If you are a filmmaker or a content creator of any type that requires the production of quality video-based material, then you are almost certainly well aware of the travails related to scoring your projects. Trying to access and, legally, use top-quality music to give your visuals the professional feel that you require isn’t an easy task at all.
That desperation to find the right musical output has led some to discuss, at length, the possibility of using public-domain material. However, this is something of a faulty exercise that is likely to see you wasting valuable time on an impossible mission.
What is Public Domain Music?
Public domain music is something of a catch-all term that basically means that a piece of music is available for your use without the need for clearing it or securing permissions or a license. This could be because it’s seen its copyright expired (more on those examples later) or because it never had a copyright in the first place because the owner decided not to attach one to their work.
Before you consider rushing out to find and use public domain music, you should take into account that it’s possible that the music may not be available for commercial use, so tread carefully.
The concept of copyright, especially in relation to creative material, is one that’s there to rightly protect the intellectual property of its owner. However, the whole system that surrounds copyright is quite antiquated and can be confusing to those who are unused to its vagaries.
Can I Use Music That Has No Copyright?
Trying to find and use music with no copyright is another activity that is likely to lead to a dead end. Music without copyright effectively only means music that has seen its copyright expire, and this usually only relates to music that is at least 75 years old and will therefore not be suitable for modern productions both in terms of style but also most likely in terms of the quality of the recording.
The amount of music that is available in any of the circumstances addressed earlier is very small indeed. This means that your goal of finding the right music, and not just music that’s free, is a problematic one, to say the least.
I’ll Just Pay the Copyright to Get Great Mainstream Music
Good luck with that. You should know that the costs associated with getting the license for even one solitary song may wipe out your entire budget, and even then, you’ve only just started your journey into the rabbit hole that is music licensing.
Firstly, you may have found a song that you think is perfect for a scene or portion of your film or video. You’ll then need to find out who owns the rights to the track, and that isn’t as easy as you might think—factor in that some tracks have multiple license holders.
Once you’ve found the relevant information, you’ll need to start the dialogue with the owner, which is likely to be a lengthy process. Finally, it’s entirely plausible that even though you might be ready, willing, and able to cover the costs of the license, they may just turn you down on the spot.
After all, unless you are a well-known director or producer, they may just not see the worth in giving you the permission you need to use their music.
How About Royalty-Free Music?
Another smarter option when it comes to securing great music at an inexpensive cost comes in the form of royalty-free music. This is a hugely popular option that many content producers are now freely using.
Royalty-free music is precisely what it sounds like. It’s music that is available without the need for an additional license. Usually, this means you subscribe to a royalty-free music provider, and then you have access to a wealth of music that is produced by singers, DJs, artists, and bands aligned to that particular provider.
It’s a great way to score your productions as it’s very much purpose-built for your needs and makes the whole process far easier. The amount of content offered varies but will usually involve thousands of tracks and SFX (sound effects) output. It will be regularly updated, and therefore, as a resource, it’s a one-stop-shop that works well for many.
The royalty-free music industry has matured in recent years and is now very much fit for purpose and a dream to work with if you are an editor, producer, or director. The costs of the service remain low due to the huge competition for your business so now is very much the right time to get yourself acquainted with all that the service has to offer.