PremiumBeat vs. Epidemic Sound
PremiumBeat vs. Epidemic Sound—what are the differences between library size, pricing, music licensing, and more.
Creating content isn’t easy, but anything worth doing is worth doing well. That means using the right tools and setting yourself up for success before you even get started. In the content creation world, that often takes the form of pre-production, market research, or even case studies—depending on the type of content you’re creating. When you’re thinking about your production values, schedule, audience, and release, you’re compiling dozens of tiny, critical elements that all add up to “doing something well.” There are niche worlds that exist for optimizing all of these critical elements, and one of them is royalty-free music.
Online content has touched almost every industry, and some depend on it entirely. Beyond YouTube and movie theaters, agencies, organizations, schools, and products all rely on compelling audiovisual content to share their messages and keep their stories front of mind. Collectively, consumers are a tough audience: you have to entertain them with your content before they’ll even consider engaging with your product or service—and even then, there are no guarantees.
Where Royalty-Free Music Comes In
So, if everyone has a camera, some lights, and an NLE, what does that mean for individual creators? It means you’re playing a numbers game, and while you can’t rig the system, you can set yourself up for a greater chance of success by optimizing how you work.
When it comes to royalty-free music, an entire niche industry has evolved around adding music to everything from your personal vlog to the latest blockbuster. That means that music licensing agreements and pricing structures and music libraries have all developed in the hopes of beating out competitors and getting their music in your project. And we get that: we’re part of the game. We’ve been at this for a while, and as we watch our industry evolve, we have to take a necessary look at what everyone else is doing and how it measures up to our approach.
In that spirit, we decided to take a look at one of the industry’s standouts: Epidemic Sound. We’re going to look at the two music libraries, pricing models, quality of music, and search experiences to see if we’re hitting our mark or if there’s something that needs improvement. So, with that said, let’s compare PremiumBeat vs. Epidemic Sound.
PremiumBeat vs Epidemic Sound
1. Music Library
Let’s begin our comparison of PremiumBeat and Epidemic Sound with the music libraries themselves. Because the two companies provide royalty-free music of a similar caliber, we’ll need to look closely to determine which library is best for which type of project.
At PremiumBeat, we’ve been carefully curating our library since 2005, and we have a triple-vetted offering of over 20,000 songs. We’re very picky, which means each of those 20,000 could find a home in any number of projects because the tracks are all best-in-class. We include shorts, loops, and stems with each track, so you can customize a truly one-of-a-kind sound for every song. Epidemic Sound also has a very large library at around 30,000 songs, which they began curating in 2009. They offer alternate versions of songs if the first track doesn’t quite do it for you. Epidemic also offers stems for further customization.
Libraries of this size are immediately impressive—when you’re dealing with tens of thousands of tracks, it’s pretty likely that the track you need is somewhere in there. We’ll compare the search experience later on, but before we do, let’s have a look at how you initially encounter the libraries at both PremiumBeat and Epidemic Sound.
When you land at PremiumBeat, you have the option of diving right into your search, which many of our veteran creators find most useful—they know what they want and how to find it. But if you’re just walking through the doors for the first time, you’ll see that we showcase hot picks from our expert curators, trending tracks, and latest releases. These can all give you a feel for what’s happening in the industry right now, if you’re looking to capitalize on a trend. If you’d like a bit more breadth to your browsing experience, we also sort our library by collections, genres, and moods—you can even piggyback off others’ searches. Browsing is a great way to get a feel for the library and begin narrowing down the kinds of tracks that are going fit your project.
We work to improve these browsing experiences every day. Our genre collections cover everything from acid jazz to K-Pop to downtempo electronica. We’ve got House, R&B, Country, Techno, and Holiday tracks. We’ve got music for kids and music from around the world—if you’ve heard it, we’ve got a genre collection for you. Our curators work directly with our corps of musicians to refine the creation process and build out in-demand categories of music. As a result, you can also browse our library by feel. We feature moods that range from uplifting to relaxation/meditation to comedy. Whatever feeling you’d like the music in your project to convey, we’ve got you covered.
We demand a high standard from the artists who create our music, and the winners deliver best-in-class material in coordination with our music team for projects that need to stand out in the content hustle. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the talent we rely on with our Signature Series.
Beyond the browsing experience, we’re also continually expanding our PRO-free (Performance Rights Organizations) library, which is critical if you hope to take your project into commercial distribution or broadcast. Many royalty-free music libraries offer commercial licenses, but many industry gatekeepers aren’t even interested in a conversation if your music isn’t PRO-free. So even if you’ve licensed something for commercial use, if you want to avoid headaches out on the market, you’re going to need to hunt for resources that will make your life easier later on.
