A Brief Guide to Finding and Using Free Commercial Music

guide using free commercial music fair use no royalties

Do you want to create a striking and memorable commercial video?

Notice in marketing that most of the best commercial videos use great background music. It creates mood, grabs the viewers’ attention, and helps control their perception. 66% of consumers favor watching a video than reading about a product. 

However, you have to be careful with the musical pieces you add to your project. Remember, you can’t use any copyrighted song or musical piece without the owner’s permission. Thus, most people turn to use free commercial music instead.

Keep reading to find out more about what you need to know about using songs in your commercial.


1. What Is Royalty-Free Music?

When a musical piece or song is royalty-free, it means you can pay for it and then use it for your projects. When a song or music piece is free of royalty, you need to do a one-time payment. After you pay for it, you can use it for as long as you want. 

It’s the opposite of rights-managed licensing. In Rights Managed or Needle Drop licensing, you need to pay for each time you use the song. The term Needle Drop licensing comes from the old times when the “needle gets dropped” on the record.

As mentioned, royalty free music is music you still have to pay for. Royalty-free music doesn’t always mean cost-free music. Some creators of royalty-free music let other people use their music for free. 

Other terms for it include pre-licensed production music and a one-stop music library. 

Also, stock music is different from royalty-free music. There are several reasons for this and it’s not because stock music is the cheap, “canned music” type. In actuality, there’s a wide variety of quality and genre of stock music.

The difference between stock and royalty-free music lies in their use and licensing. Stock libraries offer music that’s already paid for and made available for everyone. You don’t have to buy or pay for stock music to use it. 


2. Why Do You Need Royalty-Free Music for Your Commercial?

Why do you need to use royalty-free songs in commercial ads?  If you often watch YouTube influencers, you’ll notice many of them avoid using popular music or songs in their videos. One reason for this is they can get sued for using copyright music in their content.

When you use copyrighted music in your commercial, the owner or singer of the song can sue you for using it. It’s also unethical to use licensed music without the owner’s permission and profit from it.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Can’t I use the music and still give credit?”

It’s always a smart move to give credit where it’s due. Everyone likes getting credited for their work. However, this isn’t enough, even if you don’t intend to make a profit from your project.

Also, note that not every commercial video needs music to make an impact. Sometimes, it’s the lack of background music that makes a commercial get noticed in this noisy world. Be smart about your commercials by knowing which ones work best without music.

Another good reason why some artists don’t allow for their music to get used by brands or products is identity. A vegan artist might want to avoid having his song used for a rat killer commercial, for example. Some don’t like to earn fame through commercials only. 

Finally, won’t it be better for your commercial to feature original music?


3. Where Can You Get Free Commercial Music?

Like in film, visual art, and photography, music is a powerful tool used to connect with audiences. 

However, it takes resourcefulness and creativity to get the proper piece for your project. As a marketer, you know presentation is a key factor in creating commercials. 

Some companies hire music makers to create certain music for them. Others look for stock music. If you want to find free commercial music, go to sites like Comma Music, Bensound, and DL Sounds.

Are you afraid you won’t find a specific song or piece of music in the genre you need? You can find a wide variety of free commercial-use music on these sites. You can also check Purple Planet Music, Soundotcom, and Musopen for more royalty-free music. 


4. About Fair Use 

Fair use is an exception to some forms of use of copyrighted music. For example, “react videos” on YouTube can show snippets of the newest popular music video without getting sued for copyright claims. It’s also how some artists get away with musical or music video parodies of songs. 

In most cases of fair use analysis, you have two categories. The first one is commentary and criticism while the second one is a parody. Commentary and criticism may include summaries, quotes, or copying a portion of a song.

Note that this doesn’t make you exempted from any copyright infringement claim. The fair-use is your first and only line of defense against the copyright infringement claim. However, it’s still smarter to avoid using licensed music that isn’t stock or royalty-free.

If you must use a licensed song, how much of a song can you use legally? The answer depends. The safest choice is to use around 30 seconds at most.


5. What Happens When You Use Licensed Music?

Licensing music is a big move in the music industry, especially for songwriters. It helps them keep their music from getting stolen. However, it also limits you as a marketer from borrowing their songs.

If you don’t ask for permission from an artist or pay their fees, you’ll face consequences. One thing that can happen is that your video audio gets turned off. We often see this punishment implemented on sites like YouTube.

Another possibility is that you lose the right to earn ad revenue from the video commercial. The worst-case scenario is that your video commercial gets taken down. It’s better to be safe than sorry; use royalty-free music instead.


Create the Best Commercials With Royalty-Free Songs

Background music and sounds are core elements of video commercials. Most people prefer to watch than reading, after all. Plus, you save time and money when you use free commercial music than with copyrighted music.

That covers everything you need when it comes to using free commercial music. Did you enjoy and learn from this brief guide on royalty-free music? If you want to read more on the topics including music, podcasting, and radio, check out our other industry guides as well.

Bootstrap Business Blog Newest Posts From Mike Schiemer, Partners, & Blog Outreach Services