Audio — music and sound effects — has a major effect on how the audience will react to your video. While video production will always emphasize footage and its quality, audio is a very important element that should not be neglected. Stock audio is a great resource to boost the sound in your video projects.
Now, if you're not a musician or sound producer, getting original music and clips for your video can be very expensive. And that's where, as always, stock content comes to save the day. High-quality stock audio is a great way to add sonorous richness to your production in a quick and affordable way.
Indie artists, filmmakers, and content creators can find an ally in a royalty-free music library.
There are many agencies and companies selling royalty-free music for videos. Here you'll find a list of the best stock music sites, stock music, and audio clips.
Stock Music & Sound Files
Despite how compelling and skill-shot your footage is if it's full of monotonous speeches, long dialogues and in general lacks sound impact, your viewers will not connect to it.
Think of the background music on a YouTube video, or the funny effects that liven up a podcast. Sound can elevate all kinds of pieces, not just music videos or feature films.
Knowing this, many of the most popular and bigger agencies include audio in their offer, from jingles and audio clips to elaborated music pieces by independent artists, to provide video creatives with the necessary music and sounds clips they need to add in post-production to complement their footage.
While music licensing terms can vary a bit with this content, most agencies offer stock music and effects under Royalty-Free license, at very affordable prices.
Here's a list of the best stock music sites to buy stock audio:
Shutterstock Music – Royalty Free Music
One of the most popular stock imagery agencies in the industry consistently positioned at top of the market since their launch 13 years ago, Shutterstock has a wide offer in Royalty-Free music and tracks called Shutterstock Music, as well as a stand-alone stock music service named PremiumBeat.
Here's what you can find in Shutterstock's music library:
- Tens of thousands of tracks: high-quality music tracks, sound effects, and more
- Simple a la carte buying system
- Unlimited downloads subscriptions available with monthly and annual options
- Premium Unlimited plan includes a selection of PremiumBeat tracks –exclusive and high-end stock music, read next for more info–
- New! Flex 25 subscription that lets you download stock music, stock videos, and stock images, all with the same plan!
- Royalty-Free license for commercial use, but restricted to one project only
You can browse and search for tracks in Shutterstock's millions of new music and effects collections and categories, and add them to your cart one by one. All their tracks are in 16-bit WAV format, and compatible with most video and sound editing software. The files allow for basic editing but restrict mashups, remixes, and sampling.
Their Royalty-Free sound files and music licenses limit the usage to one project only but include perpetual use in the said project and in supporting material for it. Here are their buying options:
- Standard license, at $49 per track, gives you the right to use the file in broadcast projects up to 1 million viewers, and theatrical film projects for one country only.
- Extended license, at $419 per track, gives you the right to use the file in unlimited broadcast audiences and in theatrical film productions in as many countries as you wish.
- Use in the web or podcasts is unlimited in both licensing types.
- Unlimited downloads subscriptions: Unlimited access to download tracks, shorts, and loops, start at $199/year (which breaks down into $16.60/month. Month-to-month and annual billed monthly options, as well as a higher-priced Premium plan are available. All files come under Standard license.
Learn more about Shutterstock Music and How to Choose the Right Music for Video here!
Sign up for free at Shutterstock and explore their audio collection. While you're at it, seize our special Shutterstock Coupon Code to save 15% on your media purchases, including the new Flex subscription!
PremiumBeat by Shutterstock – Stock Music Tracks
PremiumBeat is, as its name gives away, a premium stock music and sound effects library. For years it's been owned by Shutterstock, but it operates independently on its own site, being one of the best royalty-free stock music sites.
In PremiumBeat's stock music library you will find:
- Exclusive, high-end tracks from talented indie artists including music and sound effects
- Straight-forward on-demand purchase model
- Two types of Royalty Free licenses according to your usage needs
PremiumBeat is stock music for music lovers by music lovers. They carefully select their contributing artists and curate only the best of their work to include in their collections. They offer themed playlists around popular themes and genres. And all the content is exclusive to this agency and you won't find it anywhere else. All files are in .wav and MP3 format compatible with most video and audio editing software, some including stems to easily edit individual elements in the track.
