May 24, 2024

How to Source Music for Your Digital Marketing

How can you ensure that your digital marketing campaigns cut through all the online noise?

In this age of multimedia content, delivering a mix of value-driven content and head-turning visuals is a given—but what about music? Adding well-chosen music to your marketing campaigns can help you strike the right notes and set you apart from the competition. 

With short-form videos growing in popularity on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, choosing snappy compositions that grab attention and spark engagement has never been more important.

But picking music for your digital marketing isn’t always a case of simply picking a song you like and laying it over a video marketing campaign, digital ad, or piece of social media content. You need to be mindful of the legal rights and boundaries.

Here, we’re going to look at the right ways to source music that can bring your campaigns to life.

“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.” —Sarah Dessen, Just Listen
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The power of music in digital marketing

We all love a good piece of music. And it’s amazing how a melody or series of notes can have such a profound effect on us. Music can evoke a strong sense of emotion and is proven to sharpen our cognitive health, and help you relax and feel more motivated.

Ads with some form of music perform better than others across four key metrics: creative; empathy; emotive; and information
Ads with some form of music perform better than others across four key metrics: creative; empathy; emotive; and information

Add the right track, melody, or sounds to your digital marketing content and not only will you breathe fresh notes into your messaging, but you’re also likely to create a stronger brand connection.

This can also lead to:

  • Better brand awareness
  • A stronger emotional connection with your content
  • A greater chance of grabbing attention in a crowded digital space
  • Amplified your brand image
  • Boosted engagement and conversions

Inspiring marketing

This powerful piece of video marketing from outdoors brand Decathlon, for example, was enhanced by its emotionally driven choice of instrumental music. The piece earned huge engagement and amplified its core message in the process.

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Also, Starbucks’ ‘Every Table Tells a Story’ campaign video rang out clearly with a soft yet meditative musical backdrop that perfectly complemented its visuals and storytelling. This informed choice of music cemented the ad's gentle yet evocative feel, really driving the brand message home. Choosing the wrong piece of music would have undermined that ad’s visuals. 

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How to source music for your digital marketing content

Now that you know how powerful a force music can be when it comes to your digital marketing efforts, let’s look at how to source the right sounds for your campaigns and content.

Know what you want to achieve

Before you start sourcing music for your digital marketing campaigns, consider your aims, goals, and audience. This will help you narrow your search for the right sounds while ensuring you end up with music that enhances your content.

Before sourcing music for your digital marketing content, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the core aim of my campaign? For instance, is it to promote a particular product? Is it to boost your brand awareness or gain more email subscribers?
  • Who is my audience? Consider the demographic, and what kind of music, songs, or sounds are likely to resonate with them the most. Working with a buyer persona will help with your efforts.
  • What is my budget for buying licensing and sourcing music for my content or campaigns? Not all music is free, so you need to know how much you can spend. This will then help you create a shortlist of potential sources.

Try Creative Commons and public domain sources

First, see if you can source music from Creative Commons libraries and public domain sites. You can often use public-domain music as long as you credit the artist or pay a small fee.

A wide range of composers and musicians distribute their music for free through Creative Commons music licensing, and there are several platforms to explore.

What’s the difference between Creative Commons music and stock music

Creative Commons (CC) music and stock music serve similar purposes. They both enable marketers to find music for their campaigns without having to compose or license original music.

However, there are some key differences between the two:

  • Licensing terms: Creative Commons music is released under various Creative Commons licenses, which allow for different levels of freedom in using the music. Some CC licenses allow for commercial use, remixing, and sharing with attribution. Others, however, may restrict these to varying degrees. Stock music, on the other hand, is usually licensed for commercial use and often requires purchasing a license from the provider.
  • Cost: Creative Commons music is usually available for free, because the creators have chosen to share their work with the public under a CC license. Stock music, on the other hand, usually involves a fee for licensing, although there may be some free or low-cost options available.
  • Quality and variety: Stock music libraries often offer a wider range of high-quality music tracks, including professional compositions and recordings produced especially for commercial use. Creative Commons music can vary widely in quality and style because it’s created and shared by people with different levels of expertise and music-making resources. It’s a pretty mixed symphony!
  • Attribution: Many Creative Commons licenses require attribution to the original creator when the music is used. Stock music licenses don't usually require attribution, although it's always good practice to credit the creator when possible.

So, while both CC music and stock music provide options for finding music for projects, the main differences lie in licensing terms, cost, quality, and attribution requirements.

Music platforms and tools

Creative Commons Licensed Music

  • ccMixter: A comprehensive community for CC music and compositions
  • Free Music Archive: An easy-to-navigate platform with high-quality free and paid options 
  • Jamendo: A platform for discovering CC and stock music while connecting with independent artists for musical projects or collaborations

Royalty-free and stock music platforms

  • PremiumBeat: A comprehensive music library offering pretty much every genre of music imaginable. 
  • Epidemic Sound: One of the web’s largest music and sound effects libraries.

