The world of non-commercial film and A-V
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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.
There are many more websites selling music and probably more giving it away ... let me know, please: email@example.com
|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
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.
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.
|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
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.