The 5 Best Resources for Free Background Music

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If you’re looking to put music in your project, you’ll need the right license and to pay royalties in most cases. You can also seek out free background music, and you won’t have to pay for the use of this music.

Royalty-Free Music vs. Copyright-Free Music

To know what resources to use to get free background music, it is important to understand the difference between royalty-free music, and copyright-free music.

First, copyrights give artists and bands the intellectual property rights over songs and pieces of music they have created. Copyright also gives a person an exclusive, limited opportunity to use those songs or pieces of music for monetary gain. Trying to copy the exact song or piece of music will usually entail legal consequences.

Royalties are payments that are disbursed to the copyright holder every time some of their (copyrighted) material is used. The entity (artist or individual) that holds the copyright to the song or piece of music can license their work to another entity and charge a royalty for the use.

Copyright holders negotiate the royalties, but under the agreement, the secondary rights user has no rights to the copyright itself. Most agreements stipulate that the secondary rights user cannot make any modifications to the copyright work, and they cannot claim any ownership rights.

Copyright-Free Music

With this understanding, the term copyright-free refers to anything that was under copyright at some point in the past, but does not currently fall under that designation. This is because copyrights expire after a period of time, and the length of copyright life varies from country to country.

Copyright-free can also be a case where a copyright owner negotiates a deal to give entities a full or partial copyright for a selected work. The entities can use the songs or music without fear of legal issues.

Copyright-free is not the same as royalty-free. Whoever owns the piece of music licenses it to an entity (a licensee) that wants to use the music. Both parties then work out a deal that usually comes out to a single payment or other terms.

After the deal, the piece of music becomes royalty-free, but only for that license. No future payments are required to use the property for their own purposes, as long as it does not violate the license. People who do not have a license cannot use royalty-free music unless they have a license themselves.

Royalty-Free Music

Royalty free music does not give users a carte blanche to do anything they would like. There are often conditions dictating how the music can be used.

For example, the songs or music covered by the license cannot be altered. The music can only be used for specific circumstances, like marketing or promotions.

Using royalty-free music outside the terms of the license can mean cancellation of the license, and the copyright holder can rescind the royalty-free agreement.

The Designation Between the Two

Ultimately, royalty-free means that someone with the appropriate license can use a song or piece of music without having to own the copyright to the music or having to pay royalties every time they use the music. Copyright-free, on the other hand, means that the copyright that once covered the music has expired, or a second party has obtained the right to use that music.

The terms copyright-free and royalty-free are often used interchangeably, but they are very different concepts, covering very different things. In legal terms, copyright-free is not royalty-free, and this is important to keep in mind as you look for resources for free background music.

Where Can I Get Royalty-Free Music?

These are five of the best places to get free background music:

1. has an audio library of more than 300,000 royalty-free music clips, offered by premium and free audio providers. You can preview every piece of music offers, and you can edit the music samples right in your (compatible) browser; no software downloads required.

2. Icons8

Icons8 offers thousands of tracks across many different genres. A subscription gives you access to not only music, but also to other royalty-free media, like videos, stock photos, and icons.

3. HookSounds

HookSounds offers unique music that is composed specifically for HookSounds, so what you find in their library will not be found on any other site. You can search for songs that fit specific tags and moods, making for a simple and straightforward navigation experience.

While the free license is for personal use only, there are several other music licenses that you can purchase to get royalty-free music for your business needs.

4. YouTube

The YouTube audio library lets you filter across numerous categories (such as genre, instruments, or the presence of vocals) to help you find the free background music that fits the mood and brand of your business. YouTube also has a sound effect library, so you can add (literal) bells and whistles to what your customers will hear when they enter your business.

5. Purple Planet

Purple Planet is an independent library of royalty-free music, sorted by mood and emotion, and not genre. This is ideal if you have a clearly defined idea of what you want your customers to feel while they are in your business, and you don’t want to limit yourself by genre.

Purple Planet is so committed to this idea that the site does not even have traditional genre filters. The most expensive commercial and broadcast license from Purple Planet is $40.

How Can Cloud Cover Music Help?

While Cloud Cover Music isn’t a free service, you can get access to the entire music library for a set fee.

Cloud Cover Music offers multiple solutions to your business music needs. We can take care of creating the right playlist that will engage your customers, all while offering you a variety of payment plans for the licensing arrangements that are appropriate for your business.


The Difference Between “Copyright Free” and “Royalty Free”. (June 2020). Plagiarism Today.

What Is Royalty Free Music? What Does It Mean Exactly? (April 2011). Premium Beat.

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