Sunday, February 18, 2018

Music Rights Advice For Your Video

March 8, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Special Interest Video Biz

Music rights are not something you want to abuse. Ask Napster! Not only is it against the law to download music you did not purchase, it is also a copyright violation to use it in any kind of video that is promotional or for sale without permission. Not just that, as you want others to respect your intellectual property, the same goes for musicians and songwriters.

Songs and sound effects are so easy to come by today due to the internet but abuser beware! Music has such a distinct fingerprint that makes it really easy for someone to know you are using it – especially on the web. Even taking a song and having it redone by someone you hire won’t get you off. That’s because music has two copyrights; 1) one copyright for the recording of the song and; 2) another copyright for the song itself.

Caveat here: I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice. I’m just sharing from my experiences working in videos that involved music soundtracks and other professionally recorded audio, including sound effects. If you must use a particular song, ask a lawyer who specializes in copyright law to see what you need to do in order to use it in your video. if not, DO NOT USE IT!

Also, it never hurts to ask. Many years ago I wanted to use a cut from one of Loreena McKennitt’s early CDs for a  tv commercial I was doing. I knew better than to just steal it so I thought, “why not ask?” I contacted her record label and they said fine. I just had to tell them what it was for. They didn’t even ask for a fee.

So, here are some of my suggestions…

  • Hire a composer to write original music. We’ve had complete original DVD soundtracks written for $500 – $1,000.
  • Buy stock music. Stock music agencies and music libraries offer a wide selection at very reasonable rates, in CD or downloadable formats. One of our recommendations is
  • Have a written agreement that covers all planned and possible uses.
  • Always get permission in writing. If you’re going to be selling your videos or producing a video to put on the web to promote your video, you need to make sure you have permission. In most cases, this should be a written agreement with the original copyright holder (such as the artist), or whoever their licensing agency may be).

Don’t know who to ask for permission? Check out the three licensing agencies that handle the vast majority of published American music:

ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers)

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.)


If you can’t find the agencies through those sites, do a web search. Ask for the name of the artist/song with the term “licensing” or “licensing information.” Have an iPhone? Download SoundHound, it’s amazing and lots of fun. It can nail a tune and the artist in seconds. (Note: Even if it isn’t on SoundHound does not mean it is okay to use. You’ll need to dig a little deeper to cover your bases.)

Because we’re so interconnected today it just isn’t worth the risk of stealing someone’s music. And like we said at the beginning, if you want your intellectual property rights respected, you should do the same for your fellow artists.


Music2Hues – Royalty Free music downloads



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