In honor of the “Best of Radio Film School” series we’ve done this week, here are my top 5 creative commons musicians from FreeMusicArchive.org.
The beginning of March marks exactly six months that Radio Film School has been live. It’s been a great adventure so far. As you know, a key component of every Radio Film School episode is the music we select. It can be quite a lengthy process finding the right creative commons songs to use. FreeMusicArchive.org is our primary resource, and there have been a few artists on the site whose music we’ve used repeatedly. So, instead of our regular top 5 pick of songs, here are my top 5 creative commons musicians.
If I had to pick my #1 artist, the honor would have to go to MC Cullah (or just Cullah). This dude has such a wide range of styles. Rap. Blues. Folk. Rock. All done in a very distinctive style. A Man with a Golden Soul is probably my favorite of his. I was looking for something that reminded me of Quentin Tarantino. And as soon as I heard this track, I nearly jumped out of my seat. Expect to hear a lot of Cullah on our upcoming Tarantino episode.
Chris Zabriskie is a very close second to Cullah, although I’ve used his songs by far more than any other artist. If you want a moody ambient soundtrack, Chris is your man. In fact, if you do a search for creative commons ambient music on FMA, his name will take up about half of the search results. Talk about being prolific! His Cylinders album could be a soundtrack for any sci-fi thriller or drama.
Almost as prolific as Zabriskie, but with the eclectic style of Cullah, is show favorite Jahzzar (Javier Suarez). He made what I call the non-official Radio Film School theme song, “Please Listen Carefully“, which I normally play during sponsor segments or at the beginning of some episodes during the “cold open”.
If you want a moody, indie film vibe, look no further than Fog Lake. You could call their stuff “folk ambient.” For the songs that have lyrics, the lyrics are very mellow, low-key and don’t overpower the soundtrack. As of this writing, it looks as if they only have one album and 12 songs on FMA. But it’s a strong showing.
I’ve only used her songs a few times, but I had to include rap artists Kellee Maize on this list. Mainly because her remixes are perfect for a podcast about filmmaking. Her “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men” remixes say it all. Instantly recognizable with hard-hitting lyrics.
Here are a few other artists whose work I really enjoy and have used a few times.
Need a good folk tune with a mainstream feel? Or a rendition of a popular children’s song, David Mumford‘s “Bonfire Music” is the way to go.
Kai Engel (Anton Fedchenkov) is like a cutting edge version of Chris Zabriskie. Most of his work is CC BY-NC (creative commons non-commercial). So you can use these songs for projects where you’re not making any money. That limits how often I can use him on the podcast. But the few tracks he has that allow for commercial use are just as amazing as his other stuff. If you have a space opera you’re working on, or a Sicario style thriller, check out his album, The Scope.