Free soundtrack music on YouTube? Who knew?

Did you know that you can add copyright-cleared music to any video you upload to YouTube? I didn’t, until this week.

Super-intern and video blogger Alyssa Levenberg was assembling a video slideshow of photos submitted by members of our Class of 2018 proudly declaring their college choices by wearing Oswego gear when we hit a sticky wicket. The song she originally wanted to use wouldn’t clear YouTube copyright control (redacted rant about how we already pay for music licensing), yet when I went to figure out what options existed, YouTube offered a solution via its audio library.

Audio library? Full of music you can add for free? Have I been under a rock?

Perhaps, since the feature has been around a couple years. But the process of adding music is pretty easy. From your account’s Video Manager page, click on the arrow next to the Edit prompt by the thumbnail:

Screen shot 2014-05-21 at 1.32.57 PM

 

Click on Audio and your video will appear with a selection of top songs you can add. Or you can click the Top Tracks tab and get a variety of genres from ambient to alternative & punk, classical to country & folk, rock to reggae, among others.

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With the video playing, click on the tracks (which include lengths, which is helpful) and see how they work with your visuals. That song doesn’t work? Click and try another. You can also search a database of what YouTube lists as 150,000+ tracks. Honestly, I thought a lot of the songs were good and catchy and flexible enough to work with many videos. You can also use the Position Audio feature to drop it in or out when you want it.

If you do a search, which you can even do by genre, you can scroll down and see all the songs offered, or even sort by songs that could fit your video’s length.

Screen shot 2014-05-21 at 1.59.44 PM

If I had one critique, it’s that the minimum audio level available (if you slide the bar that says Only Music all the way left it will give you a lower volume and change to Favor Original Audio) can still be a bit high if your video involves a person speaking and you want the words to be clear. Maybe YouTube will tweak this feature eventually, although if you mix the original audio higher maybe it could work better. You’ve probably never heard of most of the artists available, but good music is good music regardless of whether it’s a recognizable artist.

And honestly, for a free fix that provides compelling background music for videos, the added audio feature for YouTube basically hits the right notes.

 

 

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