As we have discussed in other articles, it is of vital importance nowadays that your audiovisual projects -or those of your clients- are made up of both high-quality video and good background music that fits perfectly.
Both video and music must be of your own creation or Royalty-Free… Unless you are willing to pay a high amount for licensing famous songs or face legal and content problems.
Now, before we focus on the difficulties that can be caused by using background music without first obtaining those rights, let’s proceed with a brief recap of concepts that you should be clear about, such as copyright and licensing.
Copyrights are the set of rules that protect content created by a person. Songs are protected material, so if you want to use them in a project, you will need a written agreement with the creators or owners. This is called a license.
A license allows you to use the music without any risk because it includes the cost of the music and the rights of use, that is, the way in which you can use it.
There are currently seven types of licenses, but if you want to use a famous song by well-known artists, such as Bruno Mars or Rosalia, you must use two: the synchronization license and the master license.
In most cases you will encounter serious difficulties in obtaining the license you need, either because the copyright holders are slow to accept it, because they do not allow you to use it, or because the amount of money they ask for is too high for your possibilities.
However, what you should never do is use a song without first obtaining the license, because it is an illegal act, with which, in the worst case, you will have to face financial penalties.
If you are a content creator, your career as an influencer or blogger can be harmed, because, depending on the social network, your content could be affected in one way or another.
The most common consequences are:
- Copyright notices that do not allow you to upload content.
- Automatic removal of the content.
- Having to share the profits of the content with the entity or person who owns the rights.
Next, we will review the most important social networks and the implications of using music without the corresponding licenses in each one:
Instagram is nowadays one of the most popular and widely used social networks, through which many users have become famous influencers.
Most people use this platform to upload content on a daily basis, either through photos or videos (usually accompanied by music). Thus, it has become a very restrictive app in terms of copyright.
One thing to keep in mind is that copyright does not work in the same way in stories as it does in the feed or in live feeds. Thus, there are the following limitations:
In the ‘stories‘ you will not have any copyright problem, as there is an option in which you can choose a fragment of the song you like and add it to your image or video without any problem, as it is music coming from Spotify.
As for the publications on the wall or ‘feed‘, we can not say the same, because it is content that has been previously worked and edited, so the app itself recommends using very short fragments and, if possible, that has been modified or is interpreted by the user.
Lastly, the live videos are the ones that cause the most problems, as they usually play a song in the background to liven up the “live” … Which is a big mistake. Instagram’s algorithm detects very easily and quickly the music playing and identifies it as protected by copyright, so it is also suggested – as in the feed – to use short fragments and not the whole song.
Thus, if these rules are not followed, the uploaded content could be affected as follows:
- In the case of a ‘live’, they can be automatically muted or even blocked, although Instagram has recently added a novelty that, in case this protected music is detected, a warning notifies you of the need for it to stop playing or else the ‘live’ will end.
- In the case of publications in the feed, they can be directly deleted if you do not make a reference or mention the author of the song in the description. Still, even if you do the latter, it can also be banned because the original owner of the music does not want it to be used so easily.
Now you know why to be careful when sharing content on Instagram and what you should keep in mind so that your content does not have problems with copyright.
Facebook being the owner of Instagram, presents the same restrictions on copyrighted music.
Like the previous one, if Facebook detects that a video contains music that violates copyright it can:
- Mute the video.
- Automatically remove the video.
- Disable the account if they repeatedly violate the rules.
The recommendations follow the same line: in ‘stories’ there is no problem with the use of music, in publications and ‘live’ you have to use short fragments of song and it is much better to choose to modify the music than to publish it in its original version.
Also, check our specific article about music for Facebook Ads if your goal is to create an ad campaign.
As you can see, it is not so difficult to avoid copyright problems, it is enough to be clear about three key aspects and put them into practice before making a new publication.
Another app that is gaining a lot of ground in recent years is Tik Tok, which also has restrictions on copyrighted music. It is essential to obtain written consent from the author in order to be downloaded, reproduced, transmitted, or distributed. In other words, you must have a license to use music on Tiktok.
Otherwise, you will be notified in advance to take responsibility for the removal of the video in question or to provide proof that the content you have posted is your own.
YouTube, the platform with the most multimedia content, is accessed daily by millions of people, which makes it no surprise that they take copyright very seriously.
On this platform it is mandatory to have a license if you are going to use music that does not belong to you, no matter how short the video is; otherwise, you should create totally unique and original content (both audio and video).
