You’re a YouTuber in need of some music for your steady stream of video content. You want your channel to have a more professional, polished look as well as a certain vibe that speaks to your personality. But if you don’t write and produce your own music ( or have friends who do it) and don’t have the budget to hire a composer, you may be wondering what to do.
Thankfully, the internet makes it quite easy to find background music for YouTube videos. As you’re about to learn, royalty-free music will become a great friend for your YouTube background music needs.
What is YouTube royalty-free music?
Historically, when using music for film, television, or video, creators were required to license music for their projects. Usually, this meant paying for a “needle drop” or “sync” license, an arrangement in which a user would pay the song’s and recording’s owner (typically a record label) a fee each time the song/recording was used. This very quickly gets expensive, especially if the artist and/or song is particularly well-known and beloved.
Alternatively, YouTubers and filmmakers can look for background music for video and music for commercial use in the public domain or Creative Commons. Public domain music is that which is free to use, though perhaps with some restrictions. So if you're looking for free background music for YouTube, you can consider those free. Just be aware that using some type of free non-copyrighted music for YouTube might make your videos look antiquated or less appealing.
Royalty-free music is yet another type of music license. Not to be confused with copyright-free music for YouTube like public domain tunes, which is basically free music for YouTube videos (and any other types of videos for that matter), royalty-free music is a music license in which a song is bought only once and used for as long as one wishes. That is to say, the user doesn’t have to pay a royalty (a fee) every time they use the song. While not as cheap as no-copyright background music, when you consider the highly expensive alternative of using popular songs, royalty-free BGM will probably give you more value for your money than free music for YouTube videos.
Practically speaking, this means that YouTubers can use a piece of royalty-free music for as many projects as they like. You could, for instance, use a royalty-free tune as your channel’s theme music or use several different ones for specific segments in your videos.
Where to find royalty-free music for videos?
As noted above, you don’t have to look very far to find royalty-free music platforms, many of them subscription-based, like Artlist. These platforms exist to serve YouTubers, Twitch streamers, filmmakers, advertisers and many other people in need of background music.
While checking out the options, be aware that platforms will have different restrictions in their License Agreements, so be sure to read them. For instance, there might be time limits, geographic restrictions or even stipulations as to what media the songs can be used in. You really don’t want to be restricted as to when, where and how you use the YouTube royalty-free music you license.
How Artlist’s royalty-free music library works
Of course, we think that Artlist is the best platform for finding and purchasing royalty-free music. We have thousands upon thousands of songs, all of which are easy to search. As for the subscription, license and user experience, efficiency and simplicity are the main factors.
With an Artlist subscription, you get unlimited access to the catalog. Every song and sound is available to you. The Artlist license has almost no restrictions regarding the video content you’re creating or the platform you’re posting it on. And there is no limit on the number of projects you can use a song in. This means you can use the same track for your YouTube channel but also if you later decide to launch a podcast or produce a film. In the future perhaps you decide to transition into directing commercials. Well, you can use the same song there.
The Artlist license also covers all social media channels, websites, broadcasts and wedding videos. It’s up to you how you want to use royalty-free music, but aside from YouTube videos, tunes can also be used in animations, games and apps (background only), slides and presentations.
Last, but definitely not least, an Artlist license lasts forever! Yes, once you download a song as a subscriber, you can use it whenever you want, even after your subscription expires.
One important thing to note is that your Artlist subscription entitles you to the use of royalty-free songs but it does not mean you own the song/recording itself.
Below, we’ll explain the Artlist catalog’s functionality.
The Fastest Ways to find YouTube royalty-free music on Artlist
Since efficiency is a key factor when it comes to looking for music for your YouTube video, let’s look at the fastest ways to find the perfect song for your content.
The Artlist search filters
To help you find the song(s) you’re looking for, there are a number of search filters that will help you find your music faster. The filters can be found along the left side of the homepage, and they are divided into 4 categories: Mood, Video Theme, Genre, and Instrument.
Using the Mood filter, you can search for songs that are uplifting, Playful, Dark, Sexy and so on. If you click on any of those moods, you’ll be presented with songs that match that mood, which you can listen to before downloading.
In Video Theme, you search for songs that fit different types of videos, like Business & Corporate, Vlog, Commercials, Sports & Fitness and many others. The Artlist Media team expert use their knowledge and experience to categorize each song according to the types of videos it is best suited for.
The Genre filter is pretty straightforward, and you will find there styles like Hip Hop, Cinematic, Pop, Electronic, Classical and many others.
Instruments is a great filter if you know that you’re looking for a song that features Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Piano, Wind Instruments and dozens of others.
You can click on as many filters as you like, and it will narrow your search more and more until you find that perfect song. But there is another very efficient way to make your search more accurate...
The Exclude Feature
Once you try it, you’ll realize that the ‘Exclude’ feature can help speed up your search significantly. It allows you to exclude any filter from your search. If you’re looking for a Classical piece that doesn’t feature a Piano, a Cinematic piece that is not Sad or a Rock song that is not Retro, excluding these categories from your search can save you a ton of time.
You can find the ‘Exclude’ feature when you click on any category filter (Mood, Genre, Video Theme and Instrument). It appears as a ‘-’ sign.
On the Spotlight section of the platform, you will find various collections of curated music - songs that were handpicked with a certain theme in mind. While this may be a slightly different approach to finding YouTube royalty-free music, it could prove to be one of the fastest ways of getting the perfect royalty song for your YouTube video.
Why? Because since the collections are curated by our expert Media team, you can be certain that you will be listening to the best songs in the theme they were curated for.
For example, if you’re looking for a song in the trendy trap genre, you will find the heaviest kicks and illest drops Artlist has to offer on a special Trap collection. You can find a broad collection like perfect for YouTube or a narrower one for the travel vlog genre, as well as ones that offer inspiration from some of the best YouTubers out there, like Camera Girl Helena, D4Darious, and Currently Hannah, amongst others.
A Short recap
To create that polished, professional look and a vibe that represents your personality, you’re going to want music. Outside of making your own, enlisting the help of a composer friend or using free music for your YouTube videos that might be antiquated or of low quality, royalty-free music is the easiest way to do it.
Explore your options but keep an eye on the platform’s License Agreement and features. You’re going to want a license that gives you the maximum amount of freedom with a feature-rich way of browsing tunes.
DJ Pangburn is a New York-based journalist, videographer, and fiction writer, with bylines at Vice, Fast Company, Dazed and Confused, and other publications. DJ records ambient techno and IDM under the name Holoscene.