My short bio: Owner of incompetech, and composer for... a whole lot of the internet, it seems. My Proof:

Thank you for all your questions! We won't be able to make this documentary without you, so please take a look and see if any of the rewards (DVDs, posters, autographs, etc...) interest you. If you've ever considered donating, now would be the best time to give back. Cheers! - Kevin

Comments: 192 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

cikmatt53 karma

Oh man, I can't even begin to thank you for the incredible work you do. I'm a videographer and adjunct college instructor teaching editing. When I have to have the "copyright" discussion with my students, it's so much easier to drive them to your website then to simply say "Don't use copyrighted music." Our department sees unlicensed music as plagiarism, and even sometimes as academic dishonesty. Providing them with an alternative to simply using a daft punk track from their iPod works so much better than having to gripe at them later. I, also, can then explain the importance of properly crediting your tracks and even the differences in the Creative Commons licenses.

There are plenty of sites out there, but you might just have the best.

kevinmacleod34 karma

Wow! Thank you for teaching about Creative Commons!

bodil4029 karma

Is it enough credits if I just put "Music by Kevin MacLeod -" in my YT video description (w/o names of the particular songs)

kevinmacleod55 karma

Technically that's not enough, but I'm not going to sue you for it.

The best thing you can do for my sanity is to put those titles in. Many users will email me directly to ask what a piece is... and I often don't know. So, if you're not putting in the titles, at least put in your email address so YOU get those requests! :-)

wolfdad99918 karma

Hey there Kevin. I use your Pixel Peeker Polka as ringtone.

kevinmacleod25 karma

God help anyone in the room with you. :-)

EnderPig14 karma

I listen to the calming music you make to help me fall asleep. It helps me get y grades up at school.

To the question, do you think that your music will be used for weird reasons like mine? Has it happened before?

kevinmacleod15 karma

I'm rarely surprised anymore. Yeah. There are amazing and wonderful uses of my music. On average, I get a note of something amazing every week or so. Helping to get through cancer treatments, working with dementia patients. There are just some amazing stories, and I'm happy that I know about them.

immorta111 karma

Who is your favorite youtuber?

kevinmacleod48 karma

Thanks for driving a wedge between me and everyone I don't mention!

I like Nilsey from the Yogscast and Blame Society quite a lot. And Glove and Boots. And Numberphile.

t17389z11 karma

How does it feel to hear your music on T.V.? I've heard it on commercials for big name products, beer and such and found it pretty amazing, especially since you don't make a penny off of it.
On a related note, big name companies really should start leaving pretty big donations when they use your stuff.

kevinmacleod39 karma

Well, I do make something off of those commercials. My standard license is $30. And yeah, when Coke did a radio ad with my music - the negotiator called me up. I quoted them $30. They sent me $1500. That was nice!

I didn't know I was in a beer ad, though!

Also, I don't have a TV.

DeadlyDuck10 karma

Are you aware of The Yogscast and their use of your free music? If so, has it spiked your popularity at all?

kevinmacleod29 karma

Yup! I watch a lot of the Yogscast shows. I think it might spike my popularity more if they attributed me regularly. Right now, you only know it is my music if you already know it is my music.


Any comments on RoosterTeeth's use of Glee Club Polka on their Technical Difficulties track?

kevinmacleod11 karma

I didn't know they did that! Someone email me a link, please!


kevinmacleod8 karma

Oh man! Perfect!

Rintae9 karma

First of all. Thank you for making the AMA out of my petty request. And second of all welcome aboard on Reddit! Now, at the AMA request i asked you 5 questions:

1) Did anything inspire you to compose, either directly or indirectly.

2)Is composing your full-time job or do you do something else for a living?

3)For many years have you been composing?

4)Why did you choose to publish your compositions for free?

5)Can we hear about your personal life?

Would mean alot if you could answer these since i have used your masterpieces for countless hours of work. Once again, thank you for doing this.

kevinmacleod8 karma

1) I'm not even sure what this question means. I write music all the time. Most of the time, it goes like this: "Here is a film and some money. Write music, please!" I think the number one inspiring event for me is when I hear something popular that I could have done better.

2) Composing isn't the only thing I do, but it is the only thing that makes money.

3) unknown! My first recordings were done in 1999. Solo piano.

4) Music's purpose is to have an emotional impact on people. The more you control your work, the less people will hear it. It is pretty simple. If you want great impact for your music - give it away as freely as is reasonable!

5) Yeah, I don't talk about me a lot. I'm sure there will be some more specific questions later on...

