Music is an incredibly powerful tool in the video making process. It enables filmmakers to create an atmosphere and tell their audience should be feeling when watching their movies. Technically speaking, it’s never been easier to find, download and add music to these creations. However, a lot of confusion still seems to exist around this process. Even more confusion seems to exist around what is legal and also what is best practice when integrating music with video.
The vast majority of the world’s music and audio libraries are subject to some kind of legal protection. These rules often alter depending on whether videos are being made for personal or commercial purposes. As a simple rule of thumb, unless the music intended for use comes with a disclaimer explicitly stating otherwise, then at a minimum, you must credit the artist who’s music you are using and also state the copyright attribution where applicable.
Thankfully, the worlds biggest video platforms, YouTube and Facebook, are making it easier and easier to figure out when it’s ok to use third party owned music, when it is not ok and what the consequences are when these rules are breached. Both platforms now also offer free music resources for creators.
YouTube’s music collection is known as the YouTube Audio Library and can be accessed here. Caveat: Use of some of their tunes, e.g. any created by Kevin McCloud, require the video producer to credit the artist while some do not. Facebook’s version is know as its Sound Collection and can be accessed here. These are both really great resources to have access to but it’s worth noting the terms and conditions of both platforms. These can be found here for YouTube and here for Facebook.
If you’re planning on publishing your videos natively on both platforms then it’s worth noting that you will not be able to use the music downloaded from one platform on the other. In other words, if you use music from the Facebook Sound Collection in a video then you will only have permission to use this music on videos posted to Facebook. Equally, if you use music from YouTube’s Audio Library, then you’ll only have permission to use this music on videos posted to YouTube.
Facebook and Universal Music also announced an exciting collaboration which will be a real boon for social media video producers. The deal opens up Universal’s entire music library to creators sharing video content with friends and family on on the Facebook, Instagram and Oculus platforms. It’s not entirely clear how this deal will effect people creating commercial video content for these platforms but you can read more information about this deal here.
Although the nuts and bolts of how YouTube deal with artists isn’t laid out quite so clearly, it seems that it is possible to use a lot of commercial music in YouTube videos subject to quite a variable list of t’s & c’s. YouTube provide this useful resource to help you check individual tracks here. In some instances music tracks can be used with the only issue being that ads will start to appear next to your videos when that music is used. In other instances your video may become muted or blocked entirely in certain regions when certain tracks are used.
Another option to sourcing music for your videos is to search for interesting new artists on SoundCloud. Many creators on SoundCloud are happy for YouTuber’s to use their music once they are credited and the music is not being used by brands or for commercial purposes. Many of the world’s biggest YouTubers, e.g, Casey Neistat, source their beats this way and in turn have pushed great traffic in direction of artists on that platform.
If you do want to want to use music from SoundCloud for commercial purposes then it’s advisable to contact the producers directly to figure out a deal for this type of usage. It’s worth noting that much of the music on SoundCloud is covered by Creative Commons licensing agreements. This means that you must attribute the appropriate license type if you intend to use this music — even if you have the artists permission to use it.
The final option for sourcing music if to make friends with up and coming artists. Collaborations are always good ways to get increased eyeballs on videos especially if both parties (video and music producers) have large, engaged followings. From a creative point of view it’s always important to find your own style too so being able to source and share fresh new music can only add value to your video productions.
This is by no means a fully comprehensive guide to sourcing music online nor does it cover all the legal rules or terms and conditions. Hopefully it does provide a nice resource to help you start the process of figuring out the best way of sourcing and using music for your videos.
None of the platforms mentioned make it entirely clear the legal implications of using music for commercial purposes either so if in doubt do seek the advice and assistance of an appropriately qualified legal professional!
Got any top tips for sourcing music for social media videos? Let me know in the comments or message me directly here!