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Royalty Free Music: Full Researched Guide

Royalty Free Music: Full Researched Guide

WRITTEN BY : Paul Keane

Musical plagiarism is quite common. To verify this, it is enough to turn to search engines. On request "plagiarism in music" the Internet gives out a huge number of articles: "Adele has stolen Tom Waits’ greeting song"; Flame Rappers are accusing Katy Perry not only of plagiarism, but also of witchcraft; "Belgian composer Salvatore Aquaviva is suing Madonna."


Before copyright law appearance at the end of the 18th century, the status of the music was extremely blurred. And even after, the use of someone else's musical compositions did not carry any serious sanctions, except perhaps the condemnation of the public. The process of public awareness that music is a product that has its own brand and, accordingly, must be protected by law, took many years.


In the end, in the 20th century, this process finally took its final form. But already in the middle of the 20th century, even a couple of seconds of using an instrumental or vocal part would be enough to start a criminal investigation.


The advent of the Internet has given a new round to the development of this situation. From now on, neither musicians nor copyright holders in the form of multimedia corporations could guarantee that music would not be distributed free of charge on the Internet. Remember the Metallica vs Napster scandal? And the plums of Eminem's album before the official release?


As of 2020, the situation has already settled down. Today, even on the Internet, musical goods are distributed within the legal framework and illegal use is punishable by law. It was in such a situation that the royalty-free music industry began to take hold and develop.   


What is royalty-free music? What happens if you use music without a permit? Please check our short video to find the answer. 





What music has no copyright?



Music without copyright doesn’t exist. Any musical composition has an author who owns the copyright for it. Copyright is the ownership of a particular work of art, in this case we're talking about music. It belongs separately to the author of the words and separately to the author of the music. But besides this, there are also related rights. A related law is the right of a person who did not directly compose music or lyrics, but helped to translate the authors' idea into reality. Neighboring rights belong separately to the performer of the song and separately to the producer of the phonogram.


But copyright and related rights do have a validity period. When it expires, the piece goes into the public domain, because if you create music, you already own it, whether you like it or not. This is why there is no need to include it in any recording: copyright is automatically born with the work.


For copyright it is 70 years from the death of the author, for related rights it is 50 years from the creation of the recording. And this is where the nuances come in. Let's say 70 years have passed since Bach's death. The copyright does not spread. But there are related rights of the performer and the producer of the phonogram. The recording of Bach’s work performed by the Royal Chorus was made in 2020.


The related rights to it will only cease to apply in 2070. Until then, the institution must pay the holders of related rights: the orchestra and the label. If it doesn't pay, it's a violation. So, the only 100% way not to pay for old music is to take a record issued 50 years ago and have the author of the music die 70 years ago, too.




What is copyright-free music?



Non-copyright (or "royalty free") music refers to the type of music for which the customer pays only once, and then can use it as many times as the type of license they have chosen. It is also worth noting that there is a free license.


All these can often be misleading. But the truth is simple. The opposite of non-copyrighted music is one which has rights, where additional royalties are paid to the copyright holder. The amount of these payments depends on the amount of use and the size of the territory in which the song will be played. With this type of license, you will have to pay royalties every time you decide to use such music. 





We must warn you in advance: Copyright-free music is not free! It is only exempt from royalties to the copyright holder. When you buy such music, you're only buying the right to use it under your chosen license, not the song itself.


It is worth noting that there is free music without any rights. It is suitable for personal projects, but its quality leaves much to be desired. But for users with a minimal budget copyright-free music is the ideal solution. For a fairly low price of about $8 per track, users can greatly transform their projects with high-quality music from professionals.


This is a good solution for video bloggers who are looking for unique music backdrops for their videos, and larger video content production companies will be able to bring any project to life with the help of quality music. Often, the cost of such music varies with the type of license. For example, a personal license costs less than a commercial license.


What licenses exist and what you need to know about them in order not to “get caught”? 


Copyright-free music is attractive to those who need to find an audio track to monetize a YouTube video or for other commercial purposes. But, in fact, there is no such thing as copyright-free music, because if an audio track exists, then someone wrote it. So, the author can claim his rights. To prevent this from happening, you need to understand the licenses and terms of use of the music.


Royalty-Free, Creative Commons (CC), and Public Domain are the clue terms to look for when searching for background music. These are the terms that indicate that an audio track can be used legally. Remember this or write it down somewhere so that you always know what to look for and not to fall for the tricks of scammers.







