YouTube Creator Music Library: Ultimate Guide for Creators

Everything video creators need to know about YouTube Creator Music - a guide to how it works, the different music licenses, and if it's safe to use.

Written By Thematic Team

On December 18, 2023

There are major changes in the YouTube world and creators are buzzing with the news.

During the Made on YouTube Event on September 20, 2022, YouTube announced several big updates to the platform, including new Shorts monetization opportunities and a revamp to its YouTube Partner Program eligibility rules (hint: you now have multiple ways to get partner status).

The big news, however, was the reveal of Creator Music – a new marketplace where creators can license songs for YouTube videos directly within YouTube.

YouTube Creator Music
The Creator Music dashboard in YouTube Studio

Creators will be able to license music from YouTube Creator Music through either the purchase of a single-use license of a song, or through a revshare deal with the music artists and record labels.

With the launch of Creator Music, YouTube has acknowledged that finding and licensing music for YouTube videos can be a difficult process and confusing for creators, and has presented a new solution for creators to use quality music in their videos. They hope “to build a bridge between the music industry and creators on our platform” and “[evolve] the soundtrack of YouTube.”

YouTube Creator Music 101: The Ultimate Guide for Creators
  1. What is YouTube Creator Music?
  2. The Benefits of Creator Music
  3. Is YouTube Creator Music the best option for creators?
  4. Creator Music FAQs
  5. The Top Benefits of Thematic over Creator Music

What is YouTube Creator Music?

Creator Music is not exactly the first time that YouTube has offered its creators access to music for their YouTube Videos.

In 2013, YouTube launched the YouTube Audio Library – a royalty-free music library for video creators. The Audio Library is available to all creators on YouTube and is accessed from the YouTube Studio dashboard. YouTube Audio Library features a large selection of free production music and sound effects which can be filtered by genre, mood, and title, and is copyright-safe for YouTube videos.

YouTube Audio Library
YouTube Audio Library

The production music from YouTube Audio Library is best suited for background music, though, and many creators end up feeling limited by the selection of music offered from the unknown music artists providing these songs.

Creators want to use music from artists they know and love, while still being able to monetize their videos. Which brings us to YouTube Creator Music!

YouTube Creator Music brings creators the opportunity to license music directly from music artists and feature great songs in YouTube videos, without the complexities of licensing the music themselves.

In Creator Music, creators can discover songs that are trending on YouTube, and sort and filter the music by mood, genre, vocals, BPM, duration, and price. YouTube will also feature collections of popular songs (as curated by YouTube).

YouTube Creator Music Song Filters
YouTube Creator Music song filters

Once a creator finds a song they’d like to use, they can save the song to their YouTube Creator Music library (similar to bookmarking it) or download a preview of the song before purchasing the license.

When ready to license a song for a YouTube video, creators will want to check out the license type available for the music.

✅ Pro Tip:
Keep in mind that all of the song licenses from YouTube Creator Music are for single videos only (they are single-use licenses). This means that the license purchased from Creator Music will only apply to one YouTube video. To use the same song in multiple videos, creators will need to purchase a separate license for the song for each video. Songs from YouTube Audio Library are OK to use in multiple videos.

Check out the different types of licenses available in Creator Music below:

🔥 Free Songs in Creator Music

Some of the songs in YouTube Creator Music are available to use for free. The songs that can be used in any type of video for free are the songs available in the YouTube Audio Library.

Other songs will be available to use for free in non-commercial videos (meaning creators can not include these songs in sponsored, branded, or commercial videos).

Many of the songs in Creator Music will be available to license for a fee. The music artists, record labels, and copyright owners of the music will each set their own price for the song license, so different songs will have different prices. That’s why some songs are more expensive than others.

Also, the number of subscribers a creator has may directly affect their licensing cost to a song. For example, if you have one million subscribers, you may have to pay more to use a song than a creator who has only 100 subscribers.

🤝 Revenue Share Enabled Songs in Creator Music

If a creator does not want to pay to use a song in their videos, they can opt for a revshare with the music artist instead. This means that the ad revenue generated from their video will be split between them and the owner of the song (this can be the music artist, record label, or copyright owner). This is a great option for creators who do not yet have extra money to spend on music licenses.

YouTube has not yet revealed how much revenue the creators will keep when selecting a song revshare license in Creator Music.

Keep in mind that the song licenses purchased in Creator Music may have an expiration date. This means that your video may be copyright claimed after a certain period of time, even if you paid for the song license. When this happens, the creator’s video may become demonetized and/or be restricted from being viewable in certain countries or on certain devices.

