Music for Commercials and Advertising Agencies
Holding a degree in Business Administration and Programming, Pablo established Legis Music in 2016. With a focus on the royalty-free music industry, he has contributed extensively to the field, authoring over 150 articles on various aspects of music licensing. His efforts have been instrumental in developing one of the most straightforward and liberal music licensing frameworks available today.
If you are going to make a commercial, whether, for television, radio, or the Internet, you must be clear about the following: you cannot do without music.
The commercials that have had a good musical background are the most successful ones during the last decades.
Do you know why?
Because marketing specialists are clear about two important aspects:
- The ultimate goal of an ad is to sell a product or service. 2. To increase sales it is necessary to appeal to customers’ emotions.
Now, there are many ways to stimulate the emotional aspect of people, but there is none more effective than music.
In fact, this statement has a scientific basis behind it.
There are dozens of studies that demonstrate the relationship between music, emotions, and memory.
Knowing this, the formula for success is clear: use music that achieves connecting your ad with the positive emotions of your potential customer.
But where can you find the best music for your ads? Here we show you the best Internet platforms with the music your ads need.
|LEGIS MUSIC||One-time payment||From 19€/lifetime|
|EPIDEMIC SOUND||Monthly subscription for YouTube||From 9,00€/month|
|AUDIOJUNGLE||Individual Licenses||From 1€ per song|
|PREMIUM BEAT||Individual Licenses||From 49€ per song o 64,95€ each month|
|SOUNDTRACK YOUR BRAND||Background music for companies||29€/month|
We will give you more details about each of them later on.
Now, however, the most important thing is that you have total clearness about everything related to music for commercials.
And therefore, we will give answers to the questions you are probably asking yourself right now, starting with one of the most common ones:
Can I use famous songs in my ads?
The easy answer to this question is yes.
However, there are certain details you should be aware of before choosing this option.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you cannot use famous music in an advertisement without first having acquired the license to use it.
If you do so, you will be risking your ad being blocked from any social platform such as YouTube or Facebook.
But the worst consequence is that you can be fined for copyright infringement.
To avoid this, you will have to get the corresponding licenses for the song you want to use in your ad.
However, another problem arises here.
There are many artists and record labels that refuse to allow the licensing of their songs for advertising use.
The most common reason is that they do not want to associate the name of any brand or product with their song, as this could have a negative impact on their reputation.
However, there are also many artists and record labels that will release the rights to their songs for commercials.
How to obtain the copyright of a song?
There are two ways to buy the music rights of a song:
- By contacting directly the artist or the record label that has been in charge of recording the music track. 2. By contacting the performance rights organizations (also known as PROs).
It is easiest to opt for the second option since these societies are the ones in charge of issuing licenses for commercial songs.
Depending on the country you are in, you will have to contact one of these organizations or another.
For example, in the case of the United States, you will have to contact organizations such as BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC.
But if you are in the United Kingdom, the organizations you should reach are PRS or PPL.
To find out which PRO you should contact depending on the country where you live, you can check the following list.
Another thing to keep in mind and be prepared for is that acquiring these types of music licenses for commercials and advertising is often very expensive.
In our article about how to license famous songs, we told you more about the types of licenses you need to acquire to use well-known music legally and what is the process to do it.
However, if you are concerned about the economic factor, you are probably asking yourself the following question:
How much does it cost to use well-known music for commercials?
Depending on the nature of the advertisement, the cost of the music can vary considerably.
There are several reasons for this: the scope of the ad, the media in which it will be promoted, the number of licenses needed, the importance of the song, etc.
For example, if you want to use a song in a TV commercial, you need at least 2 licenses: the master license and the sync license.
But if you want to use music for a radio commercial, you will also need a special transcription license from the publisher.
You can learn more about licensing in our guide about the types of music licenses.
