What is royalty-free music and what are its benefits?

Lifestyle | 1 Mar |

Content creators are trying to set themselves apart by raising the production values of their videos. A lot of these videos feature slick graphics, fast edits, and great music.

Where many get in trouble is when they choose music. They don’t understand copyright laws and their videos get pulled for copyright infringement.

Whether you realize it or not, copyright infringement is a big issue. It can cost you money, time, and cause a lot of stress. The best way around copyright infringement is to use royalty-free music, such as from free music libraries.

Don’t know what that is? Keep reading to find out what royalty-free music is, why you should use it, and how to use it correctly in your next project.

What Is Royalty-Free Music?

If you were to use your favorite piece of music in your next project, you would likely infringe on the producer’s copyright.

You would have to reach out to the record company or the writer of the song and get permission to use that music. You would pay a licensing fee for the right to use that music in your piece.

If it’s a song that everyone is familiar with, there’s a high price to pay for the license. You pay a royalty. The royalty goes to the record company, writer, producer, singer, and anyone else involved in the production.

Royalty-free music means that you pay a small fee for a license to use the music. You pay a fee to a company that offers royalty-free music, and you can use it in your project.

How does that differ from public domain music? Public domain music means that the copyright expired on a work of music. It no longer is subject to copyright laws.

It doesn’t mean that you can use a work in the public domain. There is a gray area in the law that can leave you legally exposed if you decide to use public domain works.

Types of Music Licenses

If you were to search for royalty-free music, free music for videos, or video soundtracks, you’ll come across some sites that offer free music. However, you need to read the licenses. Some of them have stipulations that you must follow in order to use the music in your work.

Personal Use

A personal use project is a slideshow that you’re putting together for your family. You won’t promote the video or otherwise use it for business use.

Commercial Use

Commercial use licenses allow you to use music in videos for your business. You do need to read the license carefully, because there may be additional terms.

For instance, you can use music in a corporate video, but you can’t use it in a commercial for your business.

Attribution Required

Another common license allows you to use music for personal and commercial use, but you have to give attribution to the creator. In most cases, you have to give attribution and link back to the site.

Read the terms very carefully before you use attribution-required music. If you leave it out or do it wrong, you break the licensing agreement.

Consequences of Breaking the Terms of the License

There are technology sites that are devoted to helping music producers find people and projects that infringe on their copyrights.

These sites use automation and artificial intelligence. They notify the producer about the infringement. The company usually goes after you or your company, threatening a copyright lawsuit.

They’ll usually ask you to pay a licensing fee. A portion of that fee goes to the company and the rest goes to the copyright holder.

YouTube has its own method to find copyrighted material called Content ID. It notifies the copyright holder and they decide if it’s worth pursuing or not.

They may decide to pull the video. If you have several claims against your account, your channel can get banned.

You get an alert from YouTube and you decide what to do next. You can replace the music with royalty-free music, allow ads on the video, or come to an alternative agreement with the copyright holder.

If you do allow ads on the video, the proceeds don’t go to you. They go to the copyright holder instead.

Could you wind up in court for copyright infringement? You could, and it is an expensive proposition. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that to file a lawsuit, the work must be registered with the copyright office.

The fines for copyright infringement are between $200 and $150,000 per violation. You’re also responsible for all attorneys’ fees.

Where to Find Royalty-Free Music

Are you confident enough to use royalty-free music in your next project? The big question then is where you can find royalty-free music.

There are plenty of sites and services that offer royalty-free music, but there are caveats to watch out for. Some sites may claim that you can use royalty-free music, but you only have a personal-use license. That doesn’t work if you need music for a business video.

Other sites that require attribution can take away from the overall aesthetic of the video. The most difficult part is finding the perfect music clip that fits the mood of the video.

There are sites that offer pain-free royalty free music for a small monthly fee. This is perfect for content creators who produce content on a regular basis.

Social media sites like YouTube and Instagram offer royalty-free music in stories and videos. You can use this, but keep in mind that there are millions of other content creators out there and you’re likely to use the same clip as someone else.

Be Smart and Use Royalty-Free Music

Music can be a difference-maker in your video projects. It can drive the mood and leave viewers with a great feeling about your brand.

You need to understand the different music licenses to make sure you don’t violate copyright laws. Royalty-free music is affordable and keeps you out of trouble. You end up with great videos that everyone loves.

For more music news, head back to the home page of this site.

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