How To License Music For Video (Infographic)

I like that song! Can I use it in my video? What license do I need? Can I use it if I credit the band?

How To License Music For Video

Music licensing 101: Basic facts

Fact 1: Giving credit does not grant you any rights

First of all let’s dismiss some of the most common misconceptions about licensing music for video:

  • Simply giving credit to the band or composer does NOT automatically grant a license to use their music in your video.
  • If a particular music track is available for free listening or download, you should NOT assume this automatically grants you a license to use this music in a video or any other media project.
  • Non-commercial videos do NOT have any special privileges when it comes to music licensing.
  • You should NOT assume that if something is labeled “royalty free”, it’s just free to use with no restrictions. See how we interpret “royalty free” when licensing our music.

Fact 2: You may need two licenses to use music in video

Generally, if you want to use a commercial song in your video, you must obtain two licenses:

  • Sync (synchronization) license from the music publisher. The publisher owns the right to the composition itself (that is, the words and melody) and may vary from a large publishing company to individual songwriters who manager their own work.
  • Master license from the recording label. The label controls the actual recording (that is, what you actually hear) of the composition. To license a recording not affiliated with a label (commonly referred to as independent or indie), you will need to contact the artist directly.

Keep in mind that music by well known commercial bands and artists may be prohibitively expensive to license for a small video production.

Fact 3: There are easier ways to license music

Common alternatives include:

  • Music in public domain. However, keep in mind that compositions and recording of these compositions often have different copyright  spans and copyright laws do vary from country to country. In other words, if something is in public domain in US, may still be copyrighted in most European countries.
  • Creative commons music. Remember that with creative commons content, you may be required to give credit, be restricted from using the music in commercial projects, or obligated to share YOUR work under the same terms.
  • Production / stock music. Note that I specifically don’t mention royalty free music here. First of all, in the past years, the term “royalty free music” has been used frivolously and depending on the context and the source may mean radically different things. Second, the vast majority of royalty free music is, in fact, production music created to use in video production and on YouTube.

Production / stock music comes with all-in-one Master Sync license that grants you rights to use both the composition and the recording in your video or media project.

For example, here are some of our most popular stock music tracks that you can license online and immediately use in your business video.

See how companies like Ricoh, GE, and more use our music to promote their products and services

Build up your own background music collection and safely use it in ALL your videos

See available music packs or pick from a large collection of individual music tracks.

Buy once – use forever, cleared for commercial use

All music is available for immediate online licensing with commercial royalty free license and money back guarantee.


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