What is Royalty-Free Music?

You’ve probably heard a lot about royalty-free music in the last few years. Between YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and other video creators, royalty-free music is on everyone’s mind.

What is Royalty-Free Music?

You’ve probably heard a lot about royalty-free music. For YouTubers, Twitch streamers, TikTok stars and all kinds of influencers, royalty-free music is an essential part of the creative process. So, what is it?

What does royalty-free music mean?

The definition of royalty-free music – not to be confused with copyright-free – is music you can use in content without paying royalties to artists or rights holders every time it’s played. You pay for it once, or on a recurring basis if you subscribe to a royalty-free music service like Epidemic Sound.

Royalty-free doesn’t mean that the music creators don’t receive royalty payouts – it just means you don’t pay it. For example, at Epidemic Sound, all royalties we collect from music streaming platforms are split 50/50 with the music creator.

Is royalty-free music free?

No, royalty-free music is not free. The word ‘free’ just means you don’t have to pay royalties every time you use that track in your content. If you don’t pay for royalty-free music and get all the correct rights, your content may be blocked, muted or removed from public platforms.

You still have to pay to use royalty-free music – if you’re doing that, you deserve the best of the best. Check out Epidemic Sound’s catalog of 35,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects below.

Why use royalty-free music?

Traditionally, when licensing music for major productions like TV shows or movies, numerous royalties are paid to the rights holder every time the production airs or a copy of the production is sold. It’s an expensive business – Hollywood studios have paid $500,000 to use AC/DC’s 'Thunderstruck' in their movies, which is the highest recorded amount spent licensing a track.

This licensing model works for some, but it’s often very complex. Paying royalties in different countries, for different kinds of distribution, and repeating everything for any reproduction takes a lot of time, effort and money.

In recent years, more and more creators have switched to royalty-free music. This is because it only requires one upfront payment to the rights holder, or a recurring payment if you’re subscribing.

Where do you get royalty-free music?

Epidemic Sound has a massive, top-tier catalog of royalty-free music. With a monthly or yearly subscription, you get unlimited access to over 35,000 tracks you can’t find anywhere else, plus 90,000 premium sound effects.

What is royalty-free music

What's the difference between royalty-free and direct licensing?

Royalty-free music companies typically don’t own all rights themselves. They may own the rights to some/all music in their catalog, but not to every track or right. They usually operate as a go-between, clearing the rights with the rights holders and then licensing them to customers.

This means the customer can be responsible to pay for rights not included in that agreement, like public performance. Royalty-free music doesn’t automatically include public performance rights, meaning you still might have to pay royalties when you publish your soundtracked content on digital platforms.

More often than not, people will be unaware of this, which usually results in their content being copyright claimed once live on public platforms like YouTube.

Direct licensing, on the other hand, goes further. This model offers all rights to the music, ensuring users are protected from being claimed. Epidemic Sound offers you a direct license to our entire catalog.

If you want royalty-free music without the hassle of chasing down and paying for all the necessary rights, try a direct license with us. We’re more than royalty-free. More like worry-free. Click below for a 30-day free trial and start soundtracking the world.

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