Creative Commons Music

Legal Music For Videos

Person editing video on a computer, symbolizing the use of legal music for videos
A video editor using legal music to avoid copyright issues.

Music is an integral part of creating engaging and memorable videos. However, using music legally is crucial to avoid copyright infringements and potential legal issues. This article delves into various options and best practices for sourcing legal music for videos, ensuring your content remains compliant and captivating.

Legal Music For Videos

Navigating the world of legal music for videos can be daunting, but it is essential to understand the different types of licenses and the resources available. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions, ensuring your videos are not only compelling but also legally sound.

Understanding Copyright

Copyright law protects the creators of original works, including music, giving them exclusive rights to their use and distribution. Using copyrighted music without permission can result in legal actions, removal of your content, and loss of revenue. Thus, understanding copyright and licensing is fundamental for content creators.

Types of Music Licenses

Public Domain Music

Public domain music includes works whose copyrights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable. This music is free to use without permission or payment, making it a cost-effective option for creators.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow creators to specify the terms under which their music can be used. These licenses range from allowing any use with proper attribution to more restrictive options that prohibit commercial use or modifications.

Royalty-Free Music

Royalty-free music allows you to pay a one-time fee to use the music as many times as you want. This type of license is popular among content creators because it simplifies the process and can be more cost-effective in the long run.

Synchronization Licenses

A synchronization license (sync license) is required when you want to use music in conjunction with visual media, such as videos. This license must be obtained from the music’s copyright holder and typically involves a fee.

Finding Legal Music

Online Libraries

Online music libraries are vast repositories of music tracks that are pre-cleared for use. Sites like Epidemic Sound and AudioJungle offer extensive collections of royalty-free music across various genres.

Music Streaming Services

Some music streaming services, like SoundCloud, offer tracks under Creative Commons licenses. Always check the licensing information before using these tracks in your videos.

Composer Networks

Networking with composers can provide access to unique and original music. Websites like Composers Cloud connect video creators with composers who can craft custom tracks tailored to specific needs.

Public Domain Music

What is Public Domain?

Public domain music comprises works that are free for public use without any copyright restrictions. This includes music published before a certain date, typically 1923 in the United States, or works explicitly placed in the public domain by their creators.

How to Use Public Domain Music

Using public domain music is straightforward since no permission or fees are required. However, ensure that the specific arrangement or recording you use is also in the public domain, as newer recordings of older works may still be under copyright.

Creative Commons Music

Different Types of CC Licenses

Creative Commons licenses range from the most permissive, allowing any use with attribution (CC BY), to more restrictive licenses that may prohibit commercial use (CC BY-NC) or modifications (CC BY-ND).

How to Attribute CC Music

Proper attribution typically includes the title of the track, the artist’s name, the specific CC license, and a link to the license details. For example, “Song Title” by Artist Name is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Royalty-Free Music

What Does Royalty-Free Mean?

Royalty-free means you pay a one-time fee for the music and can use it repeatedly without incurring additional costs. This is particularly beneficial for creators who produce a high volume of content.

Popular Royalty-Free Music Sites

Websites like Artlist and Pond5 offer extensive catalogs of royalty-free music. These platforms provide music tracks that are perfect for various video projects, ensuring high-quality and diverse selections.

Synchronization Licenses

When to Use Sync Licenses

Sync licenses are necessary when integrating music into visual content, such as films, TV shows, and online videos. They provide legal clearance to synchronize music with visual media.

Obtaining Sync Licenses

To obtain a sync license, contact the music’s copyright holder or their representative. This process often involves negotiation and payment of fees based on the usage scope and distribution.

Best Practices

Proper Attribution

Always give proper credit to the music creators if required by the license. This not only respects the artists’ rights but also fosters a culture of acknowledgment and appreciation in the creative community.

Avoiding Copyright Strikes

Avoid copyright strikes by thoroughly understanding and adhering to the licensing agreements of the music you use. Utilize platforms like YouTube’s Audio Library to find music that is safe for use on their platform.

Quality vs. Cost

Balance the quality of music with your budget. While free music can be tempting, investing in high-quality, licensed tracks can significantly enhance your video’s appeal and professionalism.

Case Studies

Successful YouTubers

Many successful YouTubers have mastered the art of sourcing and using legal music. Channels like Peter McKinnon demonstrate how high-quality music can elevate video content.

Independent Filmmakers

Independent filmmakers often use licensed music to add depth and emotion to their films. Platforms like Filmstro offer customizable music scores that can enhance the cinematic experience.

Legal Music for Social Media

Platforms & Policies

Different social media platforms have varying policies regarding music use. Familiarize yourself with these policies to avoid content removal or penalties. Instagram and TikTok, for instance, have integrated music libraries with pre-cleared tracks for user-generated content.

Tips for Instagram and TikTok

When using music on Instagram or TikTok, utilize their built-in music libraries to ensure compliance with their guidelines. Avoid uploading music that you do not have the rights to, as this can lead to your content being muted or removed.

Free vs. Paid Music

Pros and Cons of Free Music

Free music can be a great resource, especially for new creators on a tight budget. However, it often comes with limitations, such as lower quality or restrictive licenses.

Benefits of Paid Music

Paid music, on the other hand, typically offers higher quality and more extensive usage rights. Investing in music can greatly enhance the overall production value of your videos.

Creating Custom Music

Hiring Composers

Hiring a composer to create custom music for your videos ensures you get a unique and tailored soundtrack. Websites like Fiverr and Upwork connect you with talented composers at various price points.

Using Music Production Software

For those with a musical inclination, using music production software like Ableton Live or FL Studio allows you to create custom tracks that perfectly match your video’s mood and style.


Where can I find free legal music?

You can find free legal music on platforms like YouTube’s Audio Library, Free Music Archive, and Incompetech. These sites offer a variety of tracks under different licenses that you can use for your videos.

How do I avoid copyright strikes?

To avoid copyright strikes, always ensure that the music you use is properly licensed for your intended use. Utilize platforms that provide music with clear licensing terms, and always give proper attribution when required.

Can I use commercial music in my videos?

Using commercial music in your videos without permission is generally not allowed and can lead to copyright infringements. However, you can seek licenses or use cover versions with appropriate licenses.

What are the best sources for royalty-free music?

Some of the best sources for royalty-free music include Artlist, Epidemic Sound, and AudioJungle. These platforms offer extensive libraries of high-quality tracks for various types of video content.

How do I attribute Creative Commons music?

To attribute Creative Commons music, include the title of the track, the artist’s name, the specific CC license, and a link to the license. This ensures you comply with the licensing terms and give proper credit to the creator.

Is it worth paying for music licenses?

Paying for music licenses is often worth it as it provides access to high-quality, unique tracks and ensures your videos are legally compliant. It also supports the artists and creators of the music.


Incorporating legal music into your videos not only enhances the viewer’s experience but also protects you from potential legal issues. By understanding the various types of music licenses and utilizing reliable sources, you can confidently create content that is both engaging and compliant. Whether you choose free or paid options, the key is to respect the rights of music creators and adhere to licensing agreements.

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