Posting a video on YouTube is like throwing a fishing rod into the ocean with hundreds and thousands of people fishing all around you trying to catch the same fish. To get noticed, you need a bait that stands out, and one way of making sure it does is through music. You can’t underestimate the power of music on viewers. Music can do anything from augmenting your viewer’s attention span, smoothing out transitions, to bringing your viewers to emotional peaks. It can be the difference between success and failure. If you do it right, it can give a huge boost to your video’s popularity.
Beware of content ID claims
Now that we’ve established that music plays a critical role in your YouTube video, let’s talk about where to find it. In the early days of YouTube, you could use any song you wanted. This is no longer the case. Today, you need to figure out who owns a song's copyright and get their permission. Using other people’s music without permission can result in a Content ID claim, which can lead to one or more of the following scenarios:
- Your video gets muted.
- The copyright owner gets all the revenue from the ads in your video.
- You get a copyright strike, meaning YouTube removes your video altogether. If you get three strikes, YouTube will delete your whole account and all your videos, and you will not be allowed to create a new channel.
Since any of these options would be highly damaging, the first thing you need to do is figure out a song’s copyright issue and resolve it. One option is using non-copyrighted music, like songs that are considered public domain, which means their copyright expired. This usually only happens 70 years after the song’s copyright owner dies, so if you’re a fan of the old, old oldies then you’re good to go. These laws are always changing to extend the life of copyrights, so even this rule may change in a few years.
The pros and cons of YouTube’s Audio Library
Coincidently (not really), YouTube has created its own music library for their videos, named Audio Library. All the songs you’ll find there are available to use, but make sure to check if a song requires attribution or not, meaning if you’re required to give credit to the song’s author. In the Music Policies tab, you can see any song’s current policy, set by the copyright holder. It will tell you whether you can use the song, whether you can monetize your video with it and whether you can use and monetize your video if you do a cover of it.
Top 40 songs are either unusable or blocked in 249 countries, which is strange because there are only 195 countries in the world. With some popular songs, you are allowed to stream your own cover and split the revenue with the copyright holder. Here’s a tip for when you don’t find the policy of a specific song: Upload your video to YouTube as Private, wait a little while and YouTube will let you know if you can use it and how.
The problem with YouTube's Audio Library
There is a catch with those policies, however. The author of a song can change its copyright policy at any moment and make it unusable, so even if you used a song when it was allowed, you would need to take it down if the artist changed their mind. Another unknown is what happens if you post your video on Facebook, Vimeo or any other platform. There is no definite answer to that.
All things considered, the major drawback of the music YouTube’s audio library is the quality. Most tracks sound pretty generic and tacky. They are silence-fillers, and when you use them, you will sound like everyone else. So if you’re looking to stand out, get noticed, reel the audience in and grow your following, you need music that sounds as authentic and original as you.
Where to find the best music for YouTube videos
This is why music licensing platforms have become so popular. Companies like Artlist provide original music made by real musicians available for an affordable subscription fee. However, don’t think that finding a music licensing company enough to resolve all your copyright issues. Each platform offers a different license that covers different uses. That means that you can be restricted to YouTube and charged according to the number of followers you have. Some companies will take back the license once you stop being a subscriber, which makes you shackled to them. In any case, it’s critical to read all the terms and conditions of any license to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future, in the form of additional charges or content ID claims.
To give you peace of mind from copyright claims, subscribing to Artlist gives you a simplified license that covers any video, even commercials, and any song you download as an active subscriber is yours forever.
To sum things up, the first thing to check before choosing a song is its copyright status. YouTube offers a music library of songs you can use for free, but most of the YouTube copyright-free music sounds generic and tacky so they will not help your video to stand out. To get YouTube background music for videos by real musicians, go to a music licensing company like Artlist, which has made it its mission to provide quality royalty-free music for YouTube and other platforms and simplify the license agreement so you can focus on being creative. Check us out and start creating!