As you may have already noticed, audio sounds recorded by GoPro camera aren’t the best, especially if you have it in a waterproof housing. So it might be a good idea to “cover” original noises by some music. But the main reason why most of the movies have at least some background music is that it creates “the right” atmosphere of the story in your home video. I highly recommend adding appropriate music to your family video!
In this post, I want to show you where you can get good free music with appropriate license for commercial use (in case you decide to monetize your video on Youtube or anywhere else). You’ll learn how to effectively choose the right music from hundreds of thousands of songs available.
License for Using Music in Your Video
You cannot simply add any favorite song to your video because usually you don’t have legal rights to use it. You need to find background music with the “right” license. This prescribes the rules under which copyrighted music may be used.
When searching around you will see songs with several different licenses and it might be quite confusing. Even music which is claimed as free doesn’t have to be free for use in videos. Sometimes it means only free to download and listen.
We upload our videos on Youtube and monetize them which means our home videos are considered as commercial projects. If you plan to do the same thing you need to make sure that the music is free for commercial use!
Let’s see what license might be right for you. Audio songs under Creative Commons (CC) license could be used in videos. But there are several types of CC license with different restrictions and obligations. You might want to use music with the least restrictions released under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. This license still requires that you give a credit to the author of music. I usually mention artist’s name and title in outro screen directly in my video. But you need to give complete credit (title, author, source and type of license) in the description under the Youtube video so I add it there too.
You can find also music with no restrictions when author waived all his rights (Public Domain Dedication / No Rights Reserved). More information and complete list of CC licenses is on Creative Commons website.
So how do you find music with the right license? Simply search in resources mentioned below and every song usually has a description of the type of the license. In some resources, you can even filter search results by choosing the type of the license beforehand.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, this is only general information and not an individual legal advice.
Youtube Audio Library in Creator Studio
Free music database on Youtube is the first source where I start to look for background music for my home video.
I check how long is my video and filter the list of the songs by changing duration (1. in the picture below) to the desired time frame. This will show me only the songs which are for example from 2 to 2.5 minutes long.
Then I make other adjustments (1.) if needed and choose one or more of the following attributes:
- genre – classical, rock, jazz, ambient, country etc.
- mood – calm, angry, romantic, sad, happy etc.
- instruments – piano, guitar, organ, drums, trumpet etc.
- attribution – type of license prescribing whether you need to give a credit or not
More attributes you choose the narrower list you get. Then I start scanning the list with the help of popularity bar (3.). If something hits me I click on the song’s play button (2.) and listen for a while. After I choose the right music for my family video, I simply download it to my PC (4.) and then add it to my GoPro Studio project.
Check the description of the song (after you click on it). You will find requirement (license) for this particular song. If you have chosen music under Creative Commons Attribution license, there will be something like this: “You’re free to use this song in any of your videos, but you must include the following in your video description: …”. Be sure to give credit accurately.
Free Music Archive
In case I didn’t find anything appropriate on Youtube then I visit large database of free music at Free Music Archive (FMA). They have recently reached the magic number of 100,000 songs in the database. Such incredible amount of music songs has to be narrowed to find the right one.
Choose one or more genres (1.), duration (2.), type of license (3.) and push the button “Go” (4.). Pick a song from the list and let it play (5.). If you like this music download it (6.) to your hard drive.
Kevic MacLeod is composer who created database of his own music and released most of it under CC BY license. This means that you can use it for your home video (even commercial) but don’t forget to give this artist a credit. Filtering and finding the right song is very similar to previous music libraries. You can choose one or more feels, tempo, genre and length.
I used Kevin’s song Hitman in the second half of our video Family Camping in Texas (Sh*t Happens). This video was awarded by GoPro in their contest and I think it was partially thanks to this music too. The video shows strong story when we were camping with kids, hit by severe floods and struggled in other critical situations. In my opinion, the music helped significantly to highlight thrilling and scary atmosphere. What do you think? Here is the frightening part of the video:
This is a “guitar guy”, his database includes over 200 songs mostly in rock or pop genres, often with his vocals. Again, you filter the search results to find the best song for your needs. Look to the right side of his website and adjust: genres, moods, themes, tempo and length. He also offers predefined playlists, for example “Popular in Videos”.
My favorite song from his database is Private Hurricane – I used it in our video Baby’s Journey to First Steps. I loved especially Josh’s beautiful vocals here but they were completely inappropriate for baby video. It is great that he offers also downloading of the instrumental version of his songs without vocals.
Jason Shaw created couple hundreds of songs and you can freely download them from his database. You can choose only one genre (country, electronic, jazz, soundtrack, symphony, meditative and many more), multiple moods and tempo. It is not possible to search according to the length of the songs so it is a little bit harder to find what you need. But we were able to pick some nice pieces, for example his song Essence 2 for our climbing video:
These 5 music databases are usually sufficient to find the right background music for our videos but you can find many more on the internet. I have mentioned only libraries which:
- I use the most
- are easy to use
- have many songs to choose from
- have filters for searching
- don’t require sign up
- offer music for commercial projects (due to monetizing our videos on Youtube)
I hope you can find the right music for your home video there too. Please let us know in comments below and don’t hesitate to mention your favorite sources of free music.
Thanks for reading and take care!