This type of license agreement allows you to use the music for commercial purposes an unlimited number of times. In order to get this option, you need to pay a one-time license fee.


Important: The presence of the coveted word "free" in the license name is deceptive. Many people think that this is free music, but it is not. The word "free" refers only to royalties - regular payments for the use of the song. The track itself costs money.




  • ● Lack of negotiations with musicians and their representatives.

  • ● Clear license collaboration.

  • ● Possibility of commercial and non-commercial use.

  • ● The ability to purchase music for an unlimited period of time.

  • ● Huge selection of online libraries with hundreds of thousands of tracks in a wide variety of genres.

  • ● Relative cheapness.


There are many pluses and you will understand it when you experience it for yourself. However, as elsewhere, there are a couple of drawbacks.




  • ● Almost complete lack of opportunity to purchase a song of any super-famous artist (for this, you still need to communicate with their representatives).

  • ● The huge competition between online libraries, which makes it difficult to find the "ideal" collaboration.

  • ● Full commercial use can often still include some reporting.




Public Domain



On the off chance that a piece of music isn't secured by copyright or the copyright has lapsed, it becomes in the public space. There are likewise circumstances where a creator purposely places his music in the public area. For this situation, the work is doled out a CC0 permission. 




  • ● music tracks are completely free;

  • ● no restrictions (music can be used by anyone for any purpose as many times as needed).




  • ● This type of license applies only to the sheet music, not to the sound recording (to use a copyrighted sound recording, you must have permission from the copyright holder or play the song yourself);

  • ● limited choice (music pieces with expired copyright may not fit the concept of the video, i.e. be insufficiently modern).




Creative Commons



The nonprofit organization Creative Commons (hereinafter referred to as CC) emerged in response to the restrictions that prevented people from freely using music on the Internet. It is thanks to the appearance of CC licenses now anyone can copy, distribute and use music for free at their own discretion. To do this, it is not necessary to personally contact the author, because he himself has already given permission.


The terms of use of the music in the CC licenses are spelled out in the title. You don't need to be a lawyer or read the entire text of the license agreement to decipher them. There are four CC conditions and six types of licenses. Each license is a specific combination of conditions.





Here are 3 types of licenses that allow you to freely take music for scoring a YouTube video:






Creative Commons license terms and conditions



1. BY. This is a free license that allows you to download an audio track, use it for commercial purposes, distribute it, modify it, or take it as the basis for other works. It is mandatory to specify the author of the music.



2. BY-SA. The terms of distribution and use of music content are the same as in the previous license. The difference is that derivative musical works (that is, those based on the original) must be distributed under the condition of copyleft. (Copyleft is a license that allows, without the consent of the author, to take the original work to create derivative works on its basis. In this case, derivative works must be distributed with the observance of the same rights that were established by the author of the original work.)


3. BY-ND. Permission is granted to distribute and use the music for commercial purposes. It is forbidden to modify the music content and create derivative works based on it.


The remaining 3 types of CC licenses are not free because they prohibit the commercial use of musical works. These licenses include:


1. BY-NC. Music may be distributed, edited, and used as the basis for new works. Commercial use is not allowed.



2. BY-NC-SA. The terms of use for the music are the same as in the previous license. But if the audio track will serve as the basis for creating other music content, the new music must be distributed under the same license.


3. BY-NC-ND. This license has the strictest restrictions. Music can only be downloaded and shared with others. It is forbidden to make any modifications to the work and use it for commercial purposes.


The ban on commercial use of music makes it inaccessible to those who want to make it the background of a YouTube video (provided it is monetized or intended for business).


It is simply a classification like any other one you could choose. On the other hand, the letter C means the following:





So, don't get excited about a service with a large archive of music protected by the CC license. Not all of the content is available for use in videos. You can be convinced of this by visiting the same YouTube music library. When checking audio tracks as standard, it is not uncommon to encounter bans.




Royalty-free music's role in business



Royalty free music for business



However, one should not think that royalty-free music is a new way to deceive snickering musicians. Not at all. Royalty-free music is an outlet, it is an option that suits everyone. And telling "everyone", we, first of all, mean the copyright holders themselves and those who want to use music for their business purposes.


Royalty-free means that a businessman does not need to contact and make deals with musicians, corporations or their representatives. All they need is to issue one subscription and continue to use the music for their intended purpose, without additional fees, income statements, and other things. So, for what purpose can a business use royalty-free music?


Well, first of all, it is important to understand that video content is the main marketing tool of our time. Forget about boring contextual advertising and email campaigns. Video is where you need to invest these days. And how to make the video more unique and memorable? That's right, using music.


Presentations, videos, marketing campaigns, promotional videos, ads on YouTube, on blogs - all these are just the banalest areas in which you need music. Forget about boring voice-over on the background of changing pictures, a skilled marketer will make a real masterpiece from your promotional video.


But, like everywhere else, there are pitfalls here.




Royalty-free music: most common myths and questions



Questions about royalty-free music



In this section, we will finally try to dispel all the most common myths and mistakes associated with the incorrect interpretation of the royalty-free concept. After all, people often confuse it with terms such as copyright-free, stock music and more. Let's get started.


Well, first of all, royalty-free music is not free. Royalty-free means only that you can purchase music with a one-time payment and use it at your discretion. But you still need to pay for the license. However, this does not negate the situation when a composer can allow people to use his/her music absolutely free.


Further, royalty-free music is not the same as non-copyright or copyright-free music. In fact, the last two terms do not exist in nature. There is copyright, a term denoting that the rights of owners exist for this product. From the moment the music was created, the author becomes a copyright holder, whether he wants it or not. The copyright holder may not be worried about his creation and give out "copyrights" to anyone for free, but he doesn't cease to be a copyright holder. Therefore, there is no such thing as non-copyright music. The differences with royalty-free music in this context are obvious. For more information about copyrights, you can follow this link.


Finally, royalty-free music is not stock music. Often, the last concept causes people a rejection because the word "stock" implies something that has been used, has low-quality, or useless to anyone. It's not like that at all. Stock music is a work created without any specific purpose, such as for a movie, video, or TV show. Such music is downloaded to the online stock music libraries, and distributed according to the royalty-free principle. But not everyone does that. Some online libraries distribute music according to the Rights Managed model or else.


In the end, we would like to dispel a whole range of popular beliefs that royalty-free music is cheap works of low quality. In online libraries, you can find the music of any quality, from terrible to real masterpieces that you will hear first. The quality of the music also depends on the quality of the site. A poor online platform will provide less quality music, we think it's obvious. As for cheapness, everything here is not so simple either. It all depends on the type of license, as well as on how long and for what activities you purchase music. You can find licenses starting at $5 and ending at $700.




How do I know if a song is royalty free? 



Recently online music copyright verification service eProves has launched. There in just one click, you can check the song of your choice and even get the lyrics to indicate the author. According to the developers, their site is already used by 100,000 people.




  • ● 99.8% finding accuracy

  • ● Finds remixes, covers, music under filters

  • ● There is an indication of the author

  • ● Checking takes less than 15 seconds




  • ● Doesn't show in which country the video will be blocked


How to use



  1. ● Visit the website. In the search box, enter the title or link to the video of the song.

  2. ● We get the result in 15 seconds

  3. ● If the composition is copyright-free or it has a CC license, you are free to use and monetize it on your own channel. To do this, click the "Copy" button and paste the lyrics into the description below the video. These actions will help you avoid a complaint from the copyright owner in the future




Where to find the best royalty-free music?



Having read up to that point, you can give an answer to this question yourself. Royalty-free music can be found on special online platforms. However, it is important to be able to distinguish good platforms storing quality works from cheap scammers. The fundamental criteria here are the general appearance and the UI\UX of the site, the presence of a variety of licenses, a convenient search for tags, genres, goals, and moods and a large selection of compositions.


Here at TakeTones, there is everything we talked about - a convenient interface and agile search engine, which allows you to configure your query as accurately as possible. In addition, you are offered 5 licenses, including Creative Commons, and a huge selection of tracks for every taste and mood. We can guarantee you that at Taketones royalty free music you can find music for any mission.


Alternatively, you can contact the copyright holder directly. It is possible that the copyright holder will give permission for free use of music for non-commercial purposes.




Royalty-free music's future in the digital world 



the future of royalty-free music



The future is bright. Online platforms providing royalty-free music are becoming more popular every day. Indeed, with the role video content begins to play in the life of almost any business, music becomes an important factor in determining your success.


The variability of the use of such music in the modern digital world is hard to imagine. And if today it is a banal musical accompaniment for your marketing materials, then tomorrow such music can become a separate niche in which entrepreneurs of any scale will invest their money. It's time to get into the topic before the train has left.