Background Music

laptop with editing software on screen on a table with headphones, a turntable and speakers

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So, you’ve shot your video, and done an awesome edit. What other element do you need to set the mood, create engagement and make it both professional and memorable? The perfect background music, of course.

Here’s our guide to all the ins and outs of choosing and using video background music.

How to choose the best background music for your video

  • First, you have to decide what role the music is playing – is it supporting your video, or driving it?
  • Ie, do you need dramatic music, or music that is more ambient? If it’s supposed to be in the background, but your viewer notices it too much, it could distract from your content or message
  • What mood or emotion are you creating for your viewer? For heartfelt emotion, you might want a classical, strings-led piece, whilst excitement or action needs a track that’s faster paced
  • Use music to ‘top and tail’ your video. If you feature music more heavily at the beginning and end, it can help to set the tone at the start, and provide a more polished finish. And don’t forget that you can bring the music more to the foreground at certain points, if you need to divide the video into segments, or amp up the emotion
  • What’s your budget? If you’re going to be using a lot of background music, it may be worth looking into a subscription to a music library, rather than paying for individual tracks

Now you’ve decided whether you need soft background music, or a track that’s got more drive to it, your options are to search for non-copyrighted (or public domain) compositions, choose a royalty-free track or pay for a subscription to a music library, which will give you a greater amount of choice and originality.

Top Tips for finding background music

There are plenty of sites providing quality free, or royalty-free music (where you pay a one-off licence fee to use it) for video editing – here are five of our favourites.

1/ YouTube Audio Library

If you’re nervous of falling foul of YouTube’s Content ID system, which can see your video blocked or taken down if you’ve used a copyright-protected track without permission, then the easiest option is to search YouTube’s own massive Audio Library. You can search genres, instrument and mood – or you can click the ‘popularity’ filter, which will tell you which songs are most downloaded by users. The only stipulation for use is usually that you attribute the music in your video, or in the description.

An additional resource is YouTube’s Music Policies section, where you’ll find a list of popular tracks, and details on whether or not you can use them.

2/ Incompetech

Incompetech is a site run by musician Kevin Macleod, who is one of the most prolific composers of royalty-free music. From upbeat to moody to quirky and via collections as varied as ‘Danse Macabre’, ‘Christmas’ and ‘Famous Classics’, as long as you credit Kevin, you can use one of his tracks. You can even commission him to write original music for your project – check out his FAQs page for details.

3/ ccMixter

ccMixter is a community music site hosting music that falls under the ‘Creative Commons’ licence. Musicians, singers and DJs share their music for free, as long as you credit the source within your video. This is a great source for finding unique background music. Browse the highest rated tracks to see what’s popular, or use the tag cloud to navigate your way around.

4/ Musopen

Looking for something classical? You’ll want to head to Musopen who ‘provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions.’ You can browse by composer, performer, instrument, period or form. Plus they have dedicated sections such as ‘sound effects’, ‘cinematic music’ and ‘music for videos’. Ideal if you’re looking for royalty-free instrumental music.

5/ Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive is a great site for discovering a range of background music and sounds for all kinds of content – there’s even one that’s specifically geared to ‘spoken word’.  Browse by genre such as ‘Blues’, ‘Experimental’, ‘Historic’ or ‘Novelty’, or check out the ‘recently added’ or ‘most interesting’ highlights playlists. All the MP3 tracks are pre-cleared, with over 1,500 public domain tracks, and thousands more under Creative Commons licensing. 

