PremiumBeat vs. Marmoset
In this head-to-head review, we compare the royalty free music libraries, the licensing, and the pricing models of PremiumBeat and Marmoset.
When it comes to finding the right royalty free music library for your projects, what you hear is what you get. Most of the time. One of the biggest frustrations for creatives looking for quality music for their projects is running up against a rights wall. Every library grants different licenses that allow you to do different things. That means a smooth browsing experience with full rights transparency from the get-go is critical. No one wants to dig through a library, finally find the song they want, and then suddenly realize they have to pay some extra special rate to get it.
If that’s all true, why are there so many viable royalty free music platforms on the market today? Obviously, each has to be doing something right to stay in the game. And, they are. Each platform has tailored their offerings toward the audience they think will benefit from their music the most. As content creation has become more affordable and accessible in recent years, the demand for professional-caliber music to go with it has also increased. The sheer volume of video content coming at us from every channel and media outlet requires a seemingly limitless supply of fresh video assets—like royalty free music—to keep the stream flowing.
With so much passing before our eyes and through our ears, it’s natural that various asset platforms will begin to specialize in different niches of the creative asset industry. One platform may excel at offering sound effects but with only mediocre musical selections. Another platform may have the best-in-class music library but no SFX available for download. That’s okay—we don’t want the same experience at every site. That would just get boring. But, it does raise the question of what differentiates these platforms, and what’s the quickest way to find the right one for you.
In this head-to-head write-up, we’re going to take a friendly look at Marmoset, one of music sites. We’ll talk about the music libraries, the available licenses, the pricing, and even what to expect from each browsing experience. It’s always good to take an honest look at yourself to ensure you’re still doing your best. The same holds true for royalty free music libraries. You can’t just keep doing the same-old thing forever and expect to grow. In that spirit, let’s see what these platforms can do to improve their user experiences.
PremiumBeat vs. Marmoset
1. Music Library
There are a number of considerations that go into building and maintaining a professional-grade royalty free music platform. Is the UX intuitive? Does the search functionality actually yield results? Is the pricing reasonable, and do the agreements cover all the necessary rights? These are all absolutely essential questions, but there’s none so important as this: How’s the library?
In the end, it doesn’t matter how many widgets and testimonials and cool social media posts a platform like this pulls out. We’re all in the habit of talking about ourselves and rolling out new developments to prove Hey, we’re the best royalty free library! That’s the nature of the game. However, the real measure of all of our efforts has to be the music—quality, variety, and customizability.
We here at PremiumBeat have been in this game for a while. We first started curating our library back in 2005. We decided, at the time, that our angle was going to be exclusivity. We would be very picky about what we would include, and we would stick to that. And so we have. Now, sixteen years later, we’ve carefully built a library of over 20,000 tracks. That goes to show you just how much time we take when evaluating a track for inclusion in our library. Three different people vet each track three different times before we’ll consider acquiring it. And then, we walk it through a thorough preparation process so that we can hand it to you with white gloves later on (we’ll get to this in a bit).
Marmoset got its start in 2010, coming from a slightly different angle. They started out as a music agency producing music for commercial clients, and then broke into the royalty free licensing game later on. It isn’t immediately clear how many songs they’ve added to their library in that time, but they also offer music production services, artist collaborations, and custom scores. If you’re creating your own music and could use a professional leg up to polish off the production, Marmoset looks like the service you need.
The size of the libraries aside, however, our next consideration is how you experience them. Browsing, searching, saving, licensing—this is what we mean by experience. What’s it like to do business at these two platforms? There’s always the direct route, where you just dive in and start scrolling through the catalogs. This can be a little time-consuming, but if you’re familiar with royalty free music libraries and want to cut to the chase, this is your first option.
