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.

But the real question is - what is royalty-free music? Is it music anyone can just use for free? How does it work and how can you find it? There’s a LOT of confusion surrounding royalty-free music and other types of music licensing. Today, we’re going to clear up all the misconceptions and give you straightforward answers to all your royalty-free music questions!

In simple terms, explain royalty-free music?

In the simplest terms possible, royalty-free music is music that you pay for once and that you don't have to pay royalties for to use. There is a lot of confusion surrounding royalty-free, namely because of that word ‘free’. That confusion extends to other music license options as well, which will talk about in a moment. When you license music for major productions, you often have to pay royalties for as long as the song is used. In movies, TV shows and other productions royalties are paid to the artist every time the movie or TV show air somewhere. While that model works for some productions, royalty-free enables a single upfront payment to be made to the artist, which can be much better for other projects, especially smaller ones.

The various types of music licensing are confusing and come with a variety of terms. It’s one of the reasons Epidemic Sound exists - we make it simple through a single monthly subscription for unlimited access! But, let’s talk about the other types of music you can license.

  • Copyright-Free: Copyright-free music is without copyright. The original creator has decided to release the music to be used without restriction. The availability of this kind of music is very rare. In some cases, music claiming to be copyright free is actually copyright but the creator chooses not to act on it when it’s used. Tread carefully with using this kind of music, and do your research beforehand. It exists, but it is extremely uncommon.
  • Stock Music: The best example of stock music is YouTube’s Audio Library. The songs are copyright but are whitelisted for creators to use freely. The problem with many stock music libraries is the quality of the music is often low, or very limited.
  • Creative Commons: Sometimes artists release their songs under creative commons licenses. These licenses dictate how they can be used and what credits you must give the creator. It should be warned that a creative commons track used today, may one day in the future be listed as copyright. There are many cases of creators using music that 5-6 years later was then sold/signed to a company that started enforcing copyright.
  • Public Domain: This is an interesting category of music because it only applies to works published prior to 1922. Keep in mind, even though a song may be public domain, the recording of that song may be copyright. In 2021-to-2067, sound recordings will begin to be eligible for public domain status.

Where can you find high-quality royalty-free music?

One of the best sources for high-quality royalty-free music is Epidemic Sound. We’re the only place where you can find tens of thousands of professionally produced, high-quality tracks. Our artists come from every genre imaginable, from dubstep to classical, folk to rock and roll. Our catalog has something for every need, and we’re constantly adding new music to it each and every week!

We also make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for. You can sort by genre, mood, tempo and even give you ideas to match a specific scene. We empower you, the creator, to find what you want! Then, once you’ve found the perfect track we give you even more with something called stems. Stems allow you to control each layer of a song you want to use! Just want the drum track? No problem. How about removing the vocals? Done. Stems are a great way to give you even more control over how a song fits with your production.

Is royalty-free music free or is it expensive?

Royalty-free music is NOT free. As previously mentioned, the term free applies to the fact you won’t need to pay royalties after you license a song. Now, that said, royalty-free music does come with a cost. Many places charge significant licensing fees to use it for a single production. At Epidemic Sound, we charge you a monthly subscription that gives you FULL access to the entire catalog. Every song, every stem, and every sound effect are entirely at your disposal for as long as you maintain your subscription! Best of all, with Epidemic Sound, you can monetize all of your video productions using our songs!

What are the benefits of royalty-free music?

There are multiple benefits of using royalty-free music. While not all providers are created equal, we can speak to the benefits of Epidemic Sound. They are, in no particular order:

  1. High-Quality Songs.
  2. Tons of Options.
  3. Full Stems Access.
  4. One Monthly Subscription, No Royalties!
  5. Simple and Clear Usage Rights.
  6. Full Monetization of the Song in Productions.
  7. Continue to Monetize Existing Videos if you Cancel your Subscription.

With Epidemic Sound, if I cancel my subscription, will my videos be demonetized?

If you decide to cancel your subscription to Epidemic Sound, any song you’ve uploaded to videos will continue to be whitelisted. You’ll retain full ability to monetize and not be copyright claimed. You will not be able to use music in future uploads, though, unless you decide to resubscribe. We care about you as a creator, and feel this is the best way to deliver value to you!

To summarize, royalty-free music is a great way to access high-quality music to use in your video productions. If you’re a video creator, Epidemic Sound is the secret weapon for all your music needs!