It’s a classic dilemma. You’ve got big dreams for your next film/video/podcast/game or app, but a small budget, and a big hole where the music should be. Luckily there’s tons of creators who upload their work for use online—for others to use, without having to pay royalties.
Remember, just because something is royalty-free doesn’t mean it's copyright free. That said, here’s a few places to find music or sound for your film, podcast, game or app (or whatever other media your creative brain can come up with!).
Started by freeform radio station WMFU about ten years ago, the Free Music Archive has an impressive collection of free music sorted by curator, genre (from old-timey to cutting-edge electronic), and even a charts section.
These days, YouTube is as great a place to find new music as it is to find ridiculous cat videos. But did you know YouTube has an entire audio library chock full of free music in tons of genres, from punk to ambient, hiphop, instrumental and cinematic. Need something a little more specific, like…the sound of afternoon crickets? There’s a sound effects tab, too.
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with free universal access to books, movies, software, music, and images. All or most are either in the public domain or have been given away by their original creators for others to use and modify. While you’re there, check out the Wayback Machine—a repository of 391 billion archived web pages.
Want to evoke a certain mood? Maybe something scary or nail-bitingly suspenseful for your next horror film at the 48-Hour Film Fest? Check out Filmstro’s ‘search by mood’ section to zone in on emotions from somber to “cheeky.”
Remember to always check licenses and leave attributions where and when they are asked for by the original creator. Happy sound and music hunting!