However, if you’re new to licensing royalty free music, or if you just prefer a slightly warmer interface, these platforms have tailored how you experience the libraries. At PremiumBeat, we start with some tidbits from our acquisitions team. The first thing you’ll see are their most recent favorites, right up at the top of the page. These people are worth listening to—they do this all day, every day, so when something stands out, it really stands out. Following this, you’ll see our Trending Tracks, which will give you a good idea what other content creators are doing in their projects (meaning you can jump on the train, or make sure to go in a different direction altogether). Just after this, we present our New Releases, so if you want to get ahold of some tracks before they’ve appeared anywhere else, this is your chance. All of our tracks are exclusive to PremiumBeat, so if you’re the first to hear a track, you’re absolutely the first. Plus, you’ll never visit the same library twice at PremiumBeat because we’re always expanding it. Each time you come back, these categories will have fresh offerings for you to check out.
But, that’s just our way of saying “Hello.” Once you’ve made your way past those introductions, we’ve got a whole world waiting for you. If you’re using a mood board or even if you just sort of have the feel for your project in mind, we’ve designed paths to guide you to the perfect track for your project, beginning with moods and genres. Our genres are all over the place, in a good way. We’ve got everything from retro-rock to medieval. There’s also ambient and Americana and rap. We’ve even got holiday tracks, tracks for kids, and tracks for video games. If that’s not enough, you can browse by the genre of your film, like horror or suspense or action. And, if all of that is too specific, you can take a more oblique approach and browse by moods, like “feel good” or “wedding.”
When our acquisitions team finds some music that really cuts the mustard, then we do our best to work with those artists to produce more quality tracks. You can see this talent in action in our Signature Series over on our YouTube channel.
Next, we would like to serve up our PRO-free collection. PRO stands for “performance rights organization.” What it boils down to is that if you’re going to take your project into broadcast or distribution, then you need music that is PRO-free, meaning you’re completely in the clear to use these tracks and there are no rights issues or takedowns that could possibly arise. Many production partners won’t even talk to you at this stage if you can’t bring this to the table. If you’re not quite at this stage, no problem—we scale with you, from just getting started to busting into Hollywood.
The Crown Jewel in our white-glove service package is the Masterworks Collection. We know what it is to want symphonic music for your projects. It sounds epic, and it really fills your project, just like the soundtracks you hear on the big screen. The problem is that it’s hard to get this kind of music. There are dozens of performers involved, and then there’s the issue of recording and mastering. The Masterworks Collection is a series of live recordings of symphonies in action, so you can finally get those swelling strings you’ve always wanted.
When you get to Marmoset, you either begin browsing the collection, or you can explore the other services they offer (mentioned above). You can also filter by genre or mood, and there are a number of search options you can apply (more on that in a moment).
2. Music Licensing
There’s a reason royalty free music has become an industry unto itself—it’s the “royalty free” part. If we were just talking about “music,” then our conversation would need to shift to negotiating with musicians and navigating the legal world of digital use. In the old days (and in custom situations today), if you wanted to license some music for your project, you’d have to find it first. From there, you’d speak either with the musician or the musician’s agent to negotiate a fee and a royalty structure for the right to use the song. (Since songs are intellectual property, you can’t simply take them and use them in your work). Once you came to an agreement, you would need to keep records of sales and earnings to make sure that you’re paying the musician their fair share a few different times a year. At least, that’s how it worked in theory—the internet is full of examples of musicians not getting their due and taking the issue to court.
That’s all a lot of work, which is the need that royalty free music platforms seized upon and built into our industry. You may not have the legal or budgetary knowledge necessary to properly negotiate a license, or you simply have better things to do, like produce your project. Royalty free music libraries have struck agreements with the musicians behind their tracks. Best-in-class libraries offer agreements that cover any contingency, so be sure to read the fine print. You then strike an agreement with the platform, the money gets divided between the platform and the musicians, and you’ve got instant legal right to the song. It’s an instance when a middle man actually saves time rather than costing it.
So, let’s take a look at the different licenses at PremiumBeat and Marmoset, starting with PremiumBeat.
Single Purchase Standard License
The price of a music license depends first on what you intend to do with it. When you’re using music for personal projects, the agreement between the platform and the musician is simpler, so your license will be cheaper. However, if you plan to make money off of your content (by selling advertising or charging access fees, for example), then the agreement between the platform and the musician is more complex. As such, the license is more expensive (this is true to greater or lesser degrees at every royalty free music platform). The reason behind this is that if you’re monetizing the content, then the musician is missing out on a revenue stream. Naturally, musicians like revenue streams, so if you don’t want to have to deal with paying them royalties, it’ll cost you a little more at checkout to essentially buy your way out of this type of agreement.
