Discover the best stock music websites, including the pros and cons, library depth, navigation, and more.
Whether you are a content creator or an aspiring filmmaker, finding high-quality music is essential to the creative process regardless of what type of project you’re working on. It can drive your storytelling forward and provide an extra layer of emotion to your traditional or online video projects. But, with the ever-growing library of stock music websites on the web, finding sites with easy navigation, a good range of genres, and clear licensing terms can take significant time and effort.
We’ve put together this list of the best stock music websites while keeping in mind the most important criteria for video editors:
- The selection of tracks available
- The efficiency of site navigation
- The simplicity of licensing
Benefits of using stock music
The most obvious benefit of using stock music is efficiency. Quickly finding the perfect royalty-free music can be a lifesaver for your creative projects. You won’t have to deal with the troublesome process of copyright issues, and purchasing a royalty-free track is vastly cheaper and much more convenient than hiring a commercial composer.
Another advantage is quality. These days, there is no shortage of high-quality tracks across virtually any music genre to rival or surpasses custom-composed music. You’re more likely to find premium, original, and unique tracks when licensing from a legitimate source of royalty-free music instead of downloading from free sites, where most content gets overused to the point of saturation.
Plus, you support independent music artists when you purchase from a high-quality stock music site. A portion of the price you pay goes directly to the composer, unlike free sites and most subscription-based sites that provide unlimited access.
Criteria for what makes a great stock music site
The best royalty-free music sites offer countless tracks spanning many genres and styles. The choices can be overwhelming. One of the most significant ways a site can outshine others is through its organization. The best sites make it easy to find the perfect track from all the tracks to choose from, including options to filter and refine your searches by modes, genres, video themes, instruments, tempo, and length. Some sites also allow you to tag favorites which is a great time-saver.
As a video editor, you’ll also want to look at website features that can help you streamline your editing. Does the site allow you to download previews to insert into your videos before purchasing? Do they include song stems you can customize?
Finally, a clear understanding of licensing terms and pricing is another essential element when choosing a stock music library. In recent years, music publishers have become increasingly aggressive when handing out content ID and copyright strikes, so it’s best to find a company that will help if a track is improperly flagged. And, in the unlikely event of a legitimate copyright claim, you’ll want a music license that indemnifies you.
With that said, let’s get started on the best stock music sites!
Artlist is one of the leading stock music sites amongst creatives. This site’s primary focus is quality; its team of music professionals screens all submitted tracks and selects what is deemed the best of the best. While its library is smaller than its competitors (as of 2023, the website indicates they have just over 12,000 tracks), Artlist looks to make up for this with higher quality.
Navigating the site is straightforward, with easy access to specific moods, video themes, genres, instruments, and BPM (beats per minute). You can sort by staff picks, ensuring the top-quality tracks show first.
Another excellent feature is that Artlist allows you to browse similar tracks to the ones you’ve chosen to broaden your choices. These comparable tracks aid in quickly finding the right piece for your project.
Artlist does not have featured playlists, which other stock music sites compile. Playlists are handy for sampling what the site offers within a specific genre or theme and can help you select tracks or uncover new ones. They also do not allow you to create your own collections or download previews.
Artlist Licensing Options
Artlist runs on a subscription model only, meaning you can download unlimited tracks from their library for a flat monthly or annual rate. Unlimited subscriptions are best if you’re an agency or staff editor requiring a steady amount of tracks to cover a wide range of projects. It’s less valuable if you’re working on an individual project.
Artlist offers two licenses: One for personal use on social networks and one for professional use on TV, movies, and ads. One disappointing thing about Artlist’s licensing page is that while it tells you what is “covered,” it doesn’t go into detail about what it will do for you in case of a legal issue. However, Trustpilot reviews speak highly of Artlist’s customer service, a major plus if you ever encounter problems with copyright claims.
Another disadvantage with Artlist is that while they offer performance rights organization (PRO) tracks for download, they leave it to the purchaser to arrange payment of royalties to the relevant organization.
