How Does Royalty Free Music Work? Your Questions, Answered

Did you know that using unlicensed music can lead to fines anywhere from $750 to $150,000? These fines can send any creative project or business deep into debt.

Making sure all music licensing is secured before using any music in a public way is the best way to avoid these costly fines. Licensing fees will almost always end up being significantly lower than the fines incurred for violating licensing laws.

This is why using royalty free music is always the safest bet! But what is royalty free music? The simplest definition is music that only requires one license fee in order for the customer to use it where they want and as much as they want.

Now that we know the basic definition of royalty free, we can address the question: “how does royalty free music work?”

Keep reading to learn all the answers to your questions about royalty free music

Royalty Free Still Comes With a Price

The free in the title can be a little confusing. Customers must pay a one-time synchronization fee to use this music versus other licensing agreements that require a customer to pay a fee every time the music is used.

One of the other more common licensing agreements that is not royalty free is the needle drop license. This would require the customer to pay extra licensing fees every time they use that piece of music, every time the “needle drops.”

The royalty free part actually means that the customer doesn’t have to continue to pay royalties to whoever owns the rights to the music every time that music is played commercially.

Royalty Free Doesn’t Mean Cheap

While some people have the misconception of royalty free meaning free music, others think it is music priced at a very cheap price. Neither of these assumptions is true.

Music that is free of royalties has everything to do with the type of licensing required for using the music. The price of that music can vary from under $100 to a couple of hundred bucks. With the said, however, most music that is royalty free turns out to be the most affordable for the customer.

Royalty Free in Any Genre

It is important to remember that royalty free is one of the types of licensing needed for the public and commercial use of music. While most people might think that the available music that is free of royalties is all older and outdated, that is incorrect. Royalty free music stretches across every genre, including everything from classical to popular music.

The Quality of Music Under the Royalty Free License

When thinking about what music is royalty free the first thought that usually comes to mind is that the quality will not be up to par with your expectations. Similar to price and genre, the quality of music that is free of royalties will vary from the poorest quality to extremely high quality. Libraries of royalty free music are readily available with some of the best hand-picked music to choose from for whatever your project or business might need.

Stock Music V.S. Royalty Free Music

You might think that royalty free music examples might be found in stock music libraries but there’s an important distinction to make. The terms stock music and royalty free music are not interchangeable.

Most of the royalty free music you’ll use will come from stock music libraries but these libraries carry more than just royalty free music. Stock music libraries are filled with music that is ready for use and that can be used for multiple projects. While a lot of their music will be royalty free, some libraries may have other licensing fees based on the number of times a particular piece of music is used.

Copyright Free Music V.S. Royalty Free Music

A royalty free license allows a customer to use a certain piece of music for a one time fee. Copyright free music is giving away the copyrights to a particular piece of music, where the composer no longer has ownership of the music created. It is understandable why these two concepts can be confusing but knowing the difference is important.

Royalty Free Music Still Gets Paid Royalties

The most confusing thing about royalty free music is that royalties are still paid to composers. Stay with us, we’ll answer all of your questions about that head-scratcher.

You’d think that royalty free meant no payments of royalties, but what this actually means is that royalties are not paid by the customer who uses this music for their own audio project. When a royalty free piece of music is performed, let’s say for example, on TV, the television network where the music is being used pays royalties.

The TV networks pay these royalties to the Performing Rights Organizations or PROs. These PROs then give those royalties to the composers. So customers may not have to pay for royalties but that doesn’t mean that composers aren’t being paid royalties when their royalty free music is used publically or commercially.

How Does Royalty Free Music Work: Broken-down

How does royalty free music work? We hope that question and every question you had about royalties and licensing of music was answered by this blog post!

Check out some of our other blogs to learn about royalty free music and the inner workings on licensing music. Whether it be for your film, vlog on YouTube, or your website. If you need music, we’ll help you figure out how to get it royalty free!