Finding quality stock music is the worst part of any editors job. The. Worst. And yet it is almost as important to our work as the computer. There are certainly sites out there with good stock music. But, in classic “choose 2 out of 3” fashion, the options you have are: good stock music, reasonable price, and a catalog you haven’t already exhausted. That 3rd one is the killer. You would be surprised how quickly you can go through a site’s upper echelon of material. Some sites have artists that consistently create new material…others build reasonably sized catalog and sit on it from here to eternity.
Here are 5 sites I’ve used at various stages that have high quality music and options for various uses (corporate, web-only, television, film, etc.). They’ve each got different strengths and weaknesses and there should be something here for everyone. Never be left without good music for a client!
This is my go-to site for music options. It’s based around handpicked independent artists who use PremiumBeat.com as a marketplace for their own work. What that gives you is a community of people who are constantly making new material because that is their bread and butter. And what’s more, everything is exclusive to PremiumBeat.com. You won’t find it anywhere else. Found a prolific artist whose sound fits a brand you work with? You might just be on easy street. And the quality of the artists and production is very high in a lot of cases. Standout artists: Olive Musique, Max Brodie, Brightside Studio, and Reaktor Productions. Prices in the $40-60 range for web, internal corporate and non-commercial use. TV and film use starts around $150.
Song Freedom is a very interesting concept. The idea is to bring high-quality, well-known pop music to certain types of videos at a really reasonable price. Especially in the face of the fact that most of those types of videos are using this music already…without paying for it. Many an editor has turned to the easy money of wedding or bar/bat mitzvah videos. Which of these videos didn’t have “I’ve Got A Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas? Songs Freedom just takes that concept and puts a reasonable price sticker on it. It’s helping many a wedding editor come back to the fold of lawful music usage. Prices range from $10 to $200 with custom quotes for certain commercial uses (TV advertising or film).
The Music Bed might be the priciest of the options, but it also has the least “stock music” sound of all the options. For many of the offerings, they legit sound like some unknown artist who just hasn’t made it yet. Prices are generally $500 and up so it can be cost prohibitive. But if it’s for one of your corporate clients who understand you’ve gotta spend money to make money? Well then it might just be a good option.
CueMX (a Source Audio partner) is probably the option that is most limited in usage, despite a huge library. I would only really recommend this for corporate uses but in that area it shines. Doing an explainer video for a tech company? Quarterly meeting videos for a financial company? Event videos for a business conference? CueMX has you covered. It’s definitely not for your fashion brand or the quirky office supply company, but for all those businesses outside of the public advertising sphere it’s perfect.
Finally, what about music that artists want to give away? What about historical music? Public domain anyone? Whether it’s to help garner more exposure for your music or a recording of a classic folk standard from the early 1900s, Free Music Archive makes them available to download for free. There are various levels of usage that are set by the artists. Some allow usage only in non-commercial cases. These are perfect for personal project, proof-of-concept videos and things like pilots and film festival submissions. A perfect example is “Freeway” by Kurt Vile. What a great song to have for legal use in your short film! Some music can even be licensed for commercial use but there is a smaller selection and not everything is relevant to client work.
Got any stock music sites that are clutch for you that you don’t see mentioned here? Put them in the comments!