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What Is Royalty Free Music?

Feb 28, 2020

Life in the digital age is full of tough questions. 

From conspiracy theories to intellectual property arguments, it feels like nothing is sacred anymore. It’s like we’re in some sort of cyber Wild West where nobody knows the rules until they break them.

In this environment, It’s important for content creators to understand copyright law. That’s how you protect yourself and your work. A cease and desist order will hurt your reputation, but a full on copyright claim could lead to $100,000 in legal fees and, in the worst case scenario, jail time.

Probably not something you want to take a risk with. When it comes to copyright issues — particularly music licensing — you need to educate yourself on this topic so you can make sure all of your creative and commercial projects are legally covered.

That’s why one of the most important questions creators can ask is, “What is royalty free music?” It’s a way to take control in your own hands. 

The bare minimum to know is this: Royalty free music is a way to use music in creative projects without having to share your profits with the multitude of rights holders, like labels, publishers, and artists.

But there is a lot more to it than that. There are details you really need to know in order to legally protect yourself, and also help you keep the money your videos generate.

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The Basics Of Music Licensing

Copyright law exists to protect people’s hard work. Whether that is a technological breakthrough or a relaxing music track, copyrights give creators a chance to “own” the thing they’ve invested time and money into.

Licensing is the process of paying a creator to use their work. As a filmmaker or content creator, chances are you don’t write the music you use in your films, commercial projects, or vlogs. That means you’ll have to get songs made by other people.

But you can’t just download songs you like and drop them into your project timeline. Even if you purchase an album or track on iTunes, that doesn’t cover using that artist’s music in any other form. 

(In fact, it doesn’t even cover playing the music through speakers in a coffee shop!)

In other words, you need a licensing agreement if you want to use that music for anything besides your own listening pleasure.

Let’s assume you have a specific song you want to use in your next project. Here’s what you have to do if you don’t use royalty free music. 

You’ll start the music licensing process by reaching out to the song’s copyright holders.That doesn’t just mean the artist, however. 

You’ll end up talking with several people, which could include songwriters, recording artists, record label representatives, and more.

Everyone who played some part in the song’s creation needs to agree to the licensing agreement that you propose, and it’s your job to make them all feel compensated. That’s how you guarantee that no one can hit you with a copyright strike later on.

Of course, licensing agreements aren’t exactly simple; they’re legally binding contracts. And the onus is one you to figure it out all.  

It’s your responsibility to find out who is a copyright holder and then contact them. It’s your responsibility to arrange all the licensing details, settle on a fee, and then make sure the payment goes through.

And it’s also your responsibility to wait several months for everyone to respond and (hopefully) sign the license so you can finish that project you started so long ago.

But the process isn’t over yet.

If your video is a commercial project, or a YouTube video, or a short film, you’ll need to pay royalty fees. In other words, if the video contributes to a channel or platform that generates revenue for you, you’ll owe a percentage to the copyright holders.

So, What Is Royalty Free Music?

Nothing about that process sounded fun or convenient, right? It’s just one example of how the music industry is a victim of its own outdated rules. But this is where royalty free music comes into play.

Royalty free music isn’t some new, unproven innovation — it’s been around for over a decade. Companies have always looked for ways to make things better for content creators, and the easiest way to do that was to get away from the old licensing model.

Unless you want a specific song from a specific artist, you’ll be able to sidestep the whole process I detailed in the last section. Instead, you’ll browse songs through a music licensing company, find a track you love, and pay that company for a one-time-use license.

In most cases, these companies have already paid the artist for the right to license that music. They are legally allowed to sell licenses to those tracks, which helps smaller artists get exposure and offers a way for content creators to pay less for music for video.

Here’s the breakdown of that process: The amount you pay helps compensate the company for whatever they paid the artist, and the company volunteers to be a middle man so you don’t have to make regular royalty payments.

But what if it could be even easier?

What if there was a way to get high-quality music for less than $60 per license? For that matter, what if there was a way to use a song in multiple projects without paying for the same track again and again?

Let’s Reimagine Royalty Free Music

Thankfully, there are a handful of companies that thought royalty free music could be done even better. And the further we get away from the traditional licensing model, the better the product will be for the people who actually need to use it.

You’ve probably already figured out that Soundstripe is a royalty free music service. Our passion is giving creative people the knowledge and resources to keep making the stuff they love, and royalty free music is a way for us to support music artists and filmmakers.

So we scrapped the industry standard and created a new model: a subscription service for royalty free music.

Here’s how it works: We look for impressive musicians and hire them to create songs exclusively for Soundstripe. And because we own the songs completely, we don’t have to sell individual licenses or charge monthly royalty fees.

Instead, you can sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription. That will grant you unlimited access to our entire library of music, and any song you decide to download and use will be protected forever.

You can pay a subscription fee for movies, TV, music (to listen to), and even grocery deliveries. Why shouldn’t finding high-quality royalty free music be just as easy and affordable?

Take a listen to our music for free!
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