Where to Find Royalty Free Background Music

Most people understand the basic concept of "royalties" — money paid to artists when someone buys, streams, licenses, or performs their work — but what exactly is royalty free music? Essentially, a licensee pays a one-time fee to use the music as many times as they like, making a song exempt from typical royalty rules. This can span web, TV, theatrical, and radio content, all using the same license. 

At Shutterstock, we believe that royalty free background music is the fairest option for musicians and customers, because it doesn't create artificial limits for use. What you see is what you get. Below, we've outlined where to find royalty free music for your next project, whether you're an aspiring filmmaker or advertising executive.  

Standard and Enhanced Licenses

Currently, Shutterstock offers two royalty free music licenses for use in a single project. First, the Standard license gives you unlimited web, broadcast, and physical distribution around the world, as well as theatrical distribution rights for one country. Up to a million people can see your content on TV, and an unlimited number of customers can see it on any other medium. 

Meanwhile, an Enhanced license opens the door for truly royalty free background music, with no restrictions on distribution or audience numbers for the life of your project. However, both of these royalty free licenses are for a single user, which means that only one person is allowed to download and use the content.    

Other Background Music Sources

If paying a small fee for a royalty free license is beyond your budget, there are other options. First, enterprising creators may want to use the free GarageBand software on any Mac to arrange their own instrumental songs. GarageBand comes packed with high-quality loops, melodic phrases, and drum hits, which can be combined to make instant stock music. Moreover, this music can be used for commercial purposes, without paying for a license. If you write something particularly impressive, you may even want try uploading it to Shutterstock!

Lastly, a quick web search for "royalty free music" will produce a huge variety of results, both paid and free. As a general rule of thumb, it's extremely difficult to find quality music that can be used commercially without some kind of license, but if you have the time to dig, you may get lucky. For better results, just search for "public domain music". You may find a gem with an expired copyright, or some new music that an artist has intentionally uploaded for anyone to use, free of charge.     


Looking for high quality music for your production?
Shutterstock offers high-quality tracks with simple, straightforward pricing.
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