Finding music is tough. Or, I suppose, let me rephrase… finding music is easy, but finding music you can use is tough. If you use some random song off of itunes then you run a very serious risk of having your video removed from YouTube, muted or having someone else profit from your hard work. To avoid this you need to be careful to make sure you have permission to use the music you use in your videos. What I hope to do with this article (and the video that will accompany it) is to share the awesome free resources I’ve found in the course of making my videos.
Free Royalty Free Music
Sounds redundant, right? It’s not. There are services out there where you can pay a one-time fee to use their music. Free Royalty Free music is usable without paying any fee at all. My kind of price!
There are several sources of “open” music that you can use in your videos. Open in this sense means that you are free to use the music in any way you see fit so long as you follow some simple guidelines… even in a commercial context. For example, the “Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0” license permits you to use and modify the music for any use so long as you give credit to the original author. At the end of this post I will give some examples on how to properly give credit.
I like Jason Shaw’s work and I have used it in a number of my videos. He has more then 200 songs in a wide variety of styles and everything on his site is available under the “Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0” license, or CC BY 3.0 for short. (I used one of Jason’s songs in the intro of this video)
Kevin MacLeod’s work is a classic on YouTube. You can even find his songs used in long list of B-movies and TV shows. ( http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2228215/) Some of what’s available is very unusual, but it’s great if you have something very specific in mind. All of his work is also licensed under CC BY 3.0. (I used one of his songs for an intro in this video)
Not as well -known as the previous two sites, Dan-O’s site has a large selection of excellent music you can use. All of his work is available under the CC-By 3.0 license. I haven’t personally used any of his music, but it’s on my goto-list when I need something.
Josh Woodward specializes in a story-telling guitar style. Unlike the others listed so far Josh also sings. Many of his songs are great, but for what I’m doing I normally prefer an instrumental works. These songs are also available under CC By 3.0. (I’ve used one song used in this video)
Jamendo is an interesting resource. In short Jamendo is a community of artists. They are in business to license music for a fee… but a big part of the music released on the site has been released under creative commons or public domain. This makes things with this site a little complicated as not all Creative Commons licenses can be used…. But since this site has such a wide variety of music and artists it’s worth digging in and figuring it out. You’ll want to start in the “Creative Commons” section of the site. (http://www.jamendo.com/en/creativecommons) From there, make sure the check box marked “Find content I can use for commercial purposes ” is checked and do a search. This will limit the music to what you can use. Basicly, you are looking for any music that is NOT marked with the “noncommercial” (NA) tag. So ”CC By NA 3.0” can’t be used, but “CC By 3.0” can. It’s a little bit tough to figure out what is what when you are getting started, but there is a section called “Your rights on this album” on the right-hand side of the album page that spells it out. All the complications aside, I’ve used this site in a number of videos because some of the music is amazing. (I found the song I used in this video on Jamendo)
Stormcloud is very similar to Jamendo in that it’s a collection of artists and that a lot of the content on the site is not usable in videos. However, they do have a very large Creative Commons section with usable content. (http://soundcloud.com/creativecommons) Just like Jamendo you will need to pay attention to the type of Creative Commons license being used for a particular song. If you intend to do revenue share at some point with your videos then make sure the “Noncommedial” icon isn’t showing on the song. (I got the intro song in this video from soundcloud)
Create your own
If you are skilled with a musical instrument then you already have a near-perfect solution. Any music you create yourself is available for your own use. One possible exception could be covers of already existing songs. I’m just not sure how the law applies in that case.
If you are musically inclined, but don’t play an instrument you can always go the “mixed” music route. Tools like FruityLoops are well known, but they can be a bit pricey… However, there does exist a free alternative called “Roc” (http://advanced.aviary.com/tools/music-creator) This is a great tool with some nice options. I of course have no musical talent, but if you do then this might be worth a shot!
Copyright claim examples
First of all, I need to point out that I am not a lawyer. My advice here should be given the same weight as some random guy in a bar and should not be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice seek a lawyer.
When you submit a video to revenue share with YouTube you need to provide evidence that you have the right to use everything in the video, including the music. Every time I use a song I include something like this in the copyright statement:
- Song “[Song name]” is owned by [“Artist”] and is used with permission under the [license] license (http://link_to_album_and/or_licesing_info)
- Music is owned by Jason Shaw and is used with permission under the Creative commons By 3.0 license (http://www.audionautix.com/)
You will of course need to tailor the copyright claim to the particular source and license, but it’s quite easy.
As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to post here or on the video and let me know.