What Is Royalty Free Music?
Royalty-free music is music that's designed to be used in
media projects, and can be licensed for inclusion in such
projects for a single one-time fee.
Visit our Royalty Free Music library
for a massive choice royalty free music
What Does Royalty Free Music Do?
When music is used in media situations, for example in TV
programmes, films, websites, whoever owns the various 'rights'
to the music must give their permission for their music to
be used. Traditionally, the payment and licensing process
to do his could be costly, and was usually on a per-use basis.
Royalty free music attempts to make this easier by offering
a simple license structure, allowing the media producer permission
to use the music repeatedly and in many ways without having
to purchase additional licenses.
To understand 'royalty free'licensing, we need to understand
what 'rights' are involved with the music, broadly referred
to as 'copyrights'. When a media producer wants to include
some music in their new production, they need permission from
the music copyright owners to to this. This permission to
actually copy and include a music recording into a new media
project is known as the 'mechanical' right. When this music
is to be used accompanying pictures, there is also a 'synchronisation'
right. It is these permissions that royalty free music libraries
make available quickly and simply. The permission is for a
media producer to include the music in their new production.
This could be for example a new TV programme, movie, website,
on-hold production, corporate video. As the media producer,
you do not have to pay any further fees to the royalty free
music library, no matter how your new media production is
used, so long as you foollow their simple license terms. Different
royalty free music librraies may have slightly differing terms
to their licences, but this broad principle remains true.
Why Is It Called "Royalty Free"?
The term "royalty free" can be confusing however, whether
used for music or other media such as pictures or video. A
better, more accurately descriptive term, would be "license-paid",
however the term 'royalty free' has become the generic term
associated with the industry. The confusion about the term
'royalty' can arise when the newly created media production
is later broadcast in some way to the general public. There
is another 'right' in music, known as the 'performance right',
for which it is necessary to have permission when music is
broadcast to the general public. As a media producer, you
have already licensed the music from a royalty free music
library, and you don't want to pay any more. The good news
is that you should not have to pay anything else in most instances.
Who Pays Performance Royalties?
The 'performance right' is administered in each country by
a local Performance Rights Organisation (PRO), who represent
the composers who write music. They collect fees from broadcasters
(TV, Radio stations for example), and re-distribute this money
to music composers, so each composer eventually receives a
micro-payment for every TV or radio broadcast of their music.
The local PRO will ask whoever broadcasts music to the public
(TV networks for example) to pay a license fee for this, usually
an annual 'blanket' license fee that covers the broadcaster
for all the music they broadcast throughout the whole year.
As a TV programme maker, for example, this means you won't
have to pay PRO fees - the TV station pays them each year.
So broadcasters (TV stations, radio stations) pay Performance
Rights fees to their local PRO. You as the producer who make
the new media production do not pay. Royalty Free Music libraries
do not charge Performance Rights fees
Media Producer or Broadcaster?
But confusion over royalty payments can sometimes happen
when the boundaries between producer and broadcaster
become blurred. A few years ago the only way to broadcast
music was via TV or Radio, and it was quite clear who these
broadcasters were. Now there are many new ways to play music
to the general public, such as via the internet, podcasts,
telephone on-hold systems, background music in retail for
example. In most countries the local PRO does not consider
these to be 'broadcasts', however in a few countries they
do, and this is where the confusion can happen. This means
they will ask the person broadcasting to pay a small fee because
they are broadcasting music. For example, in the UK the local
PRO (the PRS) has started (in 2008) to charge a small annual
fee for UK-owned and UK-based websites who play music. So
in this case you could be the media producer, but also be
considered a broadcaster, and it's as the 'broadcaster'
that the PRO will want to charge you a license to broadcast
We have a list of PRO's where you can find the contact details
of your local PRO, if you need to check with them what their
policies are. For most countries (USA for example 2009) broadcasts
generally means TV & Radio, so there's no issue if you are
the media producer.
Advantages of Royalty Free Music
There are many advantages to using royalty free music over
tradional production music libraries.
Reasons to use Royalty Free
It is widely available
Quick and Easy Access to music
Licensing is simple
More Cost Effective than tradional licensing
Specifically designed for media uses
Peace of mind - you know you're legally covered
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