Whether you’re looking to create an intro, outro, midroll, or segment drop, finding the right music is essential for setting the mood of your show and offers more emotion and depth than voice alone.
While adding music improves production quality, searching through the catalogs for the right tune can be daunting. To help you source royalty-free music quickly, here’s a list of websites where you can find free music for podcasts. Yes, that’s right — no payment required.
But first, if you’re wondering what kind of music you’re legally allowed to use on a podcast, let’s discuss the most common licenses that will keep you out of legal trouble: royalty-free music and creative commons music.
Royalty-free music is a license that allows you to pay for music once and have continued access to it without having to pay royalties later on. Essentially, after the upfront payment, use the music for as long as you want. Fees can range from a few dollars to several thousand. In addition to one-time payments, subscriptions are becoming increasingly popular.
Note: Royalty-free music does not mean free music. Unless you find ‘free’ royalty-free music, expect to pay a fee.
Generally, under a Creative Commons license, you can use the music for free as long as you credit the composer. Most podcasters mention the artist at the end of the episode and in the show notes.
Places for Free Music for Podcasters
Free Music Archive
Free Music Archive is one of the largest free music directories. It features open-licensed original music from independent artists — filter by duration, genre, and instrumentals. You do not need to create an account, and you can listen and download as many songs as you like.
Pixabay offers royalty-free music, video, and photos. Browse the platform for podcast music and search thousands of audio tracks ranging from seconds to a few minutes long — filter by duration, genre, and mood. Giving credit to the artist or Pixabay is not required.
YouTube Audio Library
Did you know that you can find non-copyright music on YouTube? Every week, YouTube Audio Library releases several new songs. How does this work? YouTube has an agreement with the artists to ensure that all the music featured is entirely free to use and safe.
Silverman Sound Studios
Silverman Sound Studios offers a royalty-free music library that can be used for anything — podcasts, video, streaming, and more. An accomplished musician, founder Shane Ivers asks users to give credit and donate when possible. If you prefer, you can avoid attribution by purchasing songs for a fee.
Dedicated to helping podcasters find affordable music that connects them with their audience, 909 Music covers various genres that fit different types of shows, from wellness to business.
For the free tier, download individual mp3 files and use them how you want. While crediting the artist is not required, it’s encouraged. Music ranges from horror, epic drama, and electronic, to name a few.
Incompetech is one of the most popular sites for free music for podcasters and other creators. Download a variety of songs from the website by crediting Kevin MacLeod, or pay the licensing fee. For podcasts and other audio projects, attribute in the recording.
For classical music, browse Musopen’s catalog. Musopen provides royalty-free recordings, sheet music, and music education materials to the public for free. Easy to explore, browse by performer, composer, instrument, or time period.
While Transitor is a podcasting hosting company, they also offer a library of free podcast intro music. Under the creative commons license, use the music for anything as long as attribution is included in episode show notes. While the selection is small, if you’re looking for guitar or banjo sounds, Transitor could be a good resource.
If you’re specifically looking for free sound effects, consider SoundGator. Browse an extensive category that includes musical, nature, and ambiance sounds. Incorporate the sounds on any project, but you are not allowed to sell or post the sound effects on your own.
SoundBible offers both free and royalty-free sound effects and audio clips. Their funny sounds section will keep you entertained.
Consider asking your friends and family if you can use one of their songs or work together to compose a new song for your podcast. This is a great way to support their work while also introducing them to a broader audience.
Overall, as a podcaster, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you confirm you have the proper permissions before using any music. Podcasters have gotten into legal trouble due to violating copyright law.
As a general rule of thumb, look for either royalty-free music or songs under the creative commons license. Music websites typically have a FAQ section which details how to give credit, where the music can appear, and more.
While you do not have to include music on your podcast, and there are plenty of successful podcasts that do not, music adds a level of professionalism and also strengthens your brand’s identity. With so many free and low-cost options available, it’s worth pursuing if you’re starting a podcast or you’re ready to freshen up your feed.