AI tools for music generation

  • Canva: This savvy platform has evolved from an image and graphics creation platform. It's now offering its very own intuitive AI music generator tool with both free and paid options.
  • Mubert: This highly-intuitive platform also boasts its very open AI music generator features which span multiple genres. So far, it’s been used by the likes of Forbes, AdWeek, and Wired.

Tip: You should always double-check the specific licensing information for each piece of music you consider using. Each platform will provide information on the specific type of licensing related to each piece of music.

CC licenses include Copy & Publish; Attribution Required; Commercial Use; Modify & Adapt; and Change License.
CC licenses include Copy & Publish; Attribution Required; Commercial Use; Modify & Adapt; and Change License.

Some will offer licensing for a small fee, while others will simply require you to credit the artist clearly within your marketing content or campaign.

To understand each specific piece of music licensing in more detail, check out the official Creative Commons website.

Leverage TikTok’s music library for short-form video content

In addition to being touted as the new search engine for GenZ, TikTok boasts an extensive library of music, foley, and sound effects to add to videos.

However, while there are over 500,000 pieces of music you can potentially add to your videos, you need to carefully navigate the advertising restrictions. To ensure you’re able to legally use a piece of music from TikTok’s ever-growing sound library, you need to apply the right filters for commercial use.

Tip: Visit TikTok’s Creative Center to discover the most popular audio for commercial use to tap into current trends and earn more engagement with your content.

Patagonia, for example, makes consistently cohesive commercial music choices to fit the theme and tone of their video ads on TikTok.

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Approach artists for a brand collaboration

Instead of sourcing music from libraries, you could consider approaching artists directly for a possible brand collaboration.

Use the same approach that you’d use when working with any other influencer. For example, make sure you choose artists who align with your brand image and values. 

If you find the right artist, you might secure high-quality music that invigorates your brand and extends your reach. And you could tap into the artist’s existing audience. 

By reaching out to micro music influencers who you feel would fit your campaign, as well as your brand image, you’ll help your marketing campaigns stand out while tapping into communities that are likely to engage with what you have to offer.

Iconic guitar brand Fender, boasts a long list of collaborations with musicians (it does fit the brand mission after all), including this one with Bruno Mars.

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Commission your own compositions

Sometimes, you just can’t find the exact piece of music that you need for your content. In these cases, why not commission a brand new piece of music? This gives you greater freedom to ensure the music complements your message. 

If you’re specifically looking for a relatively short piece of instrumental music, explore talent marketplaces such as Fiverr, Twine, Bark, or Upwork. These are cost-effective places to source talented composers for your marketing needs.

To help ensure that you get the very best return on investment when working with composers, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Take your time to compare composers.
  • Look at previous client reviews and testimonials in detail.
  • Be clear about your budget and expectations.
  • Detail exactly what you’re looking for and provide relevant examples.
  • Request sample work and a portfolio from prospective composers before committing.

Once you’ve found a suitable composer (or a small pool of composers), you can commission completely original music to use at your leisure.

American Eagle commissioned popular solo artist Katherine Li to recreate a version of her hit song ‘Happening Again’ for an ad campaign to tap into the hearts and minds of its target audience.

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7 top tips for sourcing music for marketing

To summarize, here are some top tips to consider when sourcing music for your marketing efforts.

1. Match the music to your brand and message

Always make sure the music you use aligns with your brand image and the emotions you want to evoke from your audience.

2. Consider your target audience

What kind of music resonates with them? Research popular music genres within your demographic.

3. Pay attention to licensing

Always check licensing terms before using music. Find out if attribution is needed for a song or arrangement, and if you can use it for commercial purposes.

4. Use high-quality audio

Grainy or unprofessional audio will only serve to derail your campaign or content. So, take your time and get your music from reputable sources.

5. Get permission when using copyrighted music

Copyright infringement can lead to legal trouble. Only use music with the proper licensing.

6. Consider the emotional impact

Music should enhance your message, not overpower it. Choose music that complements your visuals and messaging. Your music should work in harmony with every other element of your campaign.

7. Think about placement

Consider where the music will be used. For instance, an upbeat composition that is musically busy might not work well for a long explainer video, but could be perfect for a punchy social media ad or more visual video piece.


If you follow these tips and carefully explore all the avenues available to you, you should be able to find the piece of music that strikes the perfect note for your campaigns! 

“Where words leave off, music begins.” Heinrich Heine

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Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes

Dan is a content writer specializing in digital marketing, emerging tech, music and looking after a toddler. You can find out more about him and his work by visiting his Catchy Space.

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