Best Places to Get Free Podcast Music

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Intros, outros, and in-episode breaks. Music is an easy, no-brainer way to make your podcast more engaging, but it can also be pricey for the podcaster on a budget.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Why it’s so important to only use music you have the rights to use commercially, 
  • Your best free options for royalty-free podcast music 
  • Creative ideas from other podcasters on where to get music for your show

Don’t Use Licensed Music Without Permission

There is a misconception that you can use any sound byte, musical track or song in your podcast as long as it’s seven seconds or less.

Some people also believe that because they have purchased a song or album digitally, they automatically own the rights to use it commercially.

Both of these statements are false!

💡 In fact, Universal Music Group and other music companies actively use music recognition software like BMAT to find podcasts using music they aren’t licensed to use. 

If they detect you are using a song they own the rights to, they will send Spotify and other services an infringement claim which you will have to dispute or your content will be removed. 

You can review Spotify’s copyright resources here.

The bottom line is that if you don’t have explicit permission to use a song in your podcast, you can face:

  • Copyright strikes
  • Removal of your episode from your podcast host
  • Plagiarism disputes
  • Fines
  • Lawsuits
  • Removal from podcast directories, and
  • In the worst cases, all of the above

✌🏽 The great news is that there are plenty of resources for the podcaster on a budget!

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Using Royalty-Free Music For Podcasts

When you first start searching for free podcast music, there are a few key phrases you need to be on the lookout for.

What is royalty-free?

Royalty-free refers to intellectual property that can be used without paying royalties.

Some royalty-free music requires an up front fee. Others allow you to use it for free or for a fee until you hit a certain number of downloads.

If you’re using royalty-free music, be sure to read the terms and conditions before using it.

The different types of creative commons licenses

There are six creative commons licenses. The ones you want to look for in order to use the music in your podcast are:

CC BY

  • With this license you must give credit to the original creator (you can include your attribution in your podcast episode description)
    This content allows commercial use – meaning if your podcast makes money, you’re still safe to use the content. You can also remix, distribute, build upon, and adapt the material.

CC BY-SA

  • Again you can remix, distribute, build upon, and adapt the material. However, in this case, you must share the content under the same license
    This content also allows for commercial use, and requires attribution to the original content creator.

CC BY-ND

  • The content allows for commercial use, and requires attribution. However, you may not adapt, remix, build upon, or alter the sound in any way. It must be used explicitly as it was created.

Your best bet if you want free podcast music without restrictions is to find some that says CCO (also referred to as CC Zero).

CCO content is considered the holy grail because you can do pretty much whatever you want with this content with no conditions.

Music with a CCO designation is safe for commercial use and can be distributed, remixed, adapted, cut, altered, etc.

And, because this content is considered “in the public domain,” you also don’t have to attribute it to anyone, anywhere.

📣 Now that we’ve discussed why you should only use music you have the rights to, here are a few of the top places to find songs and royalty-free music that you can use commercially. 

🎵 Best Places to Get Free Podcast Music

1. CC Mixter

CC Mixter is best defined as a community made up of more than 45,000 musicians from all over the globe.

What you’ll find here are samples, remixes, and acapella sound bytes that you can use in your show.

If you choose to use the music on this website, you’ll need to provide attribution to the artist. 

2. Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive has an open-source approach to music. As the website explains, “All songs on FMA are free to access and download.”

Be sure to check out their licensing terms and conditions before downloading any music as some of the music is not approved for commercial use, and can’t be used on a podcast that is monetized.

There is some grey area as to whether or not a podcast is considered commercialized when it’s not directly responsible for a business’s revenue.

We’d recommend erring on the side of caution and sticking with music for commercial use or music in the public domain if your podcast will yield income indirectly or directly.

3. Musopen

Musopen is an open source, not for profit organization that provides “free music recordings, sheet music, apps, and educational materials.”

You can download up to five songs per day on their free plan.

4. Incompetech.com

Incompetech offers multiple categories of royalty-free music to help you find something that works with your show.

There are multiple licenses for the music on this website, so make sure to read the fine print.

Any music downloaded for free from this website requires attribution. You can also purchase a one-time license to use the music for commercial purposes.

royalty-free music

5. Pixabay

Known widely for their free stock photos, not everyone realizes that Pixabay also has free music, videos, illustrations, and vectors.

They state that their music is all royalty-free, and that it’s available for both commercial and non-commercial use.

You don’t need an account to download music clips, and according to their licensing page, content does not require attribution.

Other Places to Find Royalty-Free Podcast Music and Audio Tracks

If you weren’t able to find what you were looking for, you can additionally check out these sites which charge for copyright clear tracks, royalty-free music to use in your podcast:

✨ Creative Ideas from Podcasters On Where to Get Free Podcast Intro Music

1. Tap Into Local Artists Looking for Exposure

Katherine Jones of TNTBS MEDIA INC said she gets her music from independent music artists.

“I have spent time following musicians in Charlotte, NC. Social Media has allowed me to connect with the musicians through their business pages. In [my] show, the artists featured are artists who gave me their written permission to use [their music].”

Mason Quesnel of Centsr seconds this idea. He said, “try reaching out to musician friends or contacts they have in their own network and ask for any unreleased tracks that can be used in exchange for promotion. When a band or artist has unreleased tracks, such as tracks that never made it onto an album or release, they may not have them registered to a Performing Rights Organization that’s tracking royalties and therefore, the music is royalty-free and can be used commercially with permission.”

2. Pay for the Main Music, Source Free Sound Effects

Jennifer Tribe, host of Supercasters, said she buys royalty-free music from AudioJungle, but sources free tracks for her sound effects, stingers, and soundscaping. One of her go to websites for free tracks is Zapslat, but she said she’s also had really good luck with finding free music and sound effects with quick Google searches. The kicker? Read the fine print on any and all tracks and sound effects before blindly using them! It doesn’t matter how good the track sounds if you’re risking a lawsuit to use it.

3. Look For Lists of Curated Sound Effects

Angel Wang of the Eagle Marketing Team schooled us on the fact that marketing agencies, arts and entertainment companies, and budding artists will sometimes curate lists of free sound-effects that you can use. In fact, her company has curated a list of “26 Awesome Royalty-Free Sound Effects Sites” podcasters can use.

4. Sometimes All You Need is Love [On Social Media]

Sam Shepler of Testimonial Hero told us that one of his favorite places to get free music is Freebeats.io. He said, you can use their music on your podcast “with the only caveat being that you follow them on social media! They also have WAV files available for all their members, and they make it super easy to filter by genre. You can easily browse their beats by type, so whether you’re looking for rap, pop, r&b, etc. It’s easy to find and use.”

When he needs more royalty free music, Sam heads to Silverman Sound Studios. He said that this company allows you to use all of their music for free royalty-free, as long as you credit the artist. Their website is super cool and retro and it allows you to search and filter by mood, purpose, and genre.”

Using Royalty Free Music For Podcasts

Before we get to the best places to download music for your podcast for free, we need to cover some important tips to ensure you’re using the music legally.

When you first start searching for free podcast music, there are a few key phrases you need to be on the lookout for.

Royalty-free

This is intellectual property that can be used without paying royalties.

Some royalty-free music requires an up front fee. Others allow you to use it for free or for one fee until you hit a certain number of downloads.

If you’re using royalty-free music, be sure to read the terms and conditions before using it.

Creative commons

There are six creative commons licenses. The ones you want to look for in order to use the music in your podcast are:

CC BY

  • With this license you must give credit to the original creator (you can include your attribution in your podcast episode description)
    This content allows commercial use – meaning if your podcast makes money, you’re still safe to use the content. You can also remix, distribute, build upon, and adapt the material.

CC BY-SA

  • Again you can remix, distribute, build upon, and adapt the material. However, in this case, you must share the content under the same license
    This content also allows for commercial use, and requires attribution to the original content creator.

CC BY-ND

  • The content allows for commercial use, and requires attribution. However, you may not adapt, remix, build upon, or alter the sound in any way. It must be used explicitly as it was created.

Your best bet if you want free podcast music without restrictions is to find some that says CCO (also referred to as CC Zero).

CCO content is considered the holy grail because you can do pretty much whatever you want with this content with no conditions.

Music with a CCO designation is safe for commercial use and can be distributed, remixed, adapted, cut, altered, etc.

And, because this content is considered “in the public domain,” you also don’t have to attribute it to anyone, anywhere.

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