Are royalty free and copyright free music the same thing?

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No, royalty free music and copyright free music are not the same. However, the distinction can be complicated and sometimes confusing. It is therefore extremely important for content creators to understand the rules surrounding any music they use in their projects.

Music has always been closely intertwined with video, media, and podcast production. It can change the mood of a scene or podcast episode, adding an emotional layer to the content shared. This makes it an essential tool for creators to be able to access and use safely in their projects.

Most content creators, big or small, will have found themselves in a position like this: you’ve created the perfect visuals, and now you need the perfect accompanying soundtrack. You jump online and search for free music for videographers, finding lots of results but not what you need. The chances are you will soon come across some websites offering royalty free music or copyright free music.

So, what exactly is the difference between royalty free and copyright free music?

What is royalty free Music?

Simply, royalty free means the purchaser has the right to use the music without having to pay ongoing royalties. Instead, a one-time fee is paid, giving the user unlimited access to the music without any additional charges.

This makes royalty free music an ideal solution for content creators in need of high-quality background music. Especially if they don’t want to worry about complex licensing agreements or costly commercial music licenses.

So what is copyright free?

Simply put, copyright free music is music that nobody owns the copyright for or that nobody will be claiming copyright against the use of it. It is also very, very rare.

There is very little music out there that is truly copyright free. In almost all cases, copyright is legally owned by the creator of the music. However, there are some cases where the copyright owner has chosen not to enforce that copyright. In this case they would not bring any copyright infringement claims against those using it.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, in most cases it is. If your main music sourcing strategy is to search for copyright free music with no extra costs involved, you may want to begin lowering your expectations.

Why is the distinction between the two so important?

The internet is a big, wild place with very few hiding places. Mistakes with music licensing or attribution can be very costly. The confusion between royalty free and copyright free is understandable. The legal meanings of the terms royalty free and copyright free have become muddied through misunderstanding and casual use. It is vital that creators, whether using music for commercial gain or personal use, to understand the distinction.

With the rise of YouTube as a social media tool over the past decade, the lines around using music on videos has become particularly blurred. YouTube has a robust copyright strike system that allows artists and publishers (such as the IMLC) to protect copyright by flagging up misuse. This can very easily and quickly lead to the loss of a channel if the proper checks on royalty free music have not been made.

Thankfully, it is very easy to avoid these traps with some due diligence. Rather than seeking out music that is royalty free or copyright free, the safest option is to find music that can be clearly licensed for the purpose you have in mind. Here is where you will find the importance of royalty free libraries and music licensing sites such as the IMLC.

The reality of the world now means that it pays to be careful wherever copyright is concerned. Keep a close eye on where you get music from, and take the extra time to read terms, conditions, and licenses carefully to save headaches further down the line.

Can I use royalty free music for commercial use?

Yes indeed! If you make sure you license the music correctly, then using royalty free music commercially is an excellent option for creators. An even better option is to license music for commercial use directly from the artist or producer, so terms and expectations for use can be directly discussed. The IMLC Library makes it even easier to do that.

Big and small content creators alike appreciate royalty free music because of its flexibility, affordability, and convenience. With royalty free music, content creators can easily access an extensive selection of high-quality music and be confident that they are legally allowed to use it.

This means that creators can focus on producing top-quality content without worrying about the legal implications of their choice of music. For big and small content creators looking for music for commercial use, a royalty free music library is an excellent and cost-effective option that will help elevate their projects to the next level.

Do I need to pay for royalty free and copyright free music?

The truth is, there is not a lot of music available that doesn’t require some kind of payment for its use in videos, podcasts, or other media. Here at the IMLC, we regularly speak with creators who see the word ‘free’ ascribed to the music and assume that they are authorised to use it however they wish. This is, unfortunately, a dangerous game to play and can land content creators in a serious trouble.

A particularly common mistake is finding music for YouTube videos. Many people think that if their channel isn’t monetised or they see no commercial gain from it that royalty free music can be used. Even if you’re making videos as a hobby, the chance is the best available music will have a license cost attached to it. However, this doesn’t have to break the bank. Music licensing prices are usually very affordable and will add to your peace of mind.

A royalty free music library offers a vast array of musical genres and styles, making it easier for creators to find the perfect track for their projects. From upbeat pop tracks to relaxing background scores, a royalty free music library has everything covered. Content creators can easily download and use these tracks in their podcasts, YouTube videos, short films, commercials, and other media formats without any legal issu

So what should I be aware of when considering using royalty free music?

1. Is anything really ‘free’?

100% free-to-use music is incredibly hard to come by. Don’t be fooled by the wording. ‘Free’ can mean anything from free to listen to, download, or free from ongoing royalty payments. Always look further into the ‘free’ label before using any music.

    2. It’s perfect for YouTube

    You may want to use the latest pop hits to show off your new vlog post, but the chances of affording that are slim, especially if you’re not monetised. Royalty free is the best music for YouTube. A one-off payment from the IMLC will get you perpetual use on your channel.

    3. Royalty free music is not free from copyright

    Somebody made the music you want to use. More often than not this means somebody out there is going to be keeping an eye on its copyright. Do your due diligence!

    What about CC and public domain music?

    Great question! Creative Commons music is becoming a more popular way for artists to release music independently, and has a distinct crossover with some royalty free music. For example, many of the artists on the IMLC utilise Creative Commons licenses to get their music out to the public through the popular website Free Music Archive.

    One thing that’s always important to remember is that music released on CC is still subject to restrictions. Not long ago we created the ultimate Creative Commons video guide about the dos and don’ts of CC usage to make sure you are following the guidelines and not getting into trouble.

    Music in the public domain is harder to find and usually older in origin. This is the closest thing you will find to free music, as it is usually due to the copyright expiring or the music being recorded before copyright existed. In this case, the music is free to be used in all projects without infringing copyright. However, with all the recent changes in copyright law and creators becoming more savvy about protecting their work, the pool of public domain music available is tiny. It is very unlikely to be a genuine option for most people.

    How does the IMLC make using royalty free music safe for you?

    This is the simplest answer of them all. The IMLC takes away all the headache of trying to work out what can and what cannot be used. Our prices are fair, our music high-quality and as an independently run business we have the flexibility to engage with creators about their specific needs. All our royalty free music licenses are provided with perpetual cover, so you can buy once and never have to worry about copyright infringement again. Nobody can deliver this service quite like the IMLC artists!

    Making royalty free music for commercial use

    You’ve made it this far – maybe it’s time to check out our awesome independent royalty free music library?

    By now you know everything you need to about royalty free music and how to use it safely in your projects. Here at the IMLC we are making it our business to educate content creators on the best ways to utilise our royalty free music library and the benefits of purchasing a commercial music license. You can visit our blog or YouTube channel for more relevant information on the issues content creators face.

    The best thing to do now is check out the IMLC Library, where you can listen to over 2,000 tracks of high-quality, multi-genre music by independent artists and producers with years of experience making royalty free music for commercial licensing. In the library you can search by genre and mood to find the perfect sound for your project.

    All of our tracks are available for a single-track license, as well as being part of our Membership packages. Need a bunch of similar tracks for a particular project? Check out our curated license packs or get in contact to discuss the project with one of our artists.