If you include music that does not belong to you on YouTube, you may run the following risks:
- That the audio of the video disappears, because the algorithm -named Content ID– detects that you are using copyrighted material.
- YouTube may place ads on top of your video and take away your right to earn advertising revenue from your video.
- YouTube directly deletes the video.
In addition, after several copyright violations, your account may be suspended and you will not be able to publish new content, thus closing your channel.
After this review, you should be clear about the consequences that you will have to accept in each social network if you decide to use unlicensed music and the recommendations in each of them to avoid these problems.
However, if you are not willing to spend so much time and pay large amounts of money to obtain a license to use well-known music in your projects, you also have the possibility to access (1) Creative Commons licenses or to use (2) Royalty-Free music.
Creative Commons licenses are free and open licenses, in which the author is the one who establishes the limitations for the reproduction, distribution, dissemination and copying of his work.
In general, they do not prohibit reproduction or copying as long as there is no profit motive. The only condition is usually that the credits are cited in the medium where such reproduction is made. For example, if you upload a video to YouTube with a song in the background, you must attribute or mention the author of the song in the description of your video.
There are 6 different Creative Commons licenses depending on a number of conditions, which we explain in more detail in this article.
However, there are several drawbacks to Creative Commons licenses:
- Limitations and time invested in “research”. Since it is the authors themselves who decide what restrictions the licenses have, you may find a song that fits perfectly with your project but, due to the limitations of the license, you cannot use it for the purpose you want. Thus, you will have to spend a lot of time researching which license best suits the song you want and for what purpose you want to use it.
- At any time and without notice, the license conditions may change. Authors can choose to change the license conditions, so, using the example above, if you decided to publish a video with background music on YouTube because the license allowed it, you may be surprised to find that two months later the license has changed and prohibits it.
- Three of the six licenses offered by Creative Commons do not allow songs to be used for commercial purposes.
- Some of the licenses prohibit modifying the original song, i.e. if the song has vocals, you cannot choose, for example, to download it as an instrumental.
That is why most content creators and companies opt for the next option, royalty-free music.
Royalty-free music is another type of license, independent of the previous ones, which is characterized by not having to pay royalties but paying only once, being able to use the song as many times as you want.
Here is a clear example:
Imagine that you use a song that is protected by copyright to advertise on television the new bakery you are going to open soon. The more times this advertisement is seen, the more royalties you will have to pay; likewise, you will only be able to use the song for a certain period of time, previously agreed with the owner of the rights.
With royalty-free music, this does not happen. You will pay at the moment you acquire the license and you will not have to worry about the number of visualizations or the time of use.
Thus, it is logical that most companies, influencers, and freelancers turn to this type of license when it comes to getting music for their projects, commercials or videos.
If you search the Internet for the term “royalty-free music”, dozens of platforms appear that offer it. However, you have to be careful, because many sites that offer royalty-free music do not include all the economic rights of their songs and do not warn about it beforehand.
This would be a complicated situation for you for several reasons:
- You will have to pay separately for the rights that the license does not include. This adds an extra cost, and you will also have to go through the cumbersome process of acquiring licenses.
- You risk your content or your clients’ content being reclaimed, muted or blocked for not respecting copyright.
This can lead to difficulties for marketing agencies or freelancers who produce content for their clients, as they can face copyright claims from different social networks.
When it comes to YouTube, videos are often removed as a “precaution” when copyrighted content is detected, generating a serious delay in publication deadlines and thus creating a negative impact on marketing strategies.
However, there is a solution to this problem and that is to use royalty-free music that is under a so-called direct license. Simply explained, it is the one that covers all the necessary rights. This allows the possibility to use the music in your videos – or those of your clients – and publish them without any fear of penalties.
Using royalty-free music through direct licensing gives you absolute freedom to use it in your videos and distribute them on any platform and in any country in the world.
This is where Epidemic Sound appears as a protagonist, the only platform that has this licensing model, constituting the custom music solution for companies, agencies and freelancers.
This company is currently one of the best-positioned stock music platforms in the music licensing industry, and worldwide known companies such as Nike or Coca-Cola, as well as most YouTubers and influencers use it.
Now, this success is due to the fact that Epidemic Sound has the simplest music licensing in the industry – the previously named direct licensing – and that it is a company very focused on their clients.
So, if you decide to sign up for a plan with them, you can be sure that they will keep you updated on any legal changes in the territory in which you reside and, as a company, you can even choose to have a manager in their own team to help you clean up your content from possible copyright claims.
