Filmmaking has a lot of hidden costs so here's how to get the best soundtrack on a shoestring budget

Gladiator, Jurassic Park and Guardians of the Galaxy – what do these films have in common? A great soundtrack.

Music punctuates great footage and has the power to elevate your production to a higher professional standard or, if you’re stuck with free jingles, really lower the quality of your film.

Now while you’re unlikely to rival Hans Zimmer with your soundtrack, you don’t need to have a Hollywood budget to include great music.

We’ll show you the best places to go without breaking any copyright laws.

SoundCloud

The online audio distribution platform has a section dedicated to music uploaded under Creative Commons, which allows you to use artists’ original work but only under certain stipulations. It’s a good idea to brush up on your understanding of creative commons before downloading to see how you can use the music.

SoundCloud has over 500 tracks to get you started and with everything from instrumental track to pop music, its a great resource for a filmmaker.

Check it out here.

YouTube Audio Library

YouTube launched its own audio library back in 2013 and it’s been a great source of free-music since then. The search function allows you to narrow down what you need by genre, mood, duration and even instrument so you’re sure to find something you need. There’s also a bunch of great sound effects to help you on your way too.

Some tracks need Creative Commons attributions so make sure you check when you find the track for you.

Check it out here.

Premium Beat

Premium Beat has a dedicated music library full of royalty free music to make your short film sound like a blockbuster. The library is designed with film, video and media projects in mind so has plenty of options for whatever you’re looking for.

The only caveat with this site is that you’ll need to pay for a license first before downloading your music, but you can browse before you buy.

Check it out here.

Incompetech

American composer Kevin MacLeod has a library of music free for you to use under a Creative Commons license. Widely used and recommended, his work varies from classic rock to hard electronic alongside the ability to search by film genre for what you need.

Check it out here.

ccMixter

Another site that works under the Creative Commons license, ccMixter is a collaborative hub where musicians upload original samples and singers upload original acapellas to be mixed. Therefore, this site suits the more editorially skilled among us but it’s a great way to have some unique music in your soundtracks.

Check it out here.

Free Soundtrack Music

This one does what it says on the tin with many tracks labelled as free for use. However, these may only be used if the composer and the URL of this site is cited in the credits. It’s also a good idea to have a look at their licensing stipulations.

Check it out here.

There are some great resources out there to help make your soundtrack the best it can be but make sure you check all the licensing rules and regulations before using content to avoid any problems.

And remember that the artists retain the copyright to the majority of this music.

Check out our top tips on recording your own audio with your video.