If you’re a musician, a music producer, or a content creator, you might be familiar with the concept of stock music and have heard it multiple times in your career: it’s a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to custom-composed music. Numerous stock music websites give you easy access to millions of tracks available at a small cost, which can enhance and streamline your creative process.
Most of the stock songs have a clear and distinctive mood, conveying a particular emotion to suit a scene in a music video, a podcast, or a commercial. They are usually between 15 to 60 seconds long, with a distinguishable beginning, middle, and end, and often easily loopable.
The simple melodies ensure that you can edit, mix, and match the pieces to suit your needs. While most stock pieces will fit this description, you will also find whole tracks or instruments available in stock libraries. Many websites will also offer additional sound effects or loops you can use to bring new compositions to life.
Stock music is generally made available off-the-shelf and, most of the time (but not always), royalty-free. If you’re planning to purchase music from stock websites regularly, opting for royalty-free options with a straightforward licensing agreement will let you avoid additional hassle.
The quality of the music may vary from library to library, and often, it comes down to the tracks being hand-picked by professional staff or selected automatically; it will make a difference in the entry price barrier, too.
To narrow down your research, I reviewed popular stock music sites and selected the eight best platforms that offer a wide selection of music, loops, and effects to keep your creativity flowing.
Ready? Let’s take a look.
Epidemic Sound was launched in 2009 in Sweden with the main purpose of releasing high-quality, hand-picked stock music; today, it’s one of the most reliable and trusted places on the Internet to find just that.
Popular amongst YouTubers and influencers, also thanks to its ability to connect directly to a social media platform, the website has a crisp and simple design and an easy-to-use library of over 40,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects, separated into 170+ genres, moods, and curated albums. They provide the whole content of their royalty-free library under one straightforward license, which makes things super-easy. The tracks are available on per-track licensing or monthly subscription, and you can use them commercially on your own platforms (but not third-party).
It’s worth noting that Epidemic Sound offers fair upfront payment to the artists they work with and splits the royalties 50/50.
Epidemic Sound offers three payment plans that offer unlimited downloads, and the price starts from $9.99/month for the Personal plan, billed annually, and the Commercial plan costs $19.99/ month, billed annually upfront. They also have monthly plans ($17.98/month and $59.99/month, respectively), and both plans have a 30-day trial option. An Enterprise plan is available on request.
With 90,000 tracks, loops, and effects updated daily, Artlist offers a vast selection of sounds to choose from. Advertised as the best website for video, YouTube, and filmmakers, Artlist is part of a larger platform for video creators, together with Art Grid and Motion Array.
Thanks to its affordable subscription plan, similar to Epidemic Sounds, the website works well for anyone who needs stock music regularly. The monthly or yearly subscription includes lifetime use of royalty-free sounds and a personal license for social media and YouTube, even with the basic plan.
The simple and nice-looking website lets you browse music or select tracks based on genre, mood, video theme, instrument, or spotlight.
Overall, I had a great impression of Artlist, how easy it was to find anything I needed, and the clear and inexpensive payment plans.
There are five payment plans starting from $9.99/month, billed annually or $14.99/billed monthly for a Social Creator personal license, and from $16.60/month, billed upfront annually for a professional license.
Thousands of users and over six million license issues since its launch are a good testimony to the service provided by the company that started in Nashville in 2016. Calling itself the best royalty-free music website for video, Soundstripe has a rich and diverse library with over 150 new tracks added every week.
On the website, you can browse through their curated playlist divided into three categories: music, effects, and video. The music gets filtered by genre, mood, key, energy, instrument, vocals, BPM, and more, giving you a good selection of options to narrow down your research.
Soundstripe is another subscription-based platform, like the others discussed so far, which again is a valid solution if you need regular access to stock music.
There are three payment plans, with prices starting at $119/year or $14.99/month for personal use and $239/year or $24.99/month for commercial license. A customized plan is available for enterprises.
If you go to the Pond5 YouTube Channel, you will learn that it’s “the world’s largest video marketplace, bringing you the royalty-free footage, music, SFX, images, and after-effects you need to bring your story to life.” On top of over 3 million music tracks and effects, Pond5 also offers royalty-free video footage, photos, illustrations, 3D models, and basically anything.
Its music collection is easily accessible from the search browser, and you can choose based on genre, mood, instrument, or keyword.
Until recently, Pond5 was selling tracks only per track or bundle, and they have just introduced a subscription plan offer to keep up with the growing competition.
To summarize, Pond5 is one of the largest (they’re not lying) collections of music and samples, but it’s on the costliest side compared with other websites.
