PremiumBeat vs. Bensound: Music Licensing and Library
PremiumBeat vs. Bensound—here’s what you need to know about the pricing, music licensing, and library size of the two music platforms.
Creating video content is a process of assembling, creating, or paying for resources that you assemble into a compelling and memorable experience. It’s as simple as that, yet it’s also (sometimes) dizzyingly difficult.
If your content feels inauthentic or cheap, that’s it—you lose. There’s far too much to click on and view to spend any time on a piece of content that misses the mark. And, regaining someone’s trust in your work after you’ve lost it is a lot harder than simply capturing their attention in the first place.
So, as a content creator, you have to make decisions about those fingerprints that your production elements are going to leave on your project. Do you have the time, budget, and bandwidth to create everything yourself—from the recording to the motion graphics to creating the music? If so, great! That’s about as authentic as it gets. Most of us, though, have to pick and choose what we’re going to build from scratch and then find the right resources to fill in the gaps.
That’s where royalty-free music comes in. Nothing can make your content feel cheaper than bad music. And, using music that you don’t have the rights to can result in takedown notices and other problems with copyright infringement. A good royalty-free track has just the right sound for your project, meaning you can cross “professional soundtrack” off your list of production elements to gather. With so much content available, don’t give your viewers any reason to look away from your work, especially when we’re talking about what they’re listening to.
Using royalty free music typically means licensing tracks from a music library, like ours. We have agreements with the musicians regarding their compensation and the rights to their work, and then we form an agreement with you. That means you’re legally covered for varying degrees of use—every royalty free-music library has different licenses or pricing plans, depending on what you want to do with the music (more on that later). This approach is cheaper than hiring a musician directly to score your project (which, if you can afford, you should absolutely do), and it offers you the legal protection to worry about other aspects of your production.
Since we got into the royalty-free music business, we’ve seen a number of other dynamic new resources join the game, so we like to take a look around from time to time and see how we measure up. In this article, we’ll compare PremiumBeat and Bensound by looking at the libraries, the licenses, the quality of the music, and the pricing, and you can decide for yourself which resource is right for you!
PremiumBeat vs. Bensound
1. Music Library
Any comparison of two royalty-free music libraries must begin with the libraries themselves. Most of the successful players in the royalty-free music licensing game have gotten where they are by offering quality tracks—lesser-quality services pop up and fizzle out. The ongoing success and popularity of these two music libraries means that both are offering professional quality tracks that can elevate your production values and maximize those production fingerprints we talked about above. So, if quality and versatility are similar, we’ll need to move on to other considerations, like the number of available tracks, noteworthy curated collections, and options for customization.
We started collecting our tracks in 2005, and we’ve been triple-vetting each one ever since. Over the course of the last fifteen years, we’ve amassed a library of over 20,000 songs. Because we’re so demanding in our vetting process, each of the tracks in the library are best-in-class quality, so no matter which genre you’re looking for, we’ve got offerings to fit your need. Each download includes shorts, loops, and stems, meaning you have endless customization options—you can fine-tune each track for a truly one-of-a-kind, professional-caliber song that no one has ever heard before.
Bensound is a newer player in the royalty free music game. It started as a library that musician Benjamin TISSOT was building himself, but he later opened up to submissions from other artists. Bensound has been in operation since 2012, and there are currently around 350 songs that you can browse in through the “all” tab, which includes all seven of the library’s categories. It’s an impressive and growing resource that’s worth content creators’ attention as it develops.
The difference in the sizes of the two libraries means that users will encounter the music in different ways. We’ll look specifically at searchability a little later on, but for now, let’s consider what it means to arrive at the libraries’ digital doors and walk through for the first time.
When you arrive at PremiumBeat, you can dive right into the listings themselves, if you choose. Many content creators, once they’ve started using our library, find that this method becomes the most effective. The more you browse our library, the more you come to recognize what it is you’re seeking in our catalog.