But we also know that not every project is destined for Hollywood. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need a truly epic sound from time to time. How can you recreate the feeling of the score from, say, The Lord of the Rings on a budget? That’s why we developed the Masterworks collection. It’s a library of live recordings of professional orchestral music just like you would hear on the big screen. Listen for yourself. This resource is one of a kind when you need a soundtrack and not just a collection of songs.
Epidemic Sound also invites you to browse their library rather than dive right into search. When you land on the home page, you’ll see a select few tracks featured as thumbnails above the fold. If you scroll down a bit, you can browse Epidemic Sound’s most popular genres, like Beats and Electronica & Dance. Click through to the Music tab, and you’ll also find moods and albums, all curated by the team to highlight the best tracks in the library and help you narrow your browsing down to the right track.
The two libraries offer some slight differences, like PremiumBeat’s Masterworks collection and PRO-free library, and Epidemic Sound’s unique albums. Overall, they’re similar in quality and searchability, and it’s clear that both spend a great deal of time trying to breadcrumb users straight to the tracks of their dreams.
2. Music Licensing
The main reason we’re even here looking at these two impressive libraries is because of what royalty-free music has done for independent content creators. In a nutshell, royalty-free music means that you don’t have to pay a musician royalties based on your project’s earnings to use their music. Rather, musicians make arrangements with libraries like PremiumBeat and Epidemic Sound for the rights to their music, and then you license the tracks from the library, not the artist. This frees you from the legal technicalities of licensing music and instead allows you to concentrate of making the best content you can with professional-grade music.
So, let’s look at the two options here, PremiumBeat and Epidemic Sound, starting with PremiumBeat.
Single Purchase Standard License
Most royalty-free music libraries divide their licenses up according to how you intend to use them. If you’re simply licensing music for a personal project or something you intend to stream for views only (not sales or advertising), this involves a simpler agreement, so your out-of-pocket price is lower. If you intend to use a royalty-free track to earn money via advertising or some other model, the agreement is a little more complex, so the price is a little higher.
PremiumBeat is no different. We offer both non-commercial and commercial projects because many content creators aren’t monetizing their projects yet. So, we offer a model that will save you money until you’re ready to step up into the monetized content world. If you need only a single track (not a subscription) for a project you’re not monetizing, you can go with our Single Purchase Standard License. It’s $49 USD, and you can use the track in however many projects you like in perpetuity—the agreement doesn’t expire.
This option is specifically for online projects. Each track you download includes shorts, loops, and stems. This means you can edit the music to make a truly one-of-a-kind sound. Licensing a track this way is quick and easy, and it makes a lot of sense if you’re looking to save money and spend some real production hours on only one project at a time.
If you’re working a little more quickly, or perhaps juggling more than one project at a time, it makes sense to be able to download multiple tracks without buying a standard license over and over. We’ve bundled these multiple downloads together and made them available as a monthly subscription plan, and it is, by far, our most popular model. The subscription gives you five downloads per month at only $12.99 USD each—a substantial savings over the standard license cost for all five.
We also believe in serving up music for only as long as you need. Most royalty-free music libraries tie you up for a full year. We know that production periods come and go, so our term is only for three months. That way you can subscribe when it makes sense and unsubscribe when it doesn’t. These downloads all include full tracks (.wav and .mp3), and they also come with shorts, loops, and stems for full customization.
Our Premium License is for content creators who have every intention of making money with their work. This makes a lot of sense for projects that are going into RTVF broadcast, online distribution, or any other medium where you can earn money via advertising, subscription, or some other model. This license is $199 USD per track (it’s not based on a subscription model). You get full tracks, loops, stems, and shorts, and, of course, you can customize the music however you like. If you’re serious about your productions and need a bulletproof license that helps you build your professional portfolio, then this is the license for you.
Epidemic Sound Pricing
Epidemic Sound also offers multiple licensing options. The breakdown is as follows:
- Personal Plan
- Commercial Plan
- Custom Plan
Epidemic Sound’s membership options all offer you limitless downloads, which is great if you have the budget for a recurring monthly subscription (you’ll need to be prepared for a minimum of a year-long agreement). If you have enough recurring projects that you need lots of tracks and SFX, then these models make a lot of sense.
The Personal Plan is $15.00 USD per month (you can save some money if you pay for the full year in advance). It covers YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and podcasts. The Commercial Plan is $49.00 USD per month (again, you can save some money if you pay for the entire year in advance), and it covers everything from the Personal Plan as well as all other online platforms (and monetization). If you want to take your tracks to TV, you’ll need the Custom Plan. The Custom Plan price isn’t disclosed—you’ll need to contact Epidemic Sound for a quote.
3. Music Search
The sheer number of tracks available across all of the active royalty-free music libraries means that searchability is critical. Every content creator is going to approach how they narrow down the music they want for their projects in a different manner. Some may know the feel by the time they finish their pre-production mood board. Others may not really know until they’ve started editing—or even until the first edit is finished. Some approaches may be less time-intensive than others, but when it comes to creating content, there aren’t many hard-and-fast rules.
