How to Purchase Music for Video Projects
Purchasing music for video production can be a confusing headache if you’re unfamiliar with what’s available, what’s allowed and what’s legal. There are numerous websites where you can purchase music, but sometimes they may not be clear on what you can or cannot do with a track. I want to spend a moment clearing some of this up for those of you who are looking to purchase music for your videos by showing you where I purchase most of my music, what it costs and what you can do with it.
I would say that for roughly 70% of all of my projects, Musicbed.com is my go-to source for music. In my opinion, Musicbed offers the highest quality music available online and have arguably the biggest library to choose from. It’s so good that you can often find known artists such as Newsboys and even notable up-and-coming country singers. It’s outstanding, and almost all of the songs they have that have lyrics can also be purchased without the lyrics making it a no-brainer when wanting to cut to tracks that have vocals in them.
Musicbed offers country music, rap music, cinematic music, rock, pop and much, much more. It is, however, one of the most expensive options out there. Here’s how it works:
With Musicbed, you can pay one of two ways; by the song or through a subscription. If you purchase rights by the song, the cost options are $49/song for personal rights, $49 for wedding rights, $79 for non-profit rights, $199 for business rights and if you’re looking for broadcast or theatre rights, you have to get a custom quote. The purchase of music rights for any of these categories is for single usage only, so in order to use a track in multiple videos, you’ll have to repurchase the rights. If you’re wondering what defines those different categories, here’s a breakdown for you:
- Personal rights are for YouTube or social media content which includes streaming, internal usage, external usage and podcasts. It does not include paid advertising rights or the right to be used when boosting your content on social media. You can use this option if you’re wanting to make a short film, so long as you don’t plan to boost your film online with paid advertising or you don’t plan to show your film at a film festival, trade show, etc. Considering the giant library at your disposal, this is a great option for filmmakers looking to create social media content for themselves.
- Weddings rights are for live events as well as film & photo usage. You get the same streaming, internal, external and podcasts rights as the personal option, but you also get paid advertising and the ability to boost your content on social media when using the track. If you’re in the wedding industry, MusicBed has in my opinion the best wedding tracks available and the price for wedding rights is cheap, so to me, this is a winner for wedding filmmakers.
- Non-profit rights are for 501c3 organizations, schools and churches. When using tracks with this option, you get the same rights as the wedding option, but you have to pay a higher price because of the intent of your content. If you’re making content for a non-profit, this is obviously the option for you.
- Business rights are for freelancers, productions and brands. If you’re making a marketing video for a company, for example, this is the option you’d choose. It’s the most expensive option they offer other than custom pricing, but it grants you the same rights as the wedding and non-profit options while allowing you to use the tracks with the intent of marketing a business or product. This is the option I use the most since the vast majority of my projects are either marketing videos/commercials or short films for the web with the intent to market those films.
The subscription model for Musicbed is fairly new and as of right now only about 60% of their library is available through subscription, but Musicbed themselves say that they intend to ultimately have all of their songs available through subscription. Through the subscription model, you have five options available: $9/month for personal, $59/month for weddings, $19/month for non-profits, $89/month for business and a custom option available if you’re wanting a subscription for broadcast (TV), theatre, etc. The categories are defined the same as the what I mentioned above.
For content creators, $89/month with the business model for access to such a giant library of high-quality music is a steal. If you create videos for a living, this is the plan I recommend because it allows you to create videos for personal usage, weddings, non-profits and businesses. So long as you’re not making film festival films or content for television, you’re covered. It also gets you the right to use the same song as many times as you want. And through this price, if a song you want isn’t available in the subscription library, you can still purchase from the non-subscription library. Plus, you get 25% off of those songs thanks to being a subscriber. If any of your work does end up needing to be for TV or film festivals, you can still reach out to Musicbed to get a custom quote for your project. To me, this is a great route to go.
As you can see, there are numerous options available with Musicbed. For me, I have the subscription model for business and purchase single tracks when I want something that’s not available in the subscription library. I really like this option and feel that it’s a great one for content creators of any kind. It’s also been my experience that the people at MusicBed are very reasonable and extremely helpful, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them for assistance if needing to get a custom quote.
