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Royalty Free Classical Music for Youtube Videos: Creative Ways to Orchestrate the Impact of your Content

Jourdan Aldredge

May 28, 2024

If you’ve watched any movies or television shows over the past few months or decades, you might have noticed that classical music—more so than any other genre—is heard quite often.

If you’ve clocked this music style as being one of the dominant genres in pretty much all forms of video and entertainment, you’ve probably wondered why this is. Is classical music just that much better than regular pop music? Are Top 40 songs just too expensive to use for everything?

These are great questions, and while each is perhaps true, the real reason that classical music is heard so often in movies and television is simply because it works. So, if you’re looking to possibly use a classical music soundtrack in your own project, here are some helpful insights into why (and how) you should consider using royalty free classical music for youtube videos.

Classical music is (usually) easy to find and license

A violin in its case next to sheets of music, ready to create a classical music soundtrack

As we’ve covered on the Soundstripe blog quite a bit in the past, there’s a lot of misnomers around music for content creators—in particular around the difference between copyright free and royalty free and what is royalty free music.

And while there certainly is plenty of music that could be considered copyright free music (or rather, copyrighted music that is now free) as well as music that is available in the public domain, it’s often much trickier than one might think.

Still, many filmmakers and editors are drawn to classical music because they assume that at least older classical music recordings are free to use for their projects. And thus, we do get a lot of films and television shows using certain songs that are at least partially available in the public domain. A self-fulfilling prophecy goes on where more classical music is used due to this phenomenon.

In truth, classical music is great for many projects, more for the reasons we list below than for its ease of finding and licensing. But the fact remains that it at least seems easier to find and use due to the build-up of rumors over the years. 

Classical music is timeless and evergreen

The violin section of an orchestra playing royalty free classical music

A more likely reason you hear classical music in so many movies, television shows, and other forms of video and content is that classical music is timeless and evergreen. Unless you’re doing a period piece or a show that’s meant to feel very much like it’s part of a specific time or place (like how Stranger Things uses music, for example), using popular music in your projects is a bit of a risk as it will forever connect your videos to its current time.

Classical music, on the other hand, when used in film, television, and other videos, is a way to put your story into a context that is outside of your current place and time. Classical music feels timeless because it is. The heyday of Beethoven and Bach was so long ago that audiences don’t connect the music to any specific era instead, it just feels… well… classic.

If you want to create films and content that stay fresh and feel evergreen regardless of whether they are watched today or several months or years from now, classical music is a great way to give your films a timeless quality that keeps them always feeling fresh.

Classical music can set a location or scene

A full symphony orchestra in a theatre, performing their classical music soundtrack to an audience

Now, to slightly contradict a point above, while classical music doesn’t harken to a specific era of time—as in audiences don’t instantly know that German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven’s late period was between 1812 and 1827 and can’t recall what that time was like—the audience does know what classical music means for setting a scene.

When audiences hear classical music in a film or project, they recognize what it represents: sophistication, elegance, and importance. These themes follow classical music across all media types and can be a great way to help set a location or develop a scene.

As a filmmaker or visual storyteller, there are a lot of ways you can tell the audience that what they’re about to see is important. However, while you can use other filmmaking and cinematography tricks as well, a well-timed needle drop of a classical music piece can instantly convey the setting and importance to your audience.

Classical music can help develop a theme

Pink rose beside music sheets for classical music soundtrack

Furthermore, while classical music can instantly set a location or a scene, it can further develop a theme. One part of this is that all classical music (more or less) has a sophistication and elegance that is a theme unto itself.

However, on top of that, classical music isn’t completely a monolith. All types of classical music tracks are composed to elicit all types of emotions. There’s happy classical music and sad classical music. There’s carefree classical music, and there’s terrifying classical music.

When looking through a classical music library to find the right tracks for your projects, remember that you can still search for all the different theme signifiers as you usually would for any other music types for your projects.

Classical music is just as emotive as any other genre. It can be a great way to develop a theme in your films or projects by letting the soundtrack—in a sophisticated manner—inform your audience about the story underneath.

Classical music has built-in pathos

Person playing royalty free classical music for youtube on piano

Finally, perhaps more than any other type of modern, popular music, classical music is chock-full of pathos and emotion. The older the classical music composition, the better, as these songs have had decades to build up emotional connections and are used in different films and forms of entertainment.

Chances are, if you’re using a classical music song in one of your projects, your audience has heard the music before in one form or another. Whether your audience is aware of this or not, this means that these classical music numbers bring with them lots of emotion and pathos.

Of course, pathos is the original Greek word for “experience, misfortune, emotion, condition,” and it covers how artistic work can instantly make audiences feel compassion, pity, or sympathy for something or some character in films, television, and other projects.

Know that these classical music tracks have built-in pathos, and use them to your advantage as you pick the right soundtracks for your projects.