Online video is still on the rise and a hugely important part of every 2021 social media strategy. Whether you’re a YouTube creator or a brand sharing promotional videos on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know that good background songs for videos can be hard to find – if you don’t know where to look. I’ll be sharing some of the best affordable song licensing options with you today, but first let’s talk about why you even need music licensing for.
Why Should You Use Song Licensing for Video?
I hear you. Song licensing isn’t completely free (although very affordable these days) and there’s a great number of free royalty-free music to choose from, so why should you pay for it? Well, not only do you want to avoid the overused, now almost comical tracks everyone and their grandmother has been putting in their videos for a decade, but also not get in trouble later on. I’m speaking from experience.
Music is a complicated industry when it comes copyright, and things can change any moment. When I first started uploading videos to YouTube, it was quite popular to collaborate with smaller musicians by using their songs in your videos. It made their songs popular and us creators had cool music to use. Awesome, right? But years later, when those musicians started scoring music deals and getting signed to labels, our videos took one for the team. As soon as the music label got the ownership of the artists’ music library, the copyright claim war began.
Some of my most popular videos ended up getting flagged, blocked in certain countries or had monetization disabled/transferred to the music labels, meaning the labels are now getting all the money my videos make. Not that awesome anymore, huh?
To avoid getting your YouTube or Facebook account suspended or content blocked (that can happen even on Instagram stories), take the safe road and hop on the music licensing train. The music licensing companies below have some of the best copyright-free music even for the tiniest budgets!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional costs to you, I will earn a commission or credit if you click through and make a purchase.
The Best Music Licensing Companies
I have to mention Epidemic Sound first, because it’s the one I’ve been using and loving personally for years. With over 34,000 tracks and 64,000 sound effects, their library is MASSIVE! There’s no way you can’t find tunes that are just perfect for your videos. They have awesome instrumental music as well as top-notch vocal songs, which you can browse by genre, mood, song length, tempo and albums. You can download as many as you like, and I love that you can get either a full mix or just stems, so you can end up using only the drums, get rid of the vocals…
As long as you have an active Epidemic Sound subscription when you’re uploading videos using their songs to your connected channels, you’re completely safe. You won’t get any copyright strikes and there’s no additional costs either, even if your videos get viral, as they don’t charge per stream/view.
For personal use, perfect for creators of any size, their monthly subscription fee is only $15 (or $144 yearly), and for freelancers/businesses creating commercial productions it’s $49 a month or $299 a year. You can get a 30-day free trial HERE.
Artlist is fairly similar to Epidemic Sound. It gives you unlimited access to their sound effect and music library, browsable by genre, mood, instruments and video themes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t let you download separate parts of the songs like Epidemic Sound, and you also can’t pay for the subscription monthly.
However, there’s no hidden fees either and at $299 a year for unlimited projects of any kind (YouTube videos, films, commercials, corporate), the yearly expense for freelancers and businesses works out the same. For large businesses it’s incredible value for money, but if you’re just a creator and only need music for your own channels, Epidemic Sound works out half cheaper. Artlist doesn’t have a personal-only package at this point.
P.S. In case you’re not interested in sound effects, you can also get the music package only for $199 a year (or just the sound effects package for $150 a year).
Again, the concept of Musicbed is similar. They’re especially known for having a great selection of cinematic music from independent artists, so their library is well loved by filmmakers. Plus, they have some helpful search filters too. The ‘exclude’ option is really handy and unique to the platform. If you know you don’t want a track with heavy drums, for example, you can just exclude that from your search.
Having said that, it’s by far the most expensive music licensing platform in the bunch. At $19.99 a month (or $159.99 when paid annually) for the Individual package the price isn’t too steep, but it is limited to 50,000 followers per channel, so if you’re a slightly bigger creator, you’re out.
The Business package is where the price really skyrockets. It costs $99.99 per month or $1,079.88 when paid annually. Quite a steep price for a small new brand or a freelancer like me!
Sometimes you just want to use a popular song everyone knows in your video, and Lickd is where you go for that. You won’t find the likes of Ed Sheeran on there just yet, but their library of popular songs from the charts continues to grow. I found some tunes by Mabel, Anne-Marie, and even one of my current faves – Paradise by MEDUZA and Dermot Kennedy, which will definitely be mine! You can browse the songs by genres, moods, artists, labels, themes and playlists, and there’s some instrumental versions too.
As far as I understand, Lickd is aimed at creators only, so I’m not sure if you can get on board if you’re a brand or a business, but you can use the songs in YouTube, Facebook and Instagram videos, even sponsored, and keep the revenue from the content.
There’s no monthly fee here, as you pay for each song individually – per use of the song in one video, with the license being granted for the lifetime of that video. The price depends on your average video views and there’s no additional costs even if your video gets far more then your average amount of views, which is great.
To give you a rough idea, a license for one song would cost you $8 if you get about 50,000 views per video (or $80 if it’s a sponsored video), and $330 for over 2 million average views (or $1689 for a sponsored video). VERY affordable if you’re at all familiar with your usual music licensing prices. Oh, and you can get 25% off your first track HERE.
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