Our comprehensive guide on how to add music to YouTube videos and avoid copyright claims!
Whether you’re looking to add music to YouTube videos using editing apps & software (like iMovie, CapCut, or Adobe Premiere), want to add music to YouTube videos directly within YouTube’s editors, or replace songs on existing videos, our guide will walk you through the process step-by-step. We’ll also give you the best practices on exporting videos for YouTube and show you where to find the best copyright-free music for YouTube videos. We cover it all, so let’s get started!
Use our table of contents below to jump right to your preferred section.
- How to Add Music to YouTube Videos using a Video Editing App
- How to Edit or Add Music to YouTube Videos After Upload
How to Add Music to YouTube Videos using a Video Editing App
Including music on your YouTube video is a great way to make your content come to life. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to add music to a video that is edited in an editing app (like iMovie, CapCut, or Premiere) and then upload it to YouTube.
How to add music to YouTube Videos (quick guide):
- Record your video footage
- Find the songs and music you want to include in your video
- Edit your video footage to the music using the video editor of your choice
- Export your video
- Upload your video file to YouTube
- Publish your video
How to add music to YouTube Videos (detailed step-by-step guide):
1. Record your video footage
It may seem obvious, but in order to create a YouTube video, you’re going to need some sort of visual content! This can be anything from still photos to animations to original footage recorded using your phone or camera. So the first step to creating your YouTube video with music is to record your video footage or photos and load it into the video editor of your choice.
I’m including for you below some links to guides on how to edit using three of the most popular video editing apps. These guides will walk you through in detail exactly how to import video & music to your editing app:
2. Select the music for your video
Now that you have your video footage loaded up, it’s time to select the songs you’d like to feature in your video!
When selecting music for YouTube videos, it’s important to keep in mind that YouTube has rules and guidelines on copyright use. These rules were developed to protect the music rights-holders and artists and help keep the YouTube ecosystem fair and balanced.
That being said, we recommend using only copyright-free or licensed music in the videos you upload to YouTube to prevent copyright claims and strikes. This is the best way to stay compliant with music rights and avoid demonetization or legal issues.
The music you choose helps to set the tone and vibe of your content, so consider the effect you’d like to create for your video. If you want to create an upbeat and exciting video, consider choosing songs with faster BPMs and a higher energy. Or if you’d like to create more of an aesthetic or calming vibe, think about choosing music that is soothing and a bit slower pace.
Below are our top music library recommendations for creators who are looking for free & no copyright music for YouTube videos:
Thematic: Free Music for YouTube Videos & Social Media • No Copyright
Thematic provides creators with trending and copyright-safe music for YouTube videos and social media! It’s totally free to use and keeps your videos claim-free and safe from copyright claims.
If you’re ready to level-up your videos with great copyright-free music and join a collaborative and thriving community of creators, click here to sign-up for a free Thematic account today.
YouTube Audio Library: Download Free Music for Videos
YouTube’s Audio Library is a collection of free royalty free production music and sound effects that are copyright-safe for video creators. The Audio Library is provided to all creators who have a YouTube channel and can be accessed from your YouTube Studio dashboard.
3. Edit your video footage to the music using the video editor of your choice
Once you’ve found a song you like to use in your video, simply download it to your device and import it to your video editing app (see our editing app guides linked in Step 1 for more info on how to do this).
This is the fun part! Edit your video footage with the music and create your video. You’ll see your ideas come to life as you bring together all of the elements.
Some of our favorite ways to use music in videos is to feature a compelling song during your intro to capture your viewers’ attention right from the start. If using voiceover or talking directly to camera, we recommend using instrumental songs during these parts so that the lyrics of a song aren’t competing for attention or creating distracting sounds.
This part of the video creation process can be the most time-consuming depending on the length of your video and complexity of your edit. Take your time and work on this until you feel like you’ve created the YouTube video you’d like to share with the world.
4. Export your video
You want your video to look as best as it can be when shared on YouTube. Thankfully, YouTube has recommendations on how to best format and export your video so that it looks and sounds great for viewers. Below are the best practices and recommended settings to use when exporting videos for YouTube.
