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  Royalty Free Music

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.

Simple Licensing

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 music.

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 Music include:

  • 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

Royalty Free Music Library


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