My name is Kevin MacLeod and I'm the owner and composer of I release all my music for free which has led it to be used in millions of YouTube videos, thousands of films, an amusement park, and porn among other things.... Ask me anything you want to know about composing, Incompetech, and everything!

I am also here to announce a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary on... me. Check it out here:

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: 181 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

WestyTV85 karma

Your work makes YouTubers and LiveStreamers work so much easier. So I just wanted to say a massive thank you for what you do!

My question is... With the current state of youtube, and Music Copyright Laws, how are youtubers meant to fight copyright claims to music which have been advertised as Royalty Free or Creative Commons? - As I have seen quite a few of your songs being claimed by other companies and individuals.

It's scary out there, and the prospect of having Copyright Strikes on your account make it difficult to fight when you don't know what sound bites went into the music in the first place.

Keep up the awesome work, I'm personally in love with Scheming Weasel!

kevinmacleod66 karma

YouTube has a pretty decent method of challenging bad claims... that being said, it is not optimal - and at worst confusing. I CAN say that no one has ever gotten a copyright strike for using my music. But I understand having a claim against a video is not a fun time.

That will be covered in the upcoming documentary.

Lawrence Lessig (Creative Commons) is scheduled to be interviewed about this. He was apparently excited to hear about the story!

Awesome608938 karma

Hey kevin, love your music. Just two questions,

  1. What gave you the inspiration to create royalty-free music, when you could just as easily be selling it?

  2. Do you feel proud when you see your music being used, and if, what have you felt the most proud about it being used in?

kevinmacleod51 karma

1) This goes back to a basic philosophy of music. If I can find a way for more people to hear what I've done, I've made more of an impact. I could sell it places, sure... but I really enjoy writing music that enhances narratives. RF is the best way to do that today.

2) "Pride" is a longer discussion than I have time for here.

Xenoxsis26 karma

Hi Kevin. First love your music. Do you ever see your music credited somewhere and go "Wow...i did that"?

kevinmacleod79 karma

Sadly, yes! I'll often think... "huh... sounds like me". But yeah, things I've made years ago I'll forget about. Good to know other people haven't forgotten! :-)

I'm a fan of the game "The Stanley Parable"... certainly did not expect to hear me IN it!

diabolix1723 karma

What is your musical background? Did you get traditional musical education as a child or is it self-taught?

kevinmacleod34 karma

Yes, and yes! I went to college for Music Ed and learned quite a bit there. When you do education, you need to learn a little bit about everything. So, learning to hold and play a bassoon actually comes in pretty handy when you're writing for a bassoon.

The self-taught part... how can you not? Music is everywhere. You learn from that if you're trying or not.

phantomcr22 karma

Hello Kevin! First of all thanks a lot for everything you do. My questions are: 1- do you get many donations? are people generous? 2- Do you usually sell many licenses for people not to give credit? or is this uncommon? 3- Have you ever had to fight anyone using your music for big projects without respecting the license terms? (basically not giving credit)

Thanks and keep up the great work my friend!

kevinmacleod35 karma

Yeah, I get at least one donation every day, and I think people are good. (also, please donate!) The licensing has been pretty successful, yes. I get more licenses than donations most days.

And yes, I did poke at a political ad I saw on TV once while on vacation... I saw they didn't have a license, and they certainly didn't credit. They sent me a check for way more than they needed to... So, I'm not complaining about that. :-)

RahmEeRoh20 karma

which amusement park? How do you make so much music? do you ever get "writers block"?

kevinmacleod38 karma

PowerPark in Finland. They're using a LOT of my music all over the place... backgrounds, line queues... I'm also in talks right now for doing new music for a park in the UAE. The park in Poland is no more.

I don't think I make that much music... I've just done it for a long time now.

Sometimes there is writers' block... but never on a project. The problem is always just culling the possibilities to the best ones.

Bandgeek8000118 karma

Thank you so much for what you do; my school has lots of video production students and many of us use your music!

Out of curiosity, what's the split you use between acoustic and electronic instruments? How do you decide which is best?

kevinmacleod81 karma

99.96% electronic. With the deadlines these days, they are just so much faster to revise. Also, where are you going to get a bagpipe player at 4am?

And if you DO get a bagpipe player at 4am, how do you find a new apartment?

jensenr3012 karma

Have you ever seen someone using your music and think, "That is really distasteful/offensive/gross."?

Also, on a related note, have you ever asked someone to remove your music from their work?

kevinmacleod22 karma

I have never asked anyone to remove my music. I HAVE asked someone to remove my credit. I think it is still listed on IMDB. Try to guess which one. :-)

Scottler12 karma

Mr. an avid yard haunter, I'm a tremendous fan of your creepy ambient music. Is composing stuff with a certain emotional feel to it, knowing that's what you're going for, more challenging than composing any other piece?

kevinmacleod21 karma

That is the easiest. When there is a target, you at least know where to aim... and it is easy to know if you got it right!

(not bad... needs more bassoon...)

curlyhairedhipster9 karma

What was your favorite porno that you recognized your own music in without previously knowing that someone had used it?

kevinmacleod53 karma

Backdoor Sluts 9 (makes Crotch Capers 3 look like Naughty Nurses 2).

NorbitGorbit9 karma

is there a stock music site where people can contribute their own tracks for free?

kevinmacleod21 karma

I run a site called You won't make any money on the music... and they are released into the Public Domain... But people can certainly contribute!

