How To License Copyrighted Music for a Video Production Career

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Sep 9, 2020

Sep 9, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

If you are in a video production career, you will no doubt be familiar with an issue that commonly scuppers plans to use what you feel is the ideal music. This issue relates to copyright laws, the legal framework that ensures that the rights of the artist with regards to their music are respected. As this can often be a grey area, it’s helpful to understand just what goes into licensing music and what is legally allowed to be used in any video productions.

In this article, we take you through a short guide of how to go about sourcing great music for your productions without running the risk of falling foul of the mire that is copyright law or having to pay huge sums to multiple different artists.

Using Someone’s Music in Your Production

You will almost certainly have to gain the permission of the artist if you want to use a piece of music for something that you are creating if it is for commercial use. This involves contacting the copyright holder (usually the artist or their representatives) and asking them. This can be a long and drawn-out process, which can involve negotiations if the artist in question is asking a fee to use the track. Failing to gain this copyright can also result in a legal strike against you, known as a ‘DMCA Takedown.’ This can come about even using ‘samples’ or clips of someone else’s music in your production. These can be easily identified by algorithm bots installed in most media services so trying to fool the system will often end in a ‘cease and desist’ notification and in some cases, even a lawsuit.

It is often the case that you will have to contact a number of agencies representing composers, lyricists, music publishers, performers and record labels. In many cases, and especially with larger, well-known bands and artists, the prohibitive price that is being sought proves a major stumbling block that leads video editors to look elsewhere. This can especially be an issue for video streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube. There have been instances where an artist will produce a music video for their own song and due to licensing issues, have the video be taken down. This is due to the fact that publishers tend to have more ownership rights than the artists themselves, leading to some awkward explanations as to their fans why their newest music video had to be taken down.

Using a Media Company

Many smaller video editing companies decide that securing copyright permission via the method above is not worth the time or money. If this sounds familiar, you should know that there is another way to get awesome music licensing for videos for a much smaller outlay. This is by using music subscription libraries like FirstCom and others. 

These media companies specialize in providing cutting-edge music for all your video production needs. Operating on a monthly or annual subscription basis, they allow users to use an unlimited number of tracks, making them the perfect solution for editors that need to use a lot of music and do not have the time or money to contact the copyright holder of every piece of music that they want to use. Often, these tracks will make your production stand out even more. By not using well-known music tracks, you allow for a more unique production with music that can captivate viewers or fit the tone of your program much better than any Top 100 pop song could.

Media companies hold the rights to every piece of music that they stock, obtaining them via fair payment to their contributing artists who produce them specifically for use in creative projects. This means that you can rest easy that your video will not be flagged up for copyright infringement on video sharing sites like YouTube Twitter, Facebook and Tiktok. There are some occasions where well-known established artists will make and produce stock music off label, thus giving you the same quality of the music you want to use without any copyright issues. Brilliant news for people who want their creations to gain as many clicks and likes as possible!

Any video editor only wants the best quality for their productions and using the right, copyright free music is a great way to really enhance the tone. Media companies are by far the easiest and most cost-effective of legally sourcing large amounts of music for your video editing projects. With affordable pricing plans and remarkably simple to use interfaces and search functions, there really is no excuse for not getting in on the action yourself. Not to mention the endless number of genres and styles to fit just about any production. Unlimited music supply is just a couple of clicks away.