Podcast Blog

Royalty-Free Podcast Music: 6 Paid and Free Music Platforms Worth Trying

There's something compelling about a podcast with just the right soundtrack. The addition of music can elevate spoken content, draw listeners in, and set the mood.


Record with a red label on a player

But there's a catch—using music without the proper permissions can lead to serious legal trouble, not to mention getting you kicked off your podcast platform. Ouch!

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of royalty-free podcast music. The biggest hassle is separating the good from the meh, which is why we've created this handy guide. 

We'll explore the different types of music available for your podcast, unpack the complex world of licensing and usage rights, and debunk common copyright myths.

We'll also walk you through the top platforms to find free and paid music and share tips on selecting the perfect track for your podcast.

Understanding the Different Types of Music for Your Podcast

We’ll get to the music platforms in a bit. First, we need to get the housekeeping out of the way. It’s important to understand the difference between royalty-free music, Creative Commons, and public domain music.

This will help you make an informed choice that resonates with your podcast's tone and content and, more importantly, keeps you on the right side of the copyright police. Let’s unpack each of the three classifications in turn.

Royalty-Free Music

Royalty-free music is where you cough up a one-time fee for the right to use a music track as much as you want. This means you don't have to pay any ongoing royalties to the original artist every time someone listens to your podcast. 

But be careful! Contrary to what the name implies, the music still has copyright restrictions. You might be limited to how many times you can play the track, where you can play it, and how you can use it in your podcast. 

So, always make sure to read the licensing agreement carefully.

Creative Commons

Artists who release their work under Creative Commons have agreed to allow others to use it for free. But don’t be fooled into thinking that it means you can do as you please with the music.

Read the small print to find out what the conditions are. For instance, you may have to provide attribution to the original artist. More often than not, you won’t be allowed to use it for commercial purposes either. 

If the artist has specified a No Derivatives Works license, you’re prohibited from changing, manipulating, or transforming their work.

In general, it's a great option for budget-conscious podcasters, especially when you consider that the terms outlined by the artist are generally not unreasonable.

Public Domain Music

Searching for free podcast music in the public domain can result in a treasure trove of content. These are works that have fallen out of copyright either due to age or because the artist has deliberately chosen to give up their rights.

This means you can use the music freely and without any restrictions for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Whether or not you’ll have to pay depends on where you find these tracks. 

Some archives might allow free downloads, while others may charge a nominal fee for access or download privileges. 

While you can potentially find some real gems, don't expect the selection to be as diverse or current as other sources. You’ll also need to make sure the music truly is in the public domain to avoid inadvertently landing in legal hot water.

Navigating Licensing and Usage Rights

Music licensing and usage rights can be complicated, but they're essential to understand. After all, you want to use music in your podcast without worrying that you’re breaking any laws.

There are various types of licenses, each with its own rules. However, for podcasting purposes, the one you need to be aware of is a synchronization (sync) license. 

This is required when you want to pair visuals with the music, such as in a video podcast. However, when you purchase a track from a music platform like the ones we mention further down, a sync license is usually included. 

Bottom line, triple-check that you're clear on the terms and conditions before using any music. Misunderstandings can result in your podcast getting pulled or worse, leave you with some hefty legal penalties.

How Is a Music License Different from Copyright?

A music license grants you the right to use a song for a pre-determined period in exchange for a fee. This does not affect the copyrights of the recording or lyrics, which remain with the copyright owner.

Remember, you must ensure that you have the correct licenses for the music you use. If you’re unsure, either don’t use the music or consult a legal expert.

Why Use Royalty-Free Podcast Music?

Using royalty-free podcast music is a popular choice for many reasons. For most creators, the key benefit is affordability. It’s typically much less expensive than licensed music, plus it means you have the freedom to use the track multiple times without worrying about recurring royalty fees. 

Other advantages include:

  • Convenience: It's easy to access and use, as you'll see from our list of platforms further down.

  • Flexibility: It can be used in various ways, including in the intro or outro of your podcast, other transitions, and background music.