To give you a reference of how much famous music for advertising costs, we will take a look at Donald Passman’s book, All you need to know about the music business, which says the following:
“A song can cost anywhere from $25,000 to more than $500,000 a year. The typical range for a well-known song is $75,000 to $200,000 for a year of national use in the United States, on television and radio.”
As you can see, these are astronomical amounts that are not within the reach of any agency, nor of any independent entrepreneur.
That is why it does not represent a viable option for the vast majority of people.
And at this point another question arises:
Is there free music for commercial use in advertisements?
Yes, there are two types of free music licenses for advertising:
However, there are some drawbacks to using music from these categories in your ads.
Regarding public domain music, most of it is usually classical music and songs more than 70 years old.
This type of music is not very appealing and its use in advertising can have an undesirable impact.
As for music under Creative Commons licenses, you should know that, despite being for free, it is mandatory to mention the author of the song you use in your ad, something that can compromise the reputation of the brand.
In addition, the vast majority of Creative Commons songs cannot be used in commercial projects, something that is totally incompatible with the aims of advertising.
And having clarified the above, you may be wondering:
What is the best option to add music to my ads?
You may feel out of options after knowing the disadvantages of free music and the high cost of famous music.
However, there is an alternative which, in fact, is cheaper than famous music and does not have the downsides of free music.
That is royalty-free music.
Where to find royalty-free music for commercials?
Royalty-free music, also called copyright-free music, can be found mainly on dedicated platforms.
On the Internet you can find many of them, however, comparing which one is the best for your particular case will consume a lot of your time.
At LegisMusic we know what we are talking about because we have tested the vast majority of platforms on the market.
So, to make it easier for you and to save you time, below we will share with you what we consider the 4 best platforms with royalty-free music for your commercials.
At Legis Music we have decided to launch three exclusive plans this 2023 so that our customers can access royalty free music easily and cheaply.
What these plans have in common is that you only have to pay once to get them, allowing you to enjoy the songs unlimited for life and have the peace of mind of not having to worry about copyright claims in the future.
This way, you can choose the plan that best suits your needs:
- Starter Plan. This licence is recommended for those who are looking for music to use in personal projects. It also allows you to use the music in all social networks and on any website, but not on Youtube.
- Personal Plan. If you are looking to get numerous songs to use in your personal projects, this is the license for you. The Personal Plan offers unlimited music downloads and can be used on social media and streaming platforms, YouTube, apps, video games and audiobooks, as well as podcasts, virtual classes and online advertisements. The price is $49 in a single payment and for life -if you use it for 3 years, it will be like paying 1€/month-.
- Business Plan. This plan is specially designed for freelancers, companies and those who work for clients. It is the most open licence of all, as any use case is covered and it also offers unlimited music (the only thing that is not allowed is to resell the songs). It is priced as a one-off payment of $99 for life – if you use it for 2 years, it will be like paying $4/month.
As you can see, if there is one thing that makes our licences stand out, it is the opportunity to enjoy them forever for a one-time fee.
Epidemic Sound has a constantly growing music library that exceeds 60,000 sound effects and 30,000 audio tracks, all of them of the highest quality and ready for advertising.
Through its commercial plan, you will be able to make unlimited music downloads and use them in unlimited ads, whether on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media.
The cost of this subscription is $299 / year (approximately €25 / month), or $49 / month if you prefer to pay monthly.
In any case, you can try all the advantages of Epidemic Sound completely free for 30 days by clicking on the button below.
Artlist is one of the most talked-about platforms among audiovisual content creators and advertisers.
Not only for the quality of its songs or its intuitive menus but also for its innovative Universal License.
Whether you purchase its music plan ($199 per year), the sound effects plan ($149 per year), or its all-inclusive hybrid plan ($299 per year), you will be able to use all its music in all your ads, whatever the platform or media you use.
We strongly recommend you to browse the web, and if you think this is the tool you need, you can benefit from 2 additional months completely free by clicking on the button below.
Audiio is, of these four platforms with royalty-free music, the youngest of them all – it was founded in 2017.
