Originally royalty free music was designed for business, educational media productions and radio/television. It was music for video producers that could not afford to license music from the commercial license companies. Today stock music companies have expanded to new media distribution options.
Think of royalty free music like a music rental store with a long term lease. You find a ditty that you would like to use in your video. You pay a one time price and you can use that song as much as you want.
Well, almost. There are some royalty free music companies that have a time limit on how long you can use the music. Others sources allow forever and a day except that you can't necessarily use it how you want.
You might be restricted by staying in a specific distribution channel. You have to read the terms of service. (You always have to read the terms of service.)
Some royalty companies have a pay scale for business/industrial use only, educational use or if you use it for a broadcast television production you might pay a lot more. But not as much as and ASCAP or BMI music licenses.
For example, if you pay for a business/industrial use license that doesn't necessarily mean that you can use it on the corporate blog. Or you can use the song on your website but not in a podcast.
The music? Well again that depended on your needs. The music often is formatted for short intros, loops, bumpers or full songs. Or not. The quality would be based on the age of the music and the quality level accepted by the music stock house.
If you are looking for Acid Pop or Techno Punk type tunes you'd have to search for those vendors that provide that type of music. Not all do. It really depends on the vendor's catalog of music.
For most web video users I think using podsafe music, Creative Commons music and public domain music is the way to go. But if you are interesting in professional productions or a certain level of quality in your video this is a great option.
Other Royalty Free Music Resources
The Beat Suite has a good information page about what royalty free music is and is not. You can also look at the sidebar to see the range of music types. You also want to glance at their license and cost page to find out using their music is affordable for your production.
Fresh Music's FAQ is lean but you do learn quickly what you are purchasing, the formats available and the music file type provided.
Videomaker Magazine has an article, Buyout Music For Video about royalty free music. The article includes a list of vendors that sell CD/downloadable stock music. The article is from 2002 but there is an updated list from 2007 of the various royalty free music vendors that you can view as an Adobe file.
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