They work with Royalty-Free license, in Standard and Premium versions. Standard is perpetual and multi-use but restricted to web usage and redistribution under 1000 units. Premium is for TV, theatrical film, and bigger purposes, but limited to one project. Here are the pricing details:
- Standard license – $49 per track: Use in personal or professional use, web-based (websites, YouTube, Vimeo, social media, podcasts, etc.) and for-sale projects under 1000 units. Perpetual and multi-project use.
- Premium license – $199 per track: Use in personal and professional projects, including TV, radio, theatrical film, and for-profit distribution with a budget under $2 million. Single territory and one project only.
Discover PremiumBeat and its first-level stock music collections!
Pond5 – Royalty Free Stock Music
Pond5 is a footage-first stock agency. Aiming at being a complete service for footage buyers, they include a wide selection of stock audio in their library, available for single-track purchases. And they also have a curated selection of audio files available with a membership plan.
What you need to know:
- A large collection of audio, divided into music and sound effects libraries
- Buy on demand from the entire collection
- Download with membership from a curated selection of 15,000 audio files
- Royalty-Free licenses
Pond5 has a wide range of prices for on-demand buying because each contributor sets its own prices. Stock music tracks can be anything from $5 to $300, depending on length and quality. Sound effects tracks fall between $1 and $40 each.
A great option is their Premium membership, which lets you get 10 downloads per month from a curated collection that includes HD and 4K footage, stock photos, and 15,000 music and sound effects tracks. Here are the membership options:
- Monthly: $139
- Yearly: $839 (save $360 from monthly price)
Read our full Pond5 review for a deeper look into this agency.
Pond5 audio files are available in 16 or 24-bit WAV or AIFF formats. And they are all under Royalty-Free license, giving you great usage flexibility.
If you're looking for a few tracks for your projects, Pond5's broad price range and large collection is a good option to find what you need. And if you want a complete solution for your content needs that covers audio, footage, and images, their Premium membership is a good choice.
Sign up for free at Pond5 and browse their music and sound effects collections! Plus, don't miss this limited-time discount of 20% using our coupon below!
Getty Images Music
The most renowned stock imagery agency in the world, Getty Images also owns iStock, one of the top microstock stock imagery sites. iStock used to have a royalty-free audio collection, that has now migrated to Getty Images Music service and added Rights Managed licenses as well.
Here's a little overview of what Getty Music has to offer:
- A huge collection of music and sound effects
- A la carte buying, plus playlist creation and sharing
- Royalty-Free and Rights Managed licenses
For more details, check our full Getty Images review.
Getty Images Music collection is arranged by categories and is highly searchable. You can buy files on demand, choosing between Royalty-Free music or sound effects, or Rights Managed music files. Here are your options:
- Royalty-Free license for audio files comes with multiple, non-exclusive and perpetual usage rights, at $50 per music track and $10 per sound effect file.
- Rights Managed music prices depend on the specific rights you require, but its main benefit is that it may include exclusive usage, making you the only one using that particular track for the time your license is valid.
Great music and sound effects from one of the most prestigious stock media agencies in the world, for only $10 to $50 – it's a great deal. And if you're looking for the exclusive use of audio, Getty Images is the place to go, as they are one of the few companies offering exclusive usage rights with a Rights Managed license.
Artlist is a first-class stock music hub for filmmakers, created by filmmakers. It specializes in music tracks that are perfect to complement all kinds of video content. And it has a sister site, Artgrid, devoted to stock video, as well.
These are the highlights in their service:
- Highly curated library with stock music and sound effects intended for audiovisual productions
- Subscription service with unlimited licenses
- Royalty-free license with flexible coverage
Artlist's high-value music is very easy to find thanks to its curated categories and playlists. And you can pick the subscription plan that better suits your need:
- Music tracks for $199 annually
- SFX files for $149 a year
- Music+SFX for $299 yearly
All plans come with unlimited downloads, and all downloads are under their universal, flexible license.
