A Video Content Mixtape: Shuffling Music Licensing Sites

September 1, 2020

Have you ever watched The Shining with no music? Then you haven’t watched it, and it’s no longer The Shining. Take the opening score out of scores of legendary films, and you don’t have the same movie. Such is the inextricable, undeniable link of music and video content. Classic-cinema composers knew this, Mad Men-era advertisers knew this, MTV producers knew this, and tweens on TikTok know this.

At its best, music is an immediate emotional sledgehammer with staying power, a transcendent hit of serotonin that plays on nostalgia and anticipation, its ohrwurm vibrations remaining with us long after the track fades out.  When users turn the sound on, you want to grab them sonically. And you will need the perfect piece of music for this. Cue the master class:


Cinematic Music in Review

Maximize Your Video Content Volume

We all remember where we were when we first heard a song we loved. That is what you want to tap into with your choice of music. It is not just that music stick with us, it is the songs’ context in the video that lends an extra potency that embeds a swirl of nostalgia.

And if you don’t have the time or talent to make your music for your video content, you’re inevitably going to rely on stock music sites. Now, stock-anything sounds awful. But it needn’t be. If you’re after resonating content, you’ll need to avoid generic stock music. Thankfully, the music-licensing space has evolved, ushering in a world of easily accessible, quality tunes with flexible licensing subscriptions. 

Essential Stock Music Prerequisites:

  • Stellar sound quality
  • Clean, intuitive UI
  • Reasonable Pricing

Stalking the Best Stock Music Sites

The internet has no shortage of stock music offerings, but if you don’t want to fall short in sonic superiority with your video content, give these music demo sites a look and listen.

Music Vine

Welcome to a lush, functional interface where you can stop looking for the real search modifiers you’re after — because you’ve found them here. Transcend the go-to filters of mood and instrument as you filter and find the perfect track with the likes of film genre, era, locale, and edit style. Need some Medieval Horror or Slow-Mo Baroque jams? They’ve got you. 

They’ve also got single-track licensing or an all-you-can-consume model, with all of their subscriptions letting you generate unlimited licenses, kicking off as low as $14 per month for an eclectic, electric, eccentric catalog featuring 4,000 songs and curated playlists.

Clean Cuts

With licensing options to accommodate every budget and need, this platform queues up compelling custom music and crystalline sound design. Along with their choice catalog, they offer expert mixing, voiceover, and talent casting for a full scope of audio production services.


They are the ones who helped kick off the industry sprint towards subscriptions a few years ago. Their globally licensed catalog means you can use their music in any video project you fancy, from brand campaigns to corporate videos. 

For a flat annual fee, you get unfettered access to its entire catalog of curated music. Artlist’s simple licensing means no more plugging in your budget, the size of your client, or figuring the distribution channels for a custom quote: select a song, download it, and you have full access to a premium, ever-growing library. 


This site is the standard for licensing services, with a custom-curated selection of cinematic music from independent artists.  They offer varied tiers for memberships and reasonable prices for single-track licensing. In terms of their search functionality, the subtractive is additive, as you’re allowed to exclude criteria from your searches. Not into heavy drum fills? They’re gone.

And if you’re ready to pair (budget permitting), Musicbed has a tailored service that matches your project with their musicians. If you’re into reading words (as you seem to be), they also sport a quality blog (take a glance once you finish this one).


Dripping with Pacific Northwest cred out of Portland, Marmoset features a squad of indie artists and an emotive-centric search algorithm to capture the real tonality of your project (second that emotion). And then, you can stack geeked-out modifiers like track length, energy, arc, and instrumentation to narrow the search and expand your creative possibilities. 

Pitchfork-approved-sounding tracks along with throwback jams make for an ideal soundscape to choose from, while Marmoset Radio shuffles the contents of their library so you can sample their wares. And Marmoset serves as not just a licensing platform but a full-service music agency/studio, providing custom compositions with their in-house musicians. 


Soundstripe has two subscription tiers — with the first, you get unlimited access to their music. The second tier is more intriguing, though. Here, you get all the sounds and the power to download individual bits for certain tracks, as well as a library of sound effects.

You can summon your inner Dr. Dre/Jimmy Iovine, playing producer/engineer by creating a customized blend of song elements or eliminating certain pieces, e.g., vocals, percussion, strings. Make your music work for you. 

Music in Motion for Video Content

Beyond licensing and pricing, know the purpose of the music in your video. Who’s your audience, what’s your message, and which feeling are you out to evoke? Choose wisely. The right track can get you energized, give you pause, pull the focus in, provoke thought, and it’s all delivered straight to the limbic system. Major chords inspire smiles; minor chords might make you cry. The right notes in the right tone set the tone for your video content.

Music knows what every marketer should: the best kind of engagement is a memorable, emotional one — especially when it’s on-brand/message.