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Jamendo and FreeSound: Two Awesome Sources for Creative Commons Music and Sound

04.26.12 @ 10:37AM Tags : , , , , ,

Sometimes it’s an unfortunate reality in filmmaking that you may not have time to work with a musician to score your project, nor to go out with a field recorder to obtain all the sound effects you need. It’s at times like these that Jamendo and FreeSound are my CC-licensed lifesavers. Each site offers a substantial catalog of audio media some of which you can use freely with attribution, some of which you can only use non-commercially with attribution, and some which the artist has released to the public domain. Jamendo also has options for relatively reasonable paid licensing for various project types, as well as a handy-looking iPhone app:

As for the paid licensing, the costs depends on the type of project you will be using the music for, how long you want to license the music for, and the regions where your project will be seen. License fees tend to range anywhere from around $25 to about $1190 (or more if you want to cover what they call “Cross Media”), and the artists gets a 50% cut. Jamendo has a page that goes into all these details here.

FreeSound is essentially what it says it is: free sound. All you do is sign up for a free account and you can download sound effects and music samples to your heart’s content. Unlike Jamendo, FreeSound does not offer paid licensing for their media, but they do provide information on the CC licenses they use. Usually you’ll find files in AIFF, WAV, or MP3 format, but you will occasionally come across an OGG or FLAC that needs to be converted.

I love the fact that there are sites like these where artists can share their media and receive attribution and/or direct compensation for their work. But I wonder, do you think Jamendo’s 50/50 split with their artists is fair? Would you like to see FreeSound offer a paid licensing option? And have you used Jamendo or FreeSound for your projects? If so, what has your experience been with these sites?

Links: Jamendo, FreeSound


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  • I use to use Jamendo, but now I find myself almost always using SoundCloud to find creative commons music, for both personal and commercial work.

  • is fantastic for indie sound design. I’ve completed many shorts that have gotten most of their sound design from Freesound. Foley can be expensive and time consuming, and if you’re not trying to have the most technically perfect sound design or if you have no budget, it works pretty well. I would recommend it to anyone starting to play with sound in film.

  • is also another awesome place to get CC sound FX. is some ways better than Freesound

    • Never herd of SoundBible, place looks SWEET! I’ve been using FreeSound for years now, but this in conjunction to FS is damn awesome!

  • john jeffreys on 04.26.12 @ 1:25PM

    There is this one website, I forgot the name though, but it is like a database of music copyrights and you type in the name of the song that you want to use in your film, (say for example, “The End” by the Doors), and it tells you the copyright info and instantly lets you pay fee for rights and you can then use the song for your work

  • It’d be cool if you could tap into these sites directly from your NLE. Imagine browsing your sound library in Premiere or FCP and checking off the box and dropping the effect/music right into yoiur project…

  • The wonderfull thing about cc licenced work is the fact that you can allways contact the artist directly to negotate for compensation or how you credit them.

  • Why the obsession on CC? Why not do articles on PD music and sound? CC is ONLY useful to people who have near infinite time to seek dozens if not hundreds of individual licence releases for one small project.

    I can say that it is actually faster to write your own music than to seek licences, even if you have cash to pay for it. I also assume that it is faster to record sound effects yourself than to ask for dozens of licences if you DARE to want to see any sort of profit. I do not know for sure, because I have always used paid Sound Libraries and my own field recordings because I shudder to imagine the paperwork trail that would ensue to get releases for every single sound used.

    Now, if you do not have a one off student short film to get music and sound for, and you are on a weekly release schedule (like an online TV show), then in my experience you would need one or two full time staff to seek licences for this weeks episode.

    So PLEASE, CC sites have been thoroughly covered in No Film School over the past 18 months. It is time to review some other sites. And if they are paid licensing Indie Music sites, PLEASE consider the DAYS of blindly searching through piles of poorly labelled/categorised and recorded songs just to find one or two songs. Try to imagine that you are under serious time restrictions like a real professional, deadlines can not be missed. Imagine you are the director needing to do this because no one else will be able to find the unknown song that has the “Vibe” that fits the scene. Imagine your time is better spent dealing with actors, rehearsals, shooting etc. Not spending days looking for two tracks is preferable.

    • Firstly, maybe it’s worth calming down? Secondly, it’s definitely worth getting your facts straight.

      CC-BY (attribution) and CC-BY-ND (attribution, no creation of direct derivatives) do not need a license release; you can do what you like as long as you give credit (and/or don’t make a new version of that sound/song and release it). Public domain stuff was also mentioned. I’ve not used Jamendo as much, but FreeSound certainly allows you to filter by license.

      Thirdly, “it’s faster to write your own music than seek licenses”? A) totally irrelevant if you look for CC-BY or CC-BY-ND and B) what? seriously? Have you considered those who don’t have any experience in making music? It takes a lot longer to learn composition, recording techniques, how to use a DAW, etc, etc than to download a song with a CC-BY license.

      It’s totally valid that you have a weekly schedule and that this isn’t suitable for you. So don’t read the article. It’s not aimed at you. If you want to suggest another article which might also be helpful to other people, go ahead, but don’t slag this one off. For some people, it’s hugely useful. Get off your high horse.

      • Maybe YOU should calm down.

        Obviously you have never operated in a professional situation. Your own language still uses “a song” as your working reference point. Professionals need not one song, not two songs, not ten songs… I myself am working on a project that will require fifty songs or more. You try attributing each and every one. And you seem to miss that most of the attribution licences are void if you DARE make a profit. Did you miss that issue, or are you absolutely convinced that everyone is like yourself, and want to add “a song” to the five minute short you shot three months ago that you hope will be out of editing in a few months?

        You also missed the point that Jamendo and other CC sites have been thoroughly covered by No Film School in the past 18 months. The whole point of my post is that CC has been covered and covered again, with very little in the way of PD or decent professional/indie music sites.

        Your horse appears to be taller than mine. Time to get back on your medication.

        • Justin Minich on 04.27.12 @ 2:25AM

          I would like to remind you of our Comment Policy, which you can find at the top of the comments section. It’s fine if you have disagreements with the article or others in the NFS community, and would like to add your own viewpoint, but please keep it civil.

        • Please actually read what I said.

          I am specifically talking about CC-BY and CC-BY-ND. I am specifically noting the difference between these and CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-ND-NC. I also specifically noted that you could filter your search to remove NC licenses. If you don’t know the definitions of these licenses, please read up before commenting.

          Correct, I’ve not worked in a professional situation. Again, read my post – I say this article wasn’t aimed at people like you, rather people more like myself. I’ve not said you were wrong on that; I’ve just said you have no reason to rant. You could just ask politely for a new article.

          While not being professional, I am in fact heavily using FreeSound CC-BY samples in a ~75 minute project, and I maintain a spreadsheet of all the credits I need to add. However, plenty of the samples I use are public domain, again from FreeSound. And again, there’s a filter for that.

        • As Luke has already said, Creative Commons Attribution licenses do NOT mean you can’t make money off of a project. CC has three different aspects it can have: Attribution, Non-commercial, and share-alike/no-derivatives (a single work cannot have both of these). If it has non-commercial, then you can’t make money off of it. Share-alike means any derivates have to also be released under the same CC license, and no-derivatives Luke has already explained.

          The attribution element simply requires a small attribution, hardly a huge effort.

  • I really like to find music on I don’t know how much they pay the artists.. but I love the search engine..

  • Checkout is another great website based on creative commons distribution

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