If you’re in the content creation business, you’ve probably heard the term ‘copyright-free music.’ But where does that phrase come from, is it correct, and can you download ‘copyright-free’ background music for your content? Read on to find out!
Copyright-free music isn’t what you think it is
Sorry! The term’s pretty misleading. One urban myth suggests that as long as you credit the original artist, then you’re good – it’s now ‘copyright-free’ in their eyes. For that reason, you’ll often see websites and apps that rip music files directly from YouTube, for example, and deliver them as an MP3 for you to use. That’s still not cool, nor in compliance with copyright. Why?
Well, it’s stealing! Even if a third party posts a song on YouTube, the person who owns the rights to that track will often collect revenue. That’s because the rights owner can monetize, block, or track that third-party video; their material is being used, so they call the shots.
If you rip copyrighted music from the internet, you’re taking your slice of the pie without paying the creator. Also, you can’t use that music in your content without an attribution model like the one mentioned above. It isn’t ‘free.’
Are free songs copyright-free?
People often say ‘copyright-free’ when they mean ‘licensed under Creative Commons.’ Artists can license work under Creative Commons if they explicitly want their music to be consumed for free and used for various purposes. For example, the Grammy-winning band Nine Inch Nails did this in 2007, giving fans the freedom to create content soundtracked by the group’s then-new album, Ghosts.
However, not all Creative Commons music is licensed this way. There are six Creative Commons licenses: the loosest one lets you remix and share music, even commercially, as long as you credit the original creator; the most restrictive license only allows people to download the music and share it, but not commercially.
Most music is covered under copyright or Creative Commons, and if you do stumble across some purely copyright-free songs, we’d question the quality!
So, copyright-free music doesn’t really exist in the way you’ve been told. But royalty-free music does.
What is royalty-free music?
Royalty-free music means you don’t have to keep paying royalties to the rights-holder. Is royalty free music copyrighted? Yes, it is. But you pay for it once, or regularly if you’re looking at a subscription, and that’s it – it’s yours to use!
If you’d like to learn a little more, we’ve written a short article about the ins and outs of royalty-free music here. That should give you all the details if you're wondering about royalty-free music vs. no copyright music.
How can I download royalty-free music?
At Epidemic Sound, we want to give you more than just royalty-free music. We offer all rights included, globally cleared music: tracks you can use for whatever you want, whenever you want.
We’re a direct licensing company, meaning we own all the economic rights to the music on our platform. Our subscription plans are for everyone, from the budding content creator to massive corporations, including TV channels, physical stores, event organizers, and more. No matter what stage you’re at in your content creation journey, we've got you covered under our Personal, Commercial, and Enterprise Plans.
Once you’re signed up, all you have to do is follow these simple steps.
- Connect all your channels to your Epidemic Sound account. This means that whenever you use one of our tracks across your channels, it’s cleared – nobody’s going to come after you wondering why you’re using their music in your Twitch stream, YouTube tutorial or Instagram Live broadcast! We ask you to link at least one channel when you sign up, and you can always add more later.
- Browse the catalog. You can explore based on genre, mood, duration, themes, vocals, and BPM. Everything’s clearly labeled, and you can play tracks while browsing. Plus, we have ‘Similar tracks’ and ‘More of what you like’ features, so you can jump down the rabbit hole just like you’d do on Spotify, Apple Music, and so on.
- Download it! You can choose whether to download the track as an MP3 or WAV, and then it’s yours! Most people opt for the entire mix, but you can also grab the stems and remix the track if you want to fiddle about with it.
And that’s it! Sign up, find the songs you want, and download them. While you might not be downloading ‘copyright-free’ music, your Epidemic Sound subscription means you don’t have to fuss about copyright, licensing, or royalties again. We got you covered.