Anyone who makes videos or at least watches enough on YouTube knows that quality audio can make all the difference between something that is compelling and something from which you want to click away. A slick, well-produced video where dialogue is muffled and “garbled” can often be completely unwatchable. In the same way, the absence of music in the background for certain types of videos can really detract from the overall quality of the content. The addition of great music to a narrative, documentary, or even corporate video can really lend a level of professionalism that rivals any other component of the production process, including the camera you use, how you edit it, and the quality of talent on screen.
The big challenge though is where to get good audio. It would be great if you could just rip the new Justin Timberlake song, but no one wants to upset the YouTube copyright claim gods. Luckily there are several great resources for video professionals to discover and use high-quality audio for their projects - and several of them are free!
GoPro has an ongoing video submission contest called the GoPro Awards. To be eligible for the awards you need permission to use the music in your video. To make that process easier for contestants, GoPro partnered with Jungle Punks to provide a large library of music for your personal, non-commercial use. The music tracks are separated into genres like Country/Folk, Hip Hop, and Rock as well as more mood-based categories like World, Family and Cinematic.
Wistia is an amazing video hosting platform that aims at providing powerful tools for companies to grow their business with video. To assist their customers, they commissioned three albums to be recorded that are completely free for users to download and use in any of their web videos. Although the three albums only total 13 songs, the songs provide a range of appropriate options for corporate videos. These videos might not be great for your horror short film, but great for a video of your CMO introducing your company’s new product offering.
With YouTube and Facebook so steeped in video, it makes sense that they would provide collections of music tracks for use in your content. Facebook’s collection allows you to filter by genre, mood, duration, and vocals (no vocals, female vocals, male vocals, etc.). YouTube allows you to sort by genre, mood, instrument, duration and attribution (required or not required). It is important to note that Facebooks terms state their audio is only for use on their platform but is free to use on Facebook without attribution. YouTube’s policies are set by the copyright holder, so make sure to see if it is under Creative Commons. Finally, a really cool feature of Facebook and YouTube’s directories are the inclusion of sound effects. Currently Facebook has real audio provided from NASA including the actual audio from Apollo 11, 12 and 13 and JFK’s iconic “We Choose the Moon” speech!
Finally and maybe most interesting is the site Incompetech.com which includes hundreds and hundreds of music tracks spanning nearly every genre and mood all produced by one person, Kyle MacLeod! Beyond the impressiveness of one person being so prolific, many of the songs are perfect for online videos. With reasonable attribution policies, Incompetech is the first place I often go when looking for the perfect piece of music to accompany a video.