Pro Tip (this is a big one):
All of the music licensed from Creator Music can not be used in sponsored or branded content. This means that creators can not use songs from Creator in videos where “the creator has been paid by a brand or service to make content that’s primarily dedicated to endorsing or promoting that brand or service.” This is important to keep in mind since many creators in the YouTube Partner program rely on including sponsored content when monetizing their channel.

As you can see, there are many options for creators with Creator Music. Creators will be able to find a song for their video and then figure out which license makes sense for their videos.

💡 Note: All of the songs in Creator Music are available for use in YouTube videos only. The licenses purchased from Creator Music will not apply to videos posted on other platforms, so be careful when sharing and promoting your YouTube videos on other sites.

Unfortunately, brands are not allowed to use songs from Creator Music in their brand-specific YouTube channels. So if you’re a commercial brand, we recommend you just steer clear of Creator Music altogether.

The Benefits of YouTube Creator Music

YouTube Creator Music is a huge win for content creators on YouTube. Creators now have another solution to license music for YouTube videos.

Here are the 3 biggest benefits of using Creator Music for YouTube videos:

  • Using music from Creator Music ensures that a creator’s videos and channel will always be copyright compliant 👍
    Creators put so much time and effort into making great videos for their channel, it’s a huge bummer when their videos are demonetized due to copyright claims for the music. Creator Music provides a solution so that creators can keep their channel monetized, while still using music in their videos.
  • Creator Music provides creators with a vast selection of music for their videos 👍
    Creators are no longer limited to just using boring production music for their videos. While this music is great as background music, this type of royalty-free music (like those in the YouTube Audio Library), just doesn’t add much sparkle or life to the video. With Creator Music, YouTube creators get access to real songs from real artists they know and love.
  • Music is a huge part of creating high quality videos and growing a YouTube audience 👍
    It brings a video to life and allows creators to enhance their storytelling. YouTube Creator Music provides creators with the option to continue using great music in their videos without risking demonetization or copyright claims.

Is YouTube Creator Music really the best option for Creators and YouTubers?

While we’re excited about the launch of YouTube Creator Music, is it really the best music option for YouTube creators? There are a ton of existing solutions for YouTube creators when it comes to finding and using great music in YouTube videos. Let’s look at some areas where we think Creator Music misses the mark:

1. (Not So) Easy to use 😐

Song Curation

How much time are you willing to invest in finding music for your video? Creators already spend so much time creating amazing videos, and finding the perfect song to use can be one of the hardest and most time consuming parts of the entire editing process.

While Creator Music offers a ton of song selections for YouTube videos, it doesn’t make it easy for creators to find the perfect song for their specific video. The songs from YouTube Creator Music are not curated or personalized for each creator, so it can take ages to find the song that perfectly fits the video content or specific music preferences. Imagine having access to Spotify without any song recommendations made just for you. Sounds like a headache!

Song Filters

The song filters available on YouTube Creator Music are nice (and an improvement from the song filters available on Audio Library), but they’re still pretty minimal.

Songs on Creator Music can be filtered by genre, mood, vocals, BPM, duration, and price, but that’s it. With the amount of music metadata available these days, we would expect much more advanced filters when sorting through music.

Song License Rules & Restrictions

While YouTube Creator Music provides several different licensing options for creators, creators need to consider the long term consequences of the licenses they select. Choosing the wrong license type for a video can cause a creator to lose money in the long term, either through unfavorable revshare deals or license expiration rules (which can lead to copyright claims or restrictions on video availability).

Each song license on Creator Music includes restrictions on how and where you can use the music, how long you can use the license for, and how much the license costs. So while YouTube Creator Music is intended to keep music licenses simple, it can actually add more confusion to the licensing process, unfortunately.

2. Creators are penalized for achieving success and subscribers 🚩

The bigger your audience, the more your license may cost

Hitting a YouTube subscriber milestone is something to be celebrated (it’s kind of a big deal, in our opinion – it’s hard work running a channel!). It should not cause a restriction or penalty for creators. Unfortunately, Creator Music penalizes creators who have achieved subscriber success on YouTube. The song licenses available through YouTube Creator Music may charge larger creators more money just because they have more subscribers. Creators are not treated equally when using Creator Music, and creators of different subscriber levels will see different song prices depending on how many subscribers they have.

You’ve done it! Your channel is on the up-and-up and you just got offered your first brand deal (congrats!). You’re on the fast track to success and about to bring in new revenue streams. But there’s one thing. You can’t use the great music from YouTube Creator Music in your sponsored videos.