Sign up for free at Artlist and benefit from their cinematic stock music!
BONUS: The Music Case
The Music Case is a stock music and sound effects library that first opened its doors way back in 2005. Providing royalty-free music for thousands of companies worldwide such as advertising giants Ogilvy and digital media and entertainment company Technicolor!
Here’s a quick list of some of their main benefits:
- Over 93,000 Tracks and Audio Effects in their library
- Pay once and use your tracks on as many projects as you like
- Simple payment methods via PayPal in either Euros or Dollars
- 24/7 Customer Support via Live Chat and a Toll-Free U.S based number
Covering literally every style and genre that you can think of, The Music Case has a very simple to use interface and with each track tagged, searching through their huge database is a breeze.
Tying all of this up with a very simple licensing scheme that includes either a silver or platinum license, The Music Case should be high on your list of sites to visit when looking for stock music or effects for your projects. Here’s a quick break down of those licenses:
The silver license allows you to use your track of choice on your websites *Excluding advertising, Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook and other monetized social media videos, your crowdfunding promotional videos such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Corporate Presentations, non-broadcast audiovisual productions, home productions, online and offline video games that are distributed for free (i.e Homebrew), Podcasts and hold music.
The platinum license allows all of the above and also allows use in advertising, film, audiobooks, documentaries, television, venue music such as airports and train stations, and unlimited duplication such as on CD and DVD.
Here are their prices!
- Silver: $29
- Platinum: $99
These already crazy prices can be made even lower with an awesome rewards program, offering credits for certain actions such as registering an account, purchases, sharing on your social media accounts, and even just simply logging in, you could earn between 5% and 35% discount on any future purchases. And once you have gained a certain reward level, you keep that discount forever, for all your future purchases!
All of the files on offer through The Music Case are available for instant direct offered in WAV format ensuring the maximum quality available along with compatibility with virtually any audio reproduction or editing software!
So if you're looking for a cheap, easy to use and reliable place to grab some awesome royalty-free music for your next project, be sure to check out The Music Case!
While you can find decent sounds in a free stock music library, we do not recommend using free music tracks for commercial-oriented work.
These free files are often under a form of Creative Commons license –or similar free use license– which can be annoying if they require attribution and backlinks, but most of all aren't as safe legal-wise.
Stock Audio FAQ
What is stock audio content?
Stock audio — music and audio clips — are often created as stock, meaning they are meant to be generic, or multi-purpose. While each track may be on a defined mood, style, and genre, they are conceived to fit in various concepts and uses.
How do you get stock sounds?
You can either find free stock sounds on the internet, but without legal coverage or correct license. We recommend that you pick one of the stock music agencies recommended above to obtain a correct and legal license to use it correctly.
What is stock music used for?
Stock music is used in by creative professionals in Youtube Videos, Video clips in general, TV Shows, Movies, and many new social media clips. It is sometimes mixed with stock footage and stock photography to create advertisements and other creative projects.
What are the most popular stock music categories?
Here are the most popular stock music categories: Rock, Hip Hop, Classical, Nature, News, Ambient, Fun, Happy.
Raise the Sound Impact of your Video with Stock Audio
So now you know: you can have a high-impact, professional-sounding video without spending thousands of dollars in commissioning music and sound effects. If you need help or a step-by-step guide, check out this guide on how to add music to video for free (with many software recommendations).
Stock audio is the perfect solution to get sound files to use in your project quickly and cheaply. Royalty-Free stock music and sound effects are versatile in usage and super affordable.
Rights Managed can be more expensive, but if you see value in acquiring exclusive use rights, it can pay off.
Plus, the 4 agencies listed above offer you huge collections, with thousands and up to millions of tracks to choose from. You're certain to find the ideal music and effects for your footage in their libraries.
What are you waiting for? Start licensing stock audio and add value to your productions!