Podcast Music: Where’s the Best Free & Royalty-Free Podsafe Music?

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Find what podcast music you're allowed to use, and where to find the best tracks, both free and paid.

TLDR: Best places to find ‘Podsafe’ podcast music. FYI we use affiliates for these services because we really like them. They each have 10,000s tracks available on lifetime licenses. You’ll find more in-depth info on each service in the article itself.

Prices chop and change regularly, but $15 a month is a good average. It’s also common that any music you use during the course of your subscription is yours to keep, forever!

Limited offer: We’ve teamed up with Epidemic Sound to bring you an exclusive offer on their service. Sign up to Epidemic Sound’s annual personal plan using coupon code PODCAST50 to get a massive 50% off!

There’s no rule saying that you must have music in your podcast. Plenty of good podcasts have no music at all. But, there’s no doubt that having your own theme tune adds a layer of identity and professionalism to any show.

How do you go about finding podcast music that’s suitable (and legal) for you to use? That’s what this article is all about: what kind of music you’re allowed to use, and where we recommend you find it.

Podcast Music

What Kind of Music Am I Allowed to Use in My Podcast?

It’s your duty to always make sure you have permission to use whatever music you play on your podcast. Generally, there are 3 ‘Podsafe’ options available to you.

Royalty-Free Music for Podcasters

With Royalty-Free music, you buy the license for a piece of podcast music. This entitles you to use it as and when you wish, for the duration of the license.

Most one-off music purchases give you a lifetime license. A lot of the newer ‘subscription’ services give you a license, as long as you have an active subscription.

That doesn’t mean you need to go back and remove music from old episodes when you’re no longer paying a subscription. But, with many of these services, you shouldn’t be adding tracks to new episodes after that point.

Terms and conditions will vary, however. Be sure to familiarise yourself with this information when you choose a particular platform.

Creative Commons Music for Podcasters

There are various types of Creative Commons licenses. Most entitle you to use a piece of music for free and without permission, so long as you credit the composer.

Some Creative Commons licenses permit commercial use, whilst others don’t. It’s usually pretty clear which are which, though. Read the license carefully to make sure you’re covered.

Public Domain Music for Podcasters

Music goes out of copyright and into the public domain after a certain amount of years. Usually, this follows the death of the artist/copyright holder. That law and time period differs from country to country. 70 years after death is a good ballpark figure.

There’s a further grey area too, though. There’s a difference between the song itself (which may be in the public domain), and the recording or performance of it. If a musician today performed and recorded an ancient public domain song, they’d be the copyright holder of that rendition, and you wouldn’t be allowed to use it without their permission. Err on the side of caution when thinking of using music you believe to be in the public domain.

Podcast Music Case Studies

As I said at the beginning, there are no “rules” when it comes to podcast music. It’s all about what works best for the type of show you’re doing. Let’s take a look at three of ours, which each take a very different approach.

Pocket-Sized Podcasting: No Music

Pocket-Sized Podcasting is a “one quick tip each day” style show, aimed at teaching you how to podcast. Episodes are, on average, only a minute long. We felt that having any music on these short episodes would be overkill, so, chose not to include any at all.

PodCraft: Intro & Outro Music

PodCraft is a much more long-form ‘how to podcast’ series where we go in-depth on a particular topic. Episodes can be 45mins to an hour-long. PodCraft has a short intro and outro track that long time listeners will know the minute they hear it.

Hostile Worlds: Music Throughout

Hostile Worlds is a fully soundscaped audio drama and documentary-style hybrid. There are few moments in the show that don’t include music. Beds tend to run underneath each conversation or monologue, whilst music is also used for transitions between each scene.

Can I Use Copyrighted Music on My Podcast?

In short, no. You’ll find a lot of info out there about how you can use copyrighted music for “up to 7 seconds”, or debates around what constitutes “fair use” of music. “Fair use” is a defence you can try to use if you get in trouble for using copyrighted music. But why even take the risk of needing a defence when there are plenty of legal options available?

Using any copyrighted music in your show means you run the risk of being kicked out of iTunes and Spotify too. This would cause massive damage to any podcast.

Here’s a deeper dive into using copyrighted music in a podcast.

In summary, though: ask yourself “will my listeners unsubscribe because they don’t get to hear 10 seconds of Bohemian Rhapsody at the start?”

If the answer is “yes” then it’s time to go back to the content planning stages.

If you want to dive a bit deeper into how the law works with podcast music, check out this interview with Gordon Firemark on Podcraft. He’s a media lawyer and went into some great detail around copyright and fair use.

How Can I Buy Commercial Podcast Music?

To me, it’s worthwhile paying a little extra to license Podsafe commercial music.

This helps your podcast to sound unique, as your listeners are unlikely to hear your theme tune cropping up again and again elsewhere.

There are three main options here:

1. Looking for one track for a theme tune?

In this case, you’ll want a lifetime license in exchange for a one-off purchase. That means you can buy a track for one single payment, and use it forevermore. This is great for regular theme tunes that you want to use for months or even years.