- Founded: 2016 by Ira Belsky
- Price: Subscription ONLY
- Music and SFX
- Social plan (social media for 1 individual) at $9.99/month for an annual plan ($14.99 for a monthly agreement)
- Pro plan (commercial plan for 1 individual) starts at $16.60/month (billed annually)
- Team plan (commercial plan for 2-7 individuals) starts at $28.20/month (billed annually)
- Music and SFX
- Pros: High-quality tracks, highly rated customer service
- Cons: Smaller library means a higher probability of overuse on popular tracks
Pond5 is renowned in the video editing industry as one of the top sites for royalty-free stock videos. But it’s less known for its vast range of stock audio, including royalty-free music and sound effects.
Founded in 2006, Pond5 is one of the oldest royalty-free music sites and a go-to for professional filmmakers, YouTube content creators, and freelance video editors working at all levels of video production.
The marketplace contains over 2 million music tracks. It covers every conceivable genre, style, and instrumentation. The extensive library means a broad selection and less chance of track overuse.
Pond5 features playlists for trending and popular genres and tracks for short-form creative content and specific video themes. Some tracks have customization options, allowing users to choose a length tailored to their needs. Music tracks that are “cleared for sampling” are marked as such.
Pond5 also offers PRO tracks. They provide extensive documentation for how and why to fill out a cue sheet to comply with PRO requirements, and there are no additional royalties for their use. Of course, non-PRO tracks are available as well.
Pond5 is one of the only stock music sites allowing composers who submit tracks to set prices. This control attracts contributors and has allowed them to grow their library more extensively than other stock music websites.
The navigation across Pond5 is user-friendly. They have an extensive filter feature allowing you to choose a desired length, price range, tempo, and mood. Or you can jump straight into a specific genre, and all the relevant tracks are listed. You can filter down further from there.
Pond5 allows you to download previews for insertion into your video editing software and has an option to “add to collection” so you can organize by project or consolidate your favorites.
Pond5 allows you to pay for a single track or buy a subscription that covers just Music or Music and SFX. The subscriptions enable you to choose ten monthly tracks from any of the 2+ million tracks in their library. It’s also nice that you can roll over unused downloads to the following month (up to 20).
Pond5 has a 4.8 out of 5 TrustPilot rating with over 12K reviews. A recent reviewer wrote that “Pond5 has the best collection of royalty free music I’ve found anywhere”. The customer service is often quoted as “top-notch” and “quick to help.” They appear very helpful with content ID claims.
Pond5 is also up front with its license coverage and provides indemnification in the unlikely event of a copyright claim. Three license levels, Individual, Business, and Premium, provide legal compensation for up to $15K, $250K, or $1M, respectively.
- Founded: 2006 by Tom Bennet and Marcus Engene
- Single track purchases starting at $5
- Music subscription (1 individual downloading 10 assets) at $12.50/month (based on an annual plan) or $25/month
- Music and SFX (1 individual downloading 10 assets) at $15.00/month (based on an annual plan) or $30/month
- High probability of finding a suitable track for your project
- Flexible payment options and highly-rated customer service
- Less chance of choosing an overused track
- More costly than other sites
- Vast number of tracks can seem overwhelming before you start filtering down your options
PremiumBeat, owned by its parent company Shutterstock, has an easy-to-navigate platform that enables you to find whatever track you need. It offers a wide variety of genres and efficient filtering options. As the name suggests, this site has always aspired to serve music with a “premium beat,” that is, the best of the best stock music you can find anywhere. Their music content team comprises grammy nominated talent and other professional musicians passionate about bringing authentic and relevant music from around the world to the PremiumBeat library.
Like most stock music sites, you can download previews to try tracks in your videos before purchasing. PremiumBeat has a user-friendly structure, allowing you to categorize and filter to your preferences. With stock music, you may not need the entire length of a track, only a snippet. PremiumBeat has a handy feature enabling you to select lengths between 15, 30, and 60 seconds or the whole track. Stems are also available.