Recommended YouTube Video Export Settings
- Video resolution & aspect ratio: 16:9
- 4320p (8k): 7680×4320
- 2160p (4K): 3840×2160
- 1440p (2k): 2560×1440
- 1080p (HD): 1920×1080
- 720p (HD): 1280×720
- 480p (SD): 854×480
- 360p (SD): 640×360
- 240p (SD): 426×240
- Container: MP4
- Audio Codec: AAC-LC
- Stereo Audio
- 96khz or 48khz Sample Rate
- Video Codec: H.264
- Progressive scan (no interlacing)
- High profile
- Frame Rate: encode and upload in the same frame rate the content was recorded
- Video File Formats (see list)
- .MPEG-1 or .MPEG-2
- HEVC (h265)
After exporting your video to your device, we recommend always playing the video directly from the file to ensure that it looks and sounds exactly how you intended. It’s never fun to go through the process of uploading your video only to discover that something is wrong (like your audio is missing). Definitely include this final quality check on your to-do list when preparing videos for upload.
5. Upload your video to YouTube
You’re ready to share your video to your YouTube channel and subscribers!
To do this, you’ll first need to login to your YouTube channel. If you haven’t set-up your channel yet, you can follow the steps in this guide to create your YouTube Channel.
Click the Upload icon from the navigation menu. If you are uploading from your YouTube Studio dashboard, this may appear in your nav bar as Create. Then select Upload videos from the drop-down menu.
A pop-up will appear that will walk you through the steps to upload your video file to YouTube.
Follow the steps in the pop-up window. These steps to upload a video on YouTube include:
- Select your video files (or drag and drop into the box)
- Add your video details, including:
- Metadata (Title, Description, Thumbnail, Tags)
- Audience Targeting & Age Restriction
- Paid Promotion disclosures
- Other Features (Automatic Chapters, Featured Places, Automatic Concepts)
- Recording Date & Location
- Licensing & Permissions (Embeds, Remixing, Subscriber Notifications)
- Comments & Ratings Settings
- Additional Video Elements (Optional):
- Video Subtitles
- End Screen
- Info Cards
- Copyright Check
- Visibility Settings (Private, Unlisted, Public, or Scheduled)
👉 Pro Tip: See our best practices on how to optimize videos for YouTube here.
Once you’ve reviewed all the settings, go ahead and click Save in the bottom of the pop-up.
You will see information about the estimated uploaded time remaining for your video and it’s upload status. You can close this box and return to YouTube as your video uploads. Your video upload status will update in your Channel Content dashboard.
6. Publish your video
When your video is finished uploading and processing, you are all set to publish your video to your channel! We recommend viewing your video details (like title and description) and watching your video from the YouTube player before making it live, just to make sure everything looks & sounds OK. Then feel free to share with the world!
Given that you have selected copyright-free music for your video, you shouldn’t run into any copyright issues. But in the off-chance that you do see a copyright restriction listed for your video, check out our guide on how to fix copyright claims here.
Tips on crediting music in YouTube video descriptions
It’s important to always check the details of your music licenses when you add music to YouTube videos. Some sites or licenses require that you include a specific song or music artist credit in your video description when using the music.
If using music from Thematic in a video, for example, you must include the provided license link and credit in your video description. Adding this license information is critical to activating your music license and protecting your videos from copyright claims.
Even if the song you choose for your video does not require a credit in your description, it’s always a good practice to include a song credit in your description. Your viewers will often want to know more about the songs you’re featuring and it’s a nice gesture to the music artist.
Here’s one example of how to credit music in a video description:
Song: “[Song Name]” by [Music Artist] – [Link to Spotify/YouTube Video]
👉 Pro Tip: Adding a credit for the music used in your video does not automatically give you permission or a license for the song and your video may still be at risk of a copyright claim. Learn more about this (and other common copyright myths here).