Most platforms also offer differing degrees of one-off vs. subscription options. The one-off purchase is great if you need only a single song and you’re not planning on working on anything else anytime soon. If you’re doing something for school or building out your portfolio, this could be the option for you. You’ll pay less than you would for the commitment term of a subscription, but you’ll get fewer tracks than you would with a subscription. So, if you’ll be continually working for a while, you want to go with a subscription, since licensing tracks one at a time will quickly add up.
PremiumBeat’s Single Purchase Standard License is our version of the one-off. It costs $49 USD per track, and you’re free to use it in any non-commercial (non-monetized) projects. You can use it in as many of these projects as you want, forever—the agreement never expires. Your download will include the full track, as well as shorts, loops, and stems. That means you can customize the song entirely and create something no one else has ever heard—this is a feature you don’t see at every royalty free music platform. With the Single Purchase Standard License, you can get in and get out with minimal fuss and get back to work.
So, this is where the real action is. Nearly every royalty free platform also offers some kind of subscription plan. There’s a good reason for this: we found it to be the users’ favorite. Subscriptions are overwhelmingly the most popular method of licensing royalty free music, especially among particularly prolific content creators. When you know that you’re going to need tracks on the regular, there really isn’t a better way to get them than by subscribing. Typically, you’ll pay substantially less per track, and you’ll always have a record of what you’ve downloaded before (and how to download it again), essentially creating your own personalized library.
At PremiumBeat, our Monthly Subscription is an extension of our Standard License (meaning you can’t use these tracks in monetized content—we’ll get to that option in a minute). You’ll pay just $12.99 USD per song, and you can download five songs per month (each with shorts, loops, and stems for that customization). Typically, royalty free music platforms like to tie you up for a year-long commitment, and you can sometimes save money in the long run if you pay for a full year upfront. That model mostly works, but it ignores those content creators who need more flexibility. For that reason, our subscription term is only for three months. We know that there are times of year when you’re creating, and times when you aren’t. With our three-month subscription term, you can subscribe when you’re working, and then unsubscribe if you’re taking a break or need to save money between projects.
Okay, so you need to make some money. That’s where our Premium License comes in. This model realizes that you might need to charge for some advertising, sell some tickets, or otherwise fund your distribution. Like we said above, since we’re eliminating a revenue stream for the musician behind your track, the agreement is a little more expensive. For $199 USD per track, you get full tracks plus shorts, loops, and stems—again, you can customize to your heart’s content. In addition, you can take this track with you into the broadcast and digital distribution world, and you’re free to earn as much money as you can. When you’re ready to take your content creation to the next level, you need the Premium License.
As we said before, Marmoset has an interesting angle into the game that is slightly different from ours. Since they started as a music agency, they offer a number of services like clearance and production, and don’t only rely on licensing royalty free tracks. There are a number of categories of licenses based on what you want to do with the song:
- Independent film
- Small business
- Content creator
This means there will be noticeable differences in price when you click “Buy license” at Marmoset. You’ll need to choose which of these categories applies to you, which will alter the price of the license appropriately. For example, when you click on the first track in their listing, “Up Sight,” and select “independent film,” the license is $249.00 USD. If you click “non-profit,” then you’ll see four different prices based on the size of your non-profit, ranging from $150.00 USD to $500.00 USD. Similarly, if you click on “podcast,” you’ll get four pricing options depending on how many times you want to use the song (these licenses are restricted to one use each), ranging from $49.00 USD to $249.00 USD.
3. Music Search
Up next in our list of critical considerations for your royalty free music platform search: well, it’s search.
The leading platforms in the royalty free music business all brag about the professional quality of their tracks. And for good reason—they are professional. We’re guilty of tooting our own horn, too—it’s just what you do. So, if the quality among the leading platforms is similar, and the browsing experiences are similar, and the number of available collections is similar, then search is really what will make a platform stand out. A library full of beautiful tracks, an awesome UI, and bulletproof licenses are all important, to be sure, but if you can’t find the track you want in that library, it’s useless.
