Royalty-Free Music: What is It and Why You Need It

by • June 11, 2021 • MusicComments (0)180

Anyone with even a passing interest in film or TV productions will know just how key a role the soundtrack, or score, plays in the overall finished product. It’s very much a crucial element of the production and not one you can allow yourself to take a back seat in the overall process.With the amount of film and TV projects being put together, either professional, semi-professionally or for amateur or student assignments, growing at breakneck speed, there has been a knock-on effect on the soundtrack side of things.

There are many ways to secure a great soundtrack that works seamlessly with your visuals, but in truth, many of the options available are either incredibly costly or require a great deal of work to secure.

Music Licensing Explained

Now clearly, if one of the major studios finances your film project or you have a near limitless budget, you can attempt to put together a soundtrack made up of a great new score, perhaps with the help of Hans Zimmer or Howard Shore. 

Then to top it off, you can look to pepper your movie with great tracks suitable for the era of the piece. Perhaps go for a Quentin Tarantino-style soundtrack, spending millions to clear the tracks. That’s, of course, if you manage to get the permission to do so…

Basically, this path isn’t likely to be one you can walk down, so what’s the alternative? 

You can look to use copyright-free music; this is essentially music that is either free for use or music that requires a one-off payment for use on whatever project you need it for.

The term ‘copyright-free music’, when used correctly, refers to music that is available for use for one of two reasons.

First, you have what is known as music available in the public domain. This subsection covers a very small amount of musical output and isn’t likely to fit all projects as it’s usually associated with music that is at least 85 years old.

Then you have music without copyright, but this tends to cover music of lesser quality. All in all, the music you can find in these two genres is minimal, and you’d have to search for a very long time to find anything remotely relevant to a project in 2021.

Royalty-Free Music Is the Answer

As we’ve outlined that mainstream music is too expensive and music without copyright is too limited, then let us explain why royalty-free music is an avenue that is the best of all worlds.

Royalty-free music is music that is available for a one-off fee, usually as part of a subscription payment to an overall provider. These sites – and there are many top-quality players in this burgeoning field – bring you massive databases of musical output that you can search through with ease to find just what you were looking for.

These sites host music from talented musicians, artists and bands, covering all genres and musical styles, and you are left with the delightfully painful task of having too much great music to select from.

The acts that use these services receive payment from the providers, and perhaps more importantly, exposure, and you get a massive supply of great music to try out. 

The interfaces offered by the best in the industry are very intuitive. You and your editor can sit down and roll through the many tracks, samples and effects (did we mention the sound effects? You can also find SFX here) until you find precisely what suits the scene and your film and video projects as a whole.

Peace of Mind

A big fear with many who put together film and TV productions and those who are simply making content for their social channels is the possibility of being punished for using music that you don’t have a license for.Even if you believe you are free to use a piece of music, perhaps because you think it’s in the public domain, you can still find yourself being hit with a copyright notice. This can lead to criminal proceedings, and in the case of social media usage, the likely deletion of your accounts without any real due process.

Therefore, many people who use royalty-free music find that one of the biggest bonuses is that you don’t have to deal with the headache of not knowing if you’ve broken a copyright license. 

Because royalty-free music is cleared for use, and you have the proof for this from the provider, you can then use the content without fear of being penalized or sanctioned in the distant future.

This will leave you free to concentrate fully on the creative process entailed in making the best production you can make, rather than worrying about bureaucracy and red-tape.

Photo by Nainoa Shizuru on Unsplash

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