Finding legal music to use in your online videos can be a struggle, and there's a lot of misinformation flying out there about what can or can't be used. For example, did you know that royalty-free and free music are not the same thing, and getting them mixed up could get you into a lot of trouble? In the words of a certain orange-faced politician, FAKE NEWS.
This week I’m here to share some quick tips and bust those myths on finding music that you can legally use (for free!) in your online video project.
Just remember - I am not a lawyer. You’re responsible for doing your own research. Please don’t sue me.
It’s not true that you can use any piece of music as long as you give credit.
There are copyright laws and royalty laws that protect people’s music from being used by anyone online. Some platforms, like YouTube, have a unique licence with many (not all) copyright owners of songs so that they can be compensated when you use their song in your video. You can access a list of songs that fall under these music policies here. This does not mean you’re free to use this song anywhere online, and getting caught breaking the rules could lead to a hefty fine.
Royalty-free is not the same as free
There are a lot of great resources for royalty-free (meaning you don’t have to pay royalties for the song) music that is also free (meaning you don’t need to pay anything in the first place for a licence to use the song). Start out with some of my favourite resources like BenSound and Incompetech.com. Most of these allow you to use the content on something called a Creative Commons Licence. This means you can use it, but there are still some legal conditions such as the type of project and how you give credit, so read up and remember to give credit if the piece requests it!
If you don’t want to give credit and you want quality music, you have other options!
There are so many great options for music that you pay a one-time licence fee for, or even subscription-based services that give you access to a library of music. This is great because you’re also helping to support the creative musicians that have created the music for you, and these options usually have a more diverse and higher quality range of music available.
Try checking out Artlist.io and MusicBed for subscription-based music libraries, and Audio Jungle and Premium Beats to licence single tracks. Epidemic Sound is also a great subscription-based option for YouTube videos, but also have other licensing options available. And don’t forget the power of reaching out to individual musicians on SoundCloud if you’re willing to put in some more time and effort!
It can seem overwhelming, but these tips should cover the basics and get you started to finding a music solution that works for you and you can fall back on every time.
Do you have any other questions about music for online video that weren’t covered in this blog post?
Let me know by replying and I'll do my best to answer!