Creators who have been hired or paid by a brand to promote a product in their videos are unfortunately not eligible to use the songs from Creator Music in these videos. Videos that violate this rule may receive copyright claims or video restrictions, and that’s just not a good look when you’re working with a brand. It’s better to avoid songs from YouTube Creator Music when creating sponsored or branded videos on YouTube (it’s totally not worth the risk).

Time’s Up, the song license has expired!

When making videos on YouTube, creators are not just thinking about the here and now, they are planning for long-term success. After all, YouTube is the world’s #2 search engine and provides creators with amazing ways to have their videos discovered through keyword searches. Some videos may not “take off” or even “go viral” until long after they are published, and other videos see spikes year-over-year, depending on the season (I’m sure you’ve heard of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” song spike every winter).

However, when thinking about expiring song licenses from YouTube Creator Music, this means that creators run the risk of losing video monetization and revenue opportunities in the long term. When a song license from Creator Music expires, the creator loses all monetization opportunities for their video, even if the video continues getting views year after year.

Unfortunately, this is a huge red flag for career creators who value building long-term success. If the goal is driving long-term viewership and success with your videos and channel, creators should think twice about using songs from YouTube Creator Music as your licenses won’t last forever.

3. Not designed for the everyday creator 👩🏻‍💻

Your production costs are affected by how you license your music

Serious creators who are creating content to build their brand and a business are constantly considering their video’s production value and underlying costs. For example, if a creator has the same intro (or outro) in each of their videos (this recommended by YouTube as a best practice for building audience), they need to consider the cost of using that song over time.

With YouTube Creator Music, the creator would need to either give up a decent part of each video’s revenue (with a revshare license) or pay to use the song in each video they upload (with the cost of the licensing increasing as their channel keeps growing). This small win of using that particular song ultimately loses out to the long-term cost incurred by the licenses. It’s in a creator’s best interest to invest in quality music that doesn’t hike up their production costs in the long-term, instead of making compromises for songs available in Creator Music.

Limited to US Creators in the YouTube Partner Programy

To be able to use YouTube Creator Music, creators must already be eligible for and invited to the YouTube Partner Program and located to creators in the United States. New creators or creators based outside of the US can not access this library of music. So basically, creators must already have some level of viewership or success to even see the songs available in Creator Music. As we’ve said earlier, creators are not treated equally when it comes to Creator Music.

License management headaches

Content creators create, and the fact that licenses expire forces them to require an admin (or even a management team) to make sure they’ve got their bases covered with all of their different music licenses. It’s in a creator’s best interest to keep their copyright status in line, but with some licenses expiring over time (with videos receiving copyright claims) and others on a long-term revshare deal, it can quickly become confusing to know where everything stands. Mismanagement of music licensing, and keeping up to date on which copyright claims are valid and which are false claims, can lead to lost revenue and wasted time.

Creators are better off with lifetime music licenses, instead of confusing and changing terms with the song licenses in YouTube Creator Music.

YouTube Creator Music FAQs 💬

Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions creators have about Creator Music!

What is Creator Music?

According to YouTube, Creator Music is a catalog of music that creators can use in YouTube videos. Some of the songs can be licensed for an upfront fee, allowing creators to monetize their videos (either temporarily or for perpetuity). Other songs may be eligible for a revshare with the song’s rights holders.

How do you use YouTube Creator Music?

Creators who are part of the YouTube Partner Program can access YouTube Creator Music from their YouTube Studio dashboard. Simply sign into your YouTube Studio and select Creator Music from the left menu. Creators can browse and license songs directly from this page.

What is Creator Music great for?

Creator Music is a great option for creators who are looking to license songs for their YouTube videos. Songs in Creator Music are available to Youtube Partners to license for YouTube videos either for an upfront fee or on a rev-share deal (where the video earnings are split between the creator and the music rights holders).

Does YouTube provide music for creators?

YouTube provides music for creators in both the YouTube Audio Library and in YouTube Creator Music. All creators can access the songs in YouTube Audio Library for free. These songs are primarily Creative Commons songs and are available to use everywhere. US-based creators in the YouTube Partner Program can also access YouTube Creator Music. Creator Music provides creators with music for YouTube videos for either an upfront fee or through a revenue-share with the music rights holders.

Where do YouTube creators get their music?

YouTube creators have many options to get music for their videos. Creators can access free music for YouTube videos through the YouTube Audio Library or from sites like Thematic, where you can get trending music from real music artists. Creators may also pay to license songs for their videos from YouTube Creator Music or other production music or stock music sites.