But don’t get tricked by that.
Despite its youth, it has managed to carve out a priority niche in the industry.
In fact, brands of the magnitude of Nike, Adidas, Netflix, or Toyota, among others, have chosen Audiio music for their ads.
And it is not strange, because they have an absolutely revolutionary music license: the so-called Lifetime Music Membership with which, for a single payment of $299 you will have access to their growing music library for life.
If you would like to have a unique musical proposal like Audiio’s, you can now get up to a 10% discount by subscribing through the following button.
Vocal or instrumental: which type of music is more suitable for commercials?
At this point, you have already answered many of the questions you had about music for commercials.
You even now know the best platforms to get it.
However, we still haven’t solved the riddle about the best type of ad music.
There are many people who wonder what kind of music ads use. And the truth is that the answer is very variable.
According to a study conducted by the marketing agency Main Street Host, which analyzed the 50 most viewed commercials on YouTube, the following conclusions were drawn:
Now, what are the reasons for using these types of music in advertisements?
In relation to instrumental music, it is usually used in most cases as background music, especially in advertisements with spoken words or voice-overs.
As for vocal music, it is often used in commercials for two reasons:
- Establish a more concrete association between music and visual elements. 2. Create a popular reference that gets instant recognition from viewers.
In any case, you will have to take into account the type of ad you want to create and then find the type of music that best accompanies your message.
What is the music genre that works best in advertising?
We have just talked about types of music referring to vocal or instrumental, but we have not yet talked about the best music genres for commercials.
And this has a simple explanation: there is no musical genre that is better than another.
It all depends on what you want to convey with your ad.
In order for you to understand it better, we will show you below two different ads with different music genres.
The first one is the famous Nike ad from 1998 featuring the Brazilian national soccer team in an airport while playing with the ball to pass the boredom.
If we analyze the background music used in this ad, it is a well-known Brazilian song whose musical genre is the most famous and representative of the country: the samba.
This song, and specifically this musical genre, perfectly conveys the message of the ad: the Brazilian team plays soccer with the same beauty and joy as they dance the samba.
Now let’s look at another ad, this time the Coca-Cola ad from 2006 called “Happiness Factory”.
The music used in this ad is music that truly conveys joy, happiness, and even a magical point, exactly what the ad wants to convey, both with its visual content and its title.
Now, imagine for a moment changing the background music between the two ads.
That is, use the upbeat acoustic music in the Nike ad with the Brazilian national team and the samba song in the Coca-Cola ad.
Would they still be the perfect background music for each ad?
They would be creating contradictory messages between the visual and the sound.
The user would feel a great dissonance between what they see and what they listen to, causing a negative impact on their perception of the brand.
So, which musical genre works better: samba or acoustic pop music?
The truth is that both genres work well, as well as many other musical genres. The importance of music in advertising lies in the coherence.
To achieve the best results in your ads, the music must be aligned with your advertising message, your product or service, and your brand.
When it comes to creating an advertisement, whether for TV, Radio, or Internet, there is one element that you cannot avoid: music.
As you saw at the beginning of the article, scientific studies show how music is crucial to stimulate emotions and associate them with a certain brand or product.
Music is one of the most effective resources when it comes to selling.
However, it is just as important to use background music in an ad as it is to choose the right one for that specific ad.
You have already seen with two clear but well-differentiated examples how any musical genre will be ideal as long as it is aligned with the message of your ad, regardless of whether it is famous music or not.
If you use famous music, the only benefit is that people will know the song.
But in exchange, you will have to go through a lot of paperwork and spend a lot of money which, in most cases, does not pay off.
Just as it doesn’t pay to use free music. The main reasons are:
- It will be old music, more than 70 years old, which will create dissonance with the message of your ad (public domain music). 2. You will have to mention the author of the work in your ad, something that will challenge the reputation of your brand (music under Creative Commons licenses).
Fortunately, you now know of an intermediate musical solution: royalty-free music.
