This was going to be the exception to creative commons music and a post about licensing from small recording houses. But in the past two days while talking to musician and studio manager Robby Baier at SoulTube, Robby just went ahead and posted a Non-Commercial, Attribution, Limited Use notice to the site. I verified this with the studio, and indeed, licenses to students are free (yay)-festival licenses included. When the money comes (keep believing), they would want to talk to you some more about commercial distribution and offer to even help you pick the right song for a scene. Either way, always give credit where its due.
SoulTube is home to a small, but a unqiue and beautifully-produced collection of artists. They have licensed music to commercials, TV, and films before so they are not new to the game. Check out their site, go to the “Songs For Film” section and choose the advanced search feature. You can explore from their list of artists, pick a mood, or search for specific words in the lyrics database (kudos!).
If this does not sound too good already, most of the tracks are also available in instrumental versions and you can hear the music and download it from the site directly. Again, the only drawback is that it is a small collection, but the experience of dealing with people passionate about their music is vastly superior to any of the stock music houses or large labels.