Free and ultra-cheap music, stock footage and imagery to enhance your multi-media projects

If you’re an indie type, where do you find music to put into your videos that won’t cripple your budget? Where can you find stock photography that won’t break the bank?

A dog that certainly deserves fame and fortune

These are things I’ve asked myself over the years working on a variety of multimedia projects. It’s true that while working on projects that have 0% of turning a profit (like a music video I made starring my dog), I have been a little, shall we say, flexible about sourcing, when working on business-related projects, I’m absolutely scrupulous about being on the up-and-up.

Why? What if your video or book becomes massively popular? You don’t want someone to come and hunt you down for the rights to their song or photograph.

So please, look into permissions, and credit where credit is due. That said, for those of you out there working on an absolute shoestring budget, here are some awesome resources that might help you:


Buying stock photographs is insanely expensive. Instead, I try to use material that I’ve shot, or head over to the Creative Commons search tool to go through relevant imagery on Flickr.

What is “Creative Commons” you might be wondering? Well, according to the site, “Creative Commons¬†licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators.” Which means it sometime affords creators access to work that they can remix, so long as they credit the original author.

Creative Commons offers a number of different liscences, some of which will and will not work with commercial endeavors, so read carefully.

Stock footage

The Prelinger Archive¬†is a pretty incredible online archive of ephemeral films that are largely in the public domain. These are training films, PSAs and other utterly addictive stuff from days of yore. You’ll while away hours checking out this stuff — and best of all it’s FREE. So get inspired!


Ever since I started using editing software (I was sixteen) I discover that music transformed everything. At that time, my work was broadcast over closed caption televisions at my high school, so I was young and naive and didn’t think a lot about “rights.”

As soon as I started producing TV spots for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, that all changed. We had a micro-budget but still needed a way to draw together a spot with music. I had to get creative. Here are some of my favorite resources:

  • Jamendo: there are loads of great tracks on this site, and because lots of it is licensed under Creative Commons, you can use it for free or cheap (if your production meets certain conditions).
  • – Note that “royalty free” doesn’t mean FREE, but it can mean less expensive that lining up a rights negotiation with a label, for instance.
  • Royalty Free Breakbeats (iTunes link) – I love this set for absolutely minimalistic budgets. It’s a hundred tracks of breakbeats and other contemporary background music for ten bucks! You need this is your library!
  • Apple library – the library of music that comes with iMovie and Final Cut is pretty cool. My one caveat is that you’ll hear it on a lot of stuff, so if you want your piece to feel more original, do a little more searching.

Hope you’ve found something new in this list — what’s your favorite source for free multimedia resources?

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