When it comes to creating engaging online content, one area that should never be overlooked is music and sound effects. Good audio enhances the quality of your content and pulls your audience in even more if done correctly. 

So, you may think that a catchy tune by Dua Lipa or Justin Bieber is the perfect fit for your video. You upload your video, only to find that YouTube has other ideas and you’ve been hit with a copyright strike

If you didn’t already know, many platforms prevent users from using copyrighted music unless the user obtains permission to use it. YouTube is notorious for handing out copyright strikes, and if you get three strikes within 90 days, your channel gets cut from the platform. 

How do you avoid these strikes and what is the magical solution to this problem? Royalty-free music, of course.

What is royalty-free music?

Put simply, royalty-free music is music that is free of copyright, meaning no one owns the copyright to it. 

When it comes down to it though, most music is copyrighted and obtaining a license for your content can be difficult. Even royalty-free music is copyrighted generally, but websites, such as Premium Beat for example, pay for the royalties while you pay for the license to access the track. This is why royalty-free sites are a great option — you pay the monthly or yearly fee, which in turn gives you the license and access you need to get the music you want.

Why royalty-free music is a good option

Royalty-free music sites give you thousands of options for your content. You can find music around almost any genre and will definitely find something to suit your needs. 

There are some free options for royalty-free music sites, as well as paid. No matter what you choose, going this route is the best way to avoid getting one of those dreaded copyright strikes. 

There are still some things to consider when using royalty-free music. Some sites may still require attribution for the use of specific tracks, meaning you need to credit the artist somewhere in your video description. 

But how do I know if something is copyrighted or not?

It may be a safe bet to assume that most music is copyrighted, but if you are set on using a specific song, upload your video to YouTube privately. YouTube automatically detects copyrighted material.

This is why royalty-free music is a great option for creators. There is a lot less gray area when it comes to choosing music for content.

Free royalty-free music

To be frank, there are very few options for totally free royalty-free music out there, but we have a couple you should check out.

YouTube Audio Library

One of the best and most easily accessible options is the YouTube Audio Library. This library has tons of options for creators, giving them the ability to search for music based on mood and genre. One thing to keep in mind is that some tracks require attribution — you have to pay homage to the artist in your description.

Free Music Archive

Another free option for royalty-free music is Free Music Archive. FMA features tons of tracks across various genres. One condition on using tracks from the Free Music Archive is you must credit the artist and track you use. 

Free Music Archive also offers paid royalty-free music options.

Paid royalty-free music options

If you’re willing to dish out a little more dough, there are some great sites that offer a huge range of royalty-free music. These robust libraries will likely give you the edge or “oomph” your content needs.  

Premium Beat

Premium Beat is a go to option for many online creatives, as they offer an extensive library to choose from. You can search for music based on genre, mood and keyword. They have a few different options regarding purchasing. 

Premium Beat currently offers a monthly subscription at $64.95 a month. This subscription includes five tracks, which come with a standard license. A standard license covers use on websites such as YouTube or other social media platforms.

If you don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription, you can purchase licensing to a single track for $49.


Another great option for creators is Artlist. The great thing about this site is that it offers a universal license with each of its subscription options, meaning you don’t have to worry about obtaining a license for each track you use.

Artlist offers three different subscriptions, all of which are great options depending on your needs. They offer an SFX subscription for $149, a music subscription for $199 and an SFX/music subscription for $299 — all billed yearly. 

This may seem steep for some, but if you plan to incorporate lots of music into your content, it might be worth the investment.

Which do I choose?

When it comes down to it, there are some great options for royalty-free music — both free and paid. The bottom line is that music and sound effects can greatly enhance your content and have a great impact on your viewers. 

Do your research and figure out what your needs are. Do you plan to use a ton of music in your content? Or maybe you only want to use a track every now and then.

If you are looking for a more robust pool of music and sound effects to choose from, a paid option may be the way to go. However, that doesn’t go to say that you can’t find any great free options out there.