Music can help turn podcasts into exciting and engaging shows, but what can you play legally? Navigate the minefield that is music licensing, common pitfalls to watch out for, and find answers to all your questions about music in podcasts.
Should I Apply for a Radio License?
For radio productions, you need to apply to various licensing companies if you’re planning on playing licensed and copyrighted music. So, a logical conclusion to jump to would be that you’d just need to approach the same licensing bodies and get a license in exactly the same way.
However, this is actually not going to cover you. These licenses for streaming cover “public performances” which counts streaming to an internet radio station, as an example. Podcasts are not considered to be “public performances” because they are recorded and uploaded. People can then also download these episodes and keep them. This then violates rule in the Copyright Act that disallows “reproductions” of the copyrighted content, in this case, the music.
Essentially, with the way it currently is, you will have to go to the actual holders of the Copyright license and ask them for the rights to each specific song you want to use.
When to Use Fair Use Music
There is a concept called “Fair Use” which basically means that someone can use a small amount of copyrighted work without having to request permission from the copyright holder at all.
However, there are no guidelines for this concept. It’s usually considered to be around 20-30 secs maximum can constitute as “Fair Use”, but because there are no official guidelines, it’s not right to believe that you cannot get in trouble if you claim “Fair Use” for these amounts of copyrighted work appearing in your show.
Royalty-Free Music in Podcasts
One thing you can do in order to avoid having to chase up every single song that you put into your podcast, is to utilise copyright and royalty-free music in podcasts. There are plenty of places online that offer pages and pages worth of free to use music in plenty of different genres. Here are just a few for you to have a look at:
Free Music Archive is one of the best places to get royalty-free music for your podcasts. Most music on here is 100% suitable for podcast use, however, they are all still covered by different types of Creative Commons licenses so it doesn’t hurt to double-check. There are plenty of different genres or ambient tones on there so you’re bound to find something that suits your needs.
As well as this, another option you can look at is actually Fiverr. This is a website where individuals can put their services up and people can pay them to create a podcast intro/outro for you. Some people even offer whole podcast imaging packages including an intro, outro and possibly even some trailer material.
Free to Use Student Music
Another way of getting music in podcasts is to approach a university or music college and ask them if they would spread a notice around. You can then ask a student or group of students to create your podcast intro/outro or any other music as a commission. They get the experience, and you get a brand new intro/outro package for your podcast.
Download Podsafe Music
Podcast.co has been busy producing a collection of music which is totally free for the podcasting community to use. Our first album 'Keep Calm and Podcast' is available for download below.