This type of music will meet your highest musical expectations, complementing the message of your advertisement in a coherent and professional way.
All this while avoiding copyright issues and the high costs associated with well-known music.
To start enjoying this type of music in your commercials you must find first the online platforms where it is available, but at this point, you already know the best ones: Epidemic Sound, Artlist, and Audiio.
All of them provide you with huge catalogs with music of the highest quality that will give your ad the background sound it needs.
At the same time, they also have differential features and properties that will make them stand out from their competitors.
Now it is up to you to decide which of them will be your musical ally.
Choose the one that best meets your professional expectations and get the music that will turn your ad into a memorable ad.
FAQ. Frequently Asked Questions about Music for Commercials and Advertisements
We’ve answered the most common questions about music for commercials, but you may still have a few unanswered questions.
Below we have compiled some of the questions asked by our readers.
- How is music used in advertising and commercials?
Music could be said to be the emotion of the advertisement.
The main goal of music is to make people associate the product or service with a certain feeling and ultimately lead them to buy it.
To get closer to that goal, a series of steps must be followed:
- The purpose of the ad must be known, as well as its message.
- One or several music tracks aligned with that message must be chosen.
- Tests should be carried out with different music tracks to find out which of them best conveys the emotions and the message.
- Once chosen, the volume at which it will appear in the ad should be taken into account (music should play a secondary role unless it is an ad without background vocals).
- Analyze results, learn from them and improve for the next ad.
- What song is the most used in commercials historically?
Throughout history, a large number of songs have been used for radio, television, and Internet commercials.
However, according to the PRS for Music portal, the 10 most performed songs in advertising are the following:
- The Polyphonic Spree – Light & Day [Ad: Try Something New Today – Sainsbury’s]
- Nina Simone – Ain’t go no [Ad: I got life – Müller]
- Elena Kats-Chernin – Eliza’s Aria [Ad: TSB for the Journey – Lloyds]
- Take That – Shine [Anuncio: Morrison’s]
- The Noveltones – Left Bank Two [Ad: Waitrose Essentials Range]
- Badly Drawn Boy – All Possibilities [Ad: Comet Scooter]
- Bobby McFerrin – Knickknack [Ad: Bupa]
- Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten [Ad: Pantene Pro-V]
- Sean Paul – Send it On [Ad: Vauxhall Corsa]
- Gotan Project – Epoca [Ad: Finish Dishwasher Tablets]
All of them can serve as a reference to know what kind of song has fit with each type of ad and to be able to replicate it in your commercials.
- Which songs are royalty-free?
The songs that are royalty-free are those that you can find under the public domain, under Creative Commons licenses as well as those that belong to copyright-free music platforms such as Epidemic Sound, Artlist, and Audiio.
- What is the difference between royalty-free songs in the public domain and those on copyright-free music platforms?
The differences between the songs are as follows:
- Songs under the public domain are free, are at least 70 years old, and, therefore, are not designed to be used for advertising.
- Songs from royalty-free music platforms are paid, current, and created for specific purposes, including advertisements.
- What is the difference between royalty-free songs under Creative Commons licenses and those on copyright-free music platforms?
These are the main differences between both options:
- The vast majority of songs under Creative Commons licenses cannot be used in commercials, and in the few that can be used, the author of the work must be cited, something a bit unprofessional.
- Songs from royalty-free music platforms can be used in any commercial project -as established by the platform- and the author does not need to be mentioned, maintaining the brand’s image.
- How can I use free music for commercial use?
As we mentioned earlier in the article, there are very few scenarios in which you can use free music for commercials and advertisements.
The vast majority of these songs are not allowed for commercial use, and with the few that can be used in commercials, you will have to mention the author of the work, something that can negatively affect your professional image.
However, if you don’t mind, you can use free music for commercials as long as the song is licensed under Creative Commons and has one of the following tags:
- BY: It means that any use of the work, including a commercial purpose, is permitted, as well as the creation of derivative works, the distribution of which is also permitted without any restriction.
