Stock music and audio sites have made finding music beds and stings for YouTube edits much, much simpler in recent years. But now we have a problem, there’s a lot to choose from. So how do we know which are the best stock music sites?
Well, luckily in my time as a post-production professional I’ve used a fair few of the different options now available.
So stick with me as I run you through the best YouTube stock music options for stock audio and music libraries.
How do I know what I’m talking about? Head to the DigiProTips Experience and Background page to find out how I’ve built up my knowledge over a career spanning feature film, broadcast TV and digital content production.
Why stock music?
To put it simply, it’s easier.
It seems the days of finding and hiring a composer or going to rights holders for permits to use certain tracks have gone, or are now only for the high-end productions with budget to spare.
These days, when anyone and every one can edit for YouTube and social platforms you don’t need to go to those lengths and costs. You can get hold of quality, royalty-free, music beds and hits much more simply by using stock music and audio libraries online.
One click to download and it’s in your timeline! Easy!
And because it’s so easy and also so lucrative for the library owners, there are lots of different online library subscriptions to choose from.
It’s important to note that just because a stock music library is ‘royalty-free’ that doesn’t mean that the music is free of rights and permissions. It simply means that you do not need to pay a royalty fee to the writers of that music.
Each stock music library will still have its own distribution restrictions and limitations.
This means that where you intend to use the tracks has a bearing on the price of that track. If you are using the track on broadcast television or public presentations then it is going to cost you more to use that track than it would if you are going to be using it on an edit for social platforms.
Where in the world you intend to use it also have price and limitation implications.
It is your duty as the creator of the overall video and as the distributor of it, to choose the correct use for that track. If you do not choose the right type of distribution method then you could come into trouble for it with the rights holders.
Each stock music and audio library make this fairly simple to manage by giving detailed descriptions of each license option for tracks in their library and where they can be used for each license type.
As well as where in the world and on what platform you intend to distribute, you also want to think about quality.
The digital age of audio and music brought about a fantastic range of audio file formats; mp3, AAC, AIFF, WAV, m4a etc.
Each has its own merits and a quality level associated with it. As well as the file type you also have the bitrate and compression level to think about too.
I’m not going to go too deep into audio quality on a granular level now, I’ll save that for another post. Most video editors, audio editors and videographers who have been in the game a few years will know what they are looking for. For anyone starting out you are ideally looking for:
- The highest bitrate available
- The lowest compression level available
- Most commonly in 44 or 48kHz range
- And ideally in a .WAV (or WAVE) format
If .WAV isn’t available then AAC would be preferred over MP3 due to the compression of MP3 files.
Why does the level of quality matter?
Well, not only do you want to get the most value for money from your purchase but you also need to factor in the editing process and the end result.
As with video, you want the highest level of editable media to start with. Adding in sound effects and then the export process once the edit is finished, all diminish the quality to a varying degree.
If you don’t have a great deal of quality to start with then the resulting output is only going to be worse than that starting position.
You want the final video to sound as best as it possibly can (our perception of audio quality is very acute and bad audio can immediately put off a viewer from your video). Maintaining the highest quality throughout your edit will help deliver a higher quality result at the end for your viewers.
Best stock music sites
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Ok, so now that we know what we are looking for let’s see some of the options available and how they compare.
As soon as you read that name you probably heard the ‘audiojungle’ watermark in your head didn’t you?
If you didn’t then you soon will get to know it!
AudioJungle is definitely in my list of best stock music sites purely because of their longevity in the game and how abundant their name is. They are part of the Envato Market umbrella group, which has become widespread for their plethora of templates and themes for a variety of different programs.
The site is very easy to use and offer an enormous amount of options for every level of distribution you may need.
AudioJungle is a great introduction to stock music and audio sites for anyone getting into editing. As far as YouTube stock music goes, you will be sure to find something on AudioJungle for your budget.
The pricing structure for AudioJungle is slightly different from some of the others. There is no blanket fee per month or year and instead each track is priced individually.
You then choose your level of licensing that you require for that track and pay the appropriate fee necessary for it.
Prices for tracks can range from the 10s of dollars to the hundreds of dollars.
Pond5 Music is one of the best stock music sites because, again, it was one of the originals. Starting in 2006 the company has a legacy in stock media.
Pond5 of course is known for their stock video and imagery as well as their stock music and audio.
