Whether you’re building a slideshow or editing a video, music is an important factor to consider for emotional connection to the audience.  The internet is tempting with many sites that allow you to download any song you desire.  But we have to warn you.  Just because it is “free” doesn’t mean it’s legal to use in your videos.  We don’t want you to get sued — so listen carefully. There are many sites out there that you can pay for downloads of great music to use legally for your videos so we want to make sure we cover the board of options.

There’s three different ways we can approach this for you to not get legally attacked; music for no budget, music for a small budget and music for a generous budget.


“No Budget” Free & Legal Video Music Options

If you are a music connoisseur and have high expectations or you’re looking for the top mainstream artists from the best labels, you may want to lower your expectations.  If you’re seeking for a free and legal music download option, the songs are usually a little less than popular music.  But that’s not to say that you can’t find some tracks to work for your budget situation.  So now that we have set some standard expectations, here are some fun choices.

GarageBand: If you are a Mac user, head over to your GarageBand app.  There are some great sounds, jingles and beats that are all usable for your projects and commercial use.  And of course, if you want to get creative, you can learn the program and create your own tracks as well.  This is a completely free option.

YouTube Audio Library:  As another completely free option, Google has compiled a great audio library for free and legal use for your videos.  This is a great resource for you to use for commercial videos as well as long as you have a Youtube account. Any Youtube creator now has access to more than 150 royalty-free instrumental tracks you can use for free, forever, for any creative purpose. is a great site that is completely free to use for your edited videos, slideshows or commercial work. It has a search function for you to find more customizable options as well.


“Small Budget” Royalty Free Video Music Options

First of all, lets understand what “royalty free” means.  Royalty-free, or RF, refers to the right to use copyrighted material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use or per volume sold, or some time period of use or sales.  In other words,  it refers to a type of music licensing that allows the purchaser to pay for the music license only once and to use the music for as long as desired.  There are some great sites out there that are geared towards creatives that have very talented artists and incredible libraries for you to search your preference.  The list below are great resources with many options that can accommodate a small budget film or video that fits into the “Royalty Free” category. These are just a few choices we’ve used.


“Big Budget” Video Music Legal Options

When you have a generous budget to work with, it‘s possible to seek out the more well-known artists that you prefer. From big celebrities to local artists, you can work with them directly, put together a contract agreement that suits your budget and the pay-out options for the artist.

If you plan to use music that’s been recorded, you’ll likely need a synchronization license to add it to your slideshow or video project.  You can learn more from BMI or ASCAP.  You can read more about music licensing here.



These are just a few options to consider .  If you have ideas of different sites that offer great options for slideshows or video editing, let our audience know in the comments below.


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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Ibarionex Perello’s podcast turned me on to Kevin MacLeod over at He uses Creative Commons licensing, and has some pretty engaging pieces.

  2. […] The Upload button is located to the right of the Search bar near the top of the page.  Make sure you have the rights to the music and the visuals in your video or it may be blocked. For more on legal music options, see this article. […]


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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.


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