Music In Your Podcast

Music’s Role in Your Podcast - Infuse your Podcast

A musical underscore performs three basic functions:

  1. Sets the theme of the podcast
  2. Prepares the listener for individual segments or features within the podcast
  3. Entertains the listener by introducing and promoting new music, i.e. Indie Podsafe music

Styles of Music and Instruments

In short, know your theme and select appropriate music.

There are several different genres of music that you should consider when selecting music for your podcast. Some of the main styles include: Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Roll, Country Western, Pop, Rap, Techno, and Classical, all of which have their own musical branches to explore.

Hiring a composer to provide you with customized theme music is a great branding idea if you have the resources to employ a professional. You can also find free Podsafe music for all of these musical genres. We’ll explore both ideas in this chapter.

There are several instrument families that you can use in your podcast branding. Instrument families to consider are strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. Strings include instruments like the guitar, bass, violin, viola, cello, harp, and piano. The Brass family includes instruments such as the trumpet, tuba, trombone, and french horn. Woodwinds include instruments like the bassoon, flute, piccolo, saxophone, the clarinet, and the oboe. Some percussion instruments include the drums, glockenspiel, and hand bells.

Selecting Music for Your Podcast

Music and sound effects help to brand a podcast, making it easy to recognize and differentiate from other podcasts. The voice-over is another element that your listeners will identify with, which is why it is important to have a consistent imaging voice and an official podcast host voice.

When selecting music, keep the theme of the podcast and the target audience in mind. Since each podcast is different and has a unique listenership, the music used should reflect both, in a complimentary fashion. If the podcast is about farming, the music and sound effects could mimic the farming industry, for example, music could be country western and sound effects might include the whinny of a horse, a rooster, sheep, and so on. The host and or imaging voice might be more laid back and down to earth.

If the podcast serves the financial industry, specifically the stock market, the music might be more energetic and a declamatory anthem for the podcast. Sound effects may include the opening bell of the stock exchange, walla (background noise - people talking), heart beat, clocks ticking and other related sounds. The host may be authoritative and exciting, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

Royalty-free music can be used in productions without recurring fees, i.e. without paying royalties for each time the music is played. Music beds can be purchased either as a single track or as a package with variations on a theme. An alternative to royalty-free music is podsafe music.

Podsafe music can be acquired by partnering with a musician and crediting their work during the podcast. Independent artists are making their compositions available as podsafe music in exchange for publicity and airplay. Sound effect libraries can be subscribed to for a modest fee or CDs can be purchased and imported to a media player.

Podsafe - Legalized Podcasting Music

"Podsafe" refers to a track that is legally permissible to play on a podcast, usually because the band or artist is not signed to a major label or the recording was made under the Creative Commons license. At podsafe sites (like Podsafe Music Network) artists can submit podsafe tracks and podcasters can sign up and get the music for their shows. Source, Wikipedia.

Podsafe Music Network - Where to Find Podsafe Music

For podcasters, the PodSafe Music Network provides access to songs, interviews, and other elements as well as the tools and systems that can be used by podcasters to create royalty-free music podcasts, as well as to build and monetize a listener base.

For artists, the Network provides an outlet to showcase, promote and market their music.

For listeners, the Network features a broad range of the independent music and original content in single-play or podcast formats, as well as a community for purchasing, voting for and promoting their favorite music and mixes.

Download Podsafe Music - How to find Podsafe Music

Here’s how you download podsafe music from the Podsafe Music Network.

As a registered podcaster, you have the ability to create a personal playlist that allows you to manage and download music for your podcast. The following steps detail how to use and manage your personal playlist. Before using music downloaded from PodShow Podsafe Music Network, please read and follow their guidelines.

The Podsafe Music Networks goal is to make it easier podcasters to get access to music for your show, and easier for the artists to get their music played on podcasts.

All that is asked for in return is that when you play music on your show that you found and downloaded from a Podsafe Music Network site that you say so.

You can do this by either:

  1. Saying during your show: "Some of the music provided tonight from the PodShow Podsafe Music Network. Check it out at ''"
  2. Playing one of the bumpers during your show.

PodShow also ask that you link back to the PodShow podsafe music network in your shownotes for those shows that include music from this site.

You must be logged in using your podcaster account to download music.

The process is achieved in two steps; adding a song to your playlist, then downloading the song from your playlist.

Adding a Song to your Playlist

  1. Click build playlist, or search for music using the search fields at the bottom of the page.
  2. Click the add to playlist icon. A confirmation page displays.
  3. Click Add to Playlist. The song is added to your playlist and you are returned to your podcast producer information page.

Downloading songs from your playlist

Click my playlist. The my playlist page displays.

The PodSafe Music Network Playlist page allows you to:

Download songs from your playlist.

Remove songs from your playlist.

Report that you have used a song you have downloaded in a podcast.

Add affiliate links for listeners to purchase the artist's music from our store using your affiliate information. If a listener buys a song using your link, you get paid.

Click show playlist history to view a list of each song that you've reported having used on a podcast.

If you are going to use pre-existing songs, read the following carefully: copyrights and licenses are elements that you will need to address in order to use published music.

Local Musicians - Support local talent by airing their music

Consider including music produced by local talent. You can find musicians by reading through a local arts and entertainment newspaper. You might also have a local musicians union that you could contact for information on who is playing in upcoming shows. Additionally, there could be a music conservatory in your region where many musicians train and practice their craft. Finally, the local clubs and pubs might be able to let you know of musicians who perform live music. Try these options and help your local music community grow.

Copyrighted Music - Dispelling the Myths

There are a few myths suggesting that use of copyrighted music during your show is an acceptable practice. In short, the following statements are all false:

  • "I only play 15 seconds."
  • "I talk over the intro of the song"
  • "I bought and own the CD."
  • The artist agrees." (You still need the label’s permission and sometimes their union’s.)

You can get licenses for using copyrighted music in podcasts from as a no revenue license for $360/year.

Music Composition - Custom works for your Podcast

Original songs can be written to underscore the theme of the podcast by collaborating with a composer or an independent songwriter. Original works can often reflect a deeper meaning and provide an accurate musical translation of your podcast theme.

Summary - Key points about selecting music for your Podcast

In this chapter, we learned about the main styles of music, the instrument families, and how to select music. We also touched on where to find Podsafe music and how to go about hiring a composer to create customized music for your podcast. In the next chapter, we’ll look at selecting and adding sound effects to your podcast.

Written by David Ciccarelli