Last Updated on April 5, 2022
Music licensing refers to the process whereby copyrighted music content (including audio tracks, video tracks, movie scores, and other sound effects) is made available for commercial use. The process typically happens via an agreement known as a music license, and the contract guarantees some payment to the song’s copyright holders.
Once you have express authorization to use a piece of music, there’s no limit to the number or nature of projects you can apply it for. For instance, you could use the music on a movie, Broadway performance, television show, television commercial, or video game. You can even use the track as background music during a high-profile event, such as a wedding or fundraiser, without worrying about facing copyright infringement accusations.
Sounds plain and easy, right? Well, it hasn’t always been that way.
Up until recently, creatives looking for copyrighted music to use in their projects had to go through a rigorous negotiation process. At the very least, they had to negotiate with the real artists, the songwriters, record labels, and the music publisher. Failure to convince just one of these stakeholders meant that you couldn’t use the music for commercial purposes.
Fortunately, the emergence of music licensing companies made the process of purchasing copyrighted music simple and straightforward.
A music licensing company does the hard work of connecting you with a song’s artist and other copyright holders, including the record label and publisher. To make the entire music licensing process even easier, these companies have licensing contracts that state how much you’d pay to acquire licensing for the music.
The following is a rundown of some of the best music licensing companies that every digital creator must know.
Year Founded: 2016
Established in 2016, Artlist is a relatively new music licensing company. However, the company’s online library already boasts more than 18,000 songs drawn from various categories.
Artlist stands out in its annual subscription-based model. With a yearly subscription, you can download music content as many times as you wish. You don’t have to pay licensing fee each time you want to use a piece of music. That makes Artlist the go-to music licensing company if you’re creating multiple projects, such as slideshows or instructional videos.
Another thing that sets Artlist apart is its implementation of numerous filters. Of notable mention is a filter for video editors that’s designed to classify audios on the platform in terms of the types of videos you can use them for.
They recently launched a brand new personal plan which covers all major social media channels. This plan is $9.99 per month annually or $14.99 monthly.
Audiio allows creators to discover incredible music for their projects. They offer licenses which cover any video platform in the universe. Yes, you read that correctly. Want to use a song for your Youtube video, sure. Want to use a song for broadcast television, no problem. With over 30,000+ sound effects, 450+ artists working to create new music, and new content is added daily, you’re definitely in good hands.
TuneReel is a new royalty-free music library with a rapidly growing number of excellent tracks in every genre and mood.
What sets them apart from the rest is the quality of the music (lots of undiscovered indie artists and Hollywood film composers here) and the accurate search.
Speaking of search; TuneReel has some very fine tools, such as their Music Finder – which is both engaging and effective – as well as the traditional search bar and filters.
Their subscription is great when it comes to price and licensing terms (it’s as simple as: is the music you license for you or for your client – that’s it!)
It seems like TuneReel is making a wonderful effort at keeping up with trends and with creating a vibrant community of content creators through their platform and social media.
4. ALIBI Music
Although founded a decade ago in 2011, ALIBI Music (https://alibimusic.com/) has been somewhat of a “sleeper” player in the production music industry… slowly and systematically building its business (and reputation) by listening to the unique needs of its clientele. The result is a robust, diverse library of specially structured tracks from a curated array of professional composers and artists. But perhaps ALIBI’s biggest differentiator is its extensive offering of stems, alt versions and cutdowns that give content editors incredible flexibility, allowing them to truly customize the music they license and sync.
In late 2020, ALIBI launched a brand-new, powerful search engine and website that is next-level intuitive – users can try tools like the Power Player, tap tempo and negative search to hone in on the perfect tracks, and ALIBI also features an extension for Adobe Premiere Pro users that allows them to license and work with the music without ever leaving their editing sessions.
While ALIBI counts top Hollywood studios, television networks, streamers and global brands among its clients, the company now features affordable subscription options for indie content creators and small businesses.
Year Founded: 2006
Envato Elements boasts over 54 million high-quality digital assets, including music, videos, images, graphics, WordPress themes, web templates, CMS templates, to mention but a few. It’s one of the most reputable online platforms that offer music licensing.