There is a wide range of music tracks, from corporate, cinematic, and ambient to rock, metal, and electronic dance tracks. PremiumBeat has a straightforward navigation structure with easy access to all genres and moods. PremiumBeat has a collections section that offers playlists, including top new releases, seasonal collections, and more. Furthermore, you can choose surround soundtracks that use ambisonic, binaural, 5.1, and ASMR technology, a type of audio that most other stock sites don’t include.
PremiumBeat allows both one-time purchases, with the option of having a Standard license (social media coverage and video sharing platforms) or a Premium license (commercial use), in addition to a Standard license subscription service. While they allow for distribution on most mediums, it does not include public performances. All tracks include full tracks, loops, stems, and shorts.
PremiumBeat requires a 3-month commitment when choosing the monthly subscription option. Depending on your preferences, this option may be better or not work for your needs. Within this subscription, PremiumBeat gives you five downloads per month. PremiumBeat does not have a rollover feature, which users may prefer. They have a highly detailed FAQs page which is helpful when choosing which licensing option works for you and understanding what’s covered and what isn’t, monetization, and much more.
- Founded: 2005 by Francois Arbour
- Standard single license (personal and social) at $49
- Premium single license (commercial) at $199
- Subscription plan with 3-month commitment at $64.95
- Pros: High-quality royalty-free tracks with a wide range of styles and genres, including spatial audio, which no other stock music site offers.
- Cons: Subscription includes only five monthly downloads without any rollover for unused downloads. It can be very limiting.
Shutterstock also has a stock music section among its vast library of assets. With that, there is a cross-over between the PremiumBeat library and its own library. In terms of navigating the site, they have a collections section to jump straight into a specific style, categorizing various tracks into playlists to aid the browsing experience.
While the catalog is smaller, with just under 30,000 tracks, most of the music consists of PremiumBeat tracks. It may be the case of just jumping straight to PremiumBeat! But, if you also use their images, staying on Shutterstock may be beneficial for a more streamlined experience.
The licensing options include an on-demand purchase with a Standard license for social media and video-sharing platforms and an Enhanced license for commercial entertainment like TV. Shutterstock also provides subscription plans, with either an Essential plan or a Premium plan which includes access to the PremiumBeat library.
Shutterstock does have a no-contract subscription which can provide more flexibility. Additionally, they offer a FLEX plan (All-in-One subscription) that allows you to access their other assets, such as videos and images, with the option to choose how many credits you’d like each month.
The All-in-One subscription does offer a “free trial.” However, Shutterstock doesn’t indicate how long the trial will last, and they will automatically charge the monthly subscription fee unless you cancel before the end of your free trial.
- Founded: 2003 by John Oringer
- Standard $49/license
- Enhanced $199/license
- Unlimited subscription for $19/month or $199/year
- All-in-one/Shutterstock FLEX Subscription starting at $29/month or $299/year, which includes images and videos (minimum of 10 credits).
- Pros: Access to PremiumBeat stock library and immersive audio for spatial projects.
- Cons: Customer service isn’t as reputable as its competitors and doesn’t disclose the free trial length.
Epidemic Sound is a fantastic royalty-free stock music site that offers decent tracks at great prices. They offer a library of over 35,000 tracks and over 90,000 sound effects, all of which are industry standard.
Like its competitors, Epidemic Sound has an easy-to-navigate structure, being able to isolate specific genres, moods, BPM, and vocals. The music homepage has a banner at the top that includes links to Featured, Genres, Moods, and Themes. Each has dedicated playlists, including staff picks, popular tracks, and many more. When presented with a list of tracks to preview, like the other sites, you can favorite, add to your own playlist, and find similar tracks to broaden browsing.
