Adding music to your YouTube videos will make a huge impact. But, where do you find good music that won’t trigger a copyright strike? More importantly, how do you tastefully pick the right songs for your videos?
In this post, I’m going to cover all this and more. Starting with where to get the music.
Where Do You Download Music For Your Videos?
YouTube has gotten a little too good at identifying improperly licensed music on its platform. Claims are sometimes triggered by whistling a song, having it on in the background, or even white noise. They’re not messing around these days, and it could result in having your video demonetized or, worse, a copyright strike.
Here’s a video from YouTube themselves about how trigger-happy they are on copyright.
Luckily, finding music licensed for YouTube is the easy part. There are a bunch of services that offer music, and one of them is free. Let’s check out a few of my favorites.
Best Free Option: YouTube Audio Library
If you’re looking for a free option, the YouTube audio library is the place to go. It’s free, you don’t risk copyright strikes by using it, and it has a decent selection.
I prefer the paid websites below because I think you can find more original pieces there, and I believe the audio sounds crisper on the paid platforms. But, you really don’t need a ton of music to make your channel more engaging. The YouTube Audio Library has more than enough music to really springboard your channel.
In fact, on most platforms, the problem is that they have too much music to choose from. You don’t have all day to listen to every song. Filtering down the choices is the hard part (which I’ll cover later in this post).
Free Runner Up: StreamBeats
As of this writing the selection is quite limited (maybe half a dozen songs to choose from). That said, it’s great music to have on in the background for long periods of time and it’s free. Can’t beat free.
1) Best Paid Option: MusicBed – $20/m as of this writing.
What I like about MusicBed is that it has playlists that popular YouTubers are using on their channels. The hardest part of finding music is filtering out all the good songs… MusicBed has effectively done that for you by giving you access to what other content creators are using for music. This makes that process a breeze if you have no clue what you’re looking for.
Or, if you prefer to find your own stuff, they have a good selection of music that’s incredibly easy to sort through for only $20 per month.
Epidemic Sound’s personal subscription is $15 per month as of this writing. This site is easy to use, has a buttload of great original music. The only reason I rank it lower than MusicBed is that MusicBed’s sorting options are currently much easier in my opinion. Lots of great music options here though.
Artlist.io is another popular choice among YouTubers. It’s $25 per month, and it also has a wide selection of music.
AudioJungle is different than the other three options because you don’t have to purchase a subscription. Tracks are as low as $1. If you want to level up from the free YouTube library and don’t like subscriptions, this may be the option for you. However, I find their website quite annoying to use when perusing tracks.
This is also a unique option because their $30/m subscription also contains a stock video footage option. It also has easy integration into video editors like LumaFusion. An excellent options for killing two birds with one stone.
How To Find The Right Songs For Your Video
OK, we figured out where to get the music; how do you pick the perfect song?
You don’t have the time to listen to all of the music on any of these subscription sites. There are simply too many choices.
So how do you sort through them and find the right songs? I have a few tips. The first is to sort your music choices into three buckets.
There Are Three Types of Music: Branded, Feeling, and Focus.
These aren’t official terms. But, I break down music selection into 3 buckets.
1) Branded Music
There’s a type of music that you can only use for very specific occasions because your brain already associates it with something. Take this instrumental from the YouTube Audio Library, for instance. It takes about 2 seconds of listening to it before you know it’s Christmas-time.
There’s a surprising amount of music in existence that you already associate with something. Branded music could be Halloween, Pirates, Detectives, or more. There’s more branded music than you realize out there.
2) Feeling Music
You don’t want to use a ton of music that elicits strong emotions in your videos. It’s exhausting to listen to and cheapens the big moments when they do occur. Use feeling music sparingly.
For example, you wouldn’t want to play the sad music below unless the moment really justified it.
There’s a ton of music that falls into the feeling category. You’ll know feeling music when you hear it. Just ask yourself if you’re feeling any emotions as you listen to the track. Here’s an example of a happy, sad, and angry track. A lot more music than you’d realize evokes emotional responses.
3) Focus Music
A few years ago, I bought a subscription to a website called FocusAtWill.com. All this site does is play music that will help you concentrate. Music can keep people feeling engaged for significantly longer periods of time.
Thus “focus music” is what you want when you’re creating YouTube videos. You want your audience feeling engaged. You want to hold their attention longer. You don’t want to have them feel strong emotions during a casual explainer video. Here’s an example.
Narrowing down Song Choices
Most music platforms will have filters you can apply to narrow down your song choices. Finding feeling or branded music is simple, just search the feeling you’re looking for and a ton of choices will pop up.
Finding focus music is more challenging. But do-able if you know what you’re looking for.
Beats will elicit fewer emotions from you. However, sometimes beats are a little bit too uptempo for background music. On something like the YouTube Audio Library, you might filter by “Calm” and “Hip Hop & Rap.” You’ll get a list of songs, many of which will be excellent background music. Entirely for free.
Or on a service like MusicBed, they actually have playlists from popular YouTubers listed. Find your favorite YouTuber and click to check out their playlist. Listen through the songs and take note if you’d describe them as focus or feeling songs. Download any that you like and save them off as such. When you edit videos in the future, you can just pull pieces from a small list you’ve assembled in advance.
If you prefer to find your own thinking music, I have a couple tips so you’re not searching aimlessly.
The first tip is that these sites all apply genres to their music. Words like ambient, cinematic, uplifting, sentimental, etc., are typically feelings pieces. Anything stringy tends to be more in the feelings category. Filter all that crap out.
You’re likely searching for where the music’s focus is on a beat (think drums). That music tends to be much less emotional. This is where a site like MusicBed is incredible. You can filter out moods, individual instruments, vocals, etc. It’s why I ranked it #1 by far.
Another cool option is if you’re using a site like Epidemic Sound, they have the option to “find similar tracks.” So once you’ve found some songs that you like, it’s easy to sample 20 more songs just like it. Very helpful for honing in on exactly what you’re looking for.
You Want Instrumentals – Filter Out Songs With Lyrics
It’s mentally confusing if you’re talking and a song with lyrics is playing in the background. You’re rarely going to want to use songs with lyrics in your YouTube videos. So on all of these sites, the first thing you should do is filter based on instrumentals to narrow down your choices.
You Don’t Need to Find a Lot of Music
I talk about how brand-able music is in my post on creating a brand. The gist is the less music you use, the more associated it will become with your brand, and the more powerful it becomes.
AKA, don’t feel pressured to find 100 great songs to use in your videos so that you can continuously mix it up. Somewhere between one and twenty songs in total would be a more ideal number. When you mix that with the tips above, you should be able to fill out your channel’s soundtrack in no time!