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With 93% of marketers now using at least some video for online marketing, sales, or communication purposes and 52% of marketing professionals worldwide naming video as the type of content with the best ROI, brands are devoting resources to making videos in-house.

So how can your company ride this long-term trend while differentiating its content? And how can you do so without going over budget? One cost-effective way to improve your videos is to add high-quality audio. Well-placed music and sound effects can make your videos appear more polished and effective than those of the competition.

Want to deliver an upbeat and lively explainer video about your product? Try adding some rousing, symphonic background music. Need to capture how time-consuming current sales processes can be? Add a ticking clock sound effect.

If you don’t believe us, just check out this video made by one of our customers:




The importance of well-selected music and sound effects in video production cannot be stressed enough; it can make or break your videos. But with a vast collection of audio libraries at your disposal, how do you pick the right one for your video needs?

The 3 main factors to take into account when selecting an audio library are:

Cost

Audio is similar to most other tools in your video-marketing toolbox in that you get what you pay for. Higher-quality tracks and sounds effects tend to cost more, which can be found in paid audio libraries like PremiumBeat. They include premium tracks from successful composers who often have film / tv credits.

But the growth of micro-stock websites like Audio Micro has made it easier to download high-quality audio on a small budget. Micro-stock music sites feature user-generated audio from around the Internet, which means they offer a wider selection of high-quality sounds at a very manageable price.

Another great option to meet your audio needs on a budget are websites offering bundles, like Soundsnap. Soundsnap offers an affordable pricing structure without the hassle of processing each audio track as its own transaction. You can simply buy sounds in bundles or get access to unlimited sounds with an annual fee.

Some Audio Libraries featuring Royalty-Free audio, like AudioJungle can vary in cost based on the number copies or downloads, TV / radio broadcast or advertising use, and even certain types of film. But Royalty-Free audio often has rights limitations which we’ll talk about later in the post.

Licensing

Perhaps the most intricate part of selecting audio is deciphering the licenses associated with each audio file. Most audio libraries are licensed under Creative Commons, which is a collection of licenses of different types. Some of the licenses in this group allow commercial use of audio, while others don’t. In many cases, sound effects have different licenses than background music.

For example, this music track in AudioJungle has a “Music Standard License.” Based on the handy guide available on the company’s site, we know that this track can be used in 1 end product, allows for most web uses (e.g. YouTube) and is eligible for up to 10,000 copies or downloads (e.g. apps, DVDs, video games, audiobooks). However, this track cannot be used for TV/radio broadcast and is restricted to Indie films & festivals.

Another example of a license is the Attribution Non-commercial License assigned to some audio files in FreeSound. This license does not allow use of the material for commercial purposes and also requires proper attribution.

Understanding the license associated with your audio is an important step in this process, but it does not have to be a roadblock. Simply select the track you want to download, click on the licensing information (usually below the download button), and read through the details.

Much of what you’re paying for when you pay for a license is what’s called “exploitable rights,” i.e. the ability to monetize or even resell the work in which the music appears. With much less expensive (or free) options, the service providing the music often needs to be cited. This is the complicated terrain of attribution, which we will look at now.

Attribution

Attributions are a lot like citations in college term papers. You can’t just claim the thought (in this case, the sound) as your own — without letting the audience know of the original source. More cynically (and this is where the comparison with a term paper hopefully goes away), since you haven’t paid enough for a license that permits the appearance of ownership, you must properly show where you got the music from. You must find a happy medium between the small brand hit of mentioning the source in your project, and the budget concerns of spending too much on music.

Let’s look at FreeSFX for example.

FreeSFX has thousands of high-quality, royalty-free sounds that can be used as a part of any audio / visual presentation but, per the company’s licensing terms, you do have to credit FreeSFX within your project or in the description of your videos (which can be a hassle in some cases).

However, there are some sites like AudioJungle that do not require any attribution at all, but they don’t offer any free audio. Attribution can also vary based on the licensing terms for each audio. Some licenses require users to attribute the website or producer, whereas others don’t have any such requirements.

So now that we’ve covered the basics, take a look at a representative overview of some audio libraries in the chart above.