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Where to Find Licensed Music for Videos

controls of audio mixing consoleWhether it’s a background groove or a raving bass drop, music will make your video better. The trending track of the week would work beautifully but the cost to use it legally will blow your budget. So I did some research on music licensing services and libraries geared for video. These services sell  synchronization licenses to use their catalog of music in videos. The licenses vary depending on the service so I’ll breakdown the differences.

That said, any license you purchase for a video project should have the following criteria:

  • The license is valid in perpetuity. This means the video can remain online forever with no additional costs.
  • The license is valid worldwide. Publishing your video online means sharing it globally. You cannot be limited by territory.

There are other considerations which can be decided case-by-case:

  • Single-use or unlimited uses. A license will specify if a song can only be used for one project (single use) or multiple projects (unlimited uses). For example, you’re publishing a series of tutorials and you want each video to have the same background music. With a single-use license, you may have to repurchase or reregister a license for each video in the series. If the license is unlimited-uses, you’re able to use the song in as many videos as you’d like, without additional fees and licenses.
  • Public performance rights. The permissions granted by a given license will vary. It may say you have permission to use the song in an internet video, but not broadcast television or radio. Make sure you have all the permissions you require i.e. online streaming, broadcast, or events like trade shows. These broader licenses usually cost more and you may have to submit cue sheets to performance rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP and BMI.

I researched 6 services for this article:

  • Sound Stripe
  • Artlist
  • Epidemic Sound
  • Musicbed
  • Premium Beat bu Shutterstock

The first three on the list function in similar ways. You pay a subscription fee and you can choose from thousands of songs to place in your videos. The license is perpetual, global, and cleared for public performance. The number of uses varies from service to service. Additionally, the last two I researched are higher-budget options. These services primarily do single song licenses. The price of these licenses increases depending on the rights you require.

Services with Music License Subscriptions

  Annual Price Uses per Song Online Streaming & Social Media Online Advertising Public Performance (Events and Trade Shows) Broadcast TV & Radio Ads
Sound Stripe $135, Standard Single Use, Re-license required but no additional fee Yes Yes Yes, P.R.O. cue sheet required Yes, P.R.O. cue sheet required
 

$252, Premium. Includes a sound effects library and stem recordings. Same license.

Single Use, Re-license required but no additional fee Yes Yes Yes, P.R.O. cue sheet required Yes, P.R.O. cue sheet required
Artlist $199 Unlimited Yes Yes Yes Yes
Epidemic Sound $299 Unlimited Yes Yes Yes No
Musicbed $1,068+, Business Standard Single-Use Yes No Yes No
  Business Extended: Quote required Single-Use Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

Services with Music Licenses per Song

  Price per Song Uses per Song Online Streaming & Social Media Online Advertising Public Performance (Events and Trade Shows) Broadcast TV & Radio Ads
Musicbed $199+, Business  Single-Use Yes

No

Yes No
  Business Extended: Quote required Single-Use Yes Yes Yes Yes
Premium Beat by Shutterstock $49, Standard Unlimited Yes Yes No No
  $199, Premium Single-Use Yes Yes Yes Yes (Single Territory)

 

To make the best decision, make sure you understand how each project will be used. Protection is important but you don't need to pay for more than you need. If you don't find what you're looking for, most of the services even offer custom licenses for their music if you contact them.

I am not a lawyer and this article should not be considered legal advice. As with any agreement, consult your company's general council.