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Background music can make or break a marketing video.

Music shapes how an audience experiences a video. It contributes towards creating the tone and mood of a video and will contribute to the perception of your business that the viewers develop while watching.

Music shouldn’t be an after thought. It is important to be aware of your need for music throughout the production process, as well as the post-production process. The challenge is in finding appropriate tracks for your video that you are legally able to use. It isn’t an option to just use a chart track without permission.

Sites like YouTube have policies which will result in your video being banned. In fact, YouTube automatically deletes videos that contain copyrighted music.

Four Starter Tips When Choosing Music

  1. Identify the emotion or emotions you are aiming to convey to your audience.
  2. Take the time to establish which parts of your video will require music and analyse the pace, style and emotional mood.
  3. Think about the genre of music you would like to use – or at least what genres you definitely want to avoid.
  4. Think about the pace of your video. Music can really help to speed things up or slow them down.

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If you know what you are looking for in advance of your search for the right tracks, you will find the process a lot easier and less tedious.

Copyright & Music

If you use any music in your video that was not invented, created or composed by yourself, then someone else brought it in to the world and the likelihood is that it is under copyright. The only case where this is an exception are if the original composer or owner of the music has been dead for 70 years – at this point the music is in the public domain and free for anyone to use. If you break the law in relation to copyright, you will be fined. The fine will depend on the piece of music and is usually relative to how much that music is worth.

Anyone who creates a piece of music automatically has an ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright protection. This means that they are protected against people using their work in ways that they have not consented to.

4 Music Types Available for Use

1. Creative Commons
Creative Commons is an organisation that facilitates the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through legal tools that are free to use. Creative Commons enables artists, teachers, musicians, writers and so on to share their creativity by giving permission to the public to use their work. It doesn’t involve artists completely giving up their copyright but it does allow them to refine it and specify the uses of a piece of work that they are willing to allow.

Creative Commons is therefore a great source of music for your corporate videos. They have different types of licenses for different levels of use including commercial and non-commercial.

CC licensed music can be found on websites such as ccmixterMagnatune, BeatPink and AudioFarm.

2. Tracks Requiring Copyright Clearance
This is likely to be the most costly option you could go for. Using commercial music without permission is not worth the risk as you would end up paying more in court.

3. Original Music Written & Recorded for You

Guitar Man Music Recording Tape Reels

One way to guarantee that you get exactly what you want is to commission original music for your videos. However, this also depends on the size of your budget. If you pay for something to be written and recorded you won’t have to worry about any future legal ramifications.

4. Free Music Archive
The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high quality legal music downloads which have been handpicked by expert audio creators. The FMA was inspired by Creative Commons and provides another option in terms of a safe legal framework for sharing music. The music on FMA will be licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses which we have linked to above – so you will have different levels of permission depending on the piece of music.

So, it isn’t as difficult as you might think to find decent music for your videos that is legal to use – as long as you know what you are looking for and where to look!

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5 COMMENTS

  1. What if you were giving a presentation in front of 50 people and you created a montage of work you have done over the last year to present at the conference and you used a copyrighted piece for the background audio. This is not a piece you are posting anywhere or selling to anyone, this is for demo purposes only. It has a disclaimer on the front of the piece stating demo purposes and for internal use.

  2. Hi Cam,

    Unfortunately even using the music in front of 50 people does infringe on copyright law.

    Basically the law states that you need the permission of the owner of the copyrighted material before you can use it. I realise that this seems overzealous but obviously artists need this protection in order to protect their income.

    Here is an article on copyright law relating to presentations:

  3. Hi Neil,

    There is also royalty free music. I know there is usually a payment for royalty free music (usually a low one-off payment), but then you get a license to use the music commercially.

    Thanks,
    Ian

  4. There are plenty of royalty-free music marketplaces where media producers can get RF music for both commercial and non-commercial use for a reasonable fee. I’d like to stress though that marketplaces vary wildly in terms of both the prices and available licenses. Some marketplaces go as far as restricting their authors from being PRO members to guarantee that their music is royalty-free. It’s important to read the licenses and to understand whether it fits your needs.

    I recently posted an article in my blog explaining the royalty-free music concept and how media producers can benefit from it: http://www.miksmusic.com/royalty-free-music-explained/

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