One of the great features of Epidemic Sound is its free trial license model allowing you to try out its subscription service before committing. Epidemic Sound also has the option to make one-time purchases, with different price caps depending on how you use the music in your project.
Regarding customer service, Epidemic Sound has a great Trustpilot score with primarily positive reviews and praises about its music library and customer service. Most of the cons customers pick up on is the need for more variety in their tracks. The limited selection is due to their smaller library, and if you are a heavy user, you may run into tracks that sound similar, if not the same, as you have used previously.
Epidemic Sound has very clear and concise terms for each subscription option, making choosing what’s best for your needs simple. They divide their core license options into Personal, Commercial, and Enterprise, including unlimited downloads with each option.
A Personal plan covers social platforms and monetization on one channel per platform.
A Commercial plan covers everything in Personal plus content for clients, businesses, and digital ads.
Enterprise includes everything in Commercial, allows for multiple users, and offers rights for TV and ads. You also get a Customer Success Manager and personalized music creation.
Epidemic Sound owns the economic rights to the tracks available. While it is still a royalty-free license, they also have a direct license model that covers public performance, which isn’t always the case with its competitors. In other words, they cover you completely, so there’s no worrying about copyright issues and discrepancies.
Epidemic Sound at-a-Glance
- Founded: 2009 by David Stenmarck, Oscar Höglund, and Jan Zachrisson
- Personal subscription $15/month or $9/month based on an annual plan
- Commercial subscription $49/month or $19/month based on an annual plan
- Pros: Highly-regarded customer service and clearcut terms for their licensing models.
- Cons: Limited music catalog because it is much smaller than its competitors, which can lead to repetitive tracks.
Soundstripe is a notable stock music site that offers a vast library of high-quality, royalty-free tracks, videos, and sound effects. It’s a much smaller company with around 8,500 tracks with a great range of genres and moods. While smaller, this may aid the selection process as there isn’t as much music to filter through.
It has a navigation system that closely resembles that of Epidemic Sound. Additionally, it shows popular categories, featured playlists, what’s trending, and recently added tracks. The filter is highly extensive, with options ranging from mood, BPM, and instruments to even being able to select what key. If you are a musician yourself, the choice of the key may be vital to you. Soundstripe also has a feature called “alternate versions,” which allows you to explore different variations of the track that may fit better with certain sections of your video.
Soundstripe has an app with easy access to its music library if you’re always on the go, and it is a plus for video editors that travel a lot. When away from the desktop, the app could be a lifesaver when searching for music. Soundstripe has a notable connectivity feature called workflow extensions to NLEs for a more time-saving experience.
Soundstripe has many positive customer reviews, praising the selection of music, its user-friendly navigation, and its good value for the money. However, customers would like to see more variety which, like Epidemic Sound, may be due to the small size of the library and tracks sounding similar.
Soundstripe’s licensing includes monthly and yearly subscriptions and the ability to purchase tracks on a one-time basis. Like its competitors, they offer a Creator plan that covers social uses, a Pro plan which covers commercial uses, and Enterprise for larger organizations. Each plan clearly states what is included, with YouTube monetization terms, video clearance, and unlimited usage of tracks. A helpful FAQs section also states any necessary queries within the licenses.
Another helpful tool: With the subscriptions, you can access documentation for instances where you’d need proof of license. Unlike Epidemic Sound, Soundstripe doesn’t cover live performances of their tracks.
- Founded: 2016 by Travis Terrell and Micah Sannan
- Creator subscription $14.99/month or $199/year
- Pro subscription $29.99/month or $239/year
- Pros: High-quality music with a simple-to-use navigation system and extensive filter tools to find the perfect track.
- Cons: Due to the small library, the selection isn’t as varied as its competitors with more extensive libraries, so tracks become repetitive.
Musicbed is a “built for filmmakers” platform with diverse, high-quality tracks and a team of experienced music supervisors who curate the library. They ensure the catalog includes tracks that meet high artistic standards. Its wide range of genres, from indie rock and electronic to classical and world music, make it an excellent platform for video editors seeking unique and original stock music.
