Music Licensing for Video Production: How to License Music for Use in Your Video Content

Music Licensing for Video Production: How to License Music for Use in Your Video Content

Photo by Peter Stumpf on Unsplash Content creators and those developing videos for a business or brand must understand the importance of licensing music. Making a great video to help promote a product or provide brand visibility is essential to engaging your target audience. You may have figured out how to edit video and add music, but do you know if you have permission to use the music? However, many content creators or vloggers must remember a crucial part of creating that video content. The music you want to use in your video likely has copyrights, and you need to ensure that you can utilize it legally.

So, how do you license music for your video content? Here are some essential things to know when it comes to music licensing.

Copyrights and License Types

First, you should know what a copyright is and why a license is necessary.  When a song or an original musical track or sound is created, two copyrights come from it:

  • The Composition consists of the words (lyrics) and the music, including the melody and harmonies; and
  • The Master Recordingis the sound recording of the original piece.

In order to use the music in your video content, you must know the music publisher, or creator, of the song, track, or sound. Even if you recreate music in your home recording studio, you must be sure you aren’t covering another song, or you’ll still need a license.

By law, the property is not allowed for use by anyone other than the owner of the copyright unless there is written consent, which is where a license comes in - you need to take steps to negotiate a licensing deal. Different licenses are necessary to obtain, depending on how you plan to use the music, but using it in video form is a more common type.

You’ll need what’s called a Synchronization License, or sync license for short. The license is an agreement between the licensee (you) and the publisher (music artist) that grants permission for you to use the music in a video content format. It’s a way to obtain music for vloggers, YouTube creators, social media influencers, and others who specifically make their content with video.

Obtaining The Proper Music License

Getting a sync license can feel confusing, but it can be easy. Sometimes you may need to get permission from more than one party because the musician worked with other musicians to create the song, or the artist may have collaborated with a record label.

You can research with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) to see if a song or track is registered. The PRO is responsible for collecting money on behalf of the songwriter or music publisher each time the song is performed or played.

If you’re concerned about legal jargon and fees, there’s another way to obtain your music license. Utilizing a music licensing company or service allows you to use a piece of music or your video without the need to jump through legal hoops.

Music licensing companies work with many independent artists and musicians, so they have a broad music catalog for you to choose from. You are granted permission to use sounds, tracks, and songs for your videos by paying a subscription fee.

Now, depending on how you use the music, you may need to obtain more than one type of license. Other music licenses you can look into include:

  • Mechanical License - if you’re only using audio without video and distributing it in some way, such as for a podcast or on the radio.
  • Public Performance License - if you plan to play or perform the music in some fashion.
  • Master License - similar to a sync license, but more specifically, this license gives permission to use a pre-recorded version of the song in audio or visual projects.

It’s a good idea for you to research and locate the best resources for your business needs. Many sites and locations will claim to provide things like copyright-free or royalty-free music that you don’t need a license for, but in many cases, there are still copyrights or legal steps involved.

The cost of a license can vary significantly, depending on how you go about getting one. Other factors include the independent artist or record label and whether you can negotiate terms. Music licensing services charge a monthly fee for a “blanket license” that allows you to utilize many tracks. The cost can be anywhere from $50 to $150. But the price can be in the thousands if the song is well-known or by a famous musician.

Read The Fine Print

If you want to incorporate music into your videos, you need to ensure you check any fine print regarding music licenses and get the proper ones. It is essential that you abide by the license terms or any restrictions so that you’re not opening yourself up to any infringement lawsuits.

If you have a budget to pay a small fee for a subscription, it’s most helpful to utilize a music licensing service or similar resource. Plenty of platforms with broad music catalogs and soundbanks allow you to browse and shop for tracks to use with the license already in place without the need to go directly to the copyright holder.

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