PremiumBeat.com is my second choice for music. When working on commercial work, I often turn to PremiumBeat because their music has a tendency to work better for those types of projects. Plus, with the option to download every track in their library in 15, 30 and 60 second versions, it makes creating timed videos a breeze. I also use their music occasionally for short films and other projects as well when I can’t find what I’m looking for on Musicbed.
PremiumBeat’s pricing is much more straightforward than Musicbed’s, but that’s also likely why their library isn’t anywhere near as vast or consistently updated. To purchase music rights from PremiumBeat, you have two options and both give you the right to use that track in as many projects as you like.
The first option is for their Standard license which costs $59/track. This option is for content that is web-based or non-commercially distributed. If you are looking to create content for TV, film festivals or for revenue-generating projects, then you would need to purchase the Premium license for $199. There is not currently a subscription model available for their music.
As you can see, PremiumBeat’s pricing is much simpler than Musicbed’s so for those of you looking for a simple way to purchase music, this is a great option. Just keep in mind that their library isn’t going to get you the same number or quality of tracks as Musicbed. That being said, there’s still some great music available on this website.
I use Pond5.com for almost all of my projects for sound effects, After Effects templates, stock footage and more. Their gigantic library of affordable content is incredible and I’ve never had to purchase effects or stock footage anywhere else. I also use it from time to time for music as it’s cheap and has a large number of tracks to choose from.
You won’t find as many songs with vocals with Pond5 as you would with some of the other sites, but they do have a wide variety of music and lots of it. Their songs range on average from $20-$100/track and that grants you full rights to use that song in any capacity you desire, as many times as you wish. Whether you’re looking to make a TV show, a web video, a wedding video or a film for a festival, it all costs the same. You simply select the tracks you want, put them in your cart and check out. It’s that easy.
Pond5 also has two membership options, one for $199/month and one for $1,000/year, but in my opinion neither are worth it as you are limited to 10 downloads per month for most items. To me, it’s far cheaper to just pay by the track or by the effect rather than to pay that kind of money for a subscription with Pond5.
Soundstripe.com is the newest source of music that I’ve started to use and to be honest I haven’t explored it too much yet. All I’ve really used it for so far is music for my vlogs. There’s a lot of songs available on Soundstripe, however, so it’s definitely worth mentioning.
The way Soundstripe works is through a subscription model. You can pay either $135/year or $15/month for their Standard package. Soundstripe also has sound effects as well, though not as many as Pond5, but you can get access to all of their sound effects and music for $245/year with the Premium package. That’s a pretty good deal considering you gain unlimited access to 20,000+ sound effects and 600+ songs. You can also use a track multiple times so long as you re-download it every time you intend to use it, which grants you a new license agreement for that track via each download, all for the same cost. To top it all off, a subscription to Soundstripe gains you the ability to use their music and sound effects for virtually any type of project, whether it’s for TV, web, film festivals, etc. It’s a pretty slick deal.
Soundstripe doesn’t offer the same quality of songs as Musicbed, but for the money it’s hard to beat. If you’re creating a lot of YouTube videos or content on a daily basis, it’s well worth giving their site a look.
Final Words and Some General Advice
There are other websites out there that offer music similar to these, but it has been my experience that these four are the best. These sites give you access to hundreds of thousands of songs and sound effects in virtually every genre you can think of.
My biggest advice is that if you are making a video project, think long and hard about the final destination of that video and make sure you purchase a license that will ultimately cover everything you plan to do with it. You want to play it safe so you don’t get yourself into trouble, so don’t try to save money up front if one day you plan to do more with your video project. Instead, make sure you get a license that covers everything you plan to do with your video.
Lastly, virtually all of these websites give you the ability to download watermarked versions of their songs so that you can edit with them before you buy a license. To me, this is very important as you don’t want to buy a song thinking you’re going to use it only to find out that it’s not going to work for your project. Download the watermarked version and edit with it until you or your client gives the thumbs up to buy it. This will save you a lot of money on wasted tracks when working in post.
If you have any further questions on licensing, don’t be afraid to send these websites an email. All of them are great to work with and will help point you in the right direction. If you have any other questions about music, how to bill your clients for it or how to find the right song for a project, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help. Thanks for reading this blog and for visiting my website. I look forward to writing the next one!