You can search for the music of your choice using the website’s search function. Alternatively, you can sample from its over 510,000 audios to find a song that goes with your project.
The music licensing process at Envato Elements is rather straightforward, as all of the company’s digital assets are covered under its lifetime commercial license.
Year Founded: 2008
Two years after establishing Envato Elements, the founders noted a disproportionately high number of users looking for digital audio content. To meet the ever-surging demand for audio downloads, the founders went ahead to establish AudioJungle, a distinct Envato Elements marketplace that primarily offers royalty-free music.
As a music licensing company, AudioJungle provides five different types of licenses. In addition to applying for music licensing, the platform also has a forum where you can take advantage of free tutorials, engage with other creators, or view the profiles of popular artists.
The use of an intuitive ecommerce-esque grid display makes the website incredibly easy to use.
Year Founded: 2009
Formerly known as Audioblocks, Storyblocks is another top-rated music licensing company. You should consider Storyblocks as your preferred music licensing website if you’re a bit strapped for cash. That’s due to the company’s flexible and budget-friendly licensing plans.
Storyblocks has thousands of royalty-free audio content that you can purchase and use multiple times for commercial and personal projects. The company updates its library frequently to ensure that users get fresh content each time.
A search function located on the top left of the website allows you to search for the music of your choice. Alternatively, you can scroll down the website to sample some of the trending music and sound effects.
8. Jingle Punks
Year Founded: 2008
Jingle Punks started as a music agency, which later developed its own online audio library known as The Jingle Player. The company claims to have more than half a million audios in its catalog.
Jingle Punks mostly offers music licensing to bigger creative organizations, such as moviemakers and television studios. However, they also serve the average creative out there looking for suitable audio content for their projects, such as social media vloggers.
Like most music licensing companies, Jingle Punks places its songs in various categories. Users can search for their favorite songs based on standard filters like Duration, Instrument, and Mood.
Year Founded: 2015
Soundstripe is another relatively new music licensing company on this list that prides itself on its vast library of high-quality audios. The company constantly updates its library, allowing you to sample some of the most recent audio tracks. Thanks to these updates, users can get their hands on hundreds of new songs every month.
As you might expect, Soundstripe is a subscription-based music licensing company. Which means that you can only enjoy its services when you sign up for a paid membership.
But once you’re a member, there’s no limit to the number of songs you can play and download from the company’s library. Plus, every single download comes with a single-use license, which allows you to use the song for an unlimited duration, even after canceling your subscription.
Year Founded: 2010
Established in 2010 by Ryan Wines and Brian Hall and headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Marmoset is a renowned music licensing platform that provides thousands of audio assets to digital creators. The company mostly publishes songs by rare and emerging independent artists. That makes it an excellent recommendation for creators looking for fresh and rare music content to use on their projects.
But that’s not all – Marmoset still allows you to search for songs on its library using various powerful filters. Some of the popular search filters include Mood, Vocals, Arc, etc.
What’s more, the company offers a variety of music licensing options, depending on the pricing plans and usage rights. There are licenses for independent films, small businesses, crowdfunding, etc.
11. Epidemic Sound
Year Founded: 2009
The first thing you’ll love about Epidemic Sound is a service known as ‘YouTube subscription,’ which is targeted at vloggers looking for the perfect music for their YouTube videos. However, you don’t necessarily need to be a YouTuber to benefit from Epidemic Sound’s music licensing services.
The platform boasts over 32,000 tracks as well as more than 60,000 sound effects. It also undertakes continuous site updates, which grants users access to newer songs every month.
And while Epidemic Sound is a subscription-based service, the company has flexible pricing plans to suit every budget. Plus, there’s a 30-day free trial that allows you to test-drive the company before committing fully to it.
12. Premium Beat
Year Founded: 2005
There’s a reason Premium Beat is the preferred music licensing company for some of the world’s most reputable organizations like Amazon, National Geographic, Google, and Vogue. Perhaps it’s because of the company’s hassle-free music licensing procedures. Or maybe it’s due to their 100% copyright-clear audio tracks.
Whichever the case may be, Premium Beat is definitely a favorite place to acquire music licensing. For a paltry $12.99/month, you can purchase a license for up to 5 tracks.