TheFriendlyZombie7 karma

What would your dream project be?

I think it would be awesome to create music to go in the background for the BBC nature shows while David Attenborough narrates :)

kevinmacleod10 karma

This is a fantastic question! I've thought about this a lot, and I'm still not really sure. It would be a film, and involve Me, a Director, and another Composer.

sticky_digits6 karma


kevinmacleod4 karma

Oh! Different Kevin MacLeod... actually, that is Kevin McCloud. I am also not a Canadian official, or a British musician.

anonymous1234216 karma

What are your thoughts on music piracy? Obviously it's a nonissue for you, but in general how do you feel about IP both as it is manifested in law today and as a concept?

If you don't mind me asking, are you content with the amount you make via ads and donations? Are you glad you chose this business model?

Do you do this full time?

kevinmacleod9 karma

Music piracy is mostly dead due to some amazing online services.

IP, now that is an issue, and a deep and horrible problem. I choose to deal with it by circumventing the system. I am not a member of any Professional Rights Organizations. I hope that Creative Commons content will one day eclipse the existing copyright content. I basically have no hope to change the bad laws that have evolved over that last century, but I can choose not to participate in them.

I am SUPER happy with this business model. It isn't static; I'm still looking for the next thing.

This is my full-time profession.

BigG1236 karma

Hey Kevin, I just wanted to say thanks for making the music you do. I've used a few of your songs in the past short skits like this and this and that to name a few. Keep doing what you're doing.

Also, just a quick question, how do you (if you do) make money for this music?

kevinmacleod7 karma

Donations are accepted. :-)

mherick5 karma

What's one thing that you do, that a less successful composer doesn't do? Is there something you think NEEDS to be a part of the average day for someone who has not become a Kevin MacLeod?

kevinmacleod12 karma

I stop. There is always more that I can do to any piece of music, but at some point, you need to let it go and move on.

Wakabone5 karma

What happens if you scare someone half to death twice?

kevinmacleod7 karma

They would be 3/4 more of the way to death. This is one of Zeno's paradoxes. You can scare people half to death forever, and they'll never actually die.

LucidLemon3 karma

Not unless we use the power of infinite series!

Σ (1/2)x

1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + ... = 1, completely dead!

kevinmacleod4 karma

Your infinite series are all well and good in Maths, but we live in the real world where an infinite number of serial actions are not possible!

I do agree that Zeno should have had infinite series, though.

y2bd5 karma

What music do you generally listen to?

kevinmacleod11 karma

For fun? I rarely do that. Probably Zimmer soundtracks or early music. Like REALLY early... like Obrecht.

LucidLemon5 karma

Which piece that you have produced is your favorite (if you even have one)?

Also, a massive thank you for livening up so many small productions

kevinmacleod10 karma

Ah! Yeah, production is different from composition. My favorite production is Go Cart. It was built almost exclusively with sine waves. It took a long time, but it is really pure-sounding.

Quad93634 karma

As you're composing music, is it all digital? Or do you have real life instruments that you have to play and record?

kevinmacleod6 karma

Most everything is digital. I'd like to do real recordings, but there are deadlines.

Wakabone4 karma

What is your catchiest piece of music in your opinion?

kevinmacleod11 karma

Probably the one the Nilsey closes his YouTube videos with. I think he'll be releasing it for sale soon.

TJBlack244 karma

What software do you prefer to use when you work?

kevinmacleod11 karma

My framework is Logic X. It is a bit buggy at the moment, and that's a bit frustrating. There is an entire page on my site's Music FAQ that lists my virtual instruments. It is always out of date... but it'll give you a good idea. :-)

Bat_turd4 karma


How/why did you get into music?

What is your computer setup? Os?

Would you recommend composing as a career? Why/why not?

Thank you.

kevinmacleod4 karma

I don't remember how I got into music. It seems to have always have been.

My computer is a maxxed-out iMac, which will be a new Mac Pro whenever they come one.

I absolutely recommend composing as a career if you're a composer! For me, it is the best thing ever. Follow your heart.

DJ_Grizzleface4 karma

1) You utilize Creative Commons. What changes would you make to the Creative Commons system, if you could?

2) What does your audio mastering process entail?

3) What is your favorite style of music to create that nobody ever requests from you?

kevinmacleod9 karma

Creative Commons had a sort of hole a while back when they didn't have the "alternate licenses" part. So, I made my own... and now they added that in. I think they're doing a great job!

Audio mastering process... yeah... I'm still learning a lot about that. But I love my multi-channel compressors and EQs.

