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What Royalty Free Music Really Is - and Not

Soundstripe Team

May 14, 2019

Despite royalty free music being hugely popular among casual to pro videographers and content creators, a surprising number of people still don't really know what exactly royalty free music really is.

There's a fair bit of confusion about royalty free music meanings, with some websites giving incorrect definitions or leaving out some important information. Worse yet, some less than reliable sites may encourage shady alternatives to royalty free music that could leave you in hot water legally.

We're going to answer the question of "What does royalty free music actually mean?", debunk some common myths, and touch on why royalty free music is the right way to go from an unbiased perspective. Let's get started!


What Royalty Free Music Really Means to Creators

The true royalty free music meaning/definition is music that creators can pay a one-time fee to use in a video or any other personal or commercial project of theirs. Essentially your one-time fee gives you the legal license or rights to use the track however you see fit.

It is interesting to note that royalty free music still has royalties being paid. The difference with royalty free music is that you don't have to worry about paying the royalties yourself if you work with a website like Soundstripe.  

Royalty free music is hands-down the best option for any individual needing access quality music that is being legally attained. (If you need more convincing, this blog post is another resource worth checking out.) 

You'll find all types of music available if you work with websites like Soundstripe that offer a huge music library.


Unlimited royalty free music & SFX


You can also choose to work with sites that require you to pay a small fee per track, or other sites that offer monthly subscriptions that cover a certain amount of downloads (or unlimited downloads, which is what we offer).  

Whether you pursue videography purely for fun by posting vlogs on YouTube or you're a professional whose livelihood is based on stunning video content, royalty free music is the best route.

You won't need to worry about licensing or questioning whether the music you've found is safe to use or not. Instead, you can focus on the most important thing of all — improving your skills as a content creator and connecting with your audience.  

Myths and Misconceptions About Royalty Free Music

Now that you have a better idea of why royalty free music is ideal for creators, let's debunk some of the most common myths about royalty free music meanings.  

Myth #1: Royalty Free Music Is Free To Use

Just because 'free' is in the name doesn't mean royalty free music is free to use. The only way to legally use royalty free music is to pay for the license to use the track. This can be paid per track or be covered under an unlimited subscription.

As part of a Soundstripe Subscription License, you may download unlimited content and use songs, SFX and videos in as many projects as you'd like during the length of your subscription, subject to our Terms of Use.  You do not need to re-download any content in order to use content again during the length of your subscription. If a Proof of License is needed for multiple projects, new license documentation can be downloaded any time during your subscription from your Downloads Page in My Media.

If you choose to cancel your subscription, you cannot use our content in new projects. In addition, for each use of music that is broadcast on network/cable television, a cue sheet is required.

The reason for this goes back to the idea that royalty free music isn't actually royalty free, it's just that you don't pay the royalties because we handle it for you!

Myth #2: Royalty Free Music Is The Same As Stock Music

Stock music is a term used to describe pre-made music. Or, basically, any music that isn't custom made for your purposes.

Royalty free music may include stock music, but typically the quality of royalty free music is higher. Royalty free music also only requires a payment per track/download whereas true stock music might have different licensing, such as Rights Managed.  


Myth #3: Royalty Free Music Is Low Quality

Royalty free music is just as high-quality as any other type of licensed music, but you need to choose a site that offers a library that matches.

There are certainly some royalty free music websites with deceptively low prices. You might be tempted only to find that their library is full of canned music that isn't even appropriate for a low-budget commercial.

Choose a site like Soundstripe that offers an extensive music library constantly being updated, and the term "low quality" will never even cross your mind.


Myth #4: Royalty Free Music Only Includes Specific Type Of Music

Royalty free music isn't a genre of music — it's a term describing the licensing of the music, not anything to do with the music itself. You can find every single genre and style of music as royalty free, from Opera to Rock to Rap and Cinematic Instrumentals.

Royalty free music also isn't just instrumentals, but also include vocals as well.

To sum it up, royalty free music is not sub-par, boring music that's free to use by anyone. Royalty free music is high-quality music, free to use after purchasing licensing, and encompasses every single genre/type of music you can think of.

The experience you have with royalty free music really comes down to the source you get it from, so even if you choose to not go with Soundstripe, at least look for a site that lets you sample their music first. This will ensure that you can find the songs you need for your videos.


Why Royalty Free Music Alternatives Are A Bad Idea

There will always be some unscrupulous content creators out there that use royalty free music alternatives and recommend others do the same. Typically the only reason prompting creators to skip royalty free music is because they're looking for free music tracks.

They might end up looking for Creative Commons songs that are free, or instead go for Public Domain options. Others might think that they can use short snippets of music and not get caught.

None of these alternatives are really worth your time, and in the end, they can still result in serious legal ramifications.  

Simply put — if you use any music incorrectly (i.e. misinterpreting Creative Commons permissions) or illegally (i.e. the 10 second clip example), you're asking for trouble. Do this on a platform like Twitch or YouTube and you might get lucky and only have the video deleted.

Or you might be even unluckier and end up having all of your content deleted before you get banned from the site. You might also have a lawsuit brought against you.

Understanding the world of music licensing isn't easy or something you'll want to spend time researching. You'd probably rather focus on making awesome content, which is exactly why royalty free music is the way to go.

It gives you the peace of mind that you're in the clear in all legal matters.


Soundstripe's Unique Approach Simplifies Royalty Free Music

Soundstripe isn't like other stock music sites offering royalty free music to content creators. We not only focus on offering our customers the highest quality tracks and sound effects, but we also use a licensing model that's truly one-of-a-kind.




The vast majority of royalty free music sites run on a pay-per-track basis, meaning you have to pay a small fee for every track you buy. Sure, it isn't a huge deal to whip out your credit card every time you need to purchase music... But if you could do without the hassle, wouldn't you?

We designed our platform to be as easy as possible so you can actually have fun finding music for your videos. To achieve this, we decided to set up our service as a subscription. You simply sign up for an all-inclusive subscription and you're good to go.

(If you want to see more of what makes Soundstripe different from other music licensing companies, here's a blog post that breaks down the key differences.)

Basically, we're like the Netflix of royalty free music. Your subscription covers unlimited downloads of whatever music catches your fancy. Upgrade to a Premium membership and you'll have access to bonus features like sound effects and early-access to new tracks.

Our Music Library is pretty huge, which might be a bit overwhelming when you're browsing. So we have our team put together some killer pre-made Staff Curated Playlists to help you get started. Or you can create your own playlists.

If you'd rather brave it alone, simply hop into the Music Library and use the search filters to narrow down your search. We're pretty nerdy when it comes to royalty free music so we really fine-tuned our search engine.

Our filters not only include your standard Genre and Artist parameters, but also Mood, BPM, Instruments, Length, and more.

When you're ready to check out our Music Library, head on over to the Sign Up page and you'll be moments away from having unlimited access to some of the best royalty free music.

Further reading

Interested in reading more top resources and getting our best filmmaking tips and tricks? Here are a couple of our most popular articles from across the Soundstripe blog: