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Royalty-Free Music VS Direct Licensing

Published on | Updated on | 13 min reading time
Royalty-Free Music VS Direct Licensing

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.

When looking for music for any audiovisual project, the first thing to consider is copyright.

In a nutshell, copyright is the legal means of protecting an author’s music, providing them the exclusive intellectual property rights to their songs.

It is not necessary to purchase all the rights to use copyrighted songs.

In fact, some rights are legally impossible to buy.

Instead, music licenses are provided according to the intended use of the song.

However, there are several problems associated with this option, for example:

  • The need to negotiate with many intermediaries (the author, the record label, the different PROs)
  • Its high cost.
  • The complexity of the process to acquire all the necessary licenses.

That is why content creators prefer to choose other ways to get background music for their videos, such as royalty-free music.

We will talk about it shortly, but we can tell you that it is much cheaper music, faster to get, and easier to license.

However, speaking of licenses, the vast majority of platforms that provide them do not have a so-called direct license: the music license that protects you against any copyright claim.

That is not a big risk, since claims are managed on the recording side, but it’s always better to be completely safe, as every country has its own local legislation in regard to this matter.

If you want to have total peace of mind with music in your videos, the best platform with direct license music is Epidemic Sound.

ServiceTypePricesMore Info
Epidemic SoundSubscriptionFrom $15,00 / month

Want more information about direct licensing?

Want to know how to avoid copyright claims for good?

In that case, stick around until the end because we will explain everything you need to know about royalty-free music and direct licensing in this article.

Royalty-free means a licensee can use a work without owning the copyright or paying royalties on a per-use basis.

Copyright-free means the copyright itself has expired or a second party has acquired the right to use that work.

These two terms are used interchangeably, but the fact of the matter is that they couldn’t be any more different. derechos de autor españa precio

Copyrights and royalties cover two different concepts.

A copyright protects a licensor that charges a royalty to use intellectual property.

Usually, Royalty-free music is purchased only once and can be used as many times as you want -following the terms of the license-.

To help you understand the difference, here is an example:

Imagine you want to use copyrighted music on your YouTube channel. The fee you need to pay is not fixed and depends on many factors, such as the number of plays your video has or the number of subscribers to your channel.

It would also be of limited use: you would only be able to use the song for a certain period, agreed previously in the license. In other words, the more times the song appeared or, the longer you could use it, the more money you would pay in royalties to the owner of the rights.

On the other hand, with Royalty-Free music, usually -but not always- you would pay a fixed price for the license, instead of having a variable fee over time that can depend on your views or subscribers, for example.

After this example, you will better understand that:

“Royalty-free music = Music free of royalty payments.”

It is also important to remember that:

The term “royalty-free” refers to the license under which the music is obtained, not the music itself.

Now, we have mentioned the word “license” several times, but what is a license?

What are music licenses?

A music license is a legal permission, a type of agreement that allows the use of a song for a specific purpose and for some time. solicitar content id youtube

It says, among other things, what you can and cannot do with the music track, and what rights are covered by the license.

That is why, depending on the use of the song, you will need one or more types of music licenses , among which are the following:

  • Sync License.
  • Master License.
  • Public Performance License.
  • Mechanical License.
  • Print License.
  • Theatrical License.

Note: you don’t need all of them to use a song in your projects.

But it is essential to know them and know which ones you need to be protected in each case.

For example, if you use a copyrighted song in a YouTube video, you would only need the sync license, the master license, and the public performance license.

When using royalty-free music obtained from online platforms, you will also need the same licenses.

However, there is a common problem that you should be aware of before choosing one of these music platforms.

The problem of royalty-free music licenses

When looking for royalty-free music on the Internet, you come across many platforms that offer it.

However, not all platforms include the licenses mentioned above -synchronization license, master license, and public performance license-.

The vast majority of platforms do not own all the economic rights to the music in their catalog.

They only include the sync and master rights but rarely cover the public performance rights.

This fact can leave the end-users in a delicate situation, where they expose themselves to getting copyright claims, their content muted, blocked, or even taken down. In most cases, when the users subscribe to a music platform, they do not even know that they might have to purchase an additional license.

This is not a huge risk, as claims are managed on the recording side, but it can still happen. To avoid any inconvenience for sure, direct licensing exists.

What is direct licensing?

Simply put, a straightforward music license covers all the necessary rights – including public performance rights – so you can use the music in your content.

This way, you can be sure that you are 100% covered against copyright claims, muted videos, blocked profiles, and other 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.

But where can you find royalty-free music through direct licenses?

Epidemic Sound, the best directly-licensed platform

Epidemic Sound is one of the only platforms with direct licensing for its entire music catalog.

This Swedish company, a reference in the sector since its creation in 2009, has more than 12 years of experience offering quality music for audiovisual projects.

Its music library, constantly expanding, is one of the largest you can find on the Internet.

They have more than 90,000 sound effects and more than 35,000 music tracks, all of them created by the best independent artists. musica para instagram ads

And of course, all of them are licensed directly.

Epidemic Sound also has tools that will allow you to find the perfect music for your project in record time, so let’s review them:

Epidemic Sound special tools

  • Find Similar allows you to save time by finding music tracks similar to those you have previously liked.
  • Stems let you develop your creativity by removing various sound elements from a music track, including vocals.
  • Personal Recommendations. Read more here about them.

You will also have other useful tools at your disposal, such as ‘Clear Videos’, the perfect complement to your direct license.

With this option, you will be able to avoid any type of copyright claim, either present or future, for your projects or those of your clients.

You only have to add the links of your clients’ audiovisual works to the platform, and Epidemic Sound will take care of ‘clearing’ their videos from potential claims. musica para yoga maestro yoga del mar

Of course, you should know that ‘Clearing Invitations’ is only available in Epidemic Sound’s commercial plan.

