With the meteoric rise in podcast popularity, integrating music into your episodes is more important than ever. From Beethovan to Billie Elish, music is a transcendental method of communication. We hum the opening to Beethovan's 5th Symphony, radio jingles, and our favorite pop refrains. Check out these free music sites and give your podcast the recognizable theme song it deserves today.
Pixabay is a well-known site for free and royalty-free images, videos, and music. They have a variety of search parameters to help narrow your search, including duration, mood, speed, and theme. You can search for songs labeled Intro / Outro, which gives you a smaller selection of songs specifically edited to be 0.5-1.25 minutes long. Their database contains a wide variety of songs, all licensed through Pixabay and free for modified commercial and non-commercial use. Artist attribution is appreciated, but not required. One feature that stands out is the option to donate directly to the artists.
Incompetech offers free royalty-free songs for commercial use, attribution required. The free plan only allows you to download files as mp3's, which should be sufficient for most editors. Their site is visually simplistic, with the options to search by keyword, feels, tempo, genre, and duration. They provide the required attribution information, which you can copy and paste into your credit section and/or verbally announce. Incompetech offers extended licenses, which give you access to premium songs, a PDF license, and different file formats.
Free Music Archive (FMA) is a collection of open licensed, free music. Their search parameters allow you to search by artist, duration, genre, type of license, or trending tracks. The trending tracks feature is a fun addition. Even if you don't use one of the trending songs, it's a great way to stay up-to-date with popular audio trends. Since songs are licensed through the artists and not the database as a whole, make sure you double-check the specifics for each song. Many require artist attribution and are free for commercial use with modification. A good choice for podcasting! Additionally, FMA partners with a Tribe of Noise PRO, which offers guaranteed royalty-free music for a per-song, tiered licensing fee.
Similar to FMA, ccMixter is a collection of remixes and samples individually licensed under the Creative Commons license. The license and usage varies by song, so double check to make sure you pick one cleared for commercial use. Since many of the songs are remixes, many of the songs have very unique sounds. While ccMixter lacks the smooth search and sort functionality, taking the time to sort through their library is sure to uncover some hidden gems.
Last but not least is Purple Planet. Besides arguably having the coolest looking website among these top pics, the England-based team hosts a moderate collection of self-composed music. You can search by keyword and mood, or explore trending tracks. Their free tier gives you access to a 92kpbs MP3 download for limited use, including podcasts. As long as you credit them, all is cool. Purple Planet's Standard and Broadcast Licenses grant you access to more use flexibility and do not require attribution. They have a simple FAQ section and licensing chart to answer any further questions you may have.
Remember, before you add random songs into your podcast, make sure you read up on the licensing specifics of the artist or database. Just because you can download a song doesn't mean you can use it commercially in a podcast. When in doubt, ask permission, or go custom-made. Ultimately, if you have room in your budget, the best option is hiring a quality sound designer to compose custom music for your podcast.
Whether you go free or paid, securing theme music is another step towards sounding like a professional podcast.
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