One of the best ways to build your podcast brand and improve listener experience is to use the right images for your cover art, social media posts, and blogs and incorporate music in your shows. Shutterstock offers you a wide range of stock images to use in your cover art and stock music clips that you can incorporate in your show.

What is Shutterstock?

Shutterstock is a stock image, video footage, and music provider. It was founded in 2003 as a stock photo website and has grown exponentially over the years. Shutterstock now has over one billion images, music, and video clips from over 1 million contributors. It gives creatives a platform to showcase and monetize their work, and professionals and small businesses content and tools for creating incredible content.

How to Use Shutterstock Royalty-Free Images for Your Cover Art, Social Media Posts, and Blog

Aside from producing high-quality audio content, you need beautiful and relevant graphics for your podcast cover art and promotional posts on various social media platforms.

For many listeners, the image is the most important part of your cover art. Before they notice the title, fonts, and logo, they first see the cover image. You should choose your cover art image strategically. It should:

  • Stand out
  • Be of high-quality
  • Convey what your podcast is about
  • Make the logo and other elements in the cover art stand out
  • Adhere to principles of psychology in regards to tone, mood, and message

The Shutterstock editor is a helpful tool when designing your social media post. It provides easy-to-edit templates for your social media posts. However, you can choose from the wide collection of Shutterstock images to design your social media posts or blog images and graphics.

Shutterstock Images

You can easily find appropriate Shutterstock images for your podcast through the search bar on the website. Think about one to three words that best describe what your podcast is about and search for them in the search bar.

Do as many searches as you need to until you find some images that you can use. Once you find images you like, click on download. If you are not already on a plan, Shutterstock offers you the option to buy the stock images individually or sign up for a subscription. You could also sign up for a one-month free trial.

How to Incorporate Royalty-Free Shutterstock Music in Your Podcast

Incorporating music in your podcast improves the overall audio experience of your listener. Unlike video content, where you can use a wide range of editing techniques and video effects to boost audience experience, there is so much you can do with podcast content. Music adds an extra dimension to make your show more interesting and engaging.

There are several ways you can use Shutterstock music in your podcast, including intro music, outro music, sound beds, and background music.

Intro Music

The intro music plays at the beginning of the show. It welcomes your audience, grabs their attention, reflects your podcast’s brand, and sets the tone for the show.

For instance, cheerful and upbeat melodies create a happy and positive mood while slower and somber tunes highlight a solemn mood. Depending on the type of music you incorporate in the podcast opening or throughout, it sets the vibe, and listeners can anticipate the content in the show.

You can change the intro music with every show or create a jingle that you use on every show. The jingle becomes a major part of your podcast’s brand identity that attracts listeners or helps recognize your brand.

Outro Music

Outro music plays at the end of the show.  Instead of abruptly ending your show, transition to the end with outro music that fades out. It should be relaxing, calming, and leave the listener on a positive note.

Sound Beds

Sound beds smoothly transition your show from one segment to the next. For example, between interview questions, different topics, and advertisements. Your choice of stock music should fit smoothly within the show. It can be music clips or sound effects.

Background Music

Background music creates a tone or certain effects for the show. For instance, if part of the show includes storytelling, you can incorporate some background music to help set the scene for the story or move along the plot. However, it shouldn’t be too loud or overshadow your voice. It should also keep the listener engaged.

Shutterstock Music

Shutterstock offers a wide collection of royalty-free stock music that you can access through the Shutterstock Music subscription plan. The subscription plan gives you unlimited access to high-quality music tracks. You can choose from short tracks and world-class curated music. Use the search bar to find your preferred music. You can narrow down your search according to the genre, beats per minute, genre, and more. All Shutterstock stock music has a standard license that allows wide usage including web-based and business usage.

What Shutterstock Licenses are Available?

Shutterstock homepage and logo under magnifying glass
Source: Shutterstock

There are different licenses for various stock items on Shutterstock. The Shutterstock Terms of Service describe the dos and don’ts for each license. Note that most licenses provide single-seat authorization to one person unless you upgrade to a team subscription.

Below is an overview of the various Shutterstock licenses and a brief description of what is allowable or not.

Shutterstock Licenses for Stock Images

Shutterstock Royalty Free License

The Shutterstock royalty-free license applies for all content paid for on Shutterstock – whether by subscription or a one-time fee. It also applies for stock acquired during the Shutterstock free trial period. Once you have paid, you can use the stock item over and over without having to pay any royalty fees ever again.

Standard License

The standard license applies to digital Shutterstock images. It is most suitable for individual users or small business owners. It allows for:

  • Unlimited digital reproduction e.g. on websites, e-publications, online media, digital marketing material, etc.
  • Up to 500,000 times print reproduction in tangible material such as product packaging, labeling, cover art, etc.
  • Up to 500,000 gross impressions in out-of-home advertising campaigns
  • Use in audio-visual reproductions such as television series, film, video, and advertisement as long as the production budget does not exceed $10,000.
  • Unlimited non-commercial (personal use)

Most Shutterstock pricing plans and subscriptions (on-demand image packs, single-use, and team subscriptions) come with a standard license. 

Enhanced License

If you are likely to exceed the print volume or number of impressions for the Shutterstock Standard License, the Enhanced License is more suitable. It allows for:

  • Unlimited web distribution
  • Unlimited advertising impression
  • Unlimited print reproduction
  • Unlimited audio-visual production budget
  • Personal use
  • Merchandising

Shutterstock Editorial License

It allows for single use of an editorial stock item. However, the distribution of the final production is unlimited.

Shutterstock Licenses for Music

Shutterstock music licenses apply when you use the stock music in the single audio-visual projects or single audio-only projects such as podcasts, radio, documentary, advertisement, etc. The licenses grant you a non-transferable and non-exclusive right to synchronize the stock music in your production. Below is a look at the three main Shutterstock music licenses.

Shutterstock Standard Music License

The license allows you to use the paid-for stock music for web-based distribution and viewing. Or, in industrial non-web-based settings such as conferences, corporate events, point of sale, and trade shows.

Shutterstock Enhanced Music License

Allows you to use the music as you like except for:

  • Reselling, sub-licensing, lending
  • Using the music to produce CDs or Mp3s
  • Use it in pornographic, defamatory, obscene, or illegal ways
  • Use that violates export law
  • Make music either for personal use, selling, reproduction, or distribution
  • Mashup, remix, or alter the original track
  • Use it as the primary content in audio-only productions

Shutterstock Comp Music License

This license allows you to use watermarked music only for testing, sampling, composing, or rough-cut evaluation for a given production.

Shutterstock Package Price

Shutterstock offers different package prices for their stock items. There are packages for single users and multiple users.

Single user subscription includes 10, 50, 350, and 750 images. It also has a Flex 25 mixed-asset subscription and on-demand packs. The former gives you access to 25 images, six music tracks, and three video clips, while the latter gives you access to 5 or 25 images when you need them.

Multi-user subscriptions are available for teams and enterprises. For teams, you can choose from two users, three to ten users, and 11+ user options. Aside from the Flex 25 mixed-asset subscription, you can get an unlimited music plan for stock music.


Shutterstock can help you move your podcast content and branding from good to great. Since the licensing is royalty-free, you make payment once or as per your payment plan. Sign up for the 1-month free trial to get access to Shutterstock stock for your podcast content, branding, and promotional material.

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Last Update: February 23, 2024