Developing a video game is an extensive process of crafting visuals, gameplay mechanics, and storytelling. Within this process, music has more of an impact than you may think. Royalty-free game music comes with the appeal of being efficient and budget-friendly, but careful music selection is essential to elevate the player’s experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of gaming music, discuss royalty-free music as it relates to the game development world, debunk common misconceptions, and walk you through how to choose the perfect music for your video game.

What is Royalty-Free Gaming Music?

Royalty-free gaming music is a common option that developers come across when searching for music. Royalty-free music is a licensing model where the user purchases a one-off license to use the track without paying additional royalties or fees. Royalties are payments collected by the owners of copyrighted works for the use of their product, essentially making sure the original creators are paid for their work.

Royalty-free game music appears to be a cost-efficient and simple option for game developers where they don’t have to worry about continuous payment obligations. However, it may not be the best option for a variety of reasons.

Common Misconceptions About Royalty-Free Music

1. “Royalty-free music is free music.”

One of the most widely believed misconceptions about royalty-free music is that you do not have to pay to use royalty-free music. Royalty-free music still requires the user to make a one-time payment to purchase a license to use the track. The “free” part doesn’t mean free download, but rather refers to the idea that you’re free to use the music in your project without paying additional royalties. Some royalty-free music libraries do offer free game music, but in many cases, you still need to purchase a license or subscription.

2. “Royalty-free music has no legal obligations.”

Some may think that once you obtain a royalty-free music license, you are free of any rules and can use the music however you want. While you don't need to pay ongoing royalties, you’re still required to follow the terms of the license. The terms may restrict the type of projects you can use the music in or the platforms where it can be distributed.

3. “Royalty-free music is copyright-free.”

Another common misconception that is still very prevalent today is that royalty-free music is copyright-free. Remember, royalty-free music is still protected by copyright just like any other music. Making sure you have the correct license for your game can save you from running into legal issues.

We have a full breakdown explaining royalty-free music vs copyright-free music here.

How Music Impacts Player Engagement and Immersion

Player engagement and immersion are key factors in positive gaming experiences. Studies show that variations of songs translate into different immersive and emotional states, as well as considerably change how players engage in the game. Using background music in video games breathes life into a 2D world, creating a sense of a real physical space. A recent report showed that those who played games with music were more easily absorbed into the gameplay and experienced a more serious time distortion. The more immersive the gameplay experience, the more likely it is for players to lose track of time.

Choosing the wrong music, however, can negatively affect the gaming experience. A consistent representation of an audio, visual, and player relationship is necessary to facilitate a convincing game world. If poor song choices are made or sound effects fail to flow with the player’s actions, it’s difficult for the player to become fully immersed in the game. The right music, chosen in consistency with the situation and storyline allows the player to become invested emotionally with the game world, culture, and its characters.

Varying musical elements can enhance the emotional resonance of gameplay as well. Music in different keys and certain chord progressions hold the power to convey a wide spectrum of emotions, from happiness to sadness, from mystery to hope. Dynamic variations in tempo, pitch, and rhythm as well, influence players' tension levels. Even in casinos, music is used to influence how fast roulette players place bets. Using the right music can fully immerse players into your game, enhancing the realness of the experience.

Why Isn’t Royalty-Free Gaming Music the Best Option?

While royalty-free gaming music might seem easy to navigate, it often falls short of capturing the essence of your game. Many royalty-free tracks are designed to be versatile and easily integrated into various projects, resulting in a generic quality that might not align with your game's unique identity. To create an authentic, immersive experience, your game deserves music that harmonizes with its themes and narrative.

Since royalty-free music is widely available and can be used by anyone who purchases a license, some tracks may be overused and lack uniqueness. If you are selecting music from a popular library, this can lead to a lack of originality with your game and cause it to become hidden within the abundance of new game releases.

With royalty-free gaming music, it can be difficult to edit or personalize tracks. For instance, you could come across a fantastic song that almost fits what you're looking for, but you just wish you could take out certain sounds that don’t align with your vision. The lack of customization with royalty-free music becomes an obstacle, blocking player immersion and emotional resonance with your game.

How to Find and License High-Quality Music for Games

If you’re looking for high-quality tracks and a personalized music licensing experience for your game, a Track Club Enterprise subscription is perfect for you.

Track Club’s music library contains a meticulously curated selection of high-quality, authentically crafted music, and uses Smart Filters, which allow you to filter through different tracks by Mood, Energy, Genres, and more, helping you find exactly what you need, quickly.

You won’t have to worry about limited creative freedom either, since we put full customization capabilities into your hands with Track Club’s MixLab, which allows you to adjust the volume of individual stems or remove instruments from the mix altogether, and even change BPM.

Learn more about how to create your own custom soundtrack, here.

A Track Club Enterprise subscription makes the music licensing process more efficient and cost-effective by granting unlimited downloads and sync music licenses for songs in the Track Club catalog, without needing to negotiate with the rights holders.

Track Club takes care of everything from music selection to taking care of logistics, so all you need to do is focus on choosing and crafting the perfect track to add character and emotion to your game.

Tips for Choosing the Ideal Background Music

When choosing your game’s music, you’ll need to consider different aspects of your game and the narrative you are trying to create. Here are some tips to help guide your music selection process:

  1. Unveil Your Game's Identity: Determine the overall essence of your game. Is it an action-packed first-person shooter game, a whimsical fantasy adventure RPG, or a suspenseful horror game? The music you download should mirror the tone and emotions your game seeks to evoke.
  2. Match The Pacing: The rhythm and tempo of your music can significantly influence the pace of your game. Upbeat tracks can heighten tension during climactic moments, while serene melodies can enhance exploration and contemplation.
  3. Embrace Uniqueness: By customizing your game’s soundtrack, you can craft unique pieces that seamlessly intertwine with your narrative, fostering an immersive and unforgettable experience.
  4. Testing and Refinement: Just as you refine gameplay mechanics, music requires testing within your game's context. Gather feedback from others or view how the music interacts with your game with a fresh perspective.


While royalty-free gaming music might appear as an attractive option initially, investing more time into choosing the best music that serves to elevate your game will pay off much more in the end. Background music isn’t just a small decoration for your game, but rather a significant tool that molds emotions, shapes gameplay, and heightens immersion. As you develop your game, remember that you’re building an entire experience for your audience and bridging the worlds of 2D and 3D. Selecting and crafting the right music is an integral component of game development that defines the gameplay experience.

Need video game music? Track Club’s customizable small-batch music library can help you enhance your content with the perfect soundtrack to captivate your audience as a quality game developer. Reach out to to get started!