That brings us to search filters. This is the tried-and-true way of winnowing your search results down to those tracks that really align with what you envisioned. At PremiumBeat, it’s easy to start filtering. Just click the big gold “Start Your Search” button, and boom you’re in the library. Toggle the filters with the button on the left side of the screen, and you’re ready to start filtering. The full list of available search filters at PremiumBeat is below (be sure to check out our brand new “vocals” filter):
- Beats per minute
- Advanced (surround, stems, shorts, loops, PRO-free, available with subscription, instrumental-only)
Marmoset offers a similar filtering experience. Click the big “Search” button, and you’re ready to start browsing the library. The filters are up top, and they include these options.
The importance of all these filters at both sites is that they can introduce you to tracks you might not otherwise have explored. Experiment with different filters, and be open to results that are off the beaten path. Sometimes, the most powerful content moments are a result of the unexpected. There’s no reason that isn’t true when it comes to music, too.
4. Music Quality
Quality is in the eye of the beholder, right? Nobody thinks the things they are into or the work they care about or the music they offer is anything other than quality. What’s the point of putting yourself out there creatively if you don’t think your work is any good? It takes confidence to build success, whether in business or in the editing bay.
But what is it, really? If anyone can define it however they want, how does it play into a head-to-head comparison? We define quality according to the lifecycle of a track in our collection. Most of the work we do to prepare a track for you will never get noticed. Behind the scenes, we work every day to make sure the full PremiumBeat experience is firing on all cylinders. From your first landing at PremiumBeat.com to your final click in the licensing process, we spend all of our time optimizing everything, down to the last detail.
To show you what we mean, let’s return to the topic of acquisition. Judging by how long we’ve been around and how many tracks are in our library, we think it’s safe to say we lived up to our reputation for being picky. In the very beginning, we knew we needed expert ears if we were actually going to build a library that people would want to use. So, we didn’t take any chances—we recruited team members straight out of the music industry, and now they run point on bringing new tracks into the family. We don’t rely on algorithms or applications. We listen to our music, and if something rises to the surface as a contender, our experts vet it by ear three times.
Once a track has proven itself, things begin moving in the background. We collect and master the shorts, loops, and stems that you can use for that one-of-a-kind customization, and we start thinking very carefully about how we’re going to categorize the track’s metadata, which will affect how you find it in your searches. From first listen to “new releases,” our teams drill down into anything we might want to hear or experience ourselves.
We also spend a lot of time developing collections that you might not otherwise think of. Part of what we want to do is not only deliver the types of songs you know you want, we want to also deliver the types of songs you don’t know you want. Take our World Music genre, for example. It features tracks from twenty different countries, meaning there are bound to be entire musical styles in there that you’ve never even heard and, therefore, don’t know that you want. If you want to stand out in the content crowd, consider listening to a few songs from a different path.
5. Industry Expertise
There’s one more consideration we think you should keep in mind when considering a royalty free music platform for your content. Authenticity. Do the people behind the scenes actually know the fight, or is there just a bunch of code and some cool UX design behind the whole operation?
At PremiumBeat, we’re also content creators. We put a ton of time and effort into our popular video blog, The Beat, where we publish articles on all things filmmaking, video production, post-production, gear, trends, breaking news, DIY, and audio. If it has to do with content creation, we’ve published it. We’ve been putting out dozens of new articles every month for years, so you can dig into our archives and see that we put our money where our mouth is.
But content creation doesn’t stop with articles and blog posts. To see the music in action, head over to our YouTube channel, where you’ll find hundreds of videos worth millions of views walking you step-by-step through indie filmmaking and video creation. We use our songs in every video we make. Just click through to the description, and you’ll see that it’s all there in the metadata. If you hear a song that you like in one of our videos, just click through and it can be yours.
We know what it’s like trying to create content that people want to watch, and that’s why we’re here.
We know there are other platforms out there trying to get your attention just as hard as we are. There’s nothing wrong with that—a little healthy competition is good for us all. We think you’ll like what you hear (and see) at PremiumBeat. Come look around—it’s free to check things out.
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