Beware of licenses like this that have a cap on the number of downloads you’re allowed, or the length of time it covers. Some have a limit of, say, 10k downloads. Some require renewal every year. Fortunately, such restrictive licenses are pretty rare nowadays. But you should always read the small print, before diving in and paying for a song.

2. Looking for a big range of tracks, loops or effects for regular use?

In this case, a subscription license might be better. That means you pay a monthly subscription for access to many (often thousands) of tracks.

Sometimes the license allows you to use as many tracks, loops or FX as you want on any episode, as long as your subscription is active when the episode is released. You don’t have to be subscribed forever to keep your old episodes active. But, you have to be subscribed when you release new episodes using their music. There are exceptions, though, as you’ll find out below.

3. Looking for a Custom made podcast music track?

This is pretty self-explanatory – you can get totally unique theme tunes or idents, made just for you, by a professional producer or musician. This is totally unique to you and will tend to be of great quality. But, of course, it could also be expensive!

the podcasting store has plenty of options for finding podcast music
You’ll find great podcast music options, along with a plethora of other podcast-related goodies in The Podcasting Store.

Where Are the Best Places to Buy Podcast Music?

Here’s where we get our music. Just to let you know, we have a partnership deal with each, so we get a small commission if you use them. But, don’t worry, we signed up for that because we like them all, and have used them in our own work.

Lifetime License: Epidemic Sound

Limited offer: We’ve teamed up with Epidemic Sound to bring you an exclusive offer on their service. Sign up to Epidemic Sound’s annual personal plan using coupon code PODCAST50 to get a massive 50% off!

Epidemic boasts a library of over 30,000 tracks, and they add new ones every week. They also have a 60,000-strong sound effect library. This is ideal if you like to do a bit of soundscaping in your show.

Their subscription tier prices are £10 a month for the Personal Plan and £39 for the Commercial Plan.

Try the subscription plans for free for 30 days when signing up below! Try it, keep it if you like it, otherwise unsubscribe before the trial ends and you won’t get charged.

Try Epidemic

Subscription OR One-Off Purchase: Shutterstock

Shutterstock take a strict approach to quality control in their library, and they say that most who submit music don’t get accepted. This highly exclusive approach to curation makes their library of 25,000+ tracks stand out. 

100% of Shutterstock’s tracks are copyright clear and can be used forever once licensed, and finding the right music for your projects is easy. Their library is optimised for painless search, thanks to precise filters that let you browse by genre, mood, popularity, freshness, and more. The in-house music team adds dozens of tracks weekly, so you’ve always got new music at your fingertips. 

With a robust selection of pricing plans, bundles, and licenses, good deals exist for every budget and need. In addition to traditional pay-per-song licensing, customers can sign up for a subscription that offers unlimited downloads.

Try Shutterstock

All-in-One Creative: Envato Elements

Envato Elements is the subscription service from long-time royalty-free asset marketplace, Envato. They’re behind some of the biggest creative marketplaces on the web, of which Audiojungle is the audio showpiece.

Envato's Royalty free music library
Envato’s Royalty free music library

Envato’s elements subscription gives you access to their full royalty-free music library, boasting nearly 100,000 tunes. Add to that 575,000 sound effects and there’s no doubt you’ll find everything you need. To help with that, Elements offers all the standard categories and search filters, allowing you to narrow down your search super-fast. And one thing that stands out is their vocal sample library, which might interest podcasters who are looking to produce more sophisticated theme tunes to really suit their brand.

Envato costs more than other libraries if you buy it monthly ($33 on a monthly basis). But, buying an annual subscription drops the price right down to around the same as the competition (equivalent to $16 per month).

Envato’s huge advantage, justifying that cost for many, are the other resources you get alongside the music. Photos, stock video, YouTube templates, graphics templates, you name a creative asset, Envato’s got it. So, if you do other things around your podcast – like video or image-heavy social – then this could really work for you.

Try Envato Elements

Music With Voice-Over: Music Radio Creative

Music Radio Creative go beyond simply helping you choose music for your podcast. They will also work with you to design tailor-made intros, outros, transitions, stingers, and jingles. They collaborate with some of the best voice over talent in the world to craft your message into these segments.

Their client list boasts some of the top podcasters around, like Pat Flynn, Cliff Ravenscraft, and John-Lee Dumas. They are very much the premium option, which automatically makes you think they’d be really expensive. But you can actually get something great for between £100 and £200. Using MRC won’t break the bank.

Complete Custom: Freelance Composers

There are a surprising amount of musicians out there who upload their material for free use on a Creative Commons basis. A big benefit of going down this route is that you’re a lot less likely to bump into another podcast using the same theme tune as you.

Some musicians will also be open to working with you to custom score podcast music if you’d like something unique put together. I’ve often worked with Kevin Hartnell, who scored my sci-fi audio drama Kraken Mare a few years ago and did a fantastic job with it.

Where Can I Find Free Podcast Music?

It is possible to get podcast music for free. But, being free, that music is going to be used on a lot of other podcasts.

If you listen to more than a few dozen shows, you’ll start to hear the same music pop up, again and again. This doesn’t help your audio branding or make you sound very pro.

