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How to Use the Free Audio Library from YouTube

Need some background music for your videos? Did you know YouTube has a free audio library for that purpose? While it’s not as robust as some premium services, out there, it does have quite a collection growing. So, how do you use the YouTube audio library for videos?

It’s actually relatively simple. You’ll more than likely spend more time trying to find that perfect musical score to fit your specific video.

Using the Free YouTube Audio Library

For this tutorial, I’m going to assume you have a YouTube channel and your own editing software. I like to use Premiere Pro, but my daughter is more partial to the free version of HitFilm.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Access the YouTube Audio Library

The free audio library from YouTube is located in the Creator Studio for your channel in the left column. It should be the last function in the list unless you have something like the vidIQ Chrome Extension installed.

From your channel dashboard, scroll down the bottom of the left column and click, “Audio library.”

YouTube Audio Library

Step 2: Select a Soundtrack to Download

In the Audio Library, you’ll find three separate tabs: Music, Sound effects, and Starred. YouTube periodically adds more to this list, sometimes each month. At the time of this post, there are more than 1700 scores you can download.

For this tutorial, we’re looking for music. But the same steps apply if you want to add free sound effects.

Hover over the music you want and click the “Download” link.

Download Song

The piece will then be downloaded to your computer.

NOTE: There are two types of music you can download from YouTube. You can use regular YouTube-licensed music or those that require attribution.

If you see the YouTube logo under the license type, then you can use it freely in your videos without attribution. Just add it to your video and you’re good to go.

However, if there is the Creative Commons logo, which is the CC icon, then you’ll need to add attribution to use the music.

Using Creative Commons Attribution

When using a song that requires Creative Commons Attribution, you’ll need to add a segment of text to your video’s description. To find this text, click the CC icon under the License type for that particular piece of music.

The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 window will appear that has the text. All you need to do is copy and paste that text at the bottom of your video’s description.

Creative Commons Attribution on YouTube

This essentially tells the viewer where to find the source, the artist, and other short licensing information.

In reality, there are currently fewer than 100 songs in the YouTube Audio Library that require attribution. The vast majority of the library is completely free to use without further action.

Filters Galore to Help You Find Specific Music

If you’re looking for something in particular, YouTube has a series of filters to help you find it. Click on the filter icon above the music list (the three horizontal lines). From here, you can select moods, genres, duration, and more.

Filter Music in YouTube

Step 3: Add the Music to Your Video

Once you download the music file, all that’s left is to add it to your video. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how to do this because it’ll be up to you and what you’re trying to create.

As the music files are all MP3, you can use virtually any video editing software. In fact, I don’t know of a video editor that doesn’t support MP3 audio files.

Using the YouTube Editor (Optional)

Alternatively to using video editing software, you can add music from the YouTube Audio Library directly to any video on your channel.

You can do this by using the YouTube Video Editor. It’s not nearly as robust as free editing software, but it can do the basics in a pinch when needed. And it’s exceptionally useful if part of your video is getting flagged by YouTube. You can quickly trim and cut that part out.

That’s a tutorial for another day, though.

Simply access the video editor for any video in your library. Then, click the Audio option.

Audio Option

From here, you’ll have access to the YouTube Audio Library directly. However, it won’t show you the same extensive list. You’ll have to use the filters to narrow down your search unless you know the title of the music.

Once you find a song, click the “Add” option and it will be added to the video.

YouTube Audio Library Add Button

If you need to decrease the volume of the music so it doesn’t drown out your original audio, click the mix level adjustment tool on the right.

Mix Level Adjustment

This will bring up a volume slider that you can decrease so that it fits your video’s purpose.

Use the playback option in the video screen to test how it sounds. Once you’ve adjusted the levels to your liking, just click the Save button and YouTube will do the rest.

NOTE: You can use the slider to select where the music will start or use the timer box to find a precise location in the video.

Slider and Timer

Pros and Cons of the YouTube Audio Library

Although the YouTube Audio Library is free to use, it’s not without a few drawbacks. Depending on the purpose of the video and your target audience, you may want to explore other options for royalty-free music.

Still, there are some highlights to using the library to your advantage.

*Has more than 600 music and 600 sound effect files available
*Easy to use and download audio files
*Filter by genre, mood, and duration for that perfect fit
*Star your favorites so you can come back to them later
*Absolutely free – meaning you don’t need to pay a subscription fee for “royalty-free” music
*Not unique, as many creators on YouTube use them
*Updated monthly, but not a lot of files each time

How Much Does Background Music Really Matter?

Not all successful YouTubers use background music. Does that mean it’s unnecessary? No. For the most part, it all comes down to your audience and what you have in the video to break up the monotony.

Music is simply an extra element that may be helpful to engage the mind of the viewer to continue watching. It doesn’t always work that way, but it can be helpful in some situations.

For example, I’ve found that certain types of music playing softly in the background have increased the average watch time of those specific videos.

One thing you can do is track how viewers behave with the video before the music and then track the data after adding it. What you want to pay close attention to is the average view duration.

In the end, not all audiences care to have music playing in the background. Some are more inclined to watch B-roll while others are happy just watching the creator.

As with everything on YouTube, using music is really up to your target audience and what works best to keep them watching.

Questions About the YouTube Audio Library?

Is the YouTube Audio Library Copyright Free?

All files within the audio library are free from copyright protections, and only those labeled as CC need attribution for the Creative Commons 4.0 license.

Can anyone use the YouTube Audio Library?

The files in the audio library are available for all YouTube creators to use. However, those in the YPP (YouTube Partner Program) also have access to Creator Music, which greatly expands what you can use in your videos.

Can you use Audio Library tracks outside of YouTube?

The tracks within the YouTube Audio Library are for YouTube creators to use. If you want to use the music or sound effects outside of YouTube, you need to contact the original creator and receive permission to do so.

Can you use YouTube audio tracks in your Shorts videos?

The audio tracks in the library are available for Shorts use. However, you also have access to copyrighted music through the in-app Shorts audio library. This has a collection of popular music tracks from record label partners who have signed a special licensing agreement with YouTube for use in Shorts only.

Do You Use Background Music in Your Videos?

I’ll use different types of music in the background depending on the topic. If it’s a tutorial, I have a few “fun” jams I play from the YouTube Audio Library. If it’s more of a motivational video, then I use some kind of calm or motivational music.

Then, I have the same outro music that I play on every video. It all comes down to trial and error and seeing what works best for my viewers.

What kind of background music are you using for your videos?

Michael Brockbank

Michael Brockbank

Michael has been managing YouTube channels for the better part of a decade. He's continuously working to find the best methods that work for various types of content from gaming to website tutorials.

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