How do YouTubers get free music?

YouTube creators can download free music for YouTube videos from the YouTube Audio Library or from sites like Thematic, where creators get access to trending music from real music artists.

What music can you use on YouTube without copyright?

What is a YouTube creator?

A YouTube creator is someone who uploads videos to YouTube. YouTube creators are able to post and share videos for free while growing their YouTube audience (also called subscribers). YouTube creators are able to monetize their videos through advertisements, merchandise sales, and brand sponsorships.

⚡️ Top 7 benefits of Thematic over YouTube Creator Music

So how does YouTube Creator Music compare to Thematic, one of the most popular ways for creators to find music for YouTube videos? Let’s dive into the differences between YouTube Creator Music and Thematic and explore the benefits of each music licensing solution:


YouTube Creator Music

Can I use one song in multiple videos?“…Creator Music licenses are valid for use in a single video uploaded to YouTube only.”You can always use the songs in an unlimited number of videos. Feature it in one video or multiple videos – whatever you prefer!
Revenue SharingWhen choosing the revshare license option from YouTube Creator Music, creators must share a (currently undisclosed) percentage of their video ad revenue with the music artists and record labels for the life of their video.Creators keep 100% of their ad revenue on YouTube with our copyright-safe and claim-free experience. They do not have to share their video revenue when using Thematic music. Ever.
License ExpirationHow long a license lasts varies depending on the song you’ve licensed. The song license duration starts when you buy a license from Creator Music. When the license expires, video monetization terms and visibility may change (this means you can later receive a copyright claim for a song you’ve licensed).Lifetime licensing. Even if you no longer have an account with us, your song license is forever and your videos will not receive copyright claims. It’s that simple.
Minimum requirement to access the audio libraryYou must be invited to and eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, meaning at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours.

Starting in February 2023, Shorts-focused creators can apply for the Partner Program after achieving 1,000 subscribers and 10M Shorts views over 90 days.
None. Any level of creator can use Thematic. We even have a free plan for brand new content creators.
Audio library size and varietyYouTube Creator Music has a large inventory of music, artists, and labels who have opted-in their songs.Thematic has a large curated inventory of music and known music artists. As a result, songs are instantly matched to a creator’s aesthetic, video themes, and their music tastes – reducing the time it takes to find that perfect song for a video.
Sponsored or Commercial videosNot allowed for use in sponsored or branded content, or in content made by brands.

Per the YouTube Creator Music FAQs, “Creators are prohibited from using tracks licensed from Creator Music in a video where the creator has been paid by a brand or service to make content that’s primarily dedicated to endorsing or promoting that brand or service.”
Creators and brands are welcome to use the music from Thematic in branded or sponsored content. However, creators do not have to sacrifice the quality of their brand-sponsored videos by using boring production music.
Content creator communityNoneThematic is a community-driven platform made by creators. Our co-founder (beauty creator and entrepreneur Michelle Phan) built Thematic from a creator-first perspective, ensuring a fair and collaborative creative exchange.

Our commitment is to the creator community, and for this reason, we help creators connect and collab with other creators and music artists. It’s completely free to join the Thematic creator community.

Use Thematic for free music for YouTube videos ✌️

While we’re excited about the launch of YouTube Creator Music and new ways for content creators to easily use music in YouTube videos, Thematic is clearly the better choice for creators who want to use great music in their YouTube videos.

At Thematic, we believe that all content creators should have fair access to quality music for their videos. This means that any size creator can get access to free music for YouTube videos without being penalized for their success, while still providing a fair value and exchange for music artists.

Thematic provides the hottest songs from the best new music artists to creators and makes it insanely easy to use the music in YouTube videos. Creators don’t have to worry about licenses expiring or having to share revenue when using Thematic music. We keep it simple. You’re set for a copyright-safe and claim-free experience when using Thematic to find the best trending music for YouTube videos.

Thematic Music: Free Music for YouTube Videos
YouTube creators can sign-up for a free Thematic account at

Thematic’s curation algorithm ensures that creators are instantly matched to the perfect songs for their videos, taking into consideration your video content themes, favorite types of music, personal aesthetic, and the creators and music artists you already follow and love.

So if you’re ready to level-up your video soundtrack and join a collaborative and thriving community of creators, sign-up for a free Thematic account today.

We’re excited to see what you create.

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.

Get free music for YouTube videos ✌️

✅ Free to use
✅ No copyright issues
✅ Real music from real artists

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