Let’s play a game. We’re going to mention a brand to you, and we want you to think of them. Ready? Here we go, Calgon. We’re willing to bet the second you read the name you heard their jingle, “Washing machines live longer with Calgon.” It’s more than likely you can’t picture their packaging, or even fully remember their adverts. But this humble cleaning product is instantly recognisable because of their clever musical choices.
That’s the power of branding. And when you’re a business, brand recognition is vital. Of course, most SMEs can’t afford to commission their own jingle. But fear not, the internet has got you covered. There’s an absolute wealth of free music resources for you to use. Whether your business is soft pop or heavy metal, there’s you’ll be able to find on-brand free music for marketing.
And no, we’re not sorry for all the music puns you’re about to read. 😉🎵
Let’s Start At The Very Beginning
The very best place to start. We’re going to start with the obvious. Even if you’re the world’s biggest Spice Girl fan, or once saw Elton John in an airport, you can’t use their music without permission. And that permission? It’s expensive. While Elton John might be in John Lewis’ budget, it’s unlikely he’ll be in yours.
Forget the myths, it doesn’t matter if you credit the artist or only use ten seconds. If you’re using mainstream music, 99.9% of the time you have to pay. So, what you want, what you really really want (zig-a-zig-ah) is free-for-commercial-use music, with no royalties and preferably no limits. Royalty free music is a great way to add a distinctive character and ‘flavour’ to your content, whether that’s a podcast, video or mixed media performance. While there are other ways to use music in your content, creative commons, fair use and license. If you want to avoid a musical minefield, then we recommend you stick to royalty free.
Bet You Want The Goodies
So, we’re not going to keep them from you any longer. Because the best things in life are free, we’re going to be sharing sources of royalty-free, free-for-commercial-use music. So, the only difficult part is picking the right sound for your brand. Just keep in mind, your brand personality matters a lot. So choose carefully.
YouTube Audio Library
Kings of video streaming, Youtube’s offering isn’t just free music. The library is part of their creator studio, which offers a range of tools to would-be video creators. The files on offer span a range of genres and include sound effects as well as music.
There’s plenty on offer. Whether you want to create a sci-fi dystopian future soundscape or just add a cinematic feel to a podcast, you’ll find what you’re looking for. If your business makes use of the Alien Breathing sound effect, hit us up. We want to hear it.
Free Stock Music
The Free Stock Music collection of royalty free music is helpfully organised by genre, which makes searching easier. However, it’s not as well laid out as Youtube’s Audio Library. You also can’t preview music, only download. But there is very clear information on the website about licensing. So, you won’t end up in any sticky legal battles or have your viral hit removed.
Free Music Archive
Opening a Free Music Archive account makes it easy for you to track the songs you like and want to, or already have, used. They have a bunch of ways to find the right kind of sound: curated ‘mixes’, genres, and plain old search. Check the license, though: they have a range of permissions, and some music isn’t intended for commercial use. (Unless you pay.)
Organised by category again, NewGrounds has some rather interesting genres on offer, including goth, bluegrass and experimental. Although not set up as a royal free music library, most musicians on NG will let you use their music if you ask them. It’s a great place to explore if you’re looking for something unusual. Have a business selling heavy metal rubber ducks? You’re covered.
Bensound is another great, varied library of song genres. The cinematic section is particularly strong, with some beautiful music that will suit all businesses. Just be sure to click on the full information about each song, as some have strict stipulations about what they can and can’t be used for. For example, a few stated no audio podcasts, which could be problematic.
Where to Use Free Music & Audio Effects
There’s one big no-no when using free music for marketing, or any music really. Don’t make it autoplay when someone opens up your website. Here are a few areas where music and the right sound effects improve the experience:
- Video intros/outros
- During a waiting screen
- In videos without voiceover
- Ads, whether video or audio
- Podcast intros/outros
- In apps
- E-cards or greetings
Tips On Using Free Music for Marketing
It’s not sunscreen, though we do agree with Baz Luhrmann on that one. Here are some of our top tips to consider when using free music in your marketing and content:
- Be unique. Here’s the thing. The internet is a big place, there’s a lot of people browsing and using the same content as you. If you want a piece of music to be associated with your brand, you want to make sure that it’s not being used by other businesses. Look around carefully and mindfully. Don’t use the first song, on the first page. Until you can afford to commission your own jingle, you have to rely on clever searching.
- Check the information carefully. When it comes to using music in your content, there’s no such thing as being too careful. Take the time to read all of the information supplied and make sure you’re not breaking any rules.
- Choose wisely. While you may be the world’s biggest punk fan, consider your brand first. Does a wailing screamer of a song really represent you as a business? *high five* to you if it does, we love brave brands.
- Test, then go premium. Once you know it’s working for you, you’ll probably want to level-up your music use with premium stock, a custom clip, or mainstream songs. Use free music to get started and test ideas, but once you know it works, you can make a clever investment.
Need some help with your social media videos? We offer consultancy, strategy, project management, and day-to-day production and posting. Why not get in touch with us for a free consultation?