My favorite styles of music change quite often. Right now, I'm in a suspense film scoring mood. But people hire me for that... To be fair, people request pretty much everything.

ahoymehearties4 karma

I don't have anything to ask, but I did want to thank you. I work on editorial projects for a non-profit organization, and it's great that I have a place to go where I know I can probably get just the music I'm looking for. I'm baffled and jealous at your range of styles, as a musician myself. Surely, you have to dislike a large portion of your own work. :)

Anyway, thanks - you do a great service to those of us without big budgets and deserve all the recognition you can get!

kevinmacleod6 karma

It is more appropriate to say that I like a small minority of my work. Behold the power of optimism! :-)

Sir_Adian4 karma

How do you make money?

kevinmacleod7 karma

New projects come in all the time! Donations are also huge. There are ads on my site.

stephcurrylightup3 karma

First of all, you're the man. You're great. My question is: why did you want to make royalty free music? Did it come out of wanting to provide something that wasn't there, for fun, or because you couldn't get a different music job but wanted something involving music?

kevinmacleod7 karma

When I started, the state of music-suitable-for-films was horrible. So I found a need and filled it.

gtkarber3 karma

On your website, some music is listed as "humorous." What qualities do you think makes music "humorous."

kevinmacleod3 karma

Cultural context.

Wakabone3 karma

Last question, I promise! Im only a teenager and I composed this bit of music: what are your thoughts?

kevinmacleod5 karma

Email me. Critiques take a lot of time. I don't have that time right now. Warning, I probably won't say nice things. You should see the critiques of the music I write. Brutal.

Sixelona2 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA!

What's the strangest video you've seen with your music in it? And do you often find people using your music without crediting your work? Being from an art background, I feel credit for any kind of work is important!

kevinmacleod7 karma

There was a 10 minute video of a person cleaning a bathroom. Wish I could find that link. It was mesmerizing... and strange.

People use my work without crediting quite a lot. It is important to some extent... but having my music exist in another video is more important to me. Well... if it is a good video.

Sprite872 karma

Hi, I'm doing a case for uni and was wondering if I could ask you a few questions for primary research? it will mostly be related to marketing and distribution using digital technology.

I live in the UK and 7pm eastern is early in the morning, (which kind of gets in the way of uni).

would I be able to ask these questions to you through e-mail?

if you could private message me your contact details that would be great.


kevinmacleod3 karma


lookyman2 karma

Have you ever heard one of your pieces in a movie/video and it was so fitting that you thought, "Man, I couldn't wish for a better use of this one"? If so, which one?

kevinmacleod3 karma

I have! I don't remember the example. But it was an unusual usage that was beautiful.

Poppamunz2 karma

Let me be one to ask this. Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

kevinmacleod11 karma

Anyone who follows horse racing knows that "healthy as a horse" means "not at all healthy". Those equine getaway-sticks are really fragile... one kick and they are out of commission!

I'll take the tiny horses.

suicidalgoldfish2 karma

Just came here to say that you're awesome and I look up to you. Keep doing what you do!

kevinmacleod4 karma

That is my plan. Thanks! :-)

jimibosmells2 karma

What is the biggest video in which your music was used?

kevinmacleod8 karma

I haven't a clue. How would I even find that info? If anyone knows of videos with more than 100,000,000 views - let me know.

Identical641 karma

First, thanks so much for your music! It amazing how much content you put out and how unique and amazing each one is.

Question: how long does it take to compose a standard length song?

kevinmacleod1 karma

Somewhere between 5 minutes and 140 hours.

SuperMasterUniverse1 karma

Thanks Kevin!
Are all of your songs made for films? It seems that is the only way you get paid.

kevinmacleod2 karma

I also get donations from the fantastic people in the video creation world! Thanks all! Also. Please donate.

Quad93631 karma

What do you like to do in your free time?

kevinmacleod4 karma

I enjoy cocktails. I was spoiled with the amazing array of cocktail bars in NYC. When I came back to Wisconsin earlier this year (because of horrible horrible panic attacks) there was an opportunity for me to buy a bar. So I bartend a couple days a week there making awesome freaking cocktails for an audience that largely doesn't care. :-)

cartoonpenguin1 karma

Who would you want to be, if you could start all over?

kevinmacleod1 karma

What are my options?

mooniy1 karma

What piece of yours changed your life most radically? Was there a breakthrough in style, a piece that made significant money and allowed you more freedom in later works, or a particular piece that you just love?

kevinmacleod3 karma

My tools more than my compositions make the most difference. My style is mostly dictated by the project. I release so many pieces that none of them have specific impact on me.