- BY-SA: It means that commercial use of the work and possible derivative works is permitted, the distribution of which must be made under a license equal to that governing the original work.
- BY-ND: It means that commercial or non-commercial use of the work is permitted as long as the work is circulated in its entirety and unchanged, but the generation of derivative works is not permitted.
In any of these cases, you must not forget to mention the author of the work.
- Music for YouTube ads – Can I use royalty-free music?
Yes, of course.
YouTube has its own free music library, but many content creators on the platform use it.
Using royalty-free music for YouTube will musically set your ads apart from the rest of the advertisements used in the platform.
- What is the best background music for Facebook ads?
There is no specific type of music for Facebook advertising.
What you can do is to use copyright-free music, just like on YouTube or other platforms.
In our article on music for Facebook we cover everything you need to know about it.
- We are an advertising agency, what is the best platform for our specific case?
The most recommended platform is Epidemic Sound, as it has a specific commercial plan with music for advertising agencies and freelancers.
- If I choose to use famous songs, will I have to pay royalties? How much do they cost?
There is no price list, it depends on what the author or record label considers that the use of his song is worth.
There are those who give their works for free and others who can claim up to €90,000.
The best thing to do in this case is always to contact the record label, the artist, or their representatives directly and ask.
- Can I cover songs and use them in my commercial?
In case you want to make a cover version of an original song, the steps to follow would be the same as the ones mentioned above to acquire a license for a famous song.
If your goal is to cover a song for an advertisement in order to avoid paying the license fee, it is not recommended.
It is true that sometimes it is not easy to discern when a song is an original or a copy.
However, the decision, when the issue is taken to court, is usually based on expert musical experts, who are in charge of making a technical report of the song.
This report analyzes the structure of the piece, its meter, and the rhythm of the melody, among others.
Both the defense and the party initiating the process commission a study, in addition to the independent report usually requested by the judge.
In the end, the compensation paid to the singers is usually similar to what the license to use the song would have cost since it is very difficult to determine the moral and patrimonial damage generated. Therefore, in the case of wanting to make a version, contact first the owner of the rights.
- Why should I use non-copyrighted music instead of famous music?
We could give you several reasons. In fact, throughout the article, we have mentioned some of them. But if we have to choose the 3 most important ones, they would be the following:
- You save a lot of time by not having to find a way to contact the artists, negotiate with them, etc.
- You save a lot of money since the licenses for the use of this type of song are usually much more affordable.
- You gain in originality for your advertisement, since the music of it will not be the same that is already heard hundreds of times in other places, as it could be in discotheques, television, radio or Internet.
- Where can I download sound effects for advertising?
The 4 platforms presented in the article (Epidemic Sound, Artlist, and Audiio) have plans that include exclusive sound effects of the highest quality.
- How can I download the music for my commercial easily?
By following the steps below, you will be able to download royalty-free music for commercials:
- Register in a minute on any of the platforms mentioned above.
- Search among the categories for the song or sound effect you want, listening first among several dozens of them, in order to get an idea of the musical background that best suits your advertising spot.
- Once you have chosen the song, download it.
- You can now modify and use the song as you wish to add it to your ad, without worrying about copyright restrictions or blocking on social media.
This way, you are guaranteed to be using music for your commercials that complies with all copyright rules.
Whether it’s sports, food, perfume or car commercial, this type of music created specifically for them will make the viewer feel more identified with the product or service you offer.
- Can I use famous songs in my ads?
- How to obtain the copyright of a song?
- How much does it cost to use well-known music for commercials?
- Is there free music for commercial use in advertisements?
- What is the best option to add music to my ads?
- Where to find royalty-free music for commercials?
- Vocal or instrumental: which type of music is more suitable for commercials?
- What is the music genre that works best in advertising?
- FAQ. Frequently Asked Questions about Music for Commercials and Advertisements
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