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. Audio clips from stock agencies are 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 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 and royalty-free sound effects. Here you'll find a list of the best music sites, stock music, and audio clips.
Benefits of Using Stock Audio, 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 from:
Shutterstock Music – The best Stock Library
One of the most popular stock imagery agencies in the industry, consistently positioned at top of the market since its launch 13 years ago, Shutterstock has a wide offer in Royalty-Free music and background 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–
- 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!
If you work with editorial content, check out Shutterstock Editorial collection, now including subscription plans!
PremiumBeat by Shutterstock – Music & Audio Clips
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
- $49 per stock audio track download
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 Music
Pond5 is a footage-first stock music library. Aiming at being a complete service for footage buyers, they include a wide selection of royalty-free sound effects and music 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 background 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 background 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!
Artlist is a first-class stock music library 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!
Find free stock audio
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.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What is stock audio content?
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 sounds on the internet, but without legal coverage or correct license. We recommend that you pick one of the stock music library recommended above to obtain a correct and legal license to use it correctly.
What is stock music used for?
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).
Buying music from a stock music library is the perfect solution to get sound files to use in your project quickly and cheaply. Royalty-Free music and sound effects are versatile in usage and super affordable. You can easily import it into Adobe Premiere Pro or other Video Cloud Editors.
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 background 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 audio and add value to your productions!