this website for awhile. Check out the vocal section as well, while you’re on it.

Claims

“Exceptional Royalty Free Music 100% Copyright Cleared.”
From the UK’s No 1 producer.

Range

Corporate, documentaries, short films
Very different taste. Please refer to my review. 

Price

Royalty Free music
Video Productions/Online/TV & Radio Broadcasts/YouTube/Facebook/Corporate
£16.95 track downloads
£39 album downloads
£39 cds 

Royalty Free music for businesses
£36 for album downloads
£36 cds 

Verdict

A UK-based producer of high quality royalty free music. Interesting. So far, the ones I’ve heard are mainly from the US.

Their music is not something a Singapore production will use or not something I hear often. Therefore, it is unique to me.  

Historic-period music. Not many offer this. Just makes me think of Netflix’s The Crown and War/Historical shows. They do have James Bond kind of music. Just saying. 

Their pricing are not subscription based, which does work for individuals/businesses who want to use the library for a one-off project.

So, what do I use on a daily basis?

Universal Production Music. It is a good choice, or imho, the best choice. Quality and quantity. Truly music heaven for me. In comparison to all the above, this will spoil you for choice.

Why is it not listed above? Well, although it is production music, it is not sold as royalty free music. It is licensed on a synchronisation license. Their FAQ may help you grapple this legal jargon.

Throw me any edit and I’ll be able to find good music to match it. The navigation and categories are well organised, making my search process a breeze. Going through a good library of music perks me up, influences me to create videos. Half the job done yeah?!   

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