However you come by your approach to music, you know where to find high-quality tracks, you know how to license them, and you know how much they cost. But how do the two libraries approach search? Is the experience similar, or do they have to different approaches? Both libraries clearly offer the quality and diversity you need to rise above the content crowd, but that only matters if you can find what you’re looking for.
There’s always the direct route. If you’ve done some music searches before, or are familiar with particular artists, instruments, or trends, you can click the browse tab on the PremiumBeat homepage and head directly into the library itself, where we have all the recommendations you could ever need. At Epidemic Sound, if you scroll down to the bottom of the landing page, you can click on “music,” which will take you to some suggested genres and moods that you can click through to begin exploring tracks of a certain type.
We realize, though, that not every content creator simply wants to “pick a card, any card” and run with the tracks they’ve been handed. If you want more specificity and control over the options you’re considering, then you’ll need to dive into the search function. Any music library worth its weight will provide search filters that allow you to winnow thousands of results down to an explorable and manageable few.
Let’s take a look at the different tools you can use to filter your music searches at the two libraries. PremiumBeat takes a “filter first” approach with a clickable pull-down; Epidemic Sound prompts you to start your search, and then it offers you the filters to work deeper into the collection.
- Beats per minute
- Advanced (Surround, Stems, Shorts, Loops, PRO-free, Available with subscription)
The options are similar because the two libraries have come to similar conclusions about how their users like to find and search for music. The curators behind these libraries have an important mandate: make search faster, easier, and more accurate, which is why you will see similar filter options at both.
We at PremiumBeat put a lot of effort to enhance your music search experience. You can see that through filters that you will not find elsewhere. For example, in our Advanced filters you can search Ambisonic, ASMR, Binaural music.
4. Music Quality
Different teams of royalty-free music curators are going to develop different palates for the tracks they acquire. The longer they work together, the more this can come to define what makes their library unique. PremiumBeat and Epidemic Sound, like their other competitors, offer ever-so-slightly different tones in the music they offer. The only way for you to really pick up on these curatorial nuances is to spend some time at each site, exploring and listening to the offerings. We can’t speak to the specifics of what Epidemic Sound is seeking or how they approach their acquisitions, but you can bet we put a lot of time and effort into music curation and music creation.
We pack our team with professionals straight from the music industry. They vet each one of our tracks at least three times before they make an acquisition. We ask for exclusivity from our artists, which means you won’t hear our tracks anywhere else. As we mentioned earlier, we also offer shorts, loops, and stems with each track, which means you can roll up your sleeves and customize these tracks to fit your project perfectly. And since we’re always expanding our library, you’ll never explore the same library twice—we’re adding new tracks all the time.
Moreover, we think that best-in-class royalty-free music means options that come from beyond your immediate neighborhood. Truly good music comes from all over the world, and the more you broaden your horizons, the more unique you can make your finished project. There are twenty different cultures in our “world” genre, meaning you can get out of your comfort zone and create some content that stands out.
Even a quick glance at Epidemic Sound showcases their shared talent for a truly comprehensive music experience. They wouldn’t have assembled such an impressive library without a rigorous acquisitions process of their own.
5. Industry Expertise
Another important aspect of choosing the right royalty-free music library is knowing that its curators know your field. If you’re in the content creation business, you want to look for assets developed by and for other content creators. If the acquisitions team behind your music library of choice doesn’t understand what it is you’re going to do with their music, then you can hit the law of diminishing returns with your searches.
Here at PremiumBeat, we’re also content creators. We’ve maintained an aggressive level of output at our popular blog, The Beat, for years. If you head over for a look, you’ll find that we release dozens of articles every month covering every aspect of A/V content creation, from working on a set to creating lower thirds to animating your logos. If it moves, flashes, or dings on a computer screen, we’ve covered it.
And we don’t stop there. We create video content, too, so we know how it feels to run up against that wall and wonder where on Earth you’re going to find the perfect track. Not only do we build, support, and write about the PremiumBeat experience, we live it, too—we use our library in all of our own video content, both for the YouTube channel and for our own work.
Speaking of our YouTube channel, we have contributors from all over the world who’ve been finding solutions for indie filmmaking problems for years. You can see instructional and entertaining content on everything from blocking on set to color-correcting in DaVinci Resolve. While you’re there, check out the metadata in the descriptions. You can see the details for each track we use (and use them for yourself!).
PremiumBeat and Epidemic Sound are two powerhouse libraries of royalty-free music. Each has a slightly different personality when it comes to content acquisition, which you can really only experience by digging in and listening to some tracks. With similar quality and searchability at both libraries, keep in mind how long you want your subscription period to last, and if you need exclusive content, like PRO-free music and orchestral recordings from our Masterworks Series. Each library has its individual strengths, so spend some time getting to know them, and keep creating!