  • Quality: It's not uncommon to find royalty-free tracks created by professional musicians or composers.

  • Avoid copyright infringement: You don't have to worry about infringing on the copyright of the music. This can give you peace of mind and avoid legal headaches.

  • Build a brand: It can help you to build a brand for your podcast. When you use the same music in each episode, your listeners will start to associate that music with your show.

  • Support independent artists: Many libraries feature independent artists. By using royalty-free music in your podcast, you can support these artists and help them to get their music heard.

Top 6 Paid Platforms for Royalty-Free Podcast Music

Plenty of resources allow you to buy royalty-free podcast music. The following platforms not only offer high-quality tracks but also make the purchasing and licensing process as pain-free as possible. We’ll kick off the list with our top pick, Artlist.

1. Artlist

With stock footage, video templates, and a homepage offering everything you need to create amazing videos, it’s easy to think Artlist is only for filmmakers and videographers.

But the platform actually has a vast repository of some of the best royalty-free music as well. Artlist offers a simple flat-rate yearly subscription model, so you can pick the plan that best suits your needs and get access to thousands of top-quality tracks.

And you don’t have to cough up immediately. With Artlist’s free account, you have instant access to watermarked songs and content. This is a great way to get a feel for the platform before signing up for a paid subscription.

Key features:

  • Unlimited Usage on Max Pro and Max Team plans: Once you download a song with an active subscription, you can use it anywhere, anytime, even if your subscription ends. 

  • New Releases Daily: Artlist updates its catalogs daily, giving you a steady stream of fresh content to choose from. 

  • Extensive Library: Artlist has more than 400K digital assets, including royalty-free music, sound effects, and much more

  • 100% Royalty-Free: You can use any of Atlist’s digital assets without incurring any additional royalty fees.

  • Robust Help Center: Artist has a super in-depth help center where you can find out everything you need to know about usage and much more.


  • Paid plans start at $14,99/month or $9,99/month when billed annually

2. PremiumBeat 

A Shutterstock subsidiary, PremiumBeat offers exclusive, high-quality tracks and sound effects for your podcast. They have an impressive library of music that covers various styles and genres. 

PremiumBeat is well known for its handpicked royalty-free podcast music, which is curated by an international team with a passion for music. While comparable to Artlist, the platform’s one distinct advantage is that it includes stems and shorter loopable sections, so you can use elements of the music and not just the entire mix.

Key features

  • Simplified Licensing: PremiumBeat licenses are honored worldwide and are valid forever, so there is no need to worry about something expiring.

  • Curated Collections: PremiumBeat's playlists, title sequences, and curated collections make it easy to find the perfect music for your podcast.

  • Handpicked Content: Every track is handpicked by their team of music aficionados, ensuring you receive only top-quality content.

  • Advanced Search: The platform offers advanced search options, helping you to find the ideal music quickly.


  • Single tracks start at $49 per track 

  • Subscriptions start at $12,99/track per month or $9.75/track per month when billed annually

3. Epidemic Sound 

Epidemic Sound is a global music tech company. Headquartered in Stockholm, the platform is all about empowering creativity. Their vast selection of royalty-free music and sound effects makes it easy for podcasters to engage their audiences with world-class soundtracks.

All of Epidemic’s subscriptions give you full access, unlimited downloads, and all the necessary rights to 40,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects. They also have an impressive free trial.

You can try out their music for 30 days—no cost, no commitments. During the 30-day period, you’re free to download and use their tracks in your podcast.

Key Features:

  • Daily Updates: New exclusive and authentic tracks are added to the platform on a daily basis by leading music creators around the globe.

  • All Rights Included. Epidemic Sound owns the economic rights for all their music, which means they can offer a direct, worry-free license to their users.

  • No Copyright Issues: On sign-up, you can connect your social media channels, and Epidemic will clear all connected channels so you can publish any of their content without copyright issues.


