Using music in your podcast episodes can help to set the mood, complement a story, and add an extra layer of production value. But to avoid fines and other potential legal issues, it's essential to source your music legally and have a basic understanding of copyright law.
Thankfully, it's pretty simple.
Copyright law is a set of laws that protect creative works from being used without the permission of the original creator, including in podcasts. Most music is protected under copyright law, and you cannot use it as a podcaster (even a small clip). If you use a copyrighted piece of music and do not have explicit permission from the original creator, you are breaking the law and can incur costly legal fees and other penalties.
Fortunately, there are several ways to legally source music for your podcast, and it's pretty easy to avoid a copyright violation. Let's take a closer look at the various resources available for finding podcast music that is fully legal and includes lots of options, so you won't be stifled creatively!
Three places to find high-quality podcast music
These three options are the best places to get your podcast music. Some are free, and others require a subscription or are pay-per-track.
Option #1. Royalty-free music libraries
Royalty-free music libraries are an excellent option for podcasters who want to use high-quality and compliant with copyright law. These libraries offer a wide variety of tracks that come with a lifetime license, meaning you can use the song as many times as you need without having to pay additional royalties or fees.
Pixabay | Free
Pixabay is completely free and doesn’t require any additional license fees – allowing you to save money while still finding great music for your podcast. It provides a library of over 1.5 million audio tracks from independent composers and producers, all cleared for worldwide use in media forms. It features a wide range of genres and styles, such as cinematic scores, electronic beats, acoustic pop tunes, and more.
AudioJungle | $5 per track
AudioJungle is an online marketplace that offers a wide selection of audio files for use in podcasts. It features high-quality, royalty-free music from independent producers and composers, including a variety of genres and moods to fit any episode. The tracks are available to purchase on a per-track basis, with prices starting at just $5. All tracks are cleared for worldwide use and are royalty-free.
Soundstripe | $19 per month
Soundstripe is an excellent resource for podcasters looking for high-quality, royalty-free tracks. The library offers a plethora of genres and moods to suit any podcast episode, including upbeat pop tunes, mellow acoustic melodies, ambient soundscapes, and much more.
Option #2. Creative Commons music resources
Creative Commons music is a type of royalty-free music that allows podcasters to use it for free in their podcast episodes as long as they give proper credit. However, CC licenses vary, and some do come with a cost. Overall, Creative Commons music tracks are an excellent way to find high-quality tracks without having to worry about copyright issues and can save podcasters a lot of money if used correctly.
Jamendo | Free (must give credit to artist)
Jamendo is an open-source music platform that allows independent artists to share their work under the Creative Commons license. This means that all of their tracks are free for personal use, including podcasts. It features over 500,000 tracks from various genres, moods, and styles, so it's easy to find something that suits your podcast episode. Plus, they have a great search feature to help you find the perfect track quickly.
Epidemic Sound | $15 per month
With no additional license fees or restrictions on how the music can be used, Epidemic Sound simplifies the process of finding and using music in podcast episodes. You can publish your content on any platform. However, make sure you pick your license carefully because if you want to be able to do digital advertising or marketing, you’ll need a commercial license.
Option #3. Music licensing services
Music licensing services are a great resource for podcasters looking to license professional-grade music from a wide array of high-quality tracks from independent and major label artists that are cleared for worldwide use in all media forms. With this type of service, you pay an upfront fee or annual subscription for access to the music library and can then download and use the tracks in any podcast episode. With this license, you don’t have to give credit to the artist.
Trackclub by Marmoset | $18 per month ($12 per month annually)
TrackClub by Marmoset is a music licensing service that provides access to an expansive library of high-quality tracks from independent and major label artists, all cleared for worldwide use in media forms.
TrackClub also offers a monthly subscription option that allows you to download unlimited tracks – great for podcast creators with heavily produced episodes who need multiple tracks for each one. With its wide selection of genres and styles to choose from, TrackClub is an excellent choice for any podcaster looking for professional-grade audio elements.
Musicbed | $29 per month (price depends on the size of your audience)
Musicbed is a great option for podcasters looking for high-quality music. It offers over 400,000 tracks from independent composers and producers that are cleared for worldwide use in all media forms.
The library features a variety of genres and styles to suit any podcast episode and their curated collections can help you quickly find the perfect fit for your podcast episode.
Bonus resource: As a podcaster, you can also use music that is in the public domain. This music includes works from classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven, traditional folk songs from around the world, and other genres of music with expired copyrights.
How to use music in your podcast
Lets look at all the ways to use podcast music in your episodes to level up your production and create a more engaging listening experience.
• Introduce segments or transition between segments. Adding podcast intro music or podcast outro music is a great way to introduce listeners to the show, break up segments, and give each episode its own unique flavor.
• Set the mood with background music. Adding music throughout your episode can also help set the tone for different topics or stories you're discussing. This type of background music can be used to evoke emotion and create an atmosphere that’s fitting for each story.
• Enhance special moments with signature jingles or sound effects. Select a catchy piece of music that fits the mood and feel of your show. Then, use it at regular intervals throughout the episode as a jingle, such as when introducing a new segment or topic.
• Build tension before a climax or reveal. Select a suspenseful piece of music that gradually builds in intensity as it progresses.
As a general rule, try to match the mood, tempo, and genre of your music to the overall tone and topic of your episode. By following these best practices and taking advantage of the various resources available, you can have access to tens of thousands of unique, creative tracks to fit your needs.
Podcasting is a powerful medium for storytellers to reach their audience, and the right music can help bring their stories to life. Between all the resources listed in this post, there is a vast library of available podcast music for you to choose from!