Royalty free music can be an interesting option for filmmakers and content creators who want to get good music with a limited budget. But that comes with some risks that you should know about before licensing such music. So, let’s take a look a the risks of using royalty free music on YouTube!

What is royalty free music?

First thing first, you may not be familiar with this notion, so let’s clarify what royalty free music is. Royalty free music is a type of music that you can use without owing royalties. What does that mean precisely? It means that you have to pay a single fee to the owner of a track in order to have the right to use it as you want. After paying that single fee, you don’t have to pay anything else. Regardless of the number of views, or revenues that you’ll get from the content you’ve created with that music.

What are the risks with royalty free music?

Royalty free is a simple licensing system, but some confusions and misuses tend to exist regarding this notion. First, be careful when someone claims to give royalty free music online. Until you’ve actually signed a royalty free music contract you can’t be sure whether the track in question is royalty free or not. A lot of individuals or even websites claim to be royalty free when in fact they aren’t. The risk is thus to use a so-called royalty free music in your video and then being claimed for royalties, monetary compensation, legal action or strike of your content. Those are scary words, I know. And it doesn’t happen very often, but it’s still a plausible risk.

Royalty free music is a budget-friendly option. Indeed, you pay an initial fee and then that’s it for your expenses regarding that track. But once again, be careful. All licenses are not endless. Depending on the terms of your contract, you may not be allowed to use a track once your licensed is expired. The risk is thus to see your content blocked online by the owner of the music. Or the owner might as well claim royalties, or the revenues generated by your work. So, read carefully the terms of your royalty free license. It would be a shame to have made so much effort in vain.

What can happen on YouTube?

Putting video on YouTube using royalty free music involves risks. Not as important as what we’ve just seen but that must be taken into consideration. In the case of a music for which you don’t have a license, the risks are those mentioned above. That includes revenue claiming, video or channel shutdown, and so on. If you do own a license, you might also be exposed to some risks. The thing is, music libraries often use content identification services to identify when their content is used without authorization. But the process is automated through an algorithm that just scans everything, looking for any match between the music license’s content and YouTube video.

As I said, the process is automated. The algorithm often doesn’t differentiate a YouTuber that owns a license from one that doesn’t. Thus, you can still be notified with a copyright claim even if you actually licensed a royalty free music from a licensing library.

What should you do in that case? As we previously mentioned in another article, directly contacting your music licensing company is the most efficient way to proceed to this day. Whitelisting is often still manual and discussing it directly with your music library staff is the most relevant thing to do in that situation.

To conclude, I hope that you now have a clearer overview of the risk that you may face by using royalty free music on YouTube. You can learn more about those copyright matters in our previous article dedicated to that subject if you’re still curious about those issues.

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Hi everyone! My name is Tom, I'm passionate about music and online creation. Get involved with my articles: I'll try to give you the best insights about music & filmmaking!