Similar to AudioJungle, Pond5 music operate on a per track fee for their stock music and audio files. However, there are membership options available as well that apply across the whole Pond5 range of footage, imagery, music and effects.
One of the things I like about Pond5 music is that it tells you the file format you can expect to receive your purchase in and in fact, a majority of them are WAV.
AudioBlocks are in my list of best stock music sites mainly because of the simplicity of their pricing structure.
AudioBlocks is part of the same family as Storyblocks, who I’m sure many of you are familiar with from various YouTuber sponsorships.
AudioBlocks offer a blanket monthly fee for access to pretty much any of their stock music and audio. Making it so easy when it comes to deciding on licensing and quality.
Their cheapest option starts at $8 a month for individuals and gives access to their music library but no more. The next tier up, at $12/month, give access to music and sound effects. The ‘Unlimited All Access’ subscription gives you access to not only AudioBlocks but the entire Storyblocks catalogue. For individuals this is $29/month.
If you are a business then the rates are a little different and you need to work with StoryBlocks themselves to get a quote.
In terms of quality AudioBlocks have two options for most of their tracks, MP3 at 320kbps and WAV at 44,100 Hz.
Premiumbeat are owned by Shutterstock, another of the stock library giants. And as their name suggests they are one of the best stock music sites for YouTube creators.
The pricing structure for Premiumbeat is the subscription model and the barrier to entry is slightly higher than some of the sites mentioned above.
Tracks start at $12.99 based on being $64.95/month for 5 tracks each month. For single tracks you can expect to pay $49 per track on their ‘standard’ license, which covers web and non-commercial distributed content. For a ‘premium’ license you will need to pay $199 per track to cover you for non-web advertisement and revenue-generating content distribution.
It’s worth pointing out that the monthly subscription only covers tracks under the ‘standard’ license too.
Where Premiumbeat differentiates is in the quality aspect. With each track you purchase you get a complete set of stems, shorts and loops for that track. Enabling you to use specific parts or instruments from that track rather than having to use the full mix down, as is the case with other sites.
Premiumbeat also offers the ability to download in .wav or .mp3, with the exception of loops which are always in .wav format due to .mp3 not being suitable for looping.
Epidemic Sound will probably be the number one best stock music sites for YouTube stock music due to their increased sponsorship of YouTube creators over the last few years.
Epidemic Sound has not been in the stock music site game for as long as some of the other giants in the list but they have certainly made a name for themselves within that time.
They fully cater themselves towards creators and specifically YouTube but you can use their site just like any other of the other stock music sites above.
They have three ‘tiers’ as such, Personal, Commercial, and Enterprise. Each containing different restrictions around distribution: as you can see below.
Their pricing, seen above, is pretty competitive when you factor in that they offer ‘unlimited downloads & use’. That’s a lot of tracks for that subscription price!
If you just want one specific track from their catalog then they have pricing tiers per license type here:
As with most of the other YouTube stock music sites you can choose between .WAV and .mp3 for the quality of your chosen track.
AudioNetwork are a stock music site that I have worked with for a fair number of years now. And as far as YouTube stock music goes, you will find it hard to beta the wealth of composers and original music on AudioNetwork from some of the other stock libraries. They are definitely up there as one of my best stock music sites for video and audio edits.
In a similar way to Premiumbeat, AudioNetwork allows you to download different ‘mixes’ of a track so that you don’t need to remix or alter the full length version to fit a 30s video for example. You don’t get separate stems of each part of the track like Premiumbeat but you do get more options than is available on other stock music sites.
Again, as with most of the other YouTube stock music sites listed above, you get the option to choose between .wav or .mp3 for your selected track.
You can pay by track or you can talk to Audionetwork to work out a great deal for yourself or the company you work for and they will guide you through the right set up for your planned distribution methods. I have used this route many times with different companies and have always been pleased with the service from Audionetwork.
It’s Up To You
So, there you have it, my rundown of the best stock music sites for YouTube.
There are plenty of options to choose from and really, it comes down to your budget and distribution plans. If you plan to just upload to YouTube then you can probably go with one of the cheaper options here but if you plan to distribute your video anywhere else then do take a deeper look at the limitations and subscription models on offer for the best choice of stock music library.
For more YouTube related content, check out our guide to the equipment needed to get started: