Next to breathing, the 2nd thing I do probably most often in my life is listen to music. Whether I’m at work, editing a video project, at home, or in the car; listening to music is one of the most frequent activities I do. And I’d have to say close to 70-80% of my time at work involves listening to music for video production.
I was recently going through all the highlight videos I’ve created in my career. (Now at 294, as of this post). These are typically short sizzle reel type of videos that are between 60-90 seconds long and are edited to a main music track. And I was thinking to myself, “Holy smokes; I’ve used so many different music tracks and have used so many different royalty-free music subscription services… which one is the best?..”
And that is what I plan to cover in this blog post. I will go over my top 5 royalty-free music subscription services that I’ve used or tried throughout my video editing career. I’ll go over each one’s strengths and weaknesses and hopefully by the end of this article you’ll have a concise takeaway for each one if you are in the market to subscribe to one of these services.
5: Digital Juice
Biggest Advantage: Great selection for background music
Biggest Drawback: Lacks great selection of energetic music
Price: $299 one-time purchase
Those that know me know that I don’t hold back on my opinion, so here it comes. When it comes to Digital Juice, the best comparison I can give is like buying a new DSLR camera kit that comes with all those accessories.
You know, the baby grip tripod and the 5 UV filters you get. Some are useful, but most of them you could do without. This is like the Digital Juice subscription. You get everything from stock video, After Effects templates, graphics, music, and sound effects. The attraction is that you get all this stuff, but the quality is slightly above average.
In my opinion when it comes to Digital Juice’s music selection; it’s bland. Their music tracks are very vanilla. For 90% of the video projects I work on, their songs won’t hold up. They mostly lack the energy and depth when it comes to music. Their navigation panel is not the best, and I often find it difficult to find the specific genre and vibe I am searching for.
Now not all video editors need bangers for every video project like I do. Digital Juice is good for some situations. They are great for background music and for very corporate almost elevator type of music and video projects. There are some great tracks in here for very niche situations such as game shows and holiday tracks. So don’t think I’m completely tearing them apart. I go in there occasionally, but not as often as other royalty-free music services.
If you need more context on my experience using Digital Juice, I’ve made a video where I compare it to Storyblocks. Feel Free to watch it below. You can also visit Digital Juice’s website by clicking here.
4. Storyblocks Audio
Biggest Advantage: You can bundle with video subscription
Biggest Drawback: Navigation and music genre selection
Price: $15/month or $30/month with video subscription
I’ve used Video Blocks for a while now before they merged and became Storyblocks. I have to say that their stock video and After Effects templates are some of the best out there next to Envato Elements. So I went ahead and decided to dig into their music library to see if it is just as good.
On the surface, Storyblocks audio looks like an appealing offer as the audio only plan starts at $15/month. This is by far one of the cheapest plans out there for royalty free music. But as I started exploring their tracks, there are some things you might want to consider before jumping in.
For me personally, they lack a great selection of electronic music. I also ran into the problem where I’d select a certain genre such as “Electronic” and other music tracks would show up instead such as “Pop” and “Rock”. So their search filters need some work. As a video editor, finding music quickly is important to me and having an inadequate music filter is not acceptable.
Feel free to listen for yourself by clicking here. When it comes to quality; their songs are a lot better than Digital Juice’s library. But there are better options out there, so keep reading!
3. Facebook’s Sound Collection
Biggest Advantage: High quality free music tracks
Biggest Drawback: Licensing problems may occur
If you are looking for a free option, this one is your choice! Out of all the free music libraries on the internet, this is the best one out there that I’ve found so far. I’d even say it is better than YouTube’s audio library. Their music tracks are higher quality and their navigation and song filter tools are great and easy to work with. I can easily find songs I like, and it doesn’t take that long compared to using other services.
The only major drawback that occurs is when it comes to licensing. In a few cases, I have copyright strikes appear when I tried to use these songs for a YouTube video. This may happen depending on the song you choose. So keep in mind that these songs are only intended to be used on Facebook’s platform. So this is the perfect choice for you if you are only creating Facebook or Instagram videos.
Check it out by using the link here. Keep in mind that you will need a Facebook account to access the library. The one note that this library doesn’t have that the next one I’ll cover does is access to music stems.
2: Epidemic Sound
Biggest Advantage: Large music library with over 35,000 songs
Biggest Drawback: Price & licensing concerns
Price: $15/month for personal $49/month for commercial
This is a close 2nd to my top pick in this post. Epidemic Sound is one of the largest royalty free music subscription services out there. They have a wide variety of genres to choose from and you can even download stems for professional sound mixing.
This is the best option out there if your major concern is stems. Stems are great to have as a video editor in certain situations. You can easily remove vocals or remove distracting synths in the background if the song needs to be layered with a voice over. It’s also worth pointing out that Digital Juice has stems as well. So there are other subscriptions out there that have music stems.
One of the obvious drawbacks is with such a large music library, it can be hard to find the perfect song you are looking for. So even though you have a wide variety of songs, you might have a hard time narrowing down your options.
There are also licensing concerns as you must have an active Epidemic Sound account to use the songs. You do not get a “song for life” as like other services. Now don’t worry, it is not retroactive. So if you publish a video online and cancel your subscription, it won’t flag your video. It is only when you go to publish a video after you cancel your membership. So this is something to consider.
Feel free to go check them out using the link here. And as always, I’ve saved the best for last…
Biggest Advantage: Easy music licensing
Biggest Drawback: Smaller music library
Yup, this is my new favorite. Artlist is a good combination of everything. It is kind of like the Goldilocks option for royalty-free music subscriptions. It is an attractive price, has high quality music, small but an ever-growing song selection, easy navigation and filter controls, and, and… the biggest and best differentiator…
Yes, they solved a problem that has plagued the stock music industry for years. Easy licensing. As a video editor, you don’t even have to think twice about it. You have access to these songs for life and are clear to be used anywhere. All songs are pre-cleared with YouTube, and you can even download a pdf of the song’s license for you to keep. So with that, Artlist takes the top spot in this list.
If you want to learn more about Artlist, I’ve made a video below that you can watch to see how it works. You can also check them out by clicking here.
What is your favorite royalty-free music subscription service? Feel free to post a comment below. There are so many out there; I’d love to hear from you.
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