Music Licensing

What to Know About Music Licensing Copyrights and Royalty Free Music Claims

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Ben Laski

Let's Talk Music Licensing Copyrights w/ Ben Laski

Hi. My name is Ben Laski. I'm an entertainment attorney. And I've been working in the music industry for over 20 years. I also have been teaching about the music industry at Berklee College of Music and Boston University. And I'm here to talk to you about licensing or using music in your video content. Whether you're a YouTuber or a content creator or just need music on your videos, these are the basic concepts that you need to know about.

So, the first thing is there are two copyrights that need to be cleared for a music to be on a video. The first one is the master recording. That's when the artist actually records the music in their studio or at home. And the second part is the composition, which is the songwriter side of things; the person who wrote the music, who wrote the lyrics, and sometimes it could be the same person. But those are the two rights, two copyrights, composition and master rights, that have to be cleared.

The good news for you is if you're using a reputable music library, they already cleared those rights with those entities or parties, and you don't have to worry about it. So, you can go ahead and put that music on your video and you're clear.

What Does 'Royalty Free' Actually Mean?

The other thing that comes up is a lot of times you hear these words, uh, royalty-free. That's a little bit deceiving because it's a marketing term and not a legal term. 'Cause, really, at the end of the day, you might have licensed the music and paid everything, and that music is on your video, but that video might be generating more income and more royalties on a platform such as YouTube or if the video is on broadcast, on a network, they have to pay for that. You don't pay any more, but the fact that it's not royalty-free and it's actually generating more royalties, that's actually a win-win, because the musician that recorded the music or the songwriter who wrote the music is making more money. But, again, it's not out of your pocket. It's somebody else paying for it.

So, I hope that answers some of your questions and gives you some background about getting music on your video content. And if you have any additional questions, feel free to put them in the comments and I'll try to answer when I can. Thanks.

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