First of all, Happy New Year, good people!
We are kicking off 2014 with a somewhat refreshed and redesigned License selection screen. That’s the screen you see after you click the “Add to shopping cart” button on any page, as well as the License page that displays what you can and cannot do with our music after you buy the track from our site with one of the available license options.
The old License selection screen was getting a bit too text heavy, as you can see in this image of the old License select screen:
By way of comparison, here is the new License select screen which we think look more attractive and makes it easier to get an overview over exactly what rights you get with the different License types:
Additionally, we have renamed the Mass Market License to Extended License, and we have renamed the TV/Radio Advertising Commercial License to Widest License. These new names give us a bit more flexibility and are easier to remember and understand.
We hope that you will find these updates are to your benefit. Thanks for reading!
In this article we try to dispel some common myths and misunderstandings about music copyrights, music usage rights and music licensing.
“I can use this music for free because I found it on the internet.”
No. All music found on the internet is under copyright, unless it specifically states otherwise. In fact, even if it does specifically state otherwise, this statement is probably wrong. (Meaning that the music is probably actually under copyright even if the web site where you found it says that it isn’t).
“I can use this music for free because the composer is dead.”
No. The copyright in a music composition lives for many years after the composer has died. The number of years vary from country to country, but is generally around 50-75 years from the death of the composer. And even then, you can’t just take a recording of that music and use it as you wish, becasue there are two copyrights in every musical recording: A copyright in the composition, and a copyright in the recording. The copyright in the recording never expires.
“Nobody will care if I bend the rules, because I’m just a small fish.”
Quite the opposite. Copyright owners have in recent years specifically targeted “small fish” companies and persons with lawsuits, as they are keen to show a zero tolerance policy on misuse of copyrighted music.
“As long as I don’t use more than 10 seconds, it is legal.”
No. There is no length of music use, be it performance, copying, sampling or any other use, for which you don’t need to clear the music rights. There are rumors that say it’s okay if it’s under 30 seconds, or under 7 seconds, etc. The fact is, there is no such time limit.
“As long as I don’t make money on my project, it’s okay to use copyrighted music.”
No. When you are using uncleared / copyrighted music in your project, even if it’s a free web site, a free game, a free home video or any other project in which other people will be able to hear the music, you need to clear the music, even though you are not making a cent on the project. The issue here is that you are enabling other people to hear music that they didn’t purchase. Therefore you are breaking copyright law, no matter if your project is free or paid-for.
“But how about radio stations? They also enable people to hear music that they didn’t purchase!”
Radio stations pay an annual license fee for their rights to broadcast music. The license they pay depends on how many people their radio station can reach. Parts of this license fee is paid to the music composers and publishers.
If you know of any other myths that should be covered here, please let us know by using the comment field.
Royalty-Free Production Music – what does it really mean?
Put in the simplest possible way, Royalty-Free Music describes a piece of music that you can use as much as you want after paying a one-time license fee.
That’s the most important thing to know about royalty-free music, and you could walk away from this article now and probably know enough about the subject to get by.
But if you want to know a little bit more, read on.
Royalty Free Music was first introduced in the 1980’s, when it was more common for producers and broadcasters to pay a fee for each time they used the same music. Let’s say they were producing a TV show and that TV show had some music at the beginning of the show, which was repeated again at the end of the show. They would have to pay the fee once for the music use at the beginning, and the same fee again for the use at the end. And then, if this TV show was broadcast once per day, they would then pay the same fees again for each time it was broadcast. This “traditional” form of music usage fees were often referred to as “Needle-drop” fees.
When Royalty-Free Music was introduced, it did away with all this, and allowed producers to pay a one-time license fee for the music, and then use it as much as they want. Not only does this usually work out a cheaper, but perhaps an even bigger difference is the convenience. Producers no longer had to measure each second that the music was used, and calculate fees based on uses, re-uses, etc. No wonder it quickly became a popular way to obtain music.
A piece of music can only be royalty-free if the composer and publisher has decided to make this track available on a royalty-free basis. You can’t find music by popular well known music artists on a royalty-free basis, because for them it makes more sense to maximize their earnings by sticking to a more traditional setup.
Luckily, there are now web sites, like this one, that offer great selections of royalty-free music where the licensing procedure is so simple that it would have been a dream come true for those producers from years gone by, who had to deal with the huge complexities of needle-drop fees.
When you look for royalty-free music on the internet, though, be sure to read the small print and to buy from a reputable company. There have been con cases where people have offered music on a royalty-free basis, and the music wasn’t even theirs to offer — leading to a run-ins with the law for the companies who purchased what they in good faith thought was properly cleared royalty-free music. Unsurprisingly, we recommend buying royalty-free music from ourselves, Shockwave-Sound.Com, as we have been in business since 2000, use only on-staff composers/producers, and have established our reputation by serving clients including BBC, MBNA Bank Plc, IBM, the State of California, Raffles of Singapore, Estée Lauder, and tens of thousand other small and large companies over the years.
I hope this has been useful.