Epidemic Sound is an online streaming platform that provides royalty-free music and sound effects. These are typically used by content creators for platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, amongst others, without worrying about copyright infringement.
In other words, the service does not negotiate rights with any performing rights organization (PRO) and instead manages intellectual property rights, copyright licensing, and distribution of money itself. This means that Epidemic Sound can get exciting new artists, provide a wider range of licensing options for users, and integrate better with social media platforms for content creators of all types.
Through its streaming platform, Epidemic Sound curates several playlists that are constantly updated as new composers and musicians submit music. Basic users can listen to this music for free, but other subscription levels allow users to download songs and integrate them with online content.
Epidemic Sound takes upfront fees for the content, which are distributed to artists; then, artists are also paid 50 percent of the streaming revenue fee. This allows new and less famous musicians and composers to build an audience while receiving fair income.
Epidemic Sound’s Music Licenses: Helping Content Creators Make Great Work
Epidemic Sound specializes in royalty-free music and sounds, meaning that you as the user only pay once to use a particular piece of music. For content creators, this is especially useful as it avoids the complication of accidentally using a copyrighted piece of music in an online post, and then having the platform mute, demonetize, or remove the content for violating copyright law.
Epidemic Sound specializes in offering music for online content creators, but many people subscribe to the platform simply to listen to the playlists.
Since Epidemic Sound gears their platform toward content creators, they also specialize in sync licenses. This is a type of music license that allows the user to take an existing piece of music and add it to an original audio-visual composition.
Filmmakers, television producers, video game creators, and even some corporate presentation makers get sync licenses so they can use a song alongside the visuals they create. For many online content creators, the sync license is exactly what you need, so you can use a song with your TikTok or YouTube video, Twitch streaming channel, Instagram story, or Facebook Live stream.
Currently, setting up an account with Epidemic Sound involves three steps:
- Take advantage of the free 30-day trial period, so you can find playlists you love.
- Pick a subscription — either personal or professional — which allows unlimited downloads and use for a lot of the audio content.
- Connect your social media channels so you can easily publish content that uses Epidemic Sound’s music or sound effects.
The Largest Online Royalty-Free Music Library With Licensing Limitations
Epidemic Sound’s library is one of the largest royalty-free music and sound effects libraries online. Not only does the platform provide 35,000 royalty-free songs (as of 2021), they also offer 90,000 royalty-free sound effects.
Many content creators may know that using popular songs in their content can get them in trouble, but they may not realize that something as simple as Halloween sound effects are also subject to copyright laws and can lead to demonetized or removed content.
Epidemic Sound aims to continue developing tools specifically for online content creators to help them match up great music with their videos, slideshows, and other creations.
Although you have access to tens of thousands of songs and sound effects with an Epidemic Sound subscription, there are some things you cannot do. For example, you cannot use their royalty-free songs to make your own music, like covers or remixes, which are then re-published on another platform. While you can do this with some royalty-free songs available online, Epidemic Sound offers specific sync licenses, and sometimes public performance licenses, to content creators and business owners.
Epidemic Sound functions, in many ways, like a PRO for royalty-free music. This means that they manage specific licenses for their content, so you cannot use a song or sound effect in a way that you do not have a license for. While Epidemic Sound’s platform gears you toward appropriate use, you may wonder why you cannot simply take the song for your own purposes, which can get frustrating.
Epidemic Sound’s Subscription Plans
Epidemic Sound offers one of the largest royalty-free streaming libraries online for an excellent price, with customer service to match. However, the platform is clear that you cannot use their content without paying for the service.
When you get your free 30-day trial, you receive three downloads to try in pre-production, but you cannot use every aspect of the service as a paying user would. If you decide to stop paying for your Epidemic Sound subscription, you must make sure to take all your content with you before it expires. After that, you will no longer have access to your previous work.
Epidemic Sound offers a variety of subscription plans tailored to different types of usage, from personal to commercial and enterprise-scale operations. To help you understand the differences between these plans, here is a comparison table highlighting the main features of each:
|Personal Plan||Commercial Plan||Enterprise Plan|
|Publish Anywhere Online||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Monetize Channels per Platform||1||Up to 3||Not specified|
|Client & Business Content||No||Yes||Yes|
|Multiple User Accounts||No||No||Yes|
|TV Shows and Ads||No||No||All rights covered|
|Customer Success Manager and Music Curation||No||No||Yes|
|Customized Deal Terms||No||No||Yes|
|Access to Epidemic Sound Mobile App||Yes||Yes||Yes|
If you are not creating content and are a casual listener curious about new music, you can use Epidemic Sound’s platform for free. You can also purchase songs or sound effects on an individual basis with a single track license
Epidemic Sound has focused on content creators who need sync licenses since its founding in 2009, but the company has also noted the need for great background music for physical locations. If you are a business owner, you can sign up for Spaces with a 14-Day free trial; it’s then $16.99 per month after that. You get access to Epidemic Sound’s playlists, but you can use them with a public performance license rather than a sync license.
Epidemic Music: Pros and Cons
Epidemic Sound is a popular choice among content creators for its wide selection of royalty-free music and sound effects. But like any service, it has its strengths and potential downsides. To give you a balanced view and help inform your decision, here are the key pros and cons of using Epidemic Sound for your content creation needs.
- Wide Range of Music: Epidemic Sound offers a vast library of high-quality music tracks and sound effects from various genres, giving content creators plenty of choices to match their needs.
- Monetization Friendly: The service is designed to allow creators to monetize their content on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch without worrying about copyright strikes.
- Different Plans for Different Needs: Epidemic Sound offers diverse subscription plans, including personal, commercial, and enterprise, catering to various scales of operation.
- Unlimited Downloads: All subscription plans come with unlimited downloads, providing great value and flexibility for continuous content creation.
- Commercial and Enterprise Benefits: The commercial plan allows for client and business content and unlimited use in digital ads. The enterprise plan includes multiple user accounts, rights for TV shows and ads, and dedicated customer success management and music curation.
- Cost: While Epidemic Sound provides excellent services and a wide selection of music, it comes at a cost. There might be more cost-effective alternatives available, although the quality and range of music could vary.
- Limited Channels for Monetization: The personal plan allows for monetization of just one channel per platform. To monetize more channels, you'll need to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
What if You Want Popular or Famous Songs?
Although Epidemic Sound offers a fantastic service for content creators, it still takes hours of work to find the right music for your projects. Since the platform’s royalty-free options focus on new, unfamiliar talent, you as the content creator must sift through playlists to find music that fits your project.
Sometimes, nothing but the hottest pop song will suit your needs, and that is simply not replaceable. While a subscription to Epidemic Sound can fit a lot of your needs, you may need a different service to cover licensing for major recording artists.
What Is Royalty-Free Music? (May 2020). Epidemic Sound Blog.
Types of Copyright. BMI.
Homepage. Epidemic Sound.
Epidemic Sound Raises $450M at a $1.4B Valuation to “Soundtrack the Internet.” (March 2021). Tech Crunch.
Can I Distribute Covers or Remixes of Epidemic Sound Music? Epidemic Sound.
Spaces. Epidemic Sound.
Can I Use Epidemic Sound's Music for Free? Epidemic Sound.