How Does Royalty-Free Music Licensing Work?

Using music on your video clubs, film projects or website can be complicated. If you use a popular song from a well-known performer, you are likely to have your video or site taken down for an infringement of copyright.  And even if you just want to use a song without permission just as background music for your home videos, it will be removed very quickly if it comes to the attention of the platform. 

Music licensing is a complicated subject and one that preoccupies the music industry and their teams of lawyers.  So for many website owners, film makers and youtubers, the big question is just how do you find the right music for your video or website without contravening any licensing laws? The answer is to use royalty free music licensing. 

What is Royalty Free Music Licensing?

A Royalty free license enables you to use a piece of music time and again without paying royalties to the artist for each play. It is important to point out here that Royalty Free does not mean that the music is necessarily free to use (although some is). 

It means that the music is free from royalty payments to the artist for each individual play and instead you pay an upfront fee for the music. The great thing about a royalty free license is that you are covered by this regardless of how many times the music is played. 

If you were to use a piece of music that was not royalty free , such as for a TV ad that used a popular song for example , the artist would receive a royalty payment for each time the advertisement aired. 

By contrast, a royalty free license enables you to play the same music thousands of times over years without paying any more than your initial one off fee. 

You can find royalty free music on line. Artlist Music Licensing For Video often abbreviated to Artlist, is a company that provides royalty free music and SFX to anyone who needs to make videos and movies.  

Checking out the Artlist site is easy and fun. You can refine your searches by mood: uplifting, fun, epic, powerful etc. You can also search via theme, instrument and genre. 

Once you have decided upon your music (or SFX) you sign up for the license. Artlist provides everything you need to broadcast and play music legally, and as the website says “all the music is yours to use forever”. 

With an Artlist subscription you can download and use an unlimited amount of music and the license covers everything. There are three pricing options available:

  • Music and SFX costs $25 per month
  • Music costs $16.60 per month
  • SFX costs $12.41 per month

What about free royalty free music? 

If you don’t want to pay for royalty free music licensing, there are sites out there which offer to provide free royalty free music in return for a credit (a link back to the website).  

However in most cases these come with strings attached over usage restrictions and you will have to pay for a pro license if your video becomes popular or is used on the national media.