The difference between a good podcast and a GREAT podcast is often how they use music. But, there are a few rules when it comes to which music you can include. Things can get pretty confusing! That's why we're going to break down everything you need to know about including music in your podcast and sorting out your podcast music license!
How Music Copyright Works
Copyright is a law that protects the creator's original work by setting conditions under which their work can be used. The long and short of it is, creators will probably want you to pay a fee and follow certain limitations so they can give you the rights to use their work in your podcast.
3 Common Myths About Licensing
There are a few common misconceptions about how a podcast music license works...
1. The 10 Second Rule
I know, I know... you’ll have been told by LOADS of people that as long as you cut the song after 10 seconds you’ll be fine. Well, unfortunately, that’s just one huge myth. It doesn’t matter if you play 1 second of a song or the full thing, you need to have permission if the song is covered by copyright.
2. Crediting the Original Creator
Sometimes, just crediting the original creator makes no difference to whether or not you have permission to use the track. If you don’t have permission to use the track then crediting will do nothing for you.
3. Not for Profit = No Fees
Just because you’re not making money from your podcast doesn’t mean that musicians shouldn’t be. You’ll still need all the correct permissions when using music so it’s probably advised for non-profit podcasts to look for copyright free music.
Choosing the Right Music License
Purchasing a music license is a surefire way to not get into trouble for using copyrighted music. This can be easier said than done though because music licenses can be expensive, not all artists will allow you to use their music, and most licenses are only equipped to deal with radio streams, so it can get pretty confusing!
Here are the people you should contact who will be able to advise you or help you sort out your podcast music license:
Other licensing companies can easily be found with a quick Google search, so make sure to do your research and find the right one for your country.
Podcast Music License Costs
Pricing is sorted on a case by case basis. If you get loads of downloads, you can expect to pay a higher price than someone who only gets 100-200 per episode.
If you want to use tracks from big artists like Oasis or Madonna, then expect to be paying top dollar for the privilege. A standard license for copywritten music isn't really the best option for your podcast!
When Music is "Fair Use"
The fair use policy indicates that you can use segments of copyrighted material for reviews, commentary and parodies.
Unless this is the subject matter of your podcast, the likelihood is you'll just be using music for fun. Using music for fun doesn't fall under the fair use policy so you'll need to check out purchasing a license. It's also a good thing to keep in mind that the fair use policy can be easily argued against so again, not a great option.
How Creative Commons Licenses Work
This is an open license that allows the artist to set the conditions of you using their music. When something is shared under a Creative Commons license, it’ll break down what you can and can’t do with the work. Some people may let you use their track with no conditions, others might want it to only be used on non-profit work or want you to give credit.
One example is the band, Nine Inch Nails, who released their album Ghosts I-IV under a Creative Commons license with NonCommercial and Attribution rules. This means that fans can remix and share the songs as long as they give credit to the original author and don't use it commercially.
Using Royalty Free Music
Alternatively, you can just use Royalty Free music so you can avoid all the difficult stuff.
With Royalty Free music you can use the songs as you please without having to pay a fee. These tracks tend to be made by independent artists rather than big, signed artists.
Here's a few sites to go to:
- Free Music Archives: Gives you access to new music for free that can be used as beds or theme music for your podcast. Some songs on here have Creative Commons licenses so just double check!
- Epidemic Sound: Probably the most popular paid choice for podcasters. You buy licenses to single tracks meaning it's cheap and you're covered for any use of that track you license. Easy peasy!
- Free Sound: Allows you to search for specific sounds that you want for your podcast and download the tracks you like
- Creatives Commons Music: This is a large database that gives you access to music submitted under a creative commons license
As you can see there a fair few rules surrounding music licensing, but there's loads of options out there to make sure you're doing the right thing! The easiest option is to buy licenses for the individual tracks you need, and to not use songs from massive artists!