Creative Commons Audio

This chapter includes information about:

  • Resources for free-to-use audio files
  • How to search for Creative Commons files

Using music or sound effects in an audio story as a supporting element can often enhance the listening experience and even help establish a pace and structure for the story. Audio stories on radio programs or in podcasts often include an introduction or conclusion with music. Other stories incorporate a music bed as the foundation for interviews or narrative segments.

As discussed earlier in our copyright readings, the Creative Commons license allows artists to share their music with this type of license while requiring attribution. Here are some resources for Creative Commons music and sound effects:

Creative Commons Music Communities: This excellent resource links to several additional places to find music licensed under Creative Commons.

Soundcloud: Like many other sites, Soundcloud hosts both copyrighted and Creative-Commons licensed music. Make sure any music you use is clearly labeled as free to use, and use common sense about whether the person who uploaded it is the rightful owner. (Just because a Soundcloud user named “elsa4eva” uploaded the entire soundtrack to Disney’s “Frozen” with a Creative Commons license doesn’t mean that music is actually free to use.) Filter results for the whole site by selecting Tracks and the appropriate filters.

soundcloud-filter-cc This website hosts tons of free-to-use sounds including footsteps, crickets, rain, walking, traffic, heartbeats and more. These sound effects are known as Foley Sounds.

BandCamp: This site is designed for music artists to upload and share their work, and some of the music is licensed under Creative Commons. Browsing the music tagged with “creative commons” is a good place to start.

Musopen: This nonprofit is dedicated to making free-to-use music materials accessible to the public, with an emphasis on education. This includes music recordings released under Creative Commons licenses and sheet music for free-to-use compositions that you could perform yourself.

Public Domain Sherpa: This site keeps a list of sound recordings in the public domain (meaning no restrictions whatsoever) and also explains why the selection of public domain music remains small.

If you do use music or sound effects that you did not create yourself, be sure in your post to link to the original source music you use. That page should clearly identify the music as licensed with a free-to-remix license.