But back to that initial experience. The first things we offer are hot picks (chosen by our acquisitions team), trending tracks (which can give you a feel for what’s hot in the industry right now), and latest releases (in case you want to nab a track before anyone else even gets a shot at it). If that’s not enough, we sift through the library for you with specific collections, genres, and moods (you can even see what other users are searching for and tailor your approach accordingly). If you know the general feel of your project, then these categorical approaches to the library are a perfect way to start zeroing in on the tracks you’re seeking.
An important detail to keep in mind is that you’ll never visit the same library twice. We work every day to expand our offerings. Our genre collections include a little bit of everything, from K-Pop to House to Techno and beyond. We’ve got Country, Downtempo electronica, Acid Jazz, Holiday tracks, and even music for kids and tracks from around the world. Whatever it is you’re looking for, we’ve got something for you to consider. Our moods include a number of options, like relaxation/meditation, fashion/lifestyle, suspense/drama, and many more.
We hold our artists to extremely high standards, and our acquisition team works closely with our musicians to optimize the orchestration and submission to make sure what we’re receiving matches what you need. Our Signature Series on our YouTube channel will give you some insights into the people actually making the music for your projects.
Beyond your browsing options, we also continually curate high-end, white-glove libraries for those sounds you just can’t get anywhere else. On the one hand, that includes our expanding library of PRO-free (Performance Rights Organization) tracks. This is very important if you’re planning on taking your project into any form of broadcasting. PRO-free music is completely above board, meaning no one in the broadcasting process could possibly end up in any trouble over the music you’ve chosen. If you’re not planning on broadcasting, it’s not something you have to worry about. However, if you’re looking ahead to the future, it’s good to get in the habit of working PRO-free, as others in the industry won’t even want to have a conversation until you can guarantee PRO-free tracks.
On the other hand, our quest for truly unique collections takes the form of the Masterworks Collection. Have you ever wanted to include an actual score in your project? Something you’d hear on the big screen, with string sections and orchestration and that really cinematic feeling? This kind of music can be difficult to find, as it takes dozens and dozens of people to create. Our Masterworks Collection is a series of live recordings of professional orchestral music. When you want more than a handful of songs for your project, and you want something that sounds big, we’ve got what you need.
Bensound’s growing library offers eight genres that range from “acoustic” to “jazz” that you can use to filter the library down to the style you’re looking for. When you land on the Bensound homepage, you’ll see the music straightaway, which is good if you’re of a mind to immediately begin scrolling directly through the library.
The two libraries have a different curatorial approach to their tracks, so you’ll want to consider availability and scope when determining where you can find the tracks that are just right for your project.
2. Music Licensing
An important element to consider when choosing which royalty free music library is the music licensing structure. Sure, this is a somewhat un-fun conversation when you’re strolling the virtual aisles and just experimenting with sounds. But, it’s an important conversation because royalty-free music has revolutionized what content creators can do—and at what level.
In the past, unless you had a sizable budget (or some really good friends), you didn’t have many options when it came to layering music tracks into your video projects. What options you did have meant that your content didn’t sound as professional as the material coming out of the big studios. It was a form of un-democratic gatekeeping—only the wealthy get to play the content game, so take your camera and go. If you did use someone’s music without a license, you would likely find yourself in some hot water (and for good reason. We don’t believe in stealing intellectual property).
But, royalty-free music means that the libraries themselves have struck legal agreements with their musicians, so you can license the music from the library and not the musician. The library pays the musician, you pay the library, and everyone agrees on what you can do with the tracks you’ve chosen. It means that anyone with even a modest budget can now play the professional-caliber music game, bringing us all one step closer to a more democratic content-creation playing field. Combine this with all the DIY effects work you can do, and the affordability of cinema-quality cameras, and suddenly no one gets to tell you you’re not a filmmaker. You just are.
So, let’s take a look at the licensing options at both PremiumBeat and Bensound so you can start thinking about which model works best for you. First up, PremiumBeat . . .
