I promised someone that I would find free resources for a brand new YouTube channel, so I'm beginning with free music and a bit of information about how it works.
It's all about the free stuff, so here we are on Free Friday!
First, always check the license of a free piece of music. Always. Abide by the creator's or owner's wishes. It's a legal thing. If you use music that's copyrighted and you don't have permission, you will get your creation taken down on YouTube (eventually).
Even if you are using perfectly legal music and sound effects, sometimes YouTube makes mistakes. YouTube uses content scanning that sometimes misidentifies sound effects and music as copyrighted when it isn't or if the creator has permission to use it. Sometimes it falls under "Fair Use". Other times it falls afoul because of similarity or because of a varied use license. There are remedies to this.
That said, if you are making videos at YouTube, there are a vast array of musical pieces at YouTube that creators are free to use to their heart's content, no permission needed. It integrates with the video making software that they use, so it couldn't be more simple.
Now on to the types of licenses. I'm not a lawyer, so this isn't legal advice. (Obviously.) But, this is a general idea of how it works.
This gives the user freedom to use the music without recurring costs (royalties). Licensed music usually involves a recurring cost each time it is used. Royalty free music is pay once, use more than once. The creator decides which kind of license the work will have and the kind of cost involved for the user. It might be something as simple as a link back to the original piece. The important word for Royalty Free is "Royalty", not "Free". Always check the requirements when using the piece. It may be free for personal use and restrict any sort of public display. Generally you can't remix or change the original work in any way.
Works that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright. They can be used freely in any way you see fit. The work belongs to everyone and it can be changed, displayed, adapted, sliced and diced. Have at it. There is a ton of Public Domain stuff online. Check Wiki Media for a large collection; also museums and archives. There are far too many for me to list here.
Works with a Creative Commons license are complicated. Simply, it's a public copyright license with free distribution of a copyrighted work. It covers a huge array of works, from music to Operating Systems. The creators hold the copyright, but grant permission to the public to use the work with specific restraints; sometimes as little as attribution and a quick link back to the creator's website.
Wikipedia has a much better explanation of this.
The Creative Commons website goes deeper in their FAQs.
With all of that out of the way let me proceed with the rest! Some caveats: Most of these will require an account to download sounds or music. In these recommendations, I checked out the basic site and played around with most of them. There is no way I can download or check all of the files from all of the sites, so make sure that you scan each file URL on Virus Total before downloading.
Bensound has a wide variety of soundtracks and music clips. The license for use is clear and unambiguous.
Be very careful how you are using tracks from CCTrax on YouTube (or any other platform that monetizes their content without the creator's permission). When you are searching for music or sound effects, click on the box that says "Only the 'CC-BY' license allows for YouTube embedding" box. Check license on individual pieces.
FreePlay Music has a specific plan for all of their media and it can be found on their pricing page. It is very fair, especially when it comes to educational videos, non-monetized YouTube videos and personal use.
CC Mixter is a Creative Commons website for music. Check each piece for free use requirements. That said, the site is impressive. It's a large community that works together to collaborate and create. Explore the site and join the forum to get a feel for what they are attempting to do. Then download and let the creators know what you are doing with their work. They seem to be a very friendly group of people who genuinely enjoy what they are doing!
I think I've recommended Free Sound before. They are straight up Free Sounds. There's music and sound effects, free for use under a very clear creative commons policy.
Getting a head start on the next article: Thanks to James Stamler at Unsplash for the photo.