The music-only plan at $25/month includes ten downloads/ month; a single track is available at $2.5/track. The Music&SFX costs $3/month, with ten downloads, and you can purchase a single/extra item at $3 each.
Part of the Envato group, the website is known for its high-quality and ideal value-for-money offer. The user-friendly and easy-to-navigate platform gives you access to over 140,000 music tracks updated regularly.
Envato Elements doesn’t focus on music exclusively, and on the individual plan, you get access to a wide array of resources, including various effects, graphics, photos, fonts, graphic and WordPress templates, and more, which could come in handy when creating a website or designing promo assets.
Thanks to its diverse offer, straightforward licensing, and convenient plans, it’s a popular choice for music producers, video makers, and content creators alike. It’s an excellent solution if you need various royalty-free digital products. However, it’s still very affordable if you only plan to use the music &SFX library.
Starts at $33/month or $16.50/month, billed annually for commercial use. Students get a 33% discount. They also have a team plan and a customizable plan for enterprises.
While Envato Elements doesn’t offer a free trial, each month, they select 12 free files available to download with a free account.
PremiumBeat, launched in Canada in 2005, is considered one of the best websites where you can find quality stock music, competing with other top players like Epidemic Sounds, Soundstripe, and Artlist. While it’s on the higher end in terms of price, the unique tracks are personally curated by professional composers and musicians exclusively for the library, and you can be sure that you get the best quality product for your money.
Praised for its wide selection of music genres, easy licensing options, worth-checking blog on video and music editing, and excellent customer support, PremiumBeat is definitely one of the premium (pun intended) options to consider.
Honestly, $49 for a high-end stock music track is reasonable, but if you’re on a budget, there are other cost-effective solutions.
The platforms offer two royalty-free licenses for music and sound effects: Standard and Premium. The Standard License is for web use, while the Premium covers TV, radio, advertising, industrial events, and point-of-sale displays (single territory). All tracks downloaded on the subscription plan are covered by the Standard license.
PremiumBeat offers monthly and yearly music subscriptions for $64.95/month, which includes five licenses per month and $585/year ($48.75/month, 60 tracks per year), respectively. Alternatively, single music tracks can be purchased with a Standard License for $49 or a Premium License for $199 per track. SFX assets cost $5 with a Standard License or a Premium License for $20 per item.
Audiio offers royalty-free music and effects for creators, and has a wide selection of tracks updated every day.
The platform was created by Clay Jones, a former Universal Music Group artist, together with a group of industry friends, prompted by the idea of gathering the best world’s storytellers in one place. What makes them stand out is that they work with top labels, publishing companies, and indie artists in order to ensure a relevant library of high-quality content from fresh talents and professional musicians.
Audiio collaborates with big brand names such as Netflix, Toyota, and NBC, as well as non-profit projects.
While its library is not as overwhelming as some of the other platforms, Audiio is quickly building a position for itself on the market. I recommend that you give it a try (with a 30-day free trial).
For $199 (down from $499 at the moment of writing), you get access to their whole music library forever. Audio Pro plan, at $199/year (with 70% off on the first year), includes music & SFX collection unlimited downloads and a universal license. It’s worth noting that the license ends when the subscription becomes inactive. You can also get a custom license for TV/Film/OTT.
Storyblocks features a large library of over 100,000 royalty-free audio and effects tracks and millions of other digital assets updated on a regular basis. It provides all you need as a creator and has flexible licensing options to get you covered on the web.
The Individual license covers usage rights for the license holder. Alternatively, the Business license allows the use of the content across a team or an entire company.
I decided to include Storyblocks on this list as it used to be one of the top options back in the day, and while it’s still a decent stock music website, there are other, more affordable solutions out there.
Storyblocks sadly removed its free trial in 2022, but for $30/month (billed upfront annually), you get unlimited downloads, access to a video editor, and an Individual license included. The started plan, for $15/month on a yearly plan, including five monthly downloads, will suit beginners. Monthly plans are also available.
With unlimited options available, stock music is a great option to quickly get royalty-free sounds and effects for your projects. Most of the websites listed in this review offer both personal and commercial licenses; each website has its own rules and limitations, so be sure to check before you make a purchase.
Most of the time, you need to pay per track or buy a subscription plan to access the stock library, but there are free options available as well. Some of the websites I reviewed offer free trials, and others that didn’t make it to the top eight will have a free account with limited settings (e.g., Wave.video, to mention one).
You may be able to find suitable free stock music for occasional one-off projects, but if you want regular access to high-quality products without worrying about licensing, you‘ll always be better off with paid sites.
Over the years, since I started producing music, the stock websites sprouted like mushrooms after rain, and today you no longer need to search the web to find reliable sources of good quality stuff. Now go and use them. Have fun, and be creative!