Music Guide For Creatives

What is Royalty Free Music? A Guide For Aspiring Creatives

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Royalty free music is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented things in music licensing. Many vloggers and content creators get into legal troubles because they used a musical track without understanding its license conditions. 

If you want to avoid such hassles, you need to understand the nature of royalty free music and sound effects. 

We’re here to help you get started. Whether you want to start vlogging or you have a long-term corporate project, we’ll show you the basics of royalty free stock music and other related information. 

Understanding Royalty Free Music

Basically, royalty free music is a dynamic type of music licensing that doesn’t require users to pay royalties to the track creator. In most cases, users only need to pay a one-time fee regardless of the track’s purpose and estimated usage time. 

Let’s say that you need a royalty free music track for your project. You can simply approach a music licensor and pay for your chosen track. After paying for the license, you’re free to use the track for any project and for as long as you want! 

Now, there’s another type of music licensing that you have to know: rights-managed music. Commonly known as ‘needle drop,’ rights-managed licensing requires users to pay a fee every time the track is synched.

If you’re going to buy a track under rights-managed licensing, you need to be ready. Prepare your finances, especially if you need a rights-managed track for a long project. You probably need to pay for the track multiple times. In addition, you should take note 

Basically, royalty free music covers musical content that doesn’t require you to pay royalties to its creator. On the other hand, rights-managed music is delicate because you need to determine the purpose of the chosen tracks. The track’s price also depends on how many times it was pl

Royalty Free Music vs. Copyright Free Music

Understand this, royalty-free music is not the same as copyright-free music.

In fact, copyright-free music is misleading because all created music tracks have copyrights. The track’s creator technically owns the copyright, and he/she has the freedom to set limitations for the said track.

One important thing that you have to know about copyrights is that they have expiration dates. These dates vary per country but usually cover the lifetime of the creator. Once the copyright for a track expires, it will fall under public domain coverage.

After the track transitions to public domain, you can now use it without encountering legal repercussions. You still need to be careful because policies change regularly.

You must also know that royalty-free music is still copyrighted. Many creators get this part wrong because they were misled by the ‘royalty free’ clause. Don’t commit the same mistake!

All the music on is copyrighted. When we sell the music to media producers, they gain the mechanical rights to sync the music any way they want. On top of that, no additional payments are required.

Still here? Great! We’ll expound more. 

Free & Paid Royalty Free Music – What’s The Difference?

If you think royalty free music is complicated, well, you’re right. But our goal is to help you understand the framework of royalty-free sounds and music licensing. We’ll tackle these points step by step.

There are actually two types of royalty-free music. Read on:

Free Royalty-Free Music

The Free Royalty-Free Music (a mouthful indeed!) is divided into two major license types.

  • Public Domain
  • Free License

Under public domain, you don’t need permission to use a music track. Once you have this track, you’re free to adapt, distribute, copy, and share the music without any problem.

Free Licenses (Creative Commons), however, have semi-strict limitations on distributing and copying a licensed work. It’s like letting your friend borrow a precious book but you left explicit instructions pertaining to damage, bookmarking, and folding the pages. 

Often, creative common licenses require users to provide full credentials to the composer. Specific requirements may change, so make sure that you fully read the artists’ policies for using their work.

Crediting takes only a few seconds of your time and will save you from licensing troubles!

Take note of these types of Creative Commons Licenses:

Attribution – This license type indicates that a track requires proper attribution from users, content creators, and music producers.

Non-Commercial – Under this license type, you may only use the music track for non-commercial and non-profit purposes. 

No Derivative Works – If you find a track under this license, you can’t transform it to a new derivative work or result. Some of the actions that violate the No Derivative Work license are remixing the track, rearranging words, or a whole new adaptation project. 

Share Alike – This CC license allows you to use and transform a track freely. However, the resulting derivative work must have the same license as the original. Also, you shouldn’t include other materials in the new work, as they might be incompatible with the original license. 

BY License – With this license, you just need to fully credit the track creator and indicate the changes you’ve made. The BY attribution is the most common license type also used outside the music industry.

BY SA – A variant of the Share Alike license, the BY SA indicates that your new finished work (i.e. a remixed track) has the same license. However, you can’t impose limitations or prevent others from sharing your finished work. 

BY ND – The BY ND is a flexible type of license that allows you to use a track for any purpose – commercial, non-commercial, or even personal. But you should remember to give credit and avoid transforming the work into something else. In other words, you can’t make a derivative work from a track under BY ND.

BY NC – This special license covers music tracks with non-commercial permissions. As long as you give proper attribution to those tracks and don’t use them commercially, you can modify them. Also, if you want to distribute such modified tracks, you should indicate that your purpose is non-commercial.

BY NC SA – The BY NC SA license is almost the same as the license above. But NC SA emphasizes the way you distribute a derivative work. Under NC SA, you must set the new license the same as the one you started with. 

BY NC ND – One of the strictest CC licenses, NC ND indicates that you always need to attribute the creator of the track. Additionally, you can’t modify or distribute the new work even if your purpose is non-profit.

Paid Royalty-Free Music

You’re probably thinking that public domain tracks are the best choices. They are – if you want to spend lots of time researching and attributing.

Before you make that decision, please check out the benefits of using paid royalty-free music:

  • No need for attribution
  • Freedom to modify the track within reason
  • Commercial usage eligibility
  • Higher audio quality
  • Legal protection
  • Seamless option for client projects

Also, you can’t monetize a YouTube video if it uses a public domain track.  Royalty Free Music allows full YouTube monetization, and has no audience size or distribution restrictions.

If you want to know more about the full coverage of music licenses, feel free to send us an email today!

Important: Royalty Free Music FAQ

Do you want to understand royalty free stock music better? We’ve prepared a simple FAQ 

Q: How do you determine if a song is royalty-free?

A: The question above is actually wrong and tricky to answer. It’s safe to say that almost all music and sound tracks are copyrighted. 

Instead, the right question should be: “What are you going to use the music/track for?”

Knowing the purpose of the track (commercial, educational, or personal) will help you figure out the right type of license to use.Let’s say that you need to make a small product commercial for a client. If you rely on Creative Commons, you can pick tracks with the common BY or BY ND license. Just make sure that you do the proper attribution needed. 

To avoid the hassle, you can simply transact with a royalty free music provider. This way, you don’t have to worry about licensing matters and you can focus on finishing your project.

Q: Can I use 10 seconds of a copyrighted song without a license?

A: Many people believe that using just 10 seconds of a song without a license is legal. Wrong!

Even if you use just two seconds of a song, you’re technically breaching a copyright. This is illegal and can lead to problematic copyright claims.  It is best to either use public domain, creative commons or obtain a royalty free sync license.

Q: Can I use royalty free music on Youtube?

A: Yes, as long as you obtain a legal sync license first.

Q: How much does royalty free music cost?

A: It varies.  At, you can get access to an unlimited amount of music and sound effects for as low as $16.67 per month. If you need just one track, that has a license that lasts forever, it’s $39.95. 

Please visit our pricing page for more detailed information.

Q: Is Youtube Audio Library copyright-free?

A: Yes. One problem is that the Youtube library is small and you might end up using the same music synched by other Youtubers. This will affect the quality and originality of your content!


Now that you’re aware of the definition and intricacies of royalty free music, you can now create your content with less worries. You can also bookmark this article and refer to it whenever you’re confused. 

Here’s an even better strategy: write down the important bits about royalty free music and licenses on separate index cards. Post these cards in your corkboard and keep them as your quick reference.

And don’t forget to visit today to see the best royalty free stock music and sound effects!

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