A Guide to Licensing Royalty-free Music for Your Business

Whether you work at a giant corporation in marketing or you’re a bootstrapping business owner, this short guide will explain everything you should know about licensing your royalty-free music.

With an abundance of resources out there for finding and licensing music that you can use in your next video project, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. In this simple
guide, we’re going to discuss the various types of music licensing out there and the kind of terms you should check for, especially when it comes to promoting a commercial business.

Even though the market is saturated with valuable information and an endless supply of stock-music to browse through, hopefully, this article will narrow down the options and make
your job easier when it comes to knowing which license you need.

Once you’re ready to select your music, it’s time to check for the following criteria mentioned in this article.

Contents

What Kind of Project Is It?

FREE Royalty-free music can be found almost anywhere today, even on YouTube, however, it’s important to be extremely careful when using any kind of FREE Royalty-free music for your branding needs.

Here’s why.

You’re not just a creative individual anymore acting alone, you’re a money-making business and a legal business owner/employee. Even if there’s no money gained at all, as any legal business, you will need a commercial music license.

When you download a Free song to use in your project, chances are, it comes with terms. The terms for using a free song may require that the artist is given credit somewhere on the video description. That seems simple enough, especially if you’re an individual creator. BUT… if you’re a company or business, you don’t necessarily want to endorse a random stranger you’ve never done business with before. Since you’ll be using their music to help create more
business, you should always buy a commercial license as opposed to an individual license.

Another issue with “free terms” is that they are not guaranteed for life.

The artist has the right to change the terms at any given moment and even remove the song entirely from their catalog should they wish. Also, how can you be sure that their music is 100% original, meaning no
samples or cover versions of other songs?

If you were to accidentally use a free song that infringes on someone else’s copyright, even without knowing, your video may be flagged, to say the least. When it comes to finding the right music for your business project, always go the paid way as it will save you a lot more money in the long run.

How to Select the Right License

Now that you’ve found a great source for commercially licensing your royalty-free music, the hardest part is over.

licensing royalty-free music

A commercial license tends to be a little more expensive than a non-commercial license since it’s going to be used for promotional purposes.

Don’t forget to check out the terms of use for the license you want because not all terms are the same.

Some commercial licenses may limit the duration of the license and may require a renewal, whereas
other license terms may last forever (in perpetuity).

That’s what you want, perpetuity.

If your business is in it for the long-haul, avoid using all subscription-based licensing platforms if possible. Otherwise, you will need to keep paying those recurring subscription fees just to keep
the rights to the music in your company’s video asset. It may end up costing you a lot more money in the long run than it would have to just purchase the track in full from the start.

In addition to that, stock music websites usually collect their music from creative artists who submit their music catalog under contract. When the contract ends in two years or whatever was
agreed, those same tracks you have been paying a subscription for will no longer have the same terms, or even be allowed for further use, rendering your license subscription pointless.

When you buy your commercial license, be sure it’s one single payment to license, in perpetuity.

Online and Non-web Publishing

Where will the end project be published? Will it be online, or will it be standalone?

In general, if you want to publish your marketing campaign on television or radio, this must be written in the license terms. If you’re running an online sponsored social media campaign with royalty-free stock music in the background, make sure the license terms include all possible platforms you
can foresee publishing on.

If it’s a business promotion that is advertising your brand, the commercial license will protect you and your brand from facing any potential legal issues. If you need a license for a standalone product such as a video game or a mobile app, as long as you have a commercial license and stay within the terms of listed in it, you’re good to go.

If you’re a video producer and your clients are paying for your services (even if it’s not your brand using the music), since you provide the service, you must provide a commercial license. 

You may want to explain this to your clients in advance and ask them for a music budget. Once your clients see how professional and experienced you are regarding their business, finding a legal way to commercially license your music will be much easier to approach.

You definitely don’t want to provide your clients with a product that will ultimately come back to haunt you in the future. As a freelancer, always use commercially licensed music. It’s not worth the risk. Commercial music licenses are designed for all platforms, but they must be listed in the terms.

What Kind of Music to Use

When it comes to background music, there are a few key aspects to keep in mind when selecting the right music that will produce the desired results.

Background music is designed to stay out of the spotlight and remain stealthy. Background music doesn’t make you dance when you hear it and it shouldn’t trigger any muscles. It should simply linger in the background,
enhancing everything around it from the visuals to the message.

Look for a musical piece that gives the project an overall positive feeling when you hear it in sync. If the music is too complex, it may distract your audience away from the real message, or even worse, turn them off. You want to go for that subtle, corporate music feeling that transmits business and success.

Since we all have a different taste in music and what sounds good to us, it’s always a good idea to go with something uplifting and universally neutral. It might sound a little boring, perhaps like elevator music, but that’s how background music works best.

It’s meant to complement everything around it and enhance your project’s first impression. You can’t go wrong with enthusiastic, motivational, and positive-sounding frequencies that are designed to touch our emotions. Trust in the natural power of the song you select and let the music work its magic. 

What is Corporate Music?

High-quality background music is designed to fall gently on the listener’s ears and arouse emotion. Music is so powerful that it can help memory-loss, speech impediments, and even relieve certain types of depression.

Studies have shown that music therapy patients have been known for producing improved results and increased brain activity when listening to music. Music is so powerful that it can move us to tears just the same as it may soothe a crying baby.

With that information, it’s easy to see why selecting the right kind of music for your business can be vital to its success.

As a business, you want your clients to feel comfortable and to return in the future. Music plays a huge role in creating a comforting feeling that everyone can connect with. Corporate music is considered to be uplifting and enthusiastic music that gently grows on the listener over time.

They might not even notice the music, but when they hear it, they can automatically recognize it as a warm and welcoming sound that is clean, crisp and clear. As long as the music is in high-quality format, you should be able to get as creative as you want without missing your target.

Branding and Music

Now that you have a piece of commercially licensed music, you can start using it for branding your business.

Consider your brand’s identity when browsing for the right music to use in your marketing campaigns. If your business is associated with a recurring jingle or music track that helps identify your brand, make sure the license terms permit multiple uses in endless projects and lasts forever (in perpetuity).

brand music

You don’t want to have to pay every time you reuse an already purchased track for a second or third project. If you have to pay each time you use it, look for a new track with a better license deal. You also want to make sure that your commercial license won’t expire in the future like many do.

Make sure that the license you purchase permits ownership forever so that you never risk facing legal penalties or have your asset flagged by advanced music detection technology. To keep your brand pure and free from any sort of unwanted legal issues, be sure to check all the terms. The next time you go to purchase a piece of royalty free music for your business, simply follow the criteria outlined in this short licensing guide and it’s sure to be a success.

About the author 

Music Licensing and Marketing Enthusiast. 
When it comes to explaining the intricacies of the complex music industry, copyrights and monetizing your digital content, contact Andrew Williams.
Andrew Williams

A&R Marketing, Foximusic

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