Video is a powerful means of getting your message out, and podcasting can build bonds with your listener, almost as if you have been having a weekly conversation. You can use a home-made video very effectively, and people have been creating popular podcasts in their basements since the genre was invented just a few years ago.
The one thing though, that takes a video or podcast from "obviously amateur" to the next level of professionalism is music. You’ll almost certainly want a musical theme, something to mark the beginning and end of your show. And you might use a musical loop — a piece of music that circles around and never ends — as bed music, to play softly under your podcast or video to set a mood and cover silences, and if your podcast is something more dramatic than a simple conversation, then you might want special music to work like a movie soundtrack.
But you can’t just take a section of your favorite CD and use that for your intro or bed music. The Recording Industry Association of America actively enforces their members’ copyrights with expensive infringement lawsuits, but even if they didn’t, it’s just wrong to take someone’s creative work without permission. The good news is that there are musical resources online that can give a professional touch to your video, podcast for free, for a voluntary payment or in exchange for credit and a link. You will be able to find music that sets the right tone for your video or podcast without having to pay high purchase fees or recurring royalties.
Where to Get Songs
For this article I’m defining a song as a piece of music with a beginning, middle, and an end. It may have lyrics or it may not. If you use a song for your podcast or video, chances are that you’ll use only a snippet of it, maybe the opening for the introduction to your podcast and the fadeout for the end. Here are sites that specialize in songs.
This huge database of songs is always my first stop when I’m looking for music for a podcast or video. There is so much music, categorized into dozens of specific genres, that I collect song after song in my playlist. It’s hard to know when to stop. Then I go back and pick the one that best fits the project.
The music is published under a Creative Commons license. You can use the music for free with after signing up for a free producer’s account with the site. They only ask that you give the musician credit and a link.
Podsafe Audio has a large selection of free downloads. They’re categorized into 25 genres, such as big band, hip hop, religious, and world — so there is a wide variety of musical styles.
My only criticism of the interface is that you can’t play music clips online. You have to download each song to listen to it. If you’re browsing through dozens or hundreds of melodies looking for the right one for your podcast, downloading each one can add a lot to the time.
Find open-source, out-of-copyright and Creative Commons music at this site of the Internet Archive that might be just what you’re looking for. The site has converted a collection of music from 78 rpm records and even the cylinders that preceded disks to computer files and has even taken the noise out of many of them. There are many genres to choose from and a usable interface.
Where to Get Music Loops
The difference between a "song" and a "loop" is that while a song has a beginning, a middle and an end, a loop is designed not to go anywhere. It can go on and on indefinitely and seamlessly. When your DVD keeps playing the same audio and video over and over at the "play" menu, waiting for you to make a decision, that’s a loop. There are two kinds of loops here — background loops and musicians’ loops.
Background loops are made specifically for presentations, whether it’s PowerPoint, podcast or video. They usually have more instruments, and often they run 30 seconds or more before they come to the place to loop back around. Musicians’ loops are usually one instrument, and they are often under 10 seconds long. They’re designed to provide backup for a solo musician or a band that needs some extra instrumentation to fill out a sound.
I’ve included both kinds of loops here because either one can work as music for podcast or video — depending on what kind of effect you’re trying to achieve.
Flashkit offers more than 7,000 royalty-free music loops. The site has different levels of rights: freeware, linkware, shareware. The license type is listed in the author information. In my random sampling, I didn’t hear any physical instruments, only electronic tones, and the site has a search box but no categories, so finding the right sound may take longer than at some of the other places.
Free-Loops offers more than 7,000 musicians’ loops, including many drum beats and various instruments. The interface is easy to navigate, and you can play the loop on the site to find out if you like it or not. You can download them one by one for free or pay $9.95 to download all 7,000. Looperman offers a very usable interface, with musicians’ loops categorized by musical genre, instrument, and beats per minute. It even has sound effects. The loops are free, but you have to sign up for a free membership to download.
Looperman offers a very usable interface, with musicians’ loops categorized by musical genre, instrument, and beats per minute. It even has sound effects. The loops are free, but you have to sign up for a free membership to download.
Imbibe offers free musicians’ loops, categorized by instrument. It gives a brief description, such as "Vocal Percussion Loop Nr. 1" along with beats per minute. It’s easy to listen to and quick to download the files you’ve found.
So Give Your Podcast or Video Some Zing
Music is not just a decoration. It sets the mood of your podcast or video, gives the listener or viewer a hint of what the mood and approach will be. It can be an important part of branding your information products. These free resources can give you good royalty-free music for your audio, video, or multimedia presentation.
The writer Jan Bear hosts a weekly podcast, Marketing Savvy, where she gives tips for building your web platform on the internet.