What is royalty-free music? This has to be one of the most frequently asked questions by content creators, because they don’t want to use music in their videos that is complicated or costs a lot of money. Because of the specific (and often unpopular) licensing rules some songs have, artists and music rights holders owners have come up with a solution called royalty-free music.
Today we’ll cover everything you need to know about royalty free music – from what royalty free means to some of the common misconceptions about royalty free music to the easiest way to get find and use this music in YouTube videos. 👇
Royalty-Free Music FAQs:
- What is royalty free music?
- Is royalty free the same as copyright free?
- How much does royalty-free music cost?
- Is royalty free music free?
- How do you know if a song is royalty free?
- How can I legally use royalty-free music?
- Is it OK to use Royalty-free music on YouTube?
- What happens if you don’t use royalty-free music?
- Is royalty-free music bad or poor quality music?
- Does royalty-free mean commercial use?
- Should I use royalty-free music?
What is royalty free music?
Royalty-free music is music you can use in your videos and content without having to pay royalties or license fees every time you use it.
Now that you have the quick definition of royalty-free music, let’s break it down. Music artists earn royalties (money) each time their songs are licensed for use. This means that they are paid each time their song is streamed on Spotify, played as background music in a grocery store, or licensed for a TV show, movie, commercial, or YouTube video.
Typically, creators and businesses need to keep paying royalties to use the music in their content (such as renewing their licensing fees each year or paying more if more people view their video). The cost of the royalties depends on things like the number of times the music will be played and the size of the audience that will hear it (like in concerts or radio broadcasts).
But when music is royalty-free, it means that creators can use that music and only pay once. With royalty-free music, creators pay an upfront fee (or in some cases get it for free) and are able to use the music as much as they would like! They would not have to pay any additional fees to use the music in their content.
As a result, creators can focus more putting out the best videos that can increase their channel’s growth without worrying about royalty payments and licensing rules.
Is royalty free the same as copyright free?
Nope. Royalty free and copyright free are not the same thing. Royalty free means that you can use the content without having to pay royalties. Copyright free means that the rights holder has waived their ownership of the content.
For example, a song that is royalty-free has a copyright owner. That copyright owner can provide you a royalty-free license to use the song in your videos without copyright claims, but the song is not in itself copyright-free.
Some royalty-free songs may also be copyright-free or free to use, but this can vary from song to song.
How much does royalty-free music cost?
The cost of royalty-free much can vary depending on the price set by the copyright owner. Some royalty-free music is available for free (through sites like Thematic or YouTube Audio Library). Paid royalty-free music can cost as little as a few dollars, but can range up to $100 or more, depending on the song.
Is royalty free music free?
Royalty free music can be free for creators, but most royalty-free music is available an upfront licensing fee.
For example, royalty-free music costs money when purchasing a license to use it from production music sites like Epidemic Sound. Sites like YouTube Audio Library and Thematic provide creators with royalty-free music for free, but there are rules about including promotion links when featuring the music in videos.
Creators should always check the details of their music licenses to make sure they are using the music in their videos legally.
How do you know if a song is royalty free?
The best way to check to see if a song is royalty-free is to get the song from a trusted royalty-free music website (like YouTube Audio Library or Thematic).
How to check if a song is copyright-free:
- Search for the song copyright holders on sites like SoundExchange or the U.S. Copyright Office. If the song you are checking comes up as a search result with artist or record label information, the song is most likely not copyright-free.
- Check to see if the song is in the public domain on sites like Open Music Archive. All of the songs listed on this site will be available to use for free.
- Upload a video featuring the song to YouTube. YouTube will alert you to any copyright infringements on their Copyright Check screen during the upload process. If you receive a “No issues found” message under Copyright with a green checkmark, this song is most likely copyright-free.
- 🚨 Keep in mind that some songs that are initially copyright-free on YouTube, may later be claimed for copyright.
How can I legally use royalty-free music?
Great question! Creators can legally use royalty-free music in videos by getting licenses for the songs. Sites like YouTube Audio Library and Thematic make it easy for creators to legally get royalty-free music for YouTube videos and social media for free. Or creators can pay for royalty-free music from sites like Epidemic Sound, YouTube Creator Music, and other production music sites.
Is it OK to use royalty-free music on YouTube?
Absolutely! If you have a license for royalty-free music and your music license specifies that you can use the song in a YouTube video, you are welcome to use the music on YouTube.
Keep in mind that the owner of the royalty-free music may have certain rules in place about if you can monetize your video or not, or if you need to include any specific music credits in the video description. We recommend checking the details of your music license to make sure you are in compliance.
What happens if you don’t use royalty-free music?
If you decide not to use royalty-free music, you will have to make regular payments to the copyright owners of the song. This means that you may have to pay music royalties to the song owners every year or if your video hits certain viewership levels. If you do not make these payments, you can be considered in violation of your music license and risk having your video demonetized, removed from YouTube, or even face legal action.
If you do not get any sort of music license for copyrighted songs, you will be in a state of copyright infringement. Again, this could mean that your video could receive a copyright claim, your channel may be penalized with a copyright strike, or you could face legal action.
Is royalty-free music bad or poor quality music?
Royalty-free music does not mean that the music is cheap, bad, or poor quality. Being royalty free is not related to the quality of the music. It is simply about the licensing model of the music.
Royalty-free music can apply to everything from stock and production music to trending songs from well-known and popular music artists. Remember that royalty-free is just information about how the song is licensed for use. It does not relate to the quality of the music.
Does royalty-free mean commercial use?
Royalty-free does not necessarily mean that it is available for commercial use. Remember, royalty-free means that you do not pay royalties to continue to use the content. It does not mean that you can use the content without limitations.
The copyright owner may have rules or guidelines in their licensing terms that prohibit the royalty-free content from being used in commercial, branded, or sponsored content. It is important to always check the details of your royalty-free license to make sure you remain in compliance with your agreement ✔️
Should I use royalty-free music?
Royalty-free music is a great option for content creators and we definitely recommend using it for videos! By using royalty-free music, creators do not have to deal with making repeat payments for the music in their videos. Instead, they can focus on creating amazing videos and growing their YouTube audience 🤓
Get royalty-free music for videos with Thematic ✅
If you are a YouTube creator looking for free royalty-free music for YouTube videos, Thematic is here to help!
Creator Socially Nina Thomas shows how she uses Thematic to get great music for her YouTube videos
Thematic provides creators with the hottest royalty-free songs from the best new music artists and makes it insanely easy to use the music in YouTube videos. Creators don’t have to worry about licenses expiring or having to pay music royalties revenue when using Thematic music. We keep it simple. You’re set for a copyright-safe and claim-free experience when using Thematic for your videos.
So if you’re ready to level-up your video soundtrack with great royalty-free music and join a collaborative and thriving community of creators, sign-up for a free Thematic account today.
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.