But if you’re on a budget, or purely podcasting from a hobbyist perspective, then by all means go down the free route though. You can always upgrade later on if you feel the need.

Full Free Podcast Music Packs: The Podcast Host

First, check out our own collection of free podcast music packs. This is a small collection of packs that are normally only available to Alitu subscribers. But, recently we released a selection of them for use by anyone as long as you include a small credit on your website and in your show.

Each pack includes intro music, outro music and transition ‘stings’, as well as a loop or two, all on the same theme. So you can use them throughout your show and create a really polished, consistent brand

Single Free Podcast Music Tracks: Incompetech

Incompetech is an extensive library of free-to-use music created by composer Kevin MacLeod. A lot of his work is scored for film and documentary. These can really work well on fictional pieces if you’re an audio drama or documentary creator.

There’s a whole load of tracks on there that would certainly fit as the theme tune to a spoken word podcast though. You can use their music for free so long as you credit the site on your episodes and show notes. If you don’t want to list credits, you can buy a standard license for any particular track.

One More Podcast Music Option – Ask a Friend

If you have a musical friend, approach them to see if it would be alright to use one of their songs as your podcast intro music. In exchange, you could always make sure to credit them at the beginning of each episode and direct your listeners to their website. This can be a beneficial relationship for both parties.

You can of course offer to pay them for their music, or buy them dinner, or repay them with a ‘skills exchange’. That could be anything from helping them carry and set up equipment at a gig, to mowing their lawn.

And, Once You’ve Picked Your Podcast Music…

You can streamline the editing and production of your show by using our ‘Podcast Maker’ tool Alitu.

Alitu is designed to help folks who have never mixed audio before to create great sounding content in a quick and simple way.

You can record directly into Alitu (either solo, or with a remote guest), chop out any mistakes, add in your fancy new podcast music and it’ll help you create a nice fade-out effect. You can even publish directly to your media host from within the Alitu interface, so it’ll really streamline your workflow and save you time.

What Our Readers Think About Podcast Music: Where’s the Best Free & Royalty-Free Podsafe Music?

Sorry, comments are closed.

  1. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this outstanding blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

    • Thanks Horace, appreciate the support 🙂

  2. Hey these are some great resources! Also I would recommend Soundstripe; they provide unlimited music licensing for $10/month or $87/year. You can use as many of their tracks as you want, and they have the BEST selection of emotionally charged music I’ve found so far. Check them out!

    Soundstripe: http://soundstripe.grsm.io/ethanloomis

    Also through that link if you use coupon code STRIPE10 you can get 10% their podcast music library.

  3. Great article! I run a custom music service called Redwin Music. We specialize in making custom podcast music specifically composed the with message of the podcast in mind. An upside to this is that your music really fits your podcast because it was tailor-made for it. We offer full rights packages for intros, outros, bumps, stings, etc We can also add snippets of the show or the host’s voice to a theme and set it up in whatever format the producer needs.

    redwinmusic.com

  4. Thank you so much for this website and your YouTube channel. I’ve already learned so much! I found some music on AudioJungle that I’m interested in purchasing for my podcast into/transition/outro music. Two quick questions:
    1. What type of license is appropriate for a podcaster using the music for the intro/outro/transitions? They list a “Music Standard,” “Music Broadcast,” and “Music Mass Production” license.
    2. Once I purchase the music, can I edit it to use portions of it at different points in the show?
    Thank you for your help!

  5. Ali says:

    You can also license fantastic music for your podcast from Triple Scoop Music, a company I co-founded over a decade ago. We represent Grammy & Emmy Award winning artists from around the globe, and make licensing the highest quality music easy. 🙂

    http://triplescoopmusic.com/how-music-licensing-works/podcast

  6. Galen says:

    I’m a composer with Blue Dot Studios that does acoustic music for NPR, WNYC Radiotopia, and Gimlet. You might check out stuff from folks at our studio or some of our collaborators as it tends to be written and mixed especially for radio. There are simple blanket licenses for podcasters that often works out to be easier than a track by track thing.

  7. Amy says:

    Wow! This is an awesome post and just what I was looking for! Thank you so much for the resources! I am just starting my podcast on Podbean and I need some intro music!! Thank you so much. I am off to explore some more articles on your blog now!!!

    xoxo
    Amy

    • Glad you found it useful Amy!

  8. Would love to throw soundslikeanearful.com into the ring. Give it a peek, lots of royalty-free stuff there, run by a independent guy in Canada!

  9. Foximuisc says:

    I would like to recommend a nice pay per track resource for podcasters with great music and simple licensing: https://www.foximusic.com/

    You can download and license royalty-free instrumental music tracks, in no-time, for YouTube videos, films, documentaries, podcasts, corporate and business promotional videos, video presentations, video ads, cinematic TV scenes, movie trailers, games, web tutorials, and more.

  10. So if I interview a musician, how can I use their music on the podcast they guest on?

    Doug

  11. frafri says:

    Hello
    Check out some of my music http://www.frafri.com

    I’ve used some for on hold music
    Instrumental Music