Pros & Cons of Using Royalty Free Music in Games

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Music in games is really important, yet it can also be one of the hardest areas to get right.  For those starting out it is also important to be able to find suitable music that will enhance gameplay, but also work on a budget. (You may also want to see: 5 Reasons to Invest in Great Game Music)

One of the options available is to look for royalty free music. What is this exactly? Well, royalty free music essentially refers to music that is licensed to you in a way that lets you pay for it once, but use it as many times as you like and for as long as you like.  The royalty free element refers to the fact that you will not need to pay any ongoing royalties for using a piece of music.  

There are many royalty free music libraries that can be found online and which offer this type of music.  Some offer music for free, and others for a small fee. visit my royalty free music section to browse through music by Ninichi. 

Here I’ve tried to outline the main pros and cons of using royalty free music in your game:

PROS for using Royalty Free Music in Your Game

  • It is often seen as a cheaper way to source music for your game
  • There are many many production libraries online which have a wealth of music available for you to choose from
  • You can listen to the music before you buy
  • You often have the opportunity to choose between a shorter version of the track, or a longer version
  • Once you have found the music you want, it’s quick and easy to download and to start using the music in your game

CONS of using Royalty Free Music in Your Game

  • Although there is a lot of music to choose from, you may not find what you’re looking for
  • It can be a time-consuming process to trawl through the different royalty free music sites and to listen to the range of music that’s available
  • Some stock library music doesn’t always loop well and so this is something to keep in mind when selecting the tracks
  • If the track you want is popular, it is more than likely that it has been used by many other people in their games and other projects - so it won’t be unique to you
  • You may need to spend time adapting the track to suit your game since what is available will be fixed in length and how it sounds i.e. the instrumentation
  • If you purchase a range of tracks for different parts of your game, the music may not sound consistent or cohesive
  • It will be difficult to adapt tracks and recycle themes for different moods and settings within your game, since the music that you buy is fixed. (Also see 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Music For Your Game)

About the author: Ninichi is a freelance composer and music enthusiast. She is the in-house composer for games company Quinton Studios and enjoys working on a range of freelance composing projects for games, film, media and other commercial uses. 

Find out more about her game music or royalty free music and contact her to discuss your project and music needs.

Follow her @ninichimusic