YouTube, Facebook, and even Twitch are starting to really crack down on copyright infringement. Whether it’s content identification or DMCA crackdowns, video platforms are no longer the Wild West of two years ago.
A common question among content creators is, “How can I legally use copyrighted music on YouTube?” The truth is, you won’t find any shortcuts or hacks there – that’s the kind of thing that gets you into legal trouble. (Who wants to face a $100,000 fine for copyright infringement?)
The truth is, the only way to protect yourself is to familiarize yourself with music licensing. That way, you’ll know how to legally use copyrighted music in your YouTube videos.
How Does Music Licensing Work For Videos?
Music licensing looks complicated, but it’s really not that scary …… Provided you’re not a pirate trying to break the rules. Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll feel ready to find and use quality songs without taking any copyright hits on your YouTube channel.
To help you get there, let’s start with the absolute basics. What is a music license?
At its core, music copyrights exist to protect the work of content creators like you. (Except in this case, they’re musicians and recording artists, not filmmakers.) And music licensing is the process of getting permission from artists to use their songs in their own projects.
Think of it this way. Copyright law provides individuals and companies with the opportunity to license their works to others. Your favorite artist writes and records a new song, and then you get to incorporate that music into your video.
It’s almost like a process to help creators collaborate and use each other’s work to make their own stuff better.
How can I legally use copyrighted music on YouTube?
Of course, you didn’t actually write the songs, so you can’t claim ownership of them. If you want to legally use copyrighted music on YouTube, you have to go and get the original creator’s approval to use it. That’s the second aspect of music licensing.
Copyright law ensures that creators get paid when people use their work – and that’s where YouTube’s music policy comes into play. the two parts of the YouTube system work together to monitor video uploads for copyright infringement and provide a place for creators to submit their own copyright claims.
On the one hand, it makes it easier for you. The rules are built as a platform on YouTube, so once you understand them, you have the tools to follow them.
But the negative side of it is that if you make a mistake, YouTube will act quickly. So if you don’t legally use copyrighted music on YouTube, the system may take down your content, or let someone else monetize your video, or block your channel altogether.
What Are The Steps To License A Song?
Artists put their blood, sweat and tears into creating a song. The record company puts a lot of money into making the song. Then the legal team (for the record company) must protect the song from copyright infringement.
This means that a dozen people may have a claim to any one song. And each person is a part owner of the copyright to that song. So if you want to legally use copyrighted music on YouTube, you need to get permission from each copyright holder of that particular song.
Getting permission for a song means you have to contact each person on the “copyright holder” list. You then have to negotiate a licensing agreement for your project and decide on a price. You may also have to determine the payment of royalties, which means sending a small percentage of your project’s revenue to the copyright holder.
The music licensing process can take weeks or months, and costs can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars (depending on the popularity of the song).
I’m guessing that reading this didn’t exactly leave a smile on your face. When you imagine doing this for every song licensed for every video project, you can easily see how music licensing can snowball into a lot of time, effort, and money.
But if you want to legally use the most recent Billboard Hot 100 songs in your YouTube videos, these are the steps you need to take to protect yourself from copyright infringement.