The company’s website displays some of the most trending songs, as well as new releases and top recommendations by its experts. If you still cannot find the track you’re looking for, there’s an option of searching for it using a search feature located at the top of the page.
Year Founded: 2016
Hooksounds gives you access to original royalty free music for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Podcasts, Radio, TV and any other multimedia content. You can search their library via tags, moods, or genres. The user interface is straightforward and very easy to use. They offer monthly subscription plans from $29 per month. In order to maintain high standards, Hooksounds only works with the most skilled musicians who apply to join our community. So you can feel confident that their platform values quality over quantity.
Year Founded: 2013
YouTube is the world’s leading online video-sharing platform. So, it makes perfect sense that the company also provides music licensing services.
Released in 2013, YouTube Audio Library has grown from a paltry 150 songs back then to thousands of royalty-free and even copyright-free music. The library uses powerful filters that allow you to hone in on a song of your choice based on various aspects, such as its genre, mood, duration, attribution, etc.
And there’s no limit to the number and types of songs you can acquire licensing for on YouTube Audio Library. Whether you’re looking for instrumentals or sound effects, the library has it all.
Free Music Archive pretty much does what the title implies – allowing you to access a huge library of background music free of charge. The website stands out in terms of the diversity of its background music, as it’s one of the only few platforms where you can find the ‘Spoken Word’ genre.
Free Music Archive pre-clears all tracks uploaded to its platform and removes any copyright strings attached to them. You can either choose from the ‘Public Domain’ or ‘Creative Commons’ category.
16. Freeplay Music
Pricing: Free for personal use, Paid plans start from $0.99 per track
Freeplay Music is an excellent place to source for background music free of charge, provided that you intend to use the tracks for personal, non-commercialized videos. But even if you’re looking for background music to accompany monetized videos, you’ll still find the rates charged to be within your means.
For $0.99, you can purchase a background track from this platform and use it in all manner of YouTube videos, including presentation videos, advertisement videos, and even video games.
Pricing: Free with attribution, Paid plans start from $20 per track
IncompeTech is an amazing platform that’s run by artist Kevin MacLeod, which offers you unhindered access to thousands of royalty-free background tracks for YouTube videos. The site has a free version that lets you use its background music provided that you attribute the creator.
Or, at a fee of $20 per track, you can download and use a piece of music without the need for attribution.
18. Music Vine
Pricing: Free version available, Paid plans start from $14 per month
Music Vine bills itself as ‘An oasis to the beautifully produced music for film and video,’ and it’s reassuring to note that the website tries to live up to its slogan. On this platform, you can find some of the most intriguing tracks to use on your YouTube videos.
The only drawback is that unlike most websites on this list, Music Vine has a rather limited repository. That makes sense, as the website is barely five years old. Even so, you can still uncover over 2,000 background tracks from at least 140 different recording artists.
Year Founded: 2015
Mubert is quickly becoming one of the world’s most innovative music licensing platforms. From streamers to app builders to filmmakers and beyond, our platform delivers next-gen royalty-free music powered by AI.
Using millions of high-quality music samples, a wide variety of worldwide, DMCA-friendly license types and limitless capabilities for music customization, our platform helps content creators find the perfect music for their projects with ease.
Shockwave-Sound.com is a long-standing, trusted and reliable source for good quality royalty-free music and stock music. Having been online since April of 2000, for royalty free music site has been putting out new music pretty much every week for all of that time, and unlike many other sites with a similar offer, at Shockwave-Sound, every track is carefully curated and selected. Known for great customer service and attention to detail, if you get the music for your video from Shockwave-Sound, you’ll know that you get great music and you’re in good hands. They even have royalty-free classical music recorded with an actual real orchestra, and a nice selection of royalty-free vocal music too.
Evidently, there’s no shortage of companies offering music licensing services to digital creatives. But as you shall find, these companies differ fundamentally in the range of services they provide. Therefore, due diligence is necessary when scouting for a music licensing website.
For starters, go for companies that provide high-quality music. The company should also offer a variety of licensing options, including an option that lets you use a song multiple times upon paying a one-off licensing fee. And when all is said and done, you deserve a music licensing service that offers competitive pricing plans.