Single Purchase Standard License
Okay, so the royalty-free music industry has tried out a few different approaches as it’s developed over the years, and some of the most mutually beneficial models (for libraries and musicians, and libraries and creators) have surfaced during that time. What it boils down to is that most libraries offer different licenses (at different price points) based on what you intend to do with the music. The reason behind this is that monetizing your content with royalty-free music requires different agreements with the libraries and their musicians. The same is true if you’re taking your work to broadcast—there are different legal agreements behind-the-scenes.
That means that the base model is a license for a track that you don’t intend to monetize—without a subscription. This is a one-time purchase for this track only, and you want permission to use it as many times as you need . . . as long as you don’t intend to monetize it. Fair enough. At PremiumBeat, you’re looking for the Single Purchase Standard License, which costs $49 USD.
This license is specifically for your personal online projects, and the download will include shorts, loops, and stems, meaning you can re-mix and customize the song to your heart’s content and develop a truly unique soundtrack for your project. This is a quick-and-easy transaction that makes a lot of sense for people working on one personal project at a time, at their own pace.
We’re not alone in offering a monthly subscription—most royalty-free music libraries do. The standard approach is a year-long agreement at a monthly rate (with discounts if you pay all at once). And, we thought about that model, but ultimately, it didn’t make sense for us. We do offer subscription terms, but ours is only three months. The reason for this is that, as content creators ourselves, we know that not everyone is working all the time—there are times throughout the year when a subscription makes sense, and there are times when it doesn’t. We’re more interested in seeing you return again and again whenever you have a project that needs music, rather than forcing you to pay up for a year at a time.
Our monthly subscription plan gives you five downloads per month (again, each with full tracks, shorts, loops, and stems), at a rate of $12.99 USD per track, which is much cheaper than our standard license. Like the standard license, this is for personal projects that you don’t intend to monetize (we’re getting to that). Subscribe when you need to, and unsubscribe when you don’t. Save money between projects, and return to a new library with fresh tunes whenever you’re ready.
Okay, so you need to monetize your content. Perfect. That’s what we’re here for. We all work our way up to professional content creation with non-monetized content, but eventually, you’ll need to pay rent. Unlike some of the other libraries out there, we don’t care how you’re distributing your work—this license covers everything. If you’re headed for RTVF or internet broadcast, advertising, subscriptions, or any other model, the premium license has you covered. It’s $199 USD per track (not a subscription), with full tracks, shorts, loops, and stems. You can use the track as many times as you like on as many different projects as you like. The sky’s the limit.
Bensound’s approach is to give you a few different options that have evolved with the library. There are some tracks that you can download and use for free under a creative commons license, but you’ll need to follow the creator’s attribution rules, and this only applies to some of the tracks.
A single track standard license is 34€ (or $42 USD) as they operate out of France. This license covers social media or web videos (not monetized). The extended license is 65€ (or $80 USD) per track, and it covers everything in the standard license, plus broadcasts or personal projects. If you want to use a track in monetized advertising, then you’ll need the advertising license, which is 580€ (or $715 USD). If you prefer a subscription model, the standard license subscription is 139€ (or $170 USD).
3. Music Search
You know you have options when it comes to selecting a royalty-free music library, and we’ve discussed the kind of quality and exclusivity you can expect from the industry’s leading libraries. Now that we’ve gone over how licensing works and how much you can expect to pay for your tracks, we need to talk about how you’re actually going to find those tracks.
There’s always the direct route. You can head straight to a library’s website and simply jump into the master track listing. If you’ve worked with a particular library before, this may be an effective timesaver. When you know what you want and where to find it, heading straight to the source can get you in and out of the licensing operation in no time. Click “Start Your Search” on the PremiumBeat homepage, and you’ll head straight into the master list.
Bensound has a similar approach. On their landing page, you’ll see tracks listed immediately with illustrative thumbnails. In fact, this approach is one of their two main ways of accessing the music: scrolling through the master listing or clicking on one of eight genre tabs.
However, when you’re dealing with a full music library, the direct approach isn’t always the easiest. Every content creator determines the sound for their project in a different way. Some know how it’ll sound before they’ve drawn their first storyboard. Others figure it out on set as they watch the actors’ chemistry unfold. Some don’t even start thinking about it until they’re in the editing bay. Each approach is fine, but it’s these differences that mean a fully searchable library should offer some browsing options.