How to Edit or Add Music to YouTube Videos After Upload
If you’re looking to edit or add or edit music on an already uploaded or published YouTube video, this guide is for you! We’ll walk you through how to use YouTube’s platform tools and music library to add or replace the music on your uploaded video. Let’s dive in!
How to Add Music to YouTube Videos using YouTube’s Video Editor
You can easily add music to YouTube videos from YouTube’s Audio Library directly from your YouTube Studio dashboard. This is a great option for adding music to a video after it’s been uploaded.
First, you’ll want to go to the edit page for the video you’d like to add music to or edit. Simply click the edit icon for your selected video from your Channel Content dashboard to go to the video details page.
From the left-hand menu, click the Editor tab to open the YouTube video editor and click Get Started.
You will see YouTube’s video editor where you can make minor edits to your uploaded video, including trimming & cutting out segments, blurring faces, adding audio, and adding end screens or info cards.
Since you’re interested in adding music to your video, you’ll want to click the Audio menu item.
Songs from YouTube’s Audio Library will appear and you can search and filter for the song you’d like to use. Once you’ve found a song you like, hover over the song and click the blue Add button that appears to add it to your video editing timeline.
👉 Pro Tip: You will only have the option to select songs from YouTube’s Audio Library when using YouTube’s video editor. We recommend using a different video editing app in the case that you’d like to add music to YouTube videos from other music sources.
You can adjust the start & stop points for the song and apply your Mix Level settings to best match your video edit. In the case that you decide not to use the song, you can always click Remove from the three dot menu on the song in your timeline or by clicking Remove from the Audio browse list.
Once you’ve adjusted the songs and your video is looking & sounding great, simply click Save in the top right corner to apply your video edits. There may be a processing time to finalize your edits, but YouTube will let you know once this is completed.
After you’ve reviewed the final video, you’re ready to push your video live and share it with your audience!
How to Replace the Music in a YouTube Video (to remove a copyrighted song or copyright claim)
In the case that you’ve uploaded a video to YouTube and received a copyright claim, YouTube may provide you with an option to replace the copyrighted song in your video. Replacing the copyrighted song will remove and fix the copyright claim on your video.
Let’s walk through the steps to replace the music in your uploaded YouTube video.
First, locate the video you would like to edit from the Channel Content page in your YouTube Studio dashboard. Hover your cursor over the Copyright restriction and click See Details to load the claim information.
A pop-up will appear that details the affect of the copyright claim on your video and the information about the copyrighted material detected in your video. Click the three dot Actions menu listed next to the copyrighted content to load a menu with your editing options.
You will see that you have the options to:
- Trim out segment (to entirely remove the section of the video with the copyright claim, including the video)
- Mute song (to fully remove or mute the audio of the copyright song)
- Replace song (to swap out the copyrighted song with one from YouTube’s music library)
- Dispute (in the case that you believe the claim is false or when you have a license to use the song in your video)
Since you are looking to replace the song in your YouTube video, you will want to click the Replace song option. This will load the video editor where you will be able to browse songs from the YouTube Audio Library and select one to replace the copyrighted song in your video.
Once you’ve found the song you’d like to use, click on Add to make the swap. You will have the option to adjust the start & stop times of the song to best fit your video edit.
👉 Pro Tip: Keep in mind that any original voiceover or non-music audio of your video for that segment will also be fully replaced.
When your edit is how you like, click Save to finalize your video edit. Once the processing is completed, the copyright claim will be removed from your video.
Video tutorial of how to add music to YouTube Videos using YouTube’s Video Editor:
Thematic creator Ben Truong‘s tutorial on how to use YouTube’s video editor to add music to YouTube videos is a great resource. Check it out:
We hope you find this guide on how to add music to YouTube videos super helpful. You’re on your way to creating awesome videos for your YouTube channel and we can’t wait to watch them!
Looking for more creator tools and resources? Visit Thematic’s Creator Toolkit for additional resources on creating content – including starting a YouTube channel, thumbnail and channel art templates, best practices, and of course, great royalty free songs to use in your videos for free with Thematic.