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04/28/2016
Article
The Best Music Licensing Platforms of 2016 (for Stock Music that Doesn’t Suck)

They say that music is responsible for much of what an audience feels when they watch a video. So if you’re truly serious about storytelling and moving your audience emotionally, the last thing you want is generic, boring stock music. Luckily, in 2016, several companies have stepped into the limelight to provide content creators with top notch licensed music at affordable prices. This post explores a few of my favorites.

Now, there’s one thing that I need to be up front about before continuing. This blog — the very same one you’re reading right now — is funded by one of companies I’ll be talking about in the article. That company is Art-list, and while I wholeheartedly believe that it’s a great option for licensing quality music, I recognize that there’s a significant conflict of interest here.

So, with that said, you have my word that this won’t be a shameless self-promotion of one company with a half-assed description of our competitors. I plan on telling you what’s good about each of these options, and what’s not so good, and that includes Art-list. If, after reading, you feel that I’ve been unfair to any specific platform, or that I’ve promoted Art-list too hard, please call me out down in the comments, and I’ll do my best to fix it.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the best music licensing platforms the web has to offer in 2016.

SongFreedom is another major contender in the contemporary licensing marketplace. It’s the only service (that I know of) where you can legally license music from extremely popular artists — think The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Bob Dylan — for a legitimately inexpensive price. The catch here is that the music from these artists is limited in terms of what you can do with it. With that said, SongFreedom still has a ton of other music that is available to license in a number of different ways.

The good
Legal access to very popular music that would otherwise be inaccessible for content creators to license for personal and non-commercial projects.
A sizable library, full of new music, old music, stock music, truly one-of-a-kind music, and everything in between.
Lots of ways to sort said library, ranging from genre to mood to length to license type to intended use of the music. SongFreedom allows you to search for music on your terms, not theirs.
Affordable pricing for everything.
The not-so-good
SongFreedom’s marketing pulls a little bit of a bait and switch on content creators. The service does, in fact, offer very popular musicians and bands at a reasonable price, but not if you intend to use the music in a film or commercial project. If you just want these songs for a wedding or church video, you’re getting an incredible deal, but if you get into SongFreedom expecting to license some One Republic songs for your debut indie feature, then you’re out of luck.
Convoluted pricing structure with strange, non-effectual naming of licenses. I don’t know what the hell a “Gold Commercial” or “Standard Platinum” license is without having to dive into the FAQ, and that irritates me.