Joeniel7 karma

Hi Kevin! First of all, we are making a presentation using your music as I type this comment. Thanks a ton!

Have you ever regretted making you music free?

kevinmacleod18 karma

There is no way I would be as popular as I am if I started on the traditional path of charging upfront for music.

joshwoodward7 karma

Are you involved with any commercial music library licensing sites, and if so, which ones are working out best for you?

kevinmacleod9 karma

Nope! I did do a commission for the YouTube Audio library... but that one is 100% free to use. It has some great stuff, I only have 10 pieces there right now... but they are really good! I put a lot of time into those. Check them out when you get a moment.

JamesAJanisse7 karma

Do you ever regret giving all your music away for free, after seeing how many people want to use it and all the potential revenue you've missed out on?

kevinmacleod25 karma

Cripes no! My music gets into the world... it has an effect on people's lives... how could there be regrets there? Not to say that money is bad, but people donate to me and license my music all the time. I'm doing fine. :-)

I believe there is a documentary in the works about now... It'll probably have more to say on the subject.

matheweon6 karma

Favorite chord progression?

kevinmacleod9 karma

i III iv VI? I just go there way too often. The best ones are dictated by the melody.

Dabee6256 karma

Can you sing?

kevinmacleod28 karma

I think everyone can sing. I (like many) just do it very VERY poorly.

AR15Hunter6 karma

Do you have any pictures of your recording "studio" that you don't mind sharing?

kevinmacleod11 karma

Not yet! I'll see if I can post some to my site tomorrow! Hint: It isn't really exciting. :-)

marshmallowbeatz6 karma

I have used your music before and I really love your work!

I know you have a wide range of music from horror to African. I was wondering, is there a specific genre of music you like to produce? Also, do you always use live instruments in your recordings and which instruments are your favorites?

kevinmacleod6 karma

I like doing music that I like. It is pretty varied. I think I have used live instruments in... 3 pieces? Maybe? Two for sure. Almost everything is virtual instruments.

Coolcreeperblock5 karma

Hello! First of all, I love your music, and thanks for composing music for everyone! Now, the question: What mood do you like to compose the most, and what mood is the most challenging to compose?

kevinmacleod12 karma

Horror is psychologically rough on me. I like doing it sometimes, but it is really draining. It is always easiest to write for the mood I'm in... and after a few hours, I am almost always IN the mood of the music. Because... that's what music does.

Frajer4 karma

Do you find people are generally good about giving you credit for your work even though you don't demand it?

kevinmacleod15 karma

Technically, I DO demand it. If by "generally good" you mean "more than 50%"... that's a tough call.

PicturElements4 karma

First off, thank you for improving millions of YouTube videos!

  1. How often do you get requests for music?

  2. What is the oddest (e.g. most extravagant or musically challenging) piece of music you have been commissioned to produce?

kevinmacleod7 karma

I get requests daily. I spend quite a lot of time giving quotes on new projects.

The most challenging requests are always period music (from the 1920s, or 1940s, et al). The most challenging I've ever produced? "Zakumi". It was an animated series with insane deadlines. That may have also been the most fun project. (Thanks to Mr. Bryan Teoh for his help on that one!)

monkpuzz3 karma

Hello! First, thank you so much for one of the highest quality archives of royalty-free music on the internet! Your music has added so much to my YouTube Minecraft channel (One-Eyed Maestro has been my running theme song).

My question: How do you pay the bills with your business model?

kevinmacleod20 karma

Step one. Give away music for free. Step two. ??? Step three. Profit!!

Aranha-UK3 karma

What's your opinion on people re-sampling your work in their own songs?

kevinmacleod12 karma

I'm okay with that until it gets into the ContentID system on YouTube. Then it just makes super headaches for everyone.

Shrinks992 karma

First off I would like to say that I have been a fan of your music pretty much since I started watching youtube content with your music featured in it. You were a major inspiration to me when I started composing and arranging.

Do you have any tips, tricks or general advice for people like me? I currently use Logic Pro and a Keyrig 49.

kevinmacleod8 karma

Have an emotional goal. Write music. Honestly evaluate the music with respect to the goal. Rinse. Repeat. You will never EVER get it right... just try to get as close as you can, then move on. And do it again. and again. and again.

Michael-Rosen2 karma

How do you pace yourself — how has time shaped the way you work, whether it's on a rigid deadline or not?

kevinmacleod6 karma

I pace myself poorly. When there are project deadlines, the pacing is almost self-dictating. When I'm off on my own... I can run for 20 hours a day and then crash... or do 1 hour a day... it is chaotic, and not really a good way to work.

therablador2 karma

Great to see someone I respect so much doing an AMA! I have a couple of questions...

You release such a wide range of music, how do you decide what genre to base your next song around? My personal favourite is The Cannery.

Secondly, your music is such a necessity to so many YouTubers, but do you watch any of them yourself? And if so, who are your favourites?

kevinmacleod15 karma

I do watch a lot of Yogscast. Also chess videos... but the chess people don't use my music.

racistduck1 karma


So, quick question, what is the oddest places you've heard your music being used?

kevinmacleod17 karma

Train station PSA in Pennsylvania.

maereddit1 karma

I'm currently in the process of putting together a short, silent film for my media class, are there any tracks that are your favourites or you suggest I try out?

kevinmacleod6 karma

Try music that has NOTHING to do with silent films. Could be anything. Just try 5 or 6 random pieces. See what furthers your story best.