Royalty Free Music Is NOT Free Music

Adding music to your video project could be an important factor deciding whether viewers will enjoy it or not. Most creators add some Royalty Free Music track without a second thought just to find out that their video has been violating some copyright laws. Furthermore, in some cases this might result in the removal of the video by the platform, account ban, or even massive lawsuits. So why is it that way? It was written “Royalty Free Music”, doesn’t it mean that this music is free? Well, actually no.

Royalty free music
Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash

What does this Royalty word refer to?

To understand what Royalty Free Music means, you must first understand what is this Royalty thing. And no, these times it doesn’t have anything to do with some king or queen liking or disliking your video. However, the term “Royalty” itself was used to describe tax paid for the King for using his property a few centuries ago.

Nowadays, Royalties are considered to be a percentage or fixed amount of your profit set by a legal contract that you must pay for whoever whos property you are using in your creations. For example, movie studios pay a part of their profit to composers because their music is used in a particular movie. And this is perfectly fine, music composers have to do living after all.

So what does “Royalty Free Music” means?

Royalty free music as you probably guessed is not a subject for any royalty tax that you must pay. However, this does not mean that the music itself is free. I know, it seems complicated at first, but hear me out.

Royalty Free Music effectively is music that you buy a license to use in your creations regardless of how popular and profitable it will be. So for example, you buy a soundtrack for your latest video for let’s say $100. You publish your video and get some amount of views, that could be converted to profit in one way or another. But regardless if this particular video generates you $10 or $10,000 profit, you will not have to pay any more for the creator of the soundtrack that you have used in your creation.

Told you it was simple 🙂

What is Royalty Free Music used for?

Searching for a completely free music track is hard work, trust me. Especially if you want that specific unique sound for your unique video. And even if you do find some tracks that sound close to what you want, they usually lack something unexplainable.

Let’s take YouTube as an example. Most of the big YouTube channels buy their soundtracks from various Royalty Free Music sites like for example Epidemic Sound. This gives them high-quality music for their videos in a short amount of time. However, it usually costs quite a lot. So, if you are just starting on YouTube, you probably do not have that much money in your budget and it is natural if you can’t afford to buy that specific track.  

What to do if I don’t want to pay for Royalty Free Music?

So, you chose to go cheap, right? Don’t worry, it is not a dead-end, you still have some options, so let’s take a look at them.

  • YouTube Audio Library – If you are creating videos for YouTube channel, this is probably your easiest and safest bet. YouTube provides various tracks that creators can use in their videos completely free without worrying about violating copyright laws. It might not have some unique styles of music, but in general there are a lot of high-quality tracks from Country music to EDM. This will be your easiest and fastest way to get some genuinely free music.
  • No Copyright Music Artists – There are a lot of emerging artists that distribute their music for free in the hope to get some attention. You could use their music for your videos but check thoroughly if it is REALLY free to use. Some people just like scamming other people. Also, there might be the case in the future, where the artist decides that they want to monetize their music. In this case you are screwed unless you will buy a license or make other kinds of deal that will allow you to use that track in your video. It will be the same as Royalty Free Music. So, be aware.
  • Asking Nicely – Some artists do not give out their music for free but are willing to let you use some of their tracks in exchange for exposure or some other kind of services, especially if you know them already. So do not be afraid and talk to people. You will be surprised by what simple “Please” can achieve. But of course, you have to take popularity of the artist into account, you can’t expect that someone like Beyoncé will let you use her music for free. So, think before you do.
  • Creating music yourself – If you choose this option, consider a musician’s career instead.
Royalty free music
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The decision

So, you have to decide whether you want to spend some money and save up a lot of time or vice-versa. Of course, it will be most sensible to avoid Royalty Free Music at the very beginning of your video making career, because of budget. But when the count of your viewers will grow, they will expect more content in higher quality. Therefore, it would be a good idea to purchase a subscription plan to some kind of Royalty Free Music distributor. That way you could sacrifice a bit of your profit in order to save you a lot of time in which you could do more interesting stuff.

Also, improving audio quality, in general, is a good idea, so check out these tips on how to choose a microphone. And most importantly do not stop creating. Good luck!

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