Find more ways to source background music here:

Check out a music library

A music library gives you far greater options in terms of unique tracks, edits and quality. Libraries have different licensing agreements and price points available, depending on what projects you’re using the music for. Audio Network’s search tools enable you to filter based on musical style, mood or emotion, instrumentation, genres such as action, comedy, horror and docudrama and even by bpm. We hand-pick playlists every month to help you to find the background music you need. Here is a selection of our most popular categories:

Background music for YouTube

Find the perfect background music for your YouTube videos with our category playlists. Showcase your tutorials, lookbooks or hauls with our Fashion and Beauty selections. We’ve got an expert menu of bright, fun tracks for recipes and demonstrations in our Food category. Up the ante on your Gaming videos with everything from the epic to the eerie. Parenting vloggers can take their pick of our cheerful songs, while Travel experts can go globetrotting without setting foot outside. Choose from swinging Parisian jazz, go on a jungle trek, or get your Om on with a spiritual sitar sound.

Background music for Action

Our Maximum Impact collection spans all genres from stirring emotional drama, through to blistering apocalyptic action and everything in-between. It is designed to create unrivalled reaction for blockbuster movies and television and is created by an award-winning roster of composers who are expert at creating the music that will maximise intensity, to drive relentless action and thrill audiences.

Cool background music

Take it easy with our curated list of chilled-out tracks, featuring plenty of dreamy, ambient, laid-back lo-fi

Corporate background music

Looking for music to motivate, inspire and engage your audience? Whether it’s for explainer videos or brand presentations, or a soundtrack to your annual conference sizzle reel, we have a mass of pumping, powerful, uplifting tracks here.

Orchestral Background Music

What’s unique about Audio Network’s Classical Collection? We’ve arranged, recorded and edited all the pieces of music specifically for media use. The iconic compositions tell universal, timeless stories of romance, yearning, celebration, war, temptation, lust, wrath, death and grief. Even humour features in Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. Each collection of tracks includes a huge variety of edits and cut-downs. We’ve looked at the classical canon through an editor’s eye, to make it easier than ever to incorporate fantastic classical background music to tell your story.

American background music

The US is home to a huge range of music styles, from the Blues to Nashville-based, pedal steel-infused Country Rock. Go back to the dawn of rock and roll to sample some Rockabilly, or jump on your Harley and embrace your inner rebel with our Rock list.

Hip hop background music

The Beat Series is your go-to source for the ultimate collection of hip hop – from the East Coast to the West Coast, trap to UK grime.

Divided into six different playlists, the series expertly covers production types such as ‘Sports’ and ‘Party’, together with staples from sub-genres including UK hip hop and grime, trap and classic sounds.

Indie background music

From indie rock to indie reggae, fresh cuts to old favourites, catchy hooks, guitars and vocals all feature on this eclectic playlist

Cartoon background music

For cartoon capers, we have everything from crazy free form jazz to comedy chases and, if you want something vintage, even a melodramatic steam train getaway.

Audio Network Share project functionality

What about seasonal background music? We have dedicated playlists for the seasons, plus gorgeous romantic tracks for Valentine’s Day.

Summer background music

Looking for a track to create that Route 66 road trip vibe? Or the ideal backdrop to a poolside scene? Or maybe to give the stifling feel of summer in the city or the dry heat of the desert. Check out our hand-picked playlist of sun-drenched sounds.

Christmas background music

Christmas isn’t Christmas without music playing in the background. Bring festive cheer to your projects with our Christmas collections. Innocent nostalgia, heartwarming big band, stunning orchestral arrangements of traditional classics, rock & roll to RnB, traditional and contemporary. Our Christmas catalogue has a full spectrum of sounds and songs for the holiday period.

Different eras

50s background music

The 1950s encompass everything from the early Rockabilly days to full-throttle Rock and Roll. Or you could return to the classic days of cool jazz and big band, or some boogie-woogie swing.

70s background music

Travel back to the era of flares and the Watergate scandal, the Vietnam War and women’s rights with retro rock, glam and funky floor fillers. We have everything you need to set the soundtrack for the 70s.

80s background music

The 80s were synonymous with synths – take your pick from uplifting to dark and mysterious.

Background Music – get free downloads

If you want to test out tracks to get started with using high-quality music for your production, why not try downloading ten free background tracks from our huge catalogue and get started now?

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