By Justin Woo on June 30th, 2016

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Ask the Expert: Music Licensing for Video and Film

Tips and Tools | Music | Podcast

Music licensing for video productions can be complicated. You know you can’t grab a song out of iTunes and throw it on top of your video, but what can you do? More than anything else, your budget is going to control your song selection. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars allotted to your music budget alone, mainstream Top 40 pop songs will be out of your reach. But you still have options.

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Royalty-Free Music

If you can find an independent musician willing to score your production, who can work within your budget, awesome! But if you can’t, or you need a track immediately, royalty-free music libraries are a great solution. These music libraries communicate with hundreds of independent composers, obtain the necessary synchronization rights (aka “sync rights”), aggregate all the music, tag the tracks to make them searchable, and sell licenses online.

These libraries charge a single upfront cost for a sync license, which allows you to synchronize (hence “synch”) their music and your video production. These libraries are called “royalty-free” because they can be licensed in perpetuity, without any future renewal costs. That means you don’t have to worry about losing percentages of your gross profits years down the road.

Platform is Key

Another factor that can impact your licensing costs is where your production will be seen. This cost varies depending on the library, but in general, licensing for online spaces costs less than licensing for traditional broadcast mediums like film, radio, and TV.

Sometimes, Size Does Matter

Some music licensing companies are concerned about the size of your audience. A larger audience may require larger licensing fees. Some libraries charge these fees and some don’t — be sure to shop around!

On Mechanical Rights

Also, if you’re planning to create physical copies of your production, you’re going to need to obtain mechanical rights which require a different license than sync rights. Many royalty free libraries offer mechanical licenses as well or bundle them together with your sync license.


If you are interested in checking out their royalty-free music library at Muserk.com, use this “FA10” coupon code to get 10% off your entire purchase.