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How to Use Copyrighted Music on TikTok

Jourdan Aldredge

Apr 3, 2024

Of all the major social media platforms, TikTok is by far the most interesting and polarizing. Numerous debates have been held about its addictiveness, and politicians have attempted to shut it down entirely.

However, for a growing number of users, TikTok is the best and most popular social app today. Regardless of whether or not you’re a TikTok fan or hater, if you are interested in creating content to share on the viral platform, you will need to understand a few things about how to use copyrighted music on TikTok.

Let’s explore everything you need to know about how to use copyrighted music on TikTok and the different copyright rules governing this popular social video-sharing app.

(Also, if you're just looking for music, here is some of the best royalty free music for TikTok—you're welcome!)

The basics of adding music to your TikTok videos

To get started, let’s go over some of the basic ways to add music to your TikTok videos. For those who might not be super familiar with TikTok and its history, Music has long been a central part of the video creation and sharing platform.

Users are encouraged to find audio or music on other users’ videos, then take that sound and create a new video. This approach is best for videos that users are just looking to create for fun or simply in the app.

Here are the steps as outlined by TikTok:

  1. Tap +, on the bottom of the screen, to create a video.
    2. Tap Sounds from the top of the camera screen.
    3. Discover or search for a specific sound using the search bar.
    4. Tap Play to preview the sound or Bookmark to save the sound.
    5. Select Check to add the sound to your video.


    However, if you’re looking to create more polished videos yourself or upload videos to an official brand channel on TikTok, you’ll probably want to take a different approach. And that’s where the nuances of music copyrights and licensing come into play.

Understanding the types of music copyrights

Shiny record playing copyrighted music

What’s not usually said in these “how to use TikTok” guides are the different types of copyrights and licenses that typically come with music and sound effects. And while it might seem tricky to grasp, music licensing is pretty easy once you understand that every recorded song has natural copyrights.

These copyrights extend to the song's composer, the artists who performed the music, and—at times—owners of the songs like record labels or music licensing companies. Read this article to learn more about the details of music copyrights.

If you want to use copyrighted music in your TikTok videos (or videos on any social platforms, for that matter), you’ll need to negotiate with the song's copyright holders. At its core, this is about protecting artists and ensuring that they’re always compensated for their work.

How to legally use copyrighted music

Person looking through records, searching for copyright free music for TikTok

Now, if you’d like to use copyrighted music in your TikTok videos legally, you’ll need to make sure that you’re only using music in one of three ways:

  1. 1. Only use music that you’ve written and recorded yourself
  2. Reach out to artists directly and negotiate a way to use their music for specific uses
  3. Use a music licensing company like Soundstripe to provide you with royalty free music that has been fully licensed and cleared for all uses

For TikTok, it is easy to get caught up in the ease of the sound-based social platform. But suppose you’re using your TikTok for anything besides creating content for yourself and your friends. In that case, you will be in hot water quite quickly if you promote products or create video ads with copyrighted music.

Using copyrighted music on TikTok

Person holding smartphone, searching for how to use copyrighted music on TikTok

As mentioned above, TikTok is a bit different from other social media platforms in its presentation and sound-based creation loop. However, according to TikTok’s Terms of Service, there are still very strict rules about what music you can use and where it can come from.

According to TikTok, you can select audio from its general music library, which it calls Sounds. These Sounds are available for individual users to include in their videos, but only as long as they are for “personal entertainment and non-commercial purposes.”

TikTok clarifies that you “ shouldn’t use a music recording from Sounds for any commercial purpose–including associating the music with, or promoting, a brand or business–unless you have obtained the necessary rights to use the music in that manner.”

TikTok also offers its own commercial music library, which is made available for brands, businesses, commercial entities, advertisers, or other platform users. However, these tracks are also governed by their own Commercial Music Library Terms.

How to license copyrighted music for TikTok

Person holding smartphone with social icons, looking for copyrighted music for TikTok

The best and safest way to use copyrighted music on TikTok is to utilize royalty free music that you can download from music licensing companies like Soundstripe. These royalty free music tracks are all already pre-cleared and ready to use not just on TikTok but across all of your social media channels that you choose to post on.

The licensing process is simple, and the Soundstripe library has over 9,000 tracks to choose from. These tracks vary across numerous genres and styles to help ensure that you’ll always have the perfect song for your video’s needs.

At Soundstripe, we own every song in our library, so you won’t find our music on any other sites or in any other libraries. You’ll have two options for licensing a song. You can either pay for a single song license and use that song in as many projects as you want, or you can sign up for one of our subscription plans, which gives you unlimited access to our entire library.

Tips for working with royalty free music on TikTok

Person with headphones on, listening to royalty free music for TikTok

If you’d like some tips for working with royalty free music on TikTok specifically, we suggest you create a TikTok account and browse the For You Page (FYP). This will give you the best introduction to the app and showcase how TikTok videos from other creators and brands are designed and edited.

There’s no exact formula, but TikTok is a swipeable video algorithm. You’ll undoubtedly want to be aware of the viewer’s urge to swipe away if your content isn’t fresh, engaging, and catching in the first few seconds.

Music can also play a huge part in capturing a viewer immediately. Look for tracks with solid and flashy openings to help give your videos a dynamic boost at the beginning. Don’t slow-roll your information either; hit the viewer with the hard facts early and often.

Other than that, hopefully, we’ve answered all of your questions about how to use copyrighted music on TikTok. It might seem tricky and, at times, scary to get started, but TikTok is genuinely one of the best and most popular social video-sharing apps for a reason. It’s time for you to jump in.