Avoid copyright and use royalty-free music for video production

Offer your students choices when it comes to adding music to their video productions.

As a dad, I have found, when I give my son a choice, we are able to get to a decision much faster than just asking him what he wants. If I say “Terry what do you want?” the discussion inevitably turns into a power struggle. The same holds true for your students. You’re in class. You’re ready to allow your students the opportunity to create a video. Of course, they want to use the popular music they listen to, right?

But you have discussed Copyright and the laws regulating the use of music owned by artists. This is not a post about Copyright. We have offered a few of those already. This is a post about choices.

So here are your students’ choices when it comes to music:

1. Produce a video with no music. (Which I highly recommend for a hard news story. Hard news doesn’t need music.)

2. Use popular music, but you can’t publish the video to the web. So all that hard work, blood, sweat and tears can only be witnessed in YOUR class (or illegally on YouTube.)

3. Offer a list of Royalty-Free websites, all genres, instrumental and lyrical, and incorporate those songs in the video. Then, publish online for the world to see!

When my students are ready to produce a commercial, promo, documentary, music video, short film or dramatic piece, they research the best royalty-free music options on the web.

The list below features independent sites and artists, who simply want their music heard, and most likely, some form of simple written credit for their work. Cool! We can do that. As you download music from these sites, make sure to review the TERMS OF USE for each. Enjoy, have fun, and block out a few hours to listen. There is some really great royalty-free music out there!

Legal Music for Videos – Creative Commons

Sea Breeze Computers  – page of multiple links

Free Stock Music – 100% free video production music

Audio Nautix – All music in this online collection created by Jason Shaw.  Released under Creative Commons license 3.0

Incompetech by Kevin MacLeod

AudioFarm  – Upload your own music or download from independent artists.

ccMixter – Download, sample, cut-up or share

Partners in Rhyme – Royalty-Free music & sound effects

FreeSound – Collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds.

Free Music Archive – (I recommend searching by genre on this site.)

SoundBible– Free sound clips, sound bites, and sound effects

Brainy Betty – Hundreds of free PowerPoint templates, backgrounds, animations, music for presentations, royalty free photos, tutorials, flash and video introductions, & teacher resources.

Jamendo – Free music downloads for private use & royalty-free music for commercial purposes.

Youtube – Free music for use

Tobu – Free music to use as long as credit is given (Tobu use info).

What sites did I leave out? Please let me know what sites work for you. I would love to add to this list. Feel free to share in the comment section.

*Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to include additional sites to the ones that originally appeared.

Don Goble

Don Goble is an award-winning Broadcast, Technology, Multimedia and Film Instructor at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis. Journalism Education Association's National Broadcast Adviser of the Year in 2015, Don is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, PBS Lead Digital Innovator and author who advocates for media and digital literacy for all learners. Don masterfully engages students to author and craft media messages to build their voice and share their story.

Don Goble has 52 posts and counting. See all posts by Don Goble

13 thoughts on “Avoid copyright and use royalty-free music for video production

  • July 23, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Hey Don, please also check out our new royalty free site RoyaltyFreeKings.com ! Tons of exclusive, hand picked music. None of the mediocre, filler tracks that plague other sites.


    Mark – Royalty Free Kings

  • October 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Don,

    would you like to list my website too? I offer on my website music for free. You just can download the tracks you like and it costs nothing… Feel free to leave a comment and check out my blog.


    Lino Rise

  • March 12, 2013 at 6:57 am

    You’ve made some really good points there. I looked on the internet for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

  • August 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Hi,Do you need background music for your Video project? A soundtrack for your film, YouTube video or multimedia presentation?
    Check out this high quality royalty free music library By AGSoundtrax


  • August 28, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Thank you for the mention! We appreciate this a lot!

    jason shaw
    music director

  • August 18, 2020 at 6:28 am

    Can you have an additional list? If yes I will share this your list to our friends pf their filmmaking contest…

  • October 28, 2020 at 7:22 am

    I also ran 3 miles on the day I gave birth! Its so weird to think about that now. I definitely agree that everyones experience is different. I was able to run more than I expected but I also slowed down alot (but still did some interval runs on days I felt good).

  • March 2, 2021 at 6:15 am

    Hey Don, please also check out our new royalty free site RoyaltyFreeKings.com ! Tons of exclusive, hand picked music. None of the mediocre, filler tracks that plague other sites.

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