A Guide To Music Licensing for Streaming

The best high-quality streams have layers of enticing visuals and casual background audio. Thankfully, obtaining a music license for streaming is much easier than it seems to the uninitiated.

Whether you're going live on YouTube, TikTok, or Twitch, understanding audio licensing is crucial for your content's legality and quality. 

How Music Licensing Works for Streaming Platforms

The licensing process for music in online streams varies by audio track. In some cases, you'll need to obtain a particular streaming license from the copyright owner. Other times, you may only need permission from music licensing websites and libraries.

Various licensing agreements specify different uses and restrictions, so always read the fine print before streaming. Some types of licenses include:

  • Sync licenses: These are standard agreements for streaming and video content, covering royalty-free background music, sound effects, and more.
  • Public performance licenses: These licenses give permission to perform another artist's song in public, on the radio, or while streaming.
  • Commercial licenses: With these, you have permission to use audio tracks for profit, usually at more significant costs.
  • Mechanical licenses: Mechanical licenses are agreements that only apply to audio-exclusive formats, such as podcasts and non-video streams.

The Importance of Proper Music Licensing for Streaming

First and foremost, obtaining a music license for streaming keeps you compliant with the music industry's copyright laws. Misusing other people's music could get your content removed and result in serious legal action. Only use properly licensed music in your streams, especially if you're monetized. 

Unfortunately, you may run into legal issues with your audio based on what you stream. For example, most video game companies copyright their music, so you can't easily license it. This is why many Twitch streamers turn the music off in their game settings to avoid copyright infringement.

Beyond legality, music streaming licenses and libraries keep your videos high-quality and non-repetitive. Exploring copyright and royalty-free options may expand your possibilities and improve your streams in ways you hadn't considered. Plus, sponsors, affiliates, and other content creators may be more willing to partner with you if they know you don't steal other artists' work. 



How To Obtain Music Rights for Streaming

Check out the following stream licensing processes to learn how to license music for YouTube

Negotiate a License Agreement with the Copyright Holder

You can use copyrighted music in your streaming content, but you may need permission from the owner first. Unfortunately, obtaining a sync or stream license alone can get complicated.

First, identify the copyright holder. Don't assume the person or band whose name is on the song actually owns the music. Instead, research how the music was produced. For example, independent artists tend to hold exclusive rights to their content, while collaborative and studio works will be more complex. 

Depending on the type of music, copyright owners can include: 

  • Songwriters
  • Performers
  • Estates of former copyright holders
  • Publishing rights owners
  • Record company
  • Performance rights organizations
  • A combination of any of the above

In many cases, different parties own specific levels of copyright. You may need permission from the songwriter and the performer or recording label for specific publishing rights. Additionally, many copyright owners have different processes, limitations, and royalties for their music streaming licenses. It may be impossible — or at least much more challenging — to get the licensing you want.

Use Royalty-Free Music Libraries

Royalty-free music is still copyrighted, but you only need to pay a flat fee. Royalty-free audio libraries obtain streaming licenses from various artists, making their music available at no extra costs.

Music libraries are fantastic solutions when you don't have particular songs or audio files in mind. The larger their collection, the more options you'll have. You can easily assemble a playlist of chill, new age, or dramatic music for the background. Plus, you may find unique sound effects for your ambiance, graphics, and additional video content. 

Utilize Music Streaming Services

Music streaming services can be an ideal way to find unique copyright-free music, though you usually have to dig. In general, you can't use apps like Spotify and Apple Music in your livestream unless you find specific copyright-free playlists. Even then, you should thoroughly research the music before using it. 

On the other hand, some streaming platforms and music libraries are specialized for content creators. These tools let you find various types of music perfect for streaming with minimal fees. 

Look for Creative Commons Platforms

Various artists and music publishers grant Creative Commons (CC) licenses for their work as long as you give them credit. While specific licenses vary, they generally allow anyone to redistribute, adapt, or remix audio with few limitations. However, certain CC tracks may require commercial licenses for monetized streams. 

Always do your research before you stream songs, including their specific sound recordings. For instance, a piece of music written in 1912 may be in the public domain, but a recording of it from 2003 could still be protected. 

Benefits of Royalty-Free Music Libraries for Streaming

One of the greatest benefits of audio libraries is assembling databases of sounds and music for your projects. This is especially critical for streaming music, as you'll need hours of audio to avoid a repetitive ambiance. Working with a royalty-free music library saves you the hassle of obtaining individual licensing agreements. Most importantly, it gives you more options for your content. 

For example, if you do regular, multi-hour streams, you should avoid distracting or repeating tracks. A royalty-free library helps you find various songs that work for your content. Add as many as you want to your designated streaming playlist to ensure you never have to worry about repetition. Then, revisit the library later and try different search criteria to mix up your content. 

StockMusic.net lets you search for audio using the following filters:

  • Genre
  • Mood
  • Instrument
  • Tempo
  • Length
  • Vocal
  • Artist
  • Sound effects

Choose the Best Provider of Royalty-Free Music for Streaming

StockMusic.net has one of the most expansive libraries on the planet. When selecting music for streams, you can obtain a music license without doing any of the legal work — and with more options, you can customize your streams to your desired moods.

Explore our royalty-free music library to find the right songs for your next livestream. 


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