What Is Royalty Free Music

There is a lot of confusion and misunderstandings around the meaning of "Royalty Free Music".
In this article we will try to explain what
royalty free music is and write about some common mistakes.

What is Royalty Free Music?

Royalty Free Music is a type of music licensing that enables the buyer to purchase a piece of music and use it for as long as he or she wants. Let's say that a Youtuber needs a piece of music for a new video. He or she pays a single price and can keep the video online for as long as wanted. It also doesn't matter if 50 or 20,000 people see the video.

What is the opposite?

Music licensing that is not "Free or Royalty" is referred to as "rights managed" or "Needle Drop" licensing. In this case the buyer will have to pay royalties (fees) that can vary depending on the size of the audience or territory and the number of times the music is used. In other words, you pay a fee every time the music is used.

What are the most common mistakes around "Royalty Free Music"...

Royalty Free Music is free

Royalty Free Music is free of royalties, but can be licensed at any price. There are tracks that are for sale for €20, but there are also tracks that cost €500. However, most of the prices are very affordable for most people. 

Royalty Free Music is always poor quality and boring music

It is truth that there is a lot of uninspiring royalty free music for sale, but all music can be licensed as Royalty Free Music. There are thousands of composers who make great new tracks everyday and sell them as royalty free music. You just have to search for it.

Royalty Free Music is copyright free

Every composer automatically owns the copyright of the created music. He or she decides if someone is given the right to copy his or her music and for which purpose. So Royalty Free Music that is offered for free is not free of Copyright. Compositions in Public Domain can be copyright free, but the original sound recording (Master Tape) is still protected by copyright. 

Royalty Free Music is free of Performing Rights

If Royalty Free Music ends up as background music in a major television show then the composer can still receive composers royalties for the public screening or performance of his music. Don't worry, these royalties are not paid by the music license buyer but are being paid by the television and radio networks that broadcast the show.
PRO's (Performing Rights Organisations), like BMI, SESAC and ASCAP, take care of the distribution of royalties to the composers.