If you have ever made a video, then you know how important the right sound track is for communicating the overall message. The first time you added music to a video, perhaps you used a song from your library, or one you downloaded from iTunes for this specific project. But maybe you didn’t realize that you were actually breaking the law.
Welcome to the world of copyrights, licenses, and royalties. The music industry has a complicated system for making money off of music tracks. Its’ important to understand the way it works before you add any music to the video you are working on. Hang tight and lets see if we can follow the trail.
When a song is copyrighted that means it is locked and cannot be used without permission. The only people who can grant permission to use a copyrighted song are the individuals who own the rights to that composition, usually the artist/publisher/record label etc… When a person or a company grants permission to use a song it is called a license.
The only way to get permission to use the song is to pay for a license. The license does NOT mean that you OWN the song, it means that you are allowed to USE the song. The license will be very specific and give you permission to use the song under detailed conditions. You should get a digital copy of this license and keep it on file. YouTube frequently flags videos that appear to be improperly using copyrighted music and you must be able to prove that you do indeed have the license to use it. Most music web sites have a variety of licenses that are available to purchase at different prices. When you download music from iTunes you are actually doing so under a very limited license (which is why it’s so cheap) that prohibits anything other than personal use. Meaning it specifically bars putting it on YouTube, Facebook, or any other sites where others will hear it. If you do, that is a violation of Federal law; it is considered a copyright infringement.
Some licenses are written to include an additional fee that you have to pay ON TOP of the license fee. Royalties are a small fee (like a few cents) that have to be paid every time that song is played. For example, most radio stations have licensing agreements where they have to pay royalties on every song that is played on the radio. These royalties are collected by various agencies and then given back to the individuals who own the rights to the song. You will want to make sure that the songs you buy have a license that does NOT require royalties to be paid. It is frequently referred to as royalty-free music.
When you decide to make a promo video for your business and you want to add a sound track be sure to purchase a music license that covers that type of use you are expecting. A couple of good sites that offer high quality, royalty-free music are audiojungle.net, and marmosetmusic.com. Each site offers a digital copy of the music license you purchase.