Why You Should Use Public Domain Music In Your Film Soundtrack

If you are an aspiring filmmaker looking to bring to life a superb vision that matches your imagination then it’s never been easier than it is to do so. In 2021 the associated costs of making, and indeed distributing, your movie are lower than ever.

The technology contained within a single, at least average, smartphone is effective enough to film your movie. Of course if you have the budget you could invest in a film camera, though be aware that the high-end of that market can set you back thousands of dollars.

Built in microphones on mobile phones are now superior enough to record the dialogue in your movie, though again putting some money into a good boom mic could help pick up a more nuanced sound spectrum.

The Democratization of Content

The production of content, be that film, music, social media videos or even a theatre production, has experienced something of a shift over the past decade. Whereas the general public eagerly awaited and viewed entertainment from traditional channels (from national tv channels to purchasing a CD from a music store), now everything is consumed online.

That has led to the seemingly never ending expansion of user generated content. Previously content produced by individuals, and not big budget production companies, meant a poorly produced product, this is no longer necessarily the case.

Now you can fairly easily, with enough patience and drive, produce your own content at a fraction of the cost. Even pushing your content to the masses is possible without spending thousands on distribution.

If you are social media savvy, or have a strong influential following, you can make sure that what you produce is seen by as many eyes as possible. Word of mouth travels fast on these platforms and pretty soon your small-time production could be a viral sensation.

Making Your Film Soundtrack On a Budget

A key part of the production process, especially on a short-film or feature length movie, is the soundtrack. That soundtrack could be made up of atmospheric ambient audio, SFX and a number of chosen tracks. 

This is how most movie scores are put together, they combine all the elements you’d want to hear accompanying the visuals of a movie.

The cost of putting these together can also be reduced greatly. Rather than looking to secure a license for a mainstream song, you can instead look to find some great royalty-free music that will be an ideal fit for a relevant scene in your film.

Royalty-free music is a branch of music that allows users to cost effectively use a chosen song for a flat-rate fee, far lower than the fee you’d pay a big production house. 

This service is provided by a number of popular sites that have been built out of the growing need for this niche. 

Another option, when it comes to producing your film soundtrack, is to use public domain music, this is an even cheaper option to consider.

What is Public Domain Music?

Public domain music refers to music that is without a copyright and as such can be used without needing to garner permission. The music we are referring to here may not have a copyright for a number of different reasons.

Firstly the music may date back to before a time when the idea of copyright didn’t even really exist, so we are talking here chiefly about classical music from over a century ago, or older.

Secondly there are, on occasion, songs by artists that saw the copyright expire, leading to the now legal free usage of the tracks. This usually relates to modern music made by an artist who may have passed away 50 years or more ago.

It is possible, when looking in the right place, to find some real gems that are without copyright. These tracks may well be hugely effective in a movie that is perhaps set in a different time, like a period drama of some kind.

There is a catch though. It’s not particularly easy to locate the relevant track and it’s highly unlikely that a favorite song of yours will be available on a public domain basis.

The use of public domain music, and footage, is an interesting angle to consider if you are looking to round off your film production and will help to keep the overall costs of your next film production down to the bare minimum.

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