Film Soundtracks and Score

Sound | By: indie

If you believe an acting performance or a beautiful scene can solidify an emotional reaction from an audience alone, think again. Your film score, if implemented properly, has the potential to do more to set the mood of a scene than the visuals themselves.

While it’s never legal to use copyrighted music in any form without permission, no one’s going to bother you if you make a no-budget movie to show friends and family and use your favorite inspirational U2 song in the background. As long as you don’t try to sell or distribute your film, your film score can technically contain any music you want.

Just as a warning, YouTube™ will almost automatically toss any video that contains a song whose
artist or label has banned it from use, and they’ll check submissions for those songs fairly regularly. You might be able to get away with using copyrighted tracks as film soundtracks, but in most cases its easier to just use music you know won’t be disputed.

Where Can I Get Music For My Videos?

Well, there are a lot of places actually. Following are some ideas to get you moving toward assembling the quintessential film soundtrack.

  • Seek out websites that offer royalty free music. A great resource is, which contains a huge and growing library of not only production music, but sound effects as well.

  • AudioJungle is another great resource that has tons of cinematic production music. You’ll pay a few dollars for it, but the selection and quality are incredible for the price.

  • Know any friends who have small-time local bands? Why not ask them if you can use their songs for your film soundtracks? Most indie musicians would welcome the exposure, and if they’re unsigned to a label it means they own the copyrights to their own music, so they can provide you with the permission you need to use it for your projects.

    Believe it or not, I’ve heard stories of major label artists seeing one of their songs as soundtracks in commercials without their record label ever telling them they’d licensed the song for use. Artists who are unsigned have the advantage of owning the rights to the music they record, so you just have to ask them for permission to use their songs in a film soundtrack.

  • Brew your own film soundtrack using loop programs like FL Studio

    (formerly FruityLoops), MixCraft and Acid Music Studio. Anyone with a computer and some basic knowledge of what music sounds like (I’m not exaggerating here) can make beats and songs with one of these programs to use in their film soundtrack.

  • Record songs for your film score in your home studio. For advanced users and filmmakers who also happen to be musicians, like myself, it’s a ton of work but it’s quite possible to compose and record scoring for any film you create if you’ve got enough time, patience, and motivation.

  • Use major label tunes with caution; as I mentioned earlier, no one will probably bother you (or
    even notice) if you use a song you heard on the radio, or assemble your favorites from iTunes™. In
    fact it can be pretty fun to search your music library for songs that will fit well into your film score.

    I’m not trying to advocate any illegal activities here, but if you go this route just make sure you don’t get caught by the film soundtrack police (which don’t actually… er… exist).

    Making Beautiful Music

    So now, assuming you’re not deaf, mute, bankrupt and without limbs, you should be able to create, buy, steal, or beg for songs to use in your film score. If so, good job on being a capable individual. Now there are a few different ways you can tailor your film score to invoke the emotional reaction you want from your audience during various parts of your movie. Read more about how to do this by using background music.

  • Comments

    Comment from Raymond Davenport
    Time: December 10, 2011, 3:23 pm

    where do I get samples of sounds and music (royalty free) for a film or video?

    Comment from indie
    Time: June 27, 2012, 7:47 pm

    Raymond – start with the Free Sound Project (

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