Podcast Music: Do’s & Dont’s

Music and licensing can be a confusing part of podcast creation. Let's break down everything you need to know about music in podcasts.

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One of the most commonly asked questions about podcast creation is, what music can be used to play in podcasts if any? We’re going to answer that question here, and hopefully answer any other questions you might have about music in podcasts.

Can't I Just Apply for a Normal 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.

Is There Another Way Around It?

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’s 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.

So What Can I Do?

One thing you can do in order to avoid having to chase up every single song that you put into your podcast, is utilise copyright and royalty free music. 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: This 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.

Purple Planet: A lesser known site perhaps, but still very useful for finding free music to add into your podcast. They have a page that explains how to use their music and still adhere to their requests, which is basically just making sure you credit the music to Purple Planet.

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.

You can check out the Podcast side of Fiverr here: Podcast Fiverr

One final way of getting something like this done 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 into/outro or any other music as a commission. They get the experience, and you get a brand new intro/outro package for your podcast.

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