Music Licensing for Video 101

Music Licensing 101: Basics for YouTube

Do you want to put music in your YouTube video, but don’t want to receive a copyright strike? We’ll show you how, and teach you the basic music licensing rules to follow so you can properly incorporate music into your YouTube videos.

Can I use any music in my YouTube video?

In short, yes, so long as you have legal permission to use the music in your video.

Any song, artwork, or recording formed creates a copyright associated with that specific work. This grants the original creator protection over their work. In copyright law, we call this intellectual property (IP).

To ensure you can legally use, say a Billboard #1 song in a video, one would have to attain the artist’s and publisher’s permission to use it, or buy the rights to the song in question. I know this is a hot take, but I’m guessing you don’t know Adele or Lil Nas X. In this case, you’d have to buy the rights.

Do you know how much it costs to buy the rights to any pop song in the Billboard Top 40? A lot. A lot, a lot.

We’re talking thousands of dollars. Many prominent filmmakers working on million-dollar projects do not have a high enough budget to buy the rights to many chart-topping songs.

Needless to say, we will not be focusing on acquiring publishing rights from major labels and publishing houses, but focusing on royalty-free music and Creative Commons music licenses.

"No Music No Life" neon light sign

What is Royalty Free Music? How do I secure Royalty-free Music Licenses for video?

Royalty-free music, contrary to popular belief, is not free music. In fact, royalty-free music (or RF music) requires user to pay a one-time license fee upon purchasing a subscription with license rights to the song. Read more about RF music in our article here.

You may purchase licenses or subscriptions to music licensing sites on their websites. Make sure you carefully read the terms and conditions before signing onto a subscription or purchasing a license so you are aware of its legal parameters. Some allow music use in commercials, some do not. Some allow music use in social media posts or gaming streams, others do not.

This will ensure your work featuring RF music will not be removed, and avoid any potential lawsuits.

Here at Soundscape, we offer over 20,000 tracks of premium production music in our curated library. We offer different deals to independent content creators and small businesses. If you need music licensing for video, Soundscape is the place to go. We’re offering a 25% discount on all Soundscape subscriptions to new users by clicking this link!

Band on-stage setup.

What are Creative Commons licenses?

Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a bit different from RF. CC is an organization that allows creators to grant copyright licenses to a part of their work to fellow creatives to copy, distribute, use, and create derivative works of the original work.

CC is notable because it gives the creator the right to mark what she deems acceptable use (outside of fair use) of her work. By doing so, she refines and individualizes her copyright. Furthermore, CC evens out the playing field for all users; it doesn’t matter if you’re an individual creator or a huge corporation, you receive access to the same rights granted by the original creator.

Now, because Creative Commons licenses are distinctive, read the copyright and license terms diligently and carefully. Remember, the original creator controls what user can and cannot do with the original work. If you’re looking to license music for video, especially YouTube, be sure the original creator deems that acceptable use.

Consider yourself learned, y’all!

That’s the most basic of the basics when it comes to music licensing for video! Let us know if this helped in the comments below! Stay tuned, as we have more music licensing basics content coming soon.

Go make some art, peeps! Music for Film, TV and Video