Epidemic Sound Subscription Plans

The commercial plan is only one of the three plans available on the platform: Epidemic Sound pricing

  • The Personal Plan is dedicated to content creators or podcasters whose pieces are for their own use.
  • The Commercial Plan proposes a solution for freelancers and companies whose projects are commercial in nature.
  • The Enterprise Plan is focused on media, publishers, or broadcasters who need a customized solution.

Choose the one that best suits your needs and enjoy the best music with a direct license.

How does Epidemic Sound direct licensing work?

Now that you know more about the platform let’s see how its direct license works.

For a platform to provide a direct music license, it must first acquire all the rights to the music it provides.

As we said earlier, most platforms do not have all the rights because they do not have 100% exclusive music like Epidemic Sound.

Therefore they can only provide sync and master rights, but not public performance rights.

Epidemic Sound can provide you with all musical rights.

musica de tiktok sin copyrightAnd the reason for this is straightforward: they are the sole owners of all financial rights to their entire music catalog.

Thus, you can use all their music in your content without paying more money by acquiring additional licenses.

Now, to be 100% protected with the direct license, you must follow these three simple steps.

At Epidemic Sound, it is very easy to avoid copyright claims. Once you are subscribed to the platform:

  1. Log in to Epidemic Sound.
  2. Click on “Me” > “Account” > “Subscriptions”.
  3. Add the links to your social platforms.

And that’s it!

No small print, no time wasted in absurd procedures, no additional costs by acquiring licenses outside the platform.

In fact, the steps are so simple that they fit in a single image. direct licensing hub epidemic sound

It is worth saying that the supported platforms are YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitch, and Podcast, and you will only be able to add one link per platform.

It is also important to mention that the content with Epidemic Sound music will be free of claims forever while:

  • You add the links to the platforms in your profile.
  • You keep the subscription active. Although you must know that your already-uploaded videos will be cleared forever, even if you cancel your subscription.
  • As long as you upload a video during the time you have an active subscription, your content will be cleared.

Otherwise, Epidemic Sound will not be able to recognize you as a user, and therefore you will be at risk of receiving copyright claims.


Getting quality music and legally using it in your projects doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process.

However, if you don’t want any unpleasant surprises or additional costs, it’s better not to choose a random platform to download your music.

You already know that the vast majority of them do not have a direct license, which is what you need to have total peace of mind and avoid copyright claims. Instalación de componentes de sistema de sonido comercial

Choose Epidemic Sound, which is one of the only platforms with royalty-free music and direct licenses.

This way, you are 100% assured that you have full rights to the music you use.

Besides, you’ve already seen all the additional features the platform offers you and how easy it is to protect your content: just add your social profiles on your user panel, and that’s it!

You can read more about Direct licensing on their blog .

Avoid unnecessary complications and check out Epidemic Sound.

FAQ. Frequently asked questions about royalty-free music and direct licenses

Still have unanswered questions? Find the answers you need in the list below.

  • What is a royalty-free license?

When we speak of a royalty-free license, in most cases, we are referring to permission to use a particular song that is not copyrighted.

These may be free licenses such as public domain background music or Creative Commons licenses .

However, the most commonly used ones usually have an economic cost: it can be a one-time fee for that song or a monthly or annual subscription to a platform.

A royalty-free license is a fee paid for permission to use a song.

When you buy the song royalty-free, you usually get an invoice as well as a certificate stating that you can use it legally.

In that case, if you receive a copyright claim in error, you can prove that you are legally using the music.

  • Can I use royalty-free music on YouTube and other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitch?

Yes, of course, you can use copyright-free music on YouTube and all other platforms.

In fact, if you want more information, we have articles that explain everything you need to know about:

No, it is not.

We are aware that this sort of urban legend has spread about the possibility of using 30 seconds of copyrighted music.

But this is not legal and can lead to severe problems.

To date, no law mentions the legal use of a certain amount of seconds about copyrighted music.

In conclusion: using 30 seconds of copyrighted music without paying for it is considered an infringement.

But you can avoid these problems using royalty-free music .

  • What are the benefits of direct licensing for artists?

The traditional music industry doesn’t always benefit the people at the center of it – the music creators.

It is an industry that is characterized by lagging, and often low, royalties, and it is hard to predict if a track will be successful or not.

For many music creators, it is hard to make a living in music.

Music licensing platforms like Epidemic Sound help solve this problem.

They have made this possible through their rights model, which is based on the premise of them being the sole owner of the financial rights of their music.

Epidemic Sound’s model offers a predictable and financially stable way for music creators to make a living in music, whilst at the same time ensuring that they get a share of the upside.

As part of this, they pay their music creators upfront.

Furthermore, they offer 50% of all streaming royalties collected, both now and in the future, even if the artist or composer does not collaborate with the platform anymore.

They also have a bonus system on top of that, connected to the popularity of the music amongst its video creators.

This way enables music creators to spend time doing what they love most: creating new music.

You can read more about how Epidemic Sound work with their artists here .

  • What are the benefits of direct licensing for content creators?

Music licensing is arguably one of the biggest headaches for content creators.

The complexity of the licensing process, coupled with the fine print of the licenses, means that many creators break the law without even knowing it.

Epidemic Sound’s direct license solves this problem at its root.

This license provides the creator with all the musical rights they need to avoid copyright infringement.

Why you can trust Legis Music

  • We offer comprehensive and expertly information about music licensing since 2016.

  • The website regularly updates its content to reflect the latest changes in music law, ensuring accurate information.

  • Our dedication to clarity and accuracy in explaining music rights and licensing issues builds trust among musicians, producers, and clients.

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