What Is the YouTube Music Library and How Do I Use It?

Though physical music sales trended up last year, gone are the days where people buy their music at a record store. Fewer and fewer music fans spend the afternoon browsing stacks of LPs.

Most people now opt for the convenience and variety of music streaming services. In fact, 80% of music industry revenue comes from streaming platforms.

Given the popularity of this platform, media companies continue to update and launch new streaming services. One of the newest streaming services is YouTube Music and the royalty-free YouTube Music Library.

Read on to learn about these new services and how to use them.

What Is YouTube Music?

YouTube Music and YouTube Music Library are not the same. YouTube Music is a subscription streaming service that allows users to download and stream songs on or offline.

This service replaced Google Play Music as the Google music streaming platform, and users of Google Play Music can transfer their files from their old Google Play Music app to YouTube Music.

While similar to other streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music, YouTube Music harnesses the power of YouTube by streamlining your music listening experience.

With a subscription to this service, you can access more than just the officially licensed version of your favorite song. Cover versions, karaoke versions, and live are all available through the service.

YouTube Music carries two different payment tiers. For $9.99 a month, you’re granted access to the online, ad-free version. For $11.99 a month, you’re able to download songs and playlists to enjoy offline.

What Is the YouTube Music Library?

If you’re making a video and want to use a licensed song, you have to pay a licensing fee. Depending on the song and the artist, your fee to use the song could be expensive.

For example, the Australian rock band AC/DC charged $500,000 for use of their hit song, “Thunderstruck.”

While large television and movie production studios can afford the high price-tag of famous songs by legacy artists, an independent filmmaker doesn’t have the budget.

If you’re a hobbyist or posting a work video project, you don’t want to run the risk of using unlicensed music. Your video will be pulled from a streaming platform like YouTube, and you may face paying a royalty fee.

The Music Library on YouTube gives you access to a treasure trove of royalty-free stock music to soundtrack your videos. These tracks composed by unknown or unsigned artists are copyright free and free to use.

Why Do Artists Give Away Their Music?

Why would any artist give away their music for free? For exposure. By uploading their music to a music library, independent musicians hope to find a wider audience for their original compositions.

Long gone are the days where unknown artists or bands gig to find an audience, build a local following, expand their touring, record a demo, and get signed by a major record label. While this still happens, it happens far less often than ever.

Submitting original music to a music library is another avenue for artists to build a following. It also gives independent filmmakers access to free soundtracks.

YouTube Music Library Guide

Now that you know the what and the why you need to know how to use the YouTube Music Library.

The YouTube Music Library or the YouTube Audio Library is found under the “Creator Studio” section of your account.

Under the “Creator Studio” tab, you’ll see a menu link for “Audio Library.” This is where you’ll find all the free, unlicensed music.

To sample, all you have to do is click play.

To perform the most efficient search, use one of the search filters available. These search filters help you narrow the vast library to suit your needs. You can search for music with four different filters.


Need something upbeat and snappy? Something sexy? A mournful song for a tribute video made for a recently deceased loved one?

Set the right tone with this search filter. Searching by mood gives you a wide variety of categories to choose from.


Does your video need a hard rock song? Or a hip-hop beat? Use this filter to search within genres to find that song that soundtracks the best.


With this filter, you can search for songs that feature a specific instrument. Do you want a guitar song? Or maybe some sweet accordion? Often, it’s not just the mood or genre that makes a song the right song.

The sounds of an instrument are an important aspect of a song. A jazzy flute number communicates a different feeling than a jazz song featuring the rich sound of a saxophone.


Your video might need a 30-second song snippet or a nine-minute avant-garde electronic composition. Use this filter to find the right song at the right length to match your video.

Don’t Forget the Sound Effects

What would our favorite childhood cartoons be without great sound effects? The sounds of a car engine revving or a sociopathic mouse scampering away from an angry cat fuel all our most cherished childhood animation memories.

Aside from free music, the YouTube Audio Library also features a massive selection of free sound effects to brighten any video. Use them to add some light or humor to any video to take it to the next level.

Use the YouTube Music Library to Soundtrack Your Videos

YouTube Music and YouTube Music Library are two different services. YouTube Music is a licensed music streaming service where you listen to your favorite hits advertisement free.

YouTube Music Library or YouTube Audio Library is an unlicensed, free music service available for creators who cannot afford the expensive licensing and royalty fees of popular artists.

Take advantage of this great service for your videos. You may even discover something new for your listening rotation.

Do you need more creative tips? Check out the rest of our website. We’re always updating with news on the latest creative tools.