Many content creators are thriving. You may be one of them, crafting epic travel videos, entertaining podcasts, an instructional series, or comedic YouTube episodes. Or maybe you’re a live streaming gamer on Twitch. All of these require music and sometimes sound effects, whether for background music beds or upfront in your soundtrack or score. That’s why you need music for commercial use. Even if you’re not directly selling a product, you’ll need a license to use copyrighted music in your works. Read on to find out why.
What is commercial use?
Commercial use relates to any use of a product or service for financial gain. In the case of music, it means using music in videos whose ultimate goal of that activity is to increase sales.
As such, you'll need to make sure to purchase the right commercial licensing agreement for any piece of music you’re interested in using.
Although commercial use also extends to offline activities, the scope of this article deals with online music use.
Why do you need a license?
Almost all music is copyrighted. But what matters most when are the restrictions placed on that music, or how you're allowed to use it. (Read more about copyrights here.)
Music for commercial use means you have the legal right or license to use the music in your work. And “music” isn’t just musical tracks but includes sound effects as well. YouTube requires that when you add music to your video, you own the rights to it or acquire the legal license from the song's creator. As content creators know all too well, there are legal consequences for failing to properly license music on YouTube and other streaming sites, including having your soundtrack silenced or the entire work removed.
Royalty-free music is an easy and affordable solution for modern-day YouTubers, filmmakers, and podcasters. So, what exactly is royalty-free music? A royalty-free license eliminates the need to negotiate licensing fees with the Performance Rights Organizations (PRO’s) and gives you the right to use copyrighted music any way you like.
Finding music on Creative Commons
Creative Commons is another platform to acquire music, although the quality of songs is not consistent and may require lots of time searching. The nonprofit organization offers six different types of licenses that range in their usage allowances. The licenses work on top of the existing copyright and allow the song artist to share their work while maintaining ownership. The types of licenses are as follows:
- Attribution / CC BY: Gives you permission to distribute, remix, modify and add to the work for commercial use. Credit must be attributed to the artist. This is the least restrictive license with the most usage options.
- Attribution-ShareAlike / CC BY-SA: Gives you permission to remix, modify and add to the work, including for commercial purposes. Credit must be attributed to the artist. It requires you to license your work as a CC BY-SA, which means you have to allow others to modify and use your work for commercial purposes.
- Attribution-NoDerivs / CC BY-ND: Commercial use allowed with attribution to the artist. It cannot be modified in any way. Even layering a song within a video is not allowed. This makes the CC BY-ND unusable for most filmmakers.
- Attribution-NonCommercial / CC BY-NC: Gives you permission to remix, modify, and add to the work, but not for commercial use. Artist attribution is required.
- Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike / CC BY-NC-SA: You can modify the work, but not for commercial use. Artist attribution required. You must offer your work with the same license.
- Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs / CC BY-NC-ND: Non-commercial usage only, and you must provide credit to the artist. You cannot change the original work. This attribution basically forbids the use of this music in a video and is the most restrictive.
Creative Commons offers free music for commercial use and for non-commercial use, the latter offering a larger selection of songs.
A note on Creative Commons
Be sure to document the song’s origin and its listing of Creative Commons terms in your work. Although it's free music for commercial use, failure to follow the original creator's Creative Commons license guidelines could get you in legal trouble, so be thorough in your research before using these songs.
Where to Find music for commercial use
So, where can you find royalty-free music for commercial use? You guessed it—right here on Artlist, which offers subscription-based royalty-free music and sound effects and takes the headache out of licensing. It doesn't matter if you need music for a twitch stream, a YouTube video or a commercial; you will find the right music for your video. With an Artlist subscription, you get unlimited downloads of royalty-free music and an easy, one-size-fits-all license that allows you to use the music for any type of video, live stream, podcast, or commercial.
You can use a song as many times as you want and any song you download is yours to use forever. Your Artlist subscription gives you access to the entire library, which includes the highest quality of music created by the world’s top independent musicians. You might even forget you’re working while you browse; the music is that good!
Are you a vlogger, wedding videographer, or commercial director? The curated collections on Artlist make it easy to search and find just the right tracks. Curated collections help users search by a common theme, whether it's genre, like hip hop essentials or medium, like music for your podcast, Twitch stream or TikTok videos. There’s even a Tarantino-inspired collection. How about a “Stranger Things” playlist? Yep, that’s on Artlist too.
In addition, you can search by mood, video theme, genre and instrument. With more than 12,000 songs to choose from and some 150 songs added each month, there is no doubt you will find the perfect music for your project.
Where to find sound effects for commercial use
Need sound effects? Royalty-Free sound effects are ideal for filmmakers and video editors who want pro-quality SFX and no-hassle licensing. With an Artlist subscription, you can choose from thousands of whooshes, impacts, foley and ambient sounds and never have to worry about copyright or licensing. Every sound effect you download for your video on Artlist is made by a pro sound designer, and the Artlist license covers every use, even commercial. Once you download a sound with a subscription, it's yours to use forever. Yes, truly unlimited.
Hope this post answered the question of what is music for commercial use. Remember that it's available both on Creative Commons and licensing platforms like Artlist. First, you need to know what to check before you license music. Artlist, for example, makes it quick and easy to find the right song fast, whether you're looking for wedding music, TikTok songs, music for YouTube or for any type of video project. New songs are added often and there are thousands to choose from. With Artlist, you have unlimited creative freedom—no boring music! In fact, you may find yourself enjoying Artlist’s collection of musicians as much as your favorite pop albums.