In terms of navigation, Muscibed is a simple, user-friendly experience with plenty of filter options to help pinpoint specific tracks. Musicbed’s playlist includes fresh new tracks, moods, individual artist collections, and filmmaker playlists. Having a playlist explicitly made for prolific individual filmmakers is a brilliant way to gain inspiration for your projects.
The licensing options include one-time purchases and two subscription-based services: Individual and Business. With the subscriptions, there is no limit to the number of tracks you can download. Depending on your projects, different tier prices distinguish the most appropriate plan for your creative and distribution needs.
Musicbed is rights managed rather than royalty-free, pushing its pricing to the higher end of the market. A rights-managed license allows for a one-time use of the track and for the artist to retain copyright ownership. You must purchase an additional license to use the same track in other projects. While prices are higher amongst its competitors, it is also why Musicbed can license music from real bands and artists. Plus, composers that can keep ownership of their music tend to put more heart into the tracks they create.
Using a track on YouTube can get flagged by YouTube’s Content ID system if you don’t have a MusicBed subscription. This complaint is seen in Trustpilot reviews commenting on copyright claims. Having a subscription solves this problem, resulting in the ability to monetize your videos. Just be sure to read the small print before using Musicbed. A royalty-free service for video creators tends to be much simpler, safer, and cheaper in the long run.
- Founded: 2011 by Daniel McCarthy
- Price: Subscription plans depend on the type of work, starting from $29/month to $59 for a single purchase.
- Pros: Exceptionally high-quality tracks from professional musicians, with music experts who filter through submitted tracks.
- Cons: More expensive than other stock music sites due to its Rights Managed license model, and not as well protected as a royalty-free license model.
AudioJungle is a popular online marketplace for stock music, SFX, and audio tracks for use in various multimedia projects. With a similar look and feel to Pond5, it has an extensive library with over a million royalty-free music tracks across multiple genres and styles.
Navigation around the stock library is highly detailed, with many different options of moods to choose from. After selecting the mood, AudioJungle lists the most popular tracks, bestsellers, options under a specific price cap, and top-rated tracks.
When selecting tracks, many include variations like no-vocal or shorter versions. It also displays what file formats are available (most of which are MP3 and WAV). Some tracks offer loops; however, not all have this feature.
AudioJungle also offers music packs, similar to purchasing an EP containing multiple tracks. This can aid the selection process, but having those extra tracks already in the bank is also a helpful feature.
They primarily base licensing on a one-time purchase but also offer a monthly subscription plan you can cancel anytime. Not only does it cater to individuals but also to team organizations. Within the subscription, they include unlimited downloads across all available assets.
A setback with AudioJungle is the need for better customer support. Trustpilot shows less than positive reviews regarding customer care and copyright issues. Furthermore, AudioJungle does not provide additional rights, such as registering the music for Performance Rights Organizations (PRO). While the music library is extensive, selecting tracks can become overwhelming and quality control isn’t as rigorous as those with much smaller libraries.
However, AudioJungle is a classic go-to site that’s been around for a while and can still deliver a plethora of media to creatives.
- Founded: 2008 by Collis Ta’eed, Cyan Ta’eed, Jun Rung, Adrian Popescu, Josh Janssen, Linda Gavin, and Drew Wilson.
- Price: Single purchases from $1 or subscription (access to all media assets) from $14.50/month
- Pros: Extensive library size and very affordable
- Cons: Limited quality control over track selection and limited customer care.
Most stock music sites follow a similar structure, with a wide range of styles, genres, moods, and instrumentations available. To find the best option for you, check out these sites to see which one suits your taste, type of content, budget, and customization options.
Compare the quality of the music catalogs, subscription prices, licensing terms, and level of customer support. Choosing which stock music site aligns with your creative vision is in your hands. Ultimately, it’s up to you.