  • Subscriptions start at $9.99

4. Audio Network

Audio Network combines industry-leading expertise with meticulous attention to detail when working with anyone from composers and artists to recording studios, producing unrivaled results in the music they produce.

Their more than 200,000 original music tracks offer a smorgasbord of choices, no matter what podcast niche you’re in. From orchestral film music and classical to hip-hop, rock, and indie—you'll find the perfect track for your show.

Key Features:

  • Advanced Search Function: Tracks can be filtered by mood, musical style, instrumentation, BPM, and even emotion.

  • Done for You: You can brief the Audio Network team on what you’re looking for, and they’ll get back to you within one business day with a selection of tracks for your project.

  • Tailored Licening: Audio Network’s pricing structure is tailored to the project—you pay only for what you need.

  • Worldwide Usage: The platform’s tracks are pre-cleared for use anywhere in the world—forever.


  • Single tracks start at $9.99 per track

5. Envato Elements

Envato is a huge online community offering creative assets and tools. In addition to royalty-free music and sound effects, you’ll find videos, graphic templates, website themes, and photos on the platform.

On the free plan, you get 12 hand-selected files every month. It’s a bit of a lucky dip though, so you might get images, soundtracks, or other digital assets. To access their full library, you’ll need to get a paid subscription. Helpfully, Envato offers discounted rates for students and teams.

Key Features:

  • Unlimited Downloads: Choose from Envato’s 16+ million creative assets and download as much as you like.

  • Lifetime Commercial License: All of Envato’s assets are covered by one simple lifetime commercial license. Easy peasy.

  • Hassle-Free Cancellation: Quick and free canceling—cancel your plan anytime.

  • Regular Updates: Envato's dedicated support ensures that you always have the best quality assets.


  • Subscriptions start at $33/month or 16.50/month when billed annually

Freesound: Free Music for Podcasts

If your budget is tight, Freesound is a good place to find free podcast music. This music archive has a plethora of audio clips, recordings, bleeps, and more, all released under the Creative Commons banner. So long as you adhere to their legal guidelines, it won’t cost you a cent.

As is typically the case with Creative Commons content, there are usage restrictions. Not all sounds can be used commercially, and many require attribution. So be sure to check out what’s permitted before using the clip.

You can navigate Freesound via their search function or filter by tags to find what you’re looking for. In addition to downloading content, you can also upload tunes of your own if you’re a muso. Plus, there’s the opportunity to collaborate with other sound artists.

The one downside is that the quality is extremely mixed, but this isn’t unusual with free platforms. Still, it’s worth a look if you’re bootstrapping your show.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Music for Your Podcast

Whether for a movie, a play, or a podcast, music plays an integral role in setting the tone, enhancing the narrative, and keeping the audience engaged. Choosing the right track (or tracks) can heighten the experience, taking it from ordinary to extraordinary.

Conversely, the wrong music can just as easily distract and detract from the content. Here are five tips for selecting the perfect tunes for your podcast: We've also included expert advice from the Lower Street team, so you'll have an even better idea of what to choose for your podcast intro music.

1. Consider the Mood and Tone

Align your music choices with the overall mood and tone of your podcast. For upbeat and informative episodes, opt for cheerful and energetic tracks. For more serious or contemplative content, select calming and introspective melodies. It’s also important to consider how different genres of music might resonate with your target audience.

“The music is there to draw out existing emotions or signal future ones. It’s most effective to use tracks that elevate what’s already present emotionally, as opposed to manufacturing something that isn’t.” —Alex Bennett, Senior Audio Engineer at Lower Street

2. Choose Music That Fits Your Brand

Your podcast has a unique brand, and the music you choose should reflect that. Pick tracks that match your podcast’s personality and the image you want to present to your audience. For example, if your podcast has an adventure focus, you probably won’t want the dulcet tones of a classical symphony playing in the background. 

3. Enhance the Narrative

Music is a great way to subtly guide your listeners through the story. Uplifting music can signal a positive turn of events, while something suspenseful can build tension and anticipation for an upcoming plot twist. (If you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you’ll know exactly what we mean.)

