LicenseFAQ

Learn All About the Different Types of Music Licenses

PremiumBeat has enlarged the font on the fine print so that you can learn about the various types of music licenses, music licensing agreements, music licensing fees, and more without getting a headache.

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Be in the Know

With so many different music licenses out there and a whole lot of fine print to be aware of, the best thing you can do is educate yourself. That way, you won’t mistakenly use a copyrighted song in your project without proper licensure, a mistake that can result in some costly fines. Scroll down to learn the ABCs of music licensing and discover the simplest ways to safely use copyrighted music in your projects.

Best Music Licensing Companies on the Web

A quick internet search will reveal that PremiumBeat is considered one of the best music licensing companies. Customers love our intuitive interface and wide variety of filters, both of which make finding the perfect tracks for your next project a breeze. Search by Genre, Mood, Duration, Instrument, and more. Choose one of our flexible license options and start incorporating high-quality music into your video, commercial, or podcast today.

Royalty-Free = Hassle-Free

Something as seemingly simple as playing a song you love in your YouTube video can unfortunately get your video muted or taken down within seconds. Rather than stress about trying to secure all the music licenses required to play a copyrighted song in your next project, go the royalty-free route. When you find a royalty-free track you love within our library (and they are ALL royalty-free!), and select the license that suits your project, you can rest assured that you are legally covered to use our tracks.
About Types of music licenses
What are the different types of music licenses?
A music license is a legal agreement that comes in a variety of specific forms. There’s the synchronization license, simply called the sync license for short. This has been the most widely used license in the music and audiovisual market for many years. Basically, this license is required whenever a song is played in tandem with visual media such as YouTube videos, television commercials, and films. Then there’s the master license. This license grants permission to use a recorded version of a song with visual or audio media. With this license you would be allowed to use an existing track in your video, but you would not be allowed to record a new version. The mechanical license allows you to record your own version of the song. If you want the rights to reproduce the sheet music for a song, you will need a print license. There is also a theatrical license which is needed in order to use a copyrighted song in a theatrical performance. Scroll down to get more information about these music licenses.
What is a sync license?
A sync or synchronization license allows a music track to be used in conjunction with an audiovisual project. The music track may be reproduced as long as it is coordinated with the moving images of the audiovisual work. This sort of license is usually necessary when it comes to TV shows, animated series, films, commercial videos on streaming platforms such as YouTube, video ads, video games, and so on. The sync license is generally issued by a music publisher or music publishing company. Acquiring this license is the responsibility of the producer of a given audiovisual project.
What is a master license?
It is easy to confuse the master license with the sync license but there are key differences. While both are indeed necessary if the intention is to use music in audiovisual projects, it is the master license that transfers the rights to the original recording of the song to the customer. The sync license, on the other hand, allows the customer to use the composition of a song, meaning the score and lyrics, to make a new recording of the original track. Another difference worth noting is the membership of each license. The master license is usually held by the record companies that have recorded the original artist’s music, while the sync license is usually held by the publishers or composers. All of this is to say that if you intend to use a song in audiovisual media, be sure to obtain both the sync and master license.
What is a mechanical license?
A mechanical license or reproduction license allows a song to be reproduced and distributed in any form of media for a specific audience. It is always for an exclusively private use of the music track. It is the mechanical license that grants a company the rights to set or record a music track in a medium that can be reproduced. It also allows the customer of the music track to obtain copies of the song. If you are looking to record your own version of a specific song or export a video that uses the song in a physical or digital format, this license will be required.
What is a print license?
A print license, sometimes called print rights, grants a customer permission to print copies of the scores of a given music track. It is an agreement between a music user and the owner of a copyrighted composition that allows the user to rearrange, print, or display the music notes or lyrics of a song. Even if the music user is only looking to display some of the lyrics from a song on the back cover of a CD or in the subtitles of a YouTube video, this license will still be required.
What is a theatrical license?
A theatrical license is only used in the theater. Also known as grand rights, a theatrical license must be obtained by a theater company before a given song may be performed in an on-stage production before an audience. These licenses are complex, so it is suggested that theater companies make a request months ahead of their intended release, and even come up with a backup plan in case the request is denied. Theater companies can expect to pay a fee to the copyright holder based on the number of performances, ticket price, and sales.
What are royalty-free licenses?
Royalty-free licenses are an excellent alternative to the music licenses mentioned above. Rather than make a request for a specific license, wait months, and then discover the request has been denied, you can dramatically simplify the process by getting a royalty-free license from PremiumBeat. All you have to do is explore our library, discover tracks you love, add them to your cart, and then head to checkout to select the royalty-free license that meets your needs. PremiumBeat offers two flexible license plans that allow for unlimited use within your project. If your content is web-based or non-commercially distributed, select the Standard license. If you are working on revenue-generating content, opt for the Premium License. With both of these licenses, you only pay a one-time fee. No ongoing royalties to worry about.

