(Legally) Add Music to Your Videos

Do Marketing Videos Need Music?

Music has a truly amazing effect on people. It can make us feel happy or sad. It can stir up feelings from another time. It can be medicine for the soul. There are even studies that have shown music can have positive effects on pain management. That may not matter much when you’re thinking about putting together a marketing video, but how your audience responds to the music in your video does matter.

Music can set the tone for your video. It can also provide background noise if yours will be a video that features a single individual talking (often referred to as a “talking head.”) You may not even be aware of the music you hear in videos because it’s so subtle. But make no mistake, you’d notice if it wasn’t there.

Adding Music to Videos: You Can Get it For Free

Here’s the tricky thing about adding music to your videos: Copyright laws in this country prohibit you from using music that isn’t in the public domain without first getting permission (sometimes with a hefty price tag). And even trickier: Some songs you think are part of the public domain — music that anyone can use because it isn’t protected by copyright laws — are not. In fact, up until 2016, the “Happy Birthday” song was copyright protected, and Warner/Chappel Music collected royalties anytime it was used in a movie or commercials.

Here’s a quick lesson on copyright: It is a legal right that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution, and that protection lasts the duration of the creator’s life, plus another 50 to 100 years (depending on the country). After that, the work enters the public domain where anyone is free to use it anyway they want.

Eventually every piece of music ever written will end up in the public domain. Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14, for example, is part of the public domain since the composer has been dead for nearly 190 years. Here’s the catch: Only  the sonata itself is in the public domain. If you were to use the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s recording of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14, you would be breaking copyright laws.

Several months ago, a fitness trainer I know posted a video to her social media page of her demonstrating some new strength training moves for the women in her group coaching program. Since the trainer always has music playing in her home gym while she works out, she thought nothing of leaving it on while she recorded the new weightlifting moves. Sure enough, her video was pulled down by Facebook for being in violation of copyright laws for the music playing in the background.

Is it any wonder a lot of people don’t even realize they’re breaking copyright laws when they add music to their videos?

Tips for Adding Music to Videos

The only surefire way to completely avoid copyright infringement is to create content that is 100% original. If only it were that easy!

For those of you who are not musically inclined whatsoever (nor do we have the time, money, equipment, or energy to write and compose our own music), there is hope.

As mentioned before, any music that is in the public domain is fair game, and one of the best places to find that is in the YouTube Audio Library. You’d be amazed at the audio tracks you’ll find there that you can use with no strings attached. There are also audio files that require only attribution to the artist who created them (but no license or fees to use the material).

Do not confuse “royalty free” for “in the public domain.” The two are not the same. While it’s true you can use royalty free music over and over again, you must get permission to use it the first time (usually for a fee). Only then are you permitted to use it again and again without paying.

Here are three other sites with music you can use 100% free of charge, or for free as long as you provide credit to the source:

Where Do You Find Music for Your Videos?

There’s probably a lot more music available to you (for free) than you thought. Where do you find the audio for your marketing videos? Tell us about in the Comments section or comment on our Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages. We also post some great stuff there on how to stay on top of your marketing game.

2 thoughts on “(Legally) Add Music to Your Videos”

  1. Cynthia Peterson

    Great article. I had no idea that there was a difference between royalty free and public domain.

  2. I think that some form of background music is ESSENTIAL to any successful video, it makes it seem much more professional and is a rather easy way to make your content more interesting.

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