IAC logo

The world of non-commercial film and A-V

Events Diary Search
The Film and Video Institute find us on facebook Join us on Facebook

Links front page | Audio-Visual | computing/household/video | home cinema |  ideas/training/inspiration
music & sound fx | stock footage/tools/services | UK clubsUK organisations | worldwide links

Keyboard icon.

Music & Sound Effects

Where to find royalty-free music (and sound-effects) for your movies ... see lower down the page for some notes and explanations.

A first port of call should be the music provided by major video hosting websites: YouTube and Vimeo. The YouTube tracks are freely available for use on their system and anywhere else. The Vimeo tracks are not always free and some do have a few limitations on what you can do with them.

To buy ...

You can usually listen to all or part of each track at low-quality so that you can choose appropriately. Many companies offer good quality MP3 tracks and WAV files on CDs for the best quality.

Prices vary a lot for different tracks and different rights but we give some indication of download track prices at the start of 2010.

To download free ...

You can usually listen to all or part of each track at low-quality so that you can choose appropriately. Some sell CDs of track collections at modest prices.

The websites listed below offer royalty-free music, but be careful about links to other download websites which offer music free but only for private listening. Also watch for sites which insist any work you make using their music must be made available under the Creative Commons licence - which you may or may not want.

  • 2b Royalty Free Music - typically 20 for between 3 and 4 minutes.
  • AKM Music - typically 10 for 3 minutes and over.
  • Audio Network - we fit in their "home/student" rate, 1 per track - various lengths.
  • Bob Chambers - 1.50 per track - various lengths.
  • Boosey & Hawks/Imagem - student rate for European use 5 per 30 seconds.
  • Carlin Music - student rate for European use 5 per 30 seconds.
  • ClipJingles -website being renewed as at 25 January 2010
  • Fotosearch - mainly stock pictures but also has a large collection of music for around $30 a minute.
  • KPM Musichouse - student rate for European use 5 per 30 seconds.
  • Music Bakery - most tracks available in several lengths, fees around $39 for 1 minute.
  • Royalty-Free - in their standard licence $29.50 for about 2 minutes.
  • Play Music - effectively a search engine for several world music labels
  • Primary Elements - $3 a track
  • Royalty Free Tunes - typically 4 minutes 12.95
  • Search for Sounds - search engine for sound-effects
  • Smartsound - $29.95 per track
  • Sonoton - sold through Boosey & Hawkes in the UK, see above.
  • Unique Tracks - wide range of music including plenty of classics. Price varies but typically around $39 a track (which may be over 15 minutes in classical.)
  • White Beetle - typically $33.99 for 3 minutes.
  • Kevin MacLeod - his Incompetech website has a host of good music in a wide variety of styles and lengths. The top of the league in most people's eyes.
  • Louise Byrne - a good range of music from stings to longer work. Clearly presented. She also accepts commissions. Generous licence covers all normal amateur use including internet.
  • Anthony Kozar - ambient music, he offers mp3 but also code for some music generators.
  • Audionautix - I like this, their base website. They also have a lot of samples on their YouTube Channel. Mainly orchestral sounds.
  • CCMixter - is something of an oddity. It features mixes and mash-ups of work. Much - though not all of it - is available for non-commercial video use. Check the licence on each track carefully.
  • Dan-O - a good range of instrumental styles and (unusually) some songs with electric or acoustic guitar.
  • David Beard Music - specialises in film music. Music available free of charge for non commercial film makers.
  • Derek Audette - some coventional instruments but a synth sound to much of this music. Derek also has "bumpers" - 30 second transition pieces to move between scenes.
  • Freesound Project, The - has no music but lots of sounds you might find useful - forests, waves, screeching car brakes and much more.
  • Ghost Notes - Bill Cushman offers many improvisational piano tracks, he only asks that you ask him before using them.
  • iCompositions - a music collection covering all sorts of material. Our link goes direct to a set of useful and free music loops. Check the rest of the site, some tracks are free, many are not.
  • Jamendo - don't let the links for commercial licences put you off ... the artists are happy to take payment if you want to use their material commercially ... but don't require it for non-commercial use.
  • Jimmy G - interesting range of material with the emphasis on piano music.
  • MobyGratis - Moby is a big name in ambient music with many, many successful albums. Here he offers lots of tracks for film/video use. Requires free registration and filling in a request form for each piece ... but worth the trouble!
  • Music For Video  - despite the name it is included here for its free sound-effects. They do have music but for a fee.
  • MusOpen - collects recordings of mainly classical works that are out of copyright. Oddly you click "View" then go to a page where you can listen to each piece..
  • PacDV - an interesting assortment of tunes (synth) and sound effects including applause and projector noise!
  • Partners in Rhyme  - music loops you can repeat as needed, plus sound effects and some video loops in PAL and NTSC format.
  • PublicDomain2Ten & Open Music Archive - tracks over 70 years old which might just be right for your video ...
  • SonnyBoo - just 40 assorted tracks you download as zip files.
  • SoundClick - works like a search engine. Select Licence Type "Creative Commons (free)" and go from there.
  • Taylor Hayward -  a small collection of attractive piano tracks in the general "ambient" style.

There are many more websites selling music and probably more giving it away ... let me know, please: asstweb@theiac.org.uk

Recordings you have bought ...

In the UK none of the music you buy through normal shops - including download sites - should be copied onto your films. That breaks the rights of the many copyright holders concerned. You may be able to negotiate with some of them but at a high price.

For home movies shown only to your close friends and family ... frankly no one will either know or care what you do. But with movies you may want to show to anyone else ... at a club, event, competition, festival or online ... you need to get copyright clearance.

If you plan to sell copies of your movie you must be specially careful that you have the necessary rights. It will usually cost you much more to buy resale rights.

IAC Members can buy very modestly priced licences which allow them to use most music purchased from normal sources.

For details see our Copyright pages.

IAC Members also have access to "Production Music" - music normally sold only to professional film and tv producers. Our prices are very modest.

For details see our Music Advice page.

Music you or your friends play ...

Original music written and played specially for your movie is the ideal way to go. It need not be expensive or difficult to organise. The internet has made it easy to work with musicians anywhere in the world. Just make sure you get permission to use the work as you need. This is specially important if you might want to sell copies of your movie ... even if it is for charity.

But ...

Recordings made of music you and your friends play may also be restricted by the copyrights of the composers, arrangers and music publishers. In the UK copyright usually lasts for 70 years after the death of the composer.

Be careful if you use samples or music loops. Check the source and make sure you have the rights to use the resulting music for your videos and for use online.

Royalty Free Music

There is now an industry supplying music especially for video, website and other media use. The creators of such music have all the same copyrights as other composers etc ... but they sell some of those rights to you when you buy their discs or downloads.

What rights they sell can vary. Some include internet rights, others do not. Check their websites and CD covers.

There are also sources of free music. The creators of those pieces choose to give you, rather than sell you, some of their rights.

What they give away varies so you must check their websites for details. (e.g. one allows free use of his creations everywhere, except on corporate phone systems, when he charges a fee.) Quite often there is an option to make a donation, we suggest you do if you use any of their tracks.

Share your passions.

Audience silhouette.

Share your stories.

Page updated on 06 February 2014
Contact Webmaster
Data Privacy
find us on facebook Join us on Facebook
Bookmark and Share
UNICA information UNICA member
Company Limited by Guarantee No. 00269085. Registered Charity No. 260467. Authors' views are not necessarily those of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers. Website hosted by Merula. JavaScripts by JavaScript Source. Menu by Live Web Institute. Art work by Tony Kendle.