How to Choose Music for Your Podcast

Much like a movie score invokes specific feelings, podcast music sets the tone for your show. It’s a great way to engage listeners, keep segments separate, and to set your podcast apart. Unique show music, when done well, will make your show one-of-a-kind.

There are generally three types of short clips of music played throughout a podcast: Intro, Segment Change, and Outro. All three of these types are sometimes also called bumper music.

Intro Music

Intro music music plays at the beginning of your show, and often fades out as the voices of the show start to fade in. According to Briana Craig, also known as Bri-Real, a DJ who created all the music in the WorkPerfectly library, intro music is especially important. “It’s the first piece of audio that the listener is going to hear, so it’s important to solidify a distinct mood and sound to represent that particular podcast show or song.”  

Outro Music

Outro music is the track that plays at the end of the episode. Frequently it’s played over the end credits or the last few seconds. For outro music, you want to choose a song that is “slowly taking away sounds as the song closes out so by the end of the track it’s just the main melody,” says Craig. This will give the listener a feeling of closure, and they’ll know the episode is done.

Segment Change Music

Most podcasts have at least intro and outro music, but some also incorporate segment change music, too. Segment change music signifies that you’ve finished one segment and are moving onto the next as music is an easy way to mark a transition. Segment change music works best for shows that have multiple parts that are clearly defined within one show. As a bonus, if you’re cutting segments together that were recorded separately, segment change music can hide any difference in sound or audio quality.

Sourcing Music Options

Now that you know how to add music to your podcast, how do you find clips to use? Most songs on the radio are protected by copyright, which means that you can’t use the majority of popular music – not even a five second clip. When you’re putting music in your podcast, you need to make sure it’s music that you have the rights to use.

There are two main options to find podcast music: 

Find Music Available and OK to Use

Clips marked “ok to use with attribution” means that you can use the sample, but you need to give the creator credit for their work. “Attribution-free” music means you can use the music without mentioning the creator at all. Two resources to start are, which has a library of over 500,000 tracks, all of them tagged and categorized to make it easy to find what you want, and, which has a curated collection of stock music and also assists you with buying licenses to use music.

Hire Someone for Custom Music

You can also hire someone to create a song for you. Ask a friend to create a song for you or create one yourself. If you don’t know anyone who’s musically skilled, you can look up “custom podcast music” or “unique podcast music” at a site like to connect you with musicians.  This tends to be the more expensive option compared to using an already-created track, but if you have money to use, go for it.

Happy podcasting!

Originally published in Forbes.

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