Done right, tailoring your track selection to the narrative can create a seamless listening experience.

4. Avoid Distracting Vocals and Instruments

Since podcasting mainly involves spoken content, it makes sense to use instrumental music as a backdrop. Vocals in your background music could compete for the listener’s attention, causing confusion and undermining the clarity of your message. So it’s best to steer clear of tracks that feature prominent vocals. 

But vocals aren’t the only problem. As Alex points out, “This extends to certain instruments as well. Saxophones love to compete with any speech they’re placed under. A side-chained EQ can help here.”

5. Enjoy the Process

It’s true that music plays a major role in the success of your podcast, but it's important to remember that choosing the right track should also be a fun and creative process. Don’t be afraid to explore different genres to find the music that truly suits your style and the tone of your podcast. 

“Chances are you won’t pick the perfect track for a given situation the first time, so don’t beat yourself up when something that sounded great in isolation sounds wrong in the context of the episode. I consider it a huge success if a third of my initial music picks make it into the finished podcast.” —Alex Bennett, Senior Audio Engineer at Lower Street

Examples of Podcasts with Excellent Music Choice

The true-crime podcast Serial, which tells one true story over the course of a season, will often use the same theme music for most of its episodes. Simple yet haunting, the melody immediately sets the tone for the show.

Using the same theme music is a risky strategy, as it could potentially become repetitive and boring for listeners. However, in the case of Serial, the theme music is so well-chosen and effective that it actually enhances the listening experience.

It is now synonymous with the show and helps to create a sense of familiarity for listeners. It signals the start of an intriguing story, one that'll keep them hooked from start to finish.

This American Life is a long-running podcast known for its intimate and revealing stories about real people. Unlike Serial, the show’s music changes from episode to episode in order to set the stage for the story to come.

For example, a story about a family's struggle with addiction might feature melancholic piano melodies, while a story about a group of friends overcoming adversity might be accompanied by something more upbeat and positive.

As we’ve seen above, using the same track for every episode can work. However, This American Life proves that varying your music selection can be an equally effective strategy. By tailoring your choice to the mood of each episode, you’re able to add another layer of depth to your storytelling.

Copyright Music for Podcasts FAQs (Debunking the Myths)

There are numerous misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to music copyright and licenses. Mixcloud has gone into a lot more detail on this, so let’s debunk some of the more common myths:

Myth: I can use a song as long as I credit the artist.

Fact: Crediting the artist does not negate the need for a license. To legally use copyrighted music, you must secure the necessary permissions from the copyright holder or their representative.

Myth: If I only use a few seconds of a song, it's not copyright infringement.

Fact: Outside of a few very specific scenarios, there is no "fair use" duration. Even a few seconds of copyrighted music can be considered an infringement if you don’t have permission to use it.

Myth: I can use a song for free if I'm not making any money from my podcast.

Fact: Whether you’re making a profit or not is irrelevant in terms of copyright law. Using copyrighted music without authorization is a copyright infringement, regardless.

Final Thoughts on Music for Your Podcast

We’ve reached the final 'coda' of our guide. From understanding the complexities of music licensing and copyright and giving you practical tips on choosing music for your show to the best platforms for sourcing royalty-free podcast music, we've covered it all. 

Remember, producing a successful podcast is just as much about the auditory experience as it is about your spoken content. The right music can convey the spirit of your show, transport your listeners to a specific mood, and elevate the storytelling. 

Be thoughtful in your music selection process, but don’t overthink it either, or you’ll quickly get lost in the sea of options. Trust your gut. If you feel your music reflects your brand and complements your content, you’re probably right.

Of course, there’s always the option of engaging some expert assistance. The Lower Street team is a bunch of self-confessed podcast nerds, and we’d be thrilled to help you take your podcast to the next level. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Steven Bonnard


Steven Bonnard

Hi, I'm Steven. I'm a globe-trotter who loves running long distances and listening to podcasts, especially from the politics and fantasy categories.