Quad93631 karma

Which is the TRUE opposite of 'Go away'? Come away, or go towards me?

kevinmacleod3 karma

Of Inverse, Converse, and Contrapositive, which means "opposite"?

Quad93632 karma

Don't you bounce it back at me, I was asking YOU. Give me your opinion for what you'd imagine would be opposite. :)

kevinmacleod3 karma

"Move in the direction of me."

DerpingCreeper1 karma

Do you play Minecraft? If not, are you planning to?

It seems lots of Minecraft YouTubers use your songs.

kevinmacleod2 karma

I used to play minecraft quite a bit... but I've been swamped with work and other things recently, so I've not fired up the PC in a while.

Sunuke1 karma

Have you had much chance to play around with Logic Pro X? I've just got it, and as finicky it can be for me at times (when I'm lazy and don't have a keyboard nearby using the capslock keyboard was nice in 9...). I haven't tried out the sampled instruments yet, so I was wondering if you had played around with them yet?

kevinmacleod2 karma

I live in Logic X now. The bugs are killing me! The instruments are largely the same. Plus, they kept the environment editor... which I'm very happy about.

DJ_Grizzleface1 karma

I have some questions about Incompetech:

What was the hardest part about making it into a legitimate business?

At what point did it become your full-time job?

Is Incompetech solely made up of you, or are there others behind the scenes?

And is Incompetech accepting interns?

kevinmacleod3 karma

There was no hard part. It just evolved over time.

It became my full time job when the ad rev overtook the money from my computer programming job.

I do all of the content, and Randy helps out with the tech support tickets. I'm also in the process of hiring an Ajax programmer.

Interns? I can get interns!? Heck yeah!

uigsyvigvusy1 karma

What other music artists would you recommend?

kevinmacleod1 karma

There's a whole list at the bottom of my FAQ!

bourbon_now1 karma

What do you honestly think of Malort and those who foist it upon others?

kevinmacleod3 karma

Malort is a Chocagoland liqueur. It is bitter, but not as bitter as Amaro Del Eborista. As a bitter drink, Malort is somewhat unrefined. As for the foisters, I've done it... so I cannot say with impartiality.

bencordoza1 karma

Which piece are you most proud of?

kevinmacleod6 karma

Hard to say. I did a piece in 2009 for a Sherlock Holmes production. On my site it is called Ghost Dance. I like that one quite a lot.

Mundus_Vult_Decipi1 karma

Kevin MacLeod of the clan MacLeod? You weren't, by any chance, born in the Highlands of Scotland in 1518, were you?

kevinmacleod2 karma

I don't remember my birth, but I also have no memory of the 16th century... so, I'm going to guess 'no'.


Do people submit music for you to use in your projects? Or is every piece your own creation?

kevinmacleod2 karma

Sometimes people give me melodies, but I can't release those... so they've only ever been heard in a single project. Most everything I do is original.

td271 karma

What video of yours has gotten the most views?

kevinmacleod6 karma

YouTube says "Clean Soul" has the most views on my channel.

Creativation1 karma

Who was first in making the Spazzmatica Polka you or Secret Agent Bob (Charlie the Unicorn)?

kevinmacleod1 karma

I don't know who Secret Agent Bob is... But I know that I wrote that piece of music.

TOHRz1 karma

How did you get all the equipment to make all those songs in the beginning, when you didn't make money off donations etc?

kevinmacleod1 karma

I started with almost nothing. It doesn't take much to make music these days. GarageBand is pretty cheap and WAY better than my original tools.

xDeda1 karma

I just wanted to say that "Music To Delight" is perhaps the best composed piece of music I've ever listened to. Ever.

kevinmacleod1 karma

Rock on! :-)

thisheregirafFe1 karma


kevinmacleod1 karma


epiccheese21 karma

How do you think of the music you produce? Do you just have an ear for it? Or is it something more complicated?

kevinmacleod1 karma

The thinking-up part is easy. There is no end to that. The producing part is not easy.

TGMB10 karma

Who is your biggest inspiration?

kevinmacleod8 karma

If this is "from whom do you steal most often"... probably Holst.

skateordie0020 karma

Could you possibly help me with my machinima series?

kevinmacleod3 karma

Right now, I'm doing 2 short films, a TV pilot, and 5 video games. So - unless you have very very light requirements for scoring... I can't do much for a while. ...and some ringtones. accordion sing-along night at my bar.