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Licensing music for commercial use

Commercial use refers to any use of a product or service intended for financial gain. When it comes to using music for commercial use, the music is the product or service meant to increase sales for the person or company that has licensed it. Sound effects are also considered music in this case. The definition of “commercial use” can be a bit murky. Adding music to a video game that customers must buy or into an advertisement meant to generate income is clearly commercial use. But what about background music added into a YouTube video of a goofy dog? At first glance, that video is not intended for commercial use but if the video aims to generate followers which will result in increased ad revenue, is that commercial use? Even if the licensee is not directly selling a product, it is still necessary to obtain a license for any copyrighted music used. The safest route is to license royalty-free music in a few quick clicks.

Music licensing for video

There are several common misconceptions to be aware of if you intend to use copyrighted music in a video. If you come across a music track on the internet that claims to be available for free listening or download, this does not mean you have a license to use the track in a video. Many people also falsely assume that giving credit to a band or song composer automatically grants a license to use their music in a video. In most cases, however, if you want to use a song in a video, you will need to specifically request two different licenses: the sync license and the master license. The sync license will come from the music publisher while the master license is held by the recording label. The easiest way to ensure you have the rights to use a song in your video is to license royalty-free tracks found in an audio library such as PremiumBeat.

Licensing music for podcasts

If you would like to use a copyrighted song in an upcoming episode of your podcast, you are going to need a sync license. This is because the music is synced with the larger audio program. The person who owns the copyright to a song may not want their music associated with a given podcast, making these licenses difficult to obtain. There is no limit on compensation, which means that the copyright owner can set a very high price. The podcaster must also obtain a license from every rights-holder, which may very well include the record label, publishing companies, and songwriter. To save time and money, simply search the PremiumBeat library. Use the filters to narrow down the exact sort of sound you’d like to feature on your show. Add your chosen song to your cart, select the license that meets your needs, and download. Edit into your podcast and you’re good to go.

Music licensing for commercials

To use a song in a TV or radio commercial, you will generally need both a sync and master license. The costs for these vary depending on the intended usage and popularity of the song. If the song is featured in what is considered low-end TV usage, with the song playing from a stereo in the background, for example, the fee could range from free to $2,000 for a 5-year license. In a typical TV or radio commercial in the United States, a well-known song could cost anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000 for one-year national usage. If you would rather spend $199 for commercial music, check out PremiumBeat’s premium license. Find a song that matches the tone of your commercial in our library and pay your one-time fee to use the song in your commercial in perpetuity.

Music licensing for business

If you are a business owner and you would like to play music in your business, you will need the master rights, mechanical rights, and performance rights. This means that if you own a restaurant and you’d like copyrighted music to play over the speakers as your diners enjoy a meal, you will need three music licenses to ensure you are legally covered. Playing such music without a license can result in fines that range from $750 to $150,000. Obtaining three licenses is a complex and time-consuming endeavor. If you would like to offer your customers a unique musical experience, why not create your own playlist with songs discovered within the PremiumBeat library? Search using our advanced filters in order to find musical tracks that match the mood and atmosphere you’d like to create in your place of business.
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