The ideal music solution for agencies and freelancers
For this reason, Epidemic Sound has decided to create a perfect tool to avoid copyright claims, called “clear videos“.
Through “clear videos”, it seeks, literally, to clean your videos -or those of your clients- from copyright claims to avoid the whole process of justifying the use of the music afterward.
This is achieved very easily: once you have an account in Epidemic Sound with the ‘Commercial Plan’ (which we will talk about later) purchased, in your dashboard, you must add to the “clear videos” section the exact URL of the video that you or your client has uploaded to YouTube. And you won’t have to worry about anything else.
However, Epidemic Sound decided to go a step further to make it even easier for content creators and agencies, who typically face two main problems:
- Their end clients often publish the videos without having previously provided the links to the agencies to add them to the “clear videos” option. This results in them having to deal with copyright claims and a lot of wasted time.
- They have to serve too many clients at the same time, so having to add links to this option one by one is a major workload.
So wouldn’t it be much more efficient and easier for both parties, end clients and agencies or freelancers, if each client could clean up their own videos?
As a solution, there are so-called “clearing invitations“, whereby any user of the commercial plan can send individual invitations to their clients to participate in the platform so that they can take care of cleaning up their videos themselves.
Like “clear videos”, “clearing invitations” are very easy to access. In this article, we explain step by step how to do it.
As we said, to use these tools you need to be subscribed to Epidemic Sound’s Commercial plan. However, there is also a “personal plan”.
Below, we will talk about each of them:
Epidemic Sound ‘Commercial’ Plan: for companies, agencies and freelancers.
Created specifically for freelancers and marketing agencies. With it, you can publish content on any online platform, podcasts and social networks. However, commercial streaming services such as Netflix are not included.
One of the great advantages is that you can use the music in the way you want: just the voice or just instrumental; or you can also cut and select the scrubbing you want and need, all automatically from its own platform, without having to use external sound editors.
To all of this, we must add the possibility of using the music in digital ads, such as Google Ads, Instagram Ads, or Youtube Ads, or any marketing or promotion of a company.
Thus, the main advantages of this plan are:
- Unlimited monthly music downloads.
- All rights included.
- Possibility of using the music in online ads.
- Possibility to ‘clean’ client videos from copyright claims.
- Personalized music recommendations.
How much does it cost?
You have two options: monthly payment or annual payment in advance. If you decide to choose the first one, you will have to pay 49€ monthly.
However, if you choose the annual payment, the price is reduced to 25€ per month, for a total of 299€ per year, so you have a saving of almost 50% on the final price.
Epidemic Sound ‘Personal’ plan: for content creators and influencers.
If you are a YouTuber, influencer or content creator as a hobby, this plan is ideal for you, regardless of the audience reach you have or how big your channels are.
If you purchase this plan, you will be able to use Epidemic Sound’s music on your own YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Tik Tok and podcast platforms.
As with the previous one, the music can be used in any way you want, with no editing restrictions. And, as a key aspect, the music can be included in sponsored content on your own channels (but not on third-party websites).
Thus, the advantages of this personal plan are:
- Unlimited monthly song downloads.
- Use of the music in social networks and podcasts.
- No matter the number of followers and visits.
- Includes monetization.
It is good to add that, if at any time you decide to cancel your subscription, there will be no copyright problems or claims with the videos or content you have already uploaded up to that very moment.
What is the price?
You have the same options as in the commercial plan: monthly or annual payment in advance.
With the monthly payment, you will have to pay €13 per month, while with the annual payment, this price is reduced to €10 per month, for a total of €120 per year.
In this article, we intend to clarify the problems that you as a content creator, company or marketing agency -as well as your clients-, may face if you do not know the importance of music licenses and copyrights.
Thus, we have been explaining the restrictions that each social network establishes regarding the use of music in videos and the consequences of using it without the necessary licenses.
To avoid complications, there are two options: Creative Commons (free and free licenses) or Royalty-Free music. Within the latter, the so-called direct license stands out, with which all the necessary rights are covered: production, distribution, editing… avoiding the risk of penalties.
Epidemic Sound is the platform that stands out in the industry for being the only one that offers this direct license, allowing freelancers and marketing agencies to hire their ‘Commercial’ plan and save time and avoid difficulties when their clients publish any content online.
We hope that all the information we have provided you with has been very useful and that, from now on, you will have the necessary tools to add music to your audiovisual projects in a safe way.