As we said above, Bensound’s primary filter is based on genre—you have one of eight options to browse. PremiumBeat, on the other hand, has several different types of filters you can use to actually whittle your search:
- Beats per minute
- Advanced (surround, stems, shorts, loops, PRO-free, available with subscription)
Our advanced search filter is one of the most fun to use. It has cool ideas you may not have even considered, like ambisonic, ASMR, binaural, and more—any of which can create texture in your project’s soundtrack that other creators may not even be considering. So, when you’re ready to drill down into the good stuff, head over to the search filters to get exactly the track you’re looking for.
4. Music Quality
When you’re evaluating royalty free music libraries, quality will naturally be at the top of your list. Anyone could layer mediocre music into a project and just be done with it—it’d be a huge waste of time, and the project wouldn’t go anywhere, but still. Any library that’s keeping itself afloat is doing so based on the approval of its users. The price is right, the license is right, and the quality is right, otherwise, no one would waste their time with the music. That means that you can expect similar quality from any of the major players in the royalty-free music game. So, how do you decide which music is best for your project?
Each library is going to have its own signature feel. The acquisitions teams working behind-the-scenes use different sets of standards. And, as they work together, over time, they’ll come to create a sonic identity for the library overall. That’s not to say that all of the music will come to sound the same. Rather, an overarching quality will begin to connect all of the different tracks.
For us here at PremiumBeat, our sound is the result of hiring professionals directly from the music industry to curate our library. These experts vet each track three times before they acquire it, and then they work with our artists to continue creating more professional-grade music. As we covered above, we have plenty of genres for you to explore, each of which we have packed with exclusive tracks you won’t hear anywhere else. And, since we include shorts, loops, and stems with each download, you can customize these songs to your heart’s content. Use what you find in the library as inspiration, then create something no one has ever heard.
Part of the quality that we’re offering includes music you may not even normally consider. We want to help you find exactly the right track that makes your content stand out (after all, we want you to come back!), so that means broadening your horizons when we can. Our “world music” genre includes music from twenty different cultures, so you can think outside the box and give your project a sound that goes beyond every other trend.
5. Industry Expertise
Authenticity is the last criterion we’d like to cover in our analysis. If you’re paying for content creation assets, you want to know that they’re versatile enough to get the job done, and get it done right. It’s no good if this or that track will “work well enough”—you want assets designed for your type of project. The best way to evaluate this is by looking at the teams behind those asset collections. Do they do what you do, or is it just talk?
At PremiumBeat, we’re content creators just like you. Take a quick look at our popular blog, The Beat, and you’ll see that we’ve been putting out articles, tutorials, interviews, reviews, roundtables, industry announcements, and roundups by the dozens every month, for years. If you ever wanted to know anything about filmmaking or video content creation, we’ve covered it. Pre-production, equipment, camera angles, editing, color correcting, marketing, film festivals, promotion—you name it, we’ve done it. Go ahead—take a look. If you want proof that the people behind the music know the struggle, we’ll wait . . .
But, if you don’t like reading, that’s fine. The rubber meets the road on a video channel, and our YouTube channel has over 180,000+ subscribers. We have contributors from all around the world, and we all believe in the quality of our music enough that we use it in every video. Go ahead, check the meta descriptions. You’ll find everything you need to know about every track we use, straight from our own library.
When you’re in the thick of it, and you need to make some decisions, it’s good to know you aren’t in this alone. We’re out there trying to get eyes on our videos, too—both for PremiumBeat and in our personal projects. If you see us out there in the huddled masses, give us a nod. We feel you.
Naturally, every royalty-free music library thinks it’s the best. After all, would you really want to do business with a team that thinks it’s just okay? However, as we’ve demonstrated here, the size and searchability of our library, the quality and diversity of our tracks, and the simplicity and affordability of our licenses make us, we think, a top choice when it comes to licensing royalty-free music. Just give us a few minutes and listen to some tracks. You’ll hear it.
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