6 reasons why free stock music sites suck

Ok, before I start, a little disclaimer that this is an opinion piece and, as I run this site to make some shillings to feed my wife and daughter, I obviously have a biased perspective! To my customers out there, know that I love you and appreciate your business no end, this is more an article about the dangers of using music willy nilly that you find out on the Interwebs. To everyone else, I hope you’ll hear me out as there is value in what I’m going to talk about. If you disagree with me, you’ll at least now have a bunch of sites to visit that do offer free music!

Why would I advertise the competition on a site where I sell my music?

Because I’m not stupid and trying to lie to myself that my ‘competitors’ (if you can call them that) aren’t just a click away when using search engines like Google and Bing. So, let me start by being frank about what I see free stock music sites doing to the industry and why they’re such a bad idea if you want music for your project, especially for commercial purposes.

Free music sites actually complicate music licensing

The intention of many free music sites is to offer regular people hassle-free music to use in their projects without paying any money. Creative Commons try to solve this with their licenses this along with sites like the Free Music Archive and even YouTube’s Audio Library. And this all sounds appealing until you start to look under the bonnet and realise:

1. There is often no vetting procedure in place for many of these sites

This meams anyone can upload anything for people to download. This is also true of free photography websites where the disclaimers on these sites basically relay the responsibility onto you if there’s a breach of copyright. Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t use stuff that I wasn’t 100% sure was licensed properly for fear of getting sued!

2. YouTube’s Audio Library is primarily for use within YouTube only

That means it is often flagged for non-commercial use / can’t be monetised from what I hear, it needs attribution and apart from anything contains music from music hobbyists who are looking for the fame and glory of being used on a YouTube video. That means you need to wade through a bunch of reaaaally shitty music (this isn’t just me saying this by the way). You might also want to check the author has properly licensed the sounds / loops they use in the track too as YouTube certainly doesn’t do that…

3. Creative Commons Licenses aren’t always for commercial use.

Their site even states: “you need to make sure that what you want to do with the music is OK under the terms of the particular Creative Commons license it’s under. CC-licensed music isn’t free for all uses, only some”.

4. Many sites just offer an option to filter tracks

Sites like SoundCloud allow uploaders to mark their tracks as ‘ok’ for commercial use. Again, no checks are in place to ensure that the author is the creator of the music or has the rights.

5. You want exclusivity…

Any company worth their salt knows that if they want to distinguish their brand from others, then ‘audio branding’ is as important as visual branding. Free music stock sites can’t offer that as it defeats the point of their existence, so without that option, Bob’s Fish and Chips in Wokingham could be using the same music as you have in your slick fintech animation about the blockchain revolution. Here, for example, the option to reserve the use of a track is available to you because I wrote the music and therefore own the rights. There’s also the option of getting a custom score (just get in touch).

6. The music is flagged on YouTube and FaceBook because they are registered with AdRev.

So, you can’t remove the adverts from competitor businesses appearing on your video because the user ‘beanbagsrcool’ who uploaded the track isn’t responding to your emails. Not cool, really not cool and this is why an official license to be able to remove AdRev claims is provided with all the tracks here.

I heard some composers give their music away for free?

And it’s true. You’ll find a few rookie musicians who offer their tracks for free like Kevin MacLeod who completely miss the bigger picture of giving away so many of their rights. Apart from undermining the hard work other composers put in to make a living from their craft, he markets himself as the ‘free guy’ yet actually profits off it.

How? By requiring attribution when anyone uses his work, he attracts traffic to his site where he earns money from advertising revenue, streams on YouTube and Spotify playlists via mandatory ISRC numbers for his music and actually licenses his tracks (like a good boy should). By offering music for free, both he and other free music stock sites give a big finger up to composers like myself who invest heavily in their studios, learn their craft, travel to stay ahead of the trends and keep the musicians economy going by doing things like paying session musicians to play in our music.

So as you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the Kevster and free music sites as I believe they act like snakes within the community by cheapening a market that’s already in need of some help. That said, I do believe giving away some freebies is necessary in todays market to get noticed. Just not your whole catalogue. FFS.

Hang on, I’m not with Johnny McFreebie

If you license your tracks, then you should get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that not only is your music properly licensed and cleared for commercial use, but you are supporting an industry that is horrendously complicated to survive in. If you’re a customer or even a subscriber here, then thank you, you get it, and you’re helping me feed my little splodgy 6 month old daughter at the same time.

Actually, I am here with Johnny McFreebie

Then I would genuinely like to know who you are and understand what stops you from paying for music – it’s not to track you down, I promise, it’s to see if there are other ways to help you license music without breaking the bank.

For example, it’s no secret that many of you are looking for free music for your projects or come from countries where the license fee is too high in comparison to the salaries you earn. I can see it in my site’s analytics, the messages I receive and even the piracy of my tracks across the Internet (yes, even that is traceable to some extent).

I choose not to act on it unless it’s a company abusing their position as I think we all agree a multinational corporation like Sony can afford the license fee. But I do understand your position. I’ve been bootstrapping this site from the beginning along with various other projects in order to sell my music and the more I spend the less I have to survive on. Times are tough, budgets are tight and generally who wants to pay for anything these days?

While I’m running a business here, I appreciate that some people who arrive on this site don’t have the money to pay for things like music for their videos. If you’re one of those people and are looking for music to use in a personal project or work for an NGO / charity, then ping me a message and we can chat about how to get you musically sorted.

Please note, some blog posts may contain affiliate links to products. If you click on them and decide to buy the product, we earn a small commission which helps us support our work creating posts like this and videos etc. Thank you for your support!

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