Shockwave-Sound Blog and Articles
YouTube, Copyright notices and YouTube Safe Music

YouTube, Copyright notices and YouTube Safe Music

Got a “copyright claim” on music licensed from us?
If you have licensed a music track from and you get a “copyright notice” on your video, where the music ownership is claimed by some company (e.g. CDBaby, AdRev), first of all, rest assured that you’re not in any kind of trouble. You are not being accused of copyright infringement. You are simply being informed that our music was found in your video.

Copyright claims on YouTube are completely automated. YouTube’s automated systems do not know that you have bought a license, so that’s why you’re getting the “copyright claim”. The claim can easily be removed by using the “Dispute” feature on the YouTube copyright notice page to provide documentation that you’ve purchased a license to use the music in your video. Within 24 hours, the copyright notice on your video will be removed.

In an ideal world there would be a way to provide License information at the time when you upload your video to YouTube, but so far that is not the case. So the process is: (1) You upload the video — (2) YouTube automatically finds our music in it and generates a “copyright notice” — (3) You use the Dispute link on the YouTube page to provide documentation that you have licensed the music — (4) The copyright notice is removed from your video. It’s a little bit of a hassle, but takes less than 2 minutes, and it’s not dramatic.

If you still have trouble with this, fill in our contact form and let us know (A) the link/URL to your video, (B) details of your license order, such as order number or customer name so that we may find the order, (C) information from the copyright notice screen on YouTube which displays the track title being found in your video, the artist and the company claiming administration of the track. We will help you to look into the matter, possibly contact the artist to get them to help as well. If you are a paying customer, we will definitely get the copyright notice removed from your video(s).


Classical music copyright notices

With classical music recordings, the situation is messy. The thing with classical music is that the actual composition is in the public domain (it belongs to no one and everyone), but who ever actually makes their own performance and recording of a piece of classical music automatically owns the copyright to that recording. We have the rights to our version of Chopin’s Nocturne. But another company may have made their own version of the same composition, and they may have put that recording into the YouTube audio recognition system. And that fully automated system often cannot tell the difference between one version/recording and another!

If you received a “copyright claim” message when using classical music that you licensed from us, most likely some company, somewhere, has made their version of the same composition, and they own the rights to that recording. They don’t own the rights to the version that we sell, but YouTube’s automated systems cannot tell the two versions apart from each other, and the track that you licensed from us is wrongly being matched to a recording of the same classical composition made by somebody else.

It’s a real mess up there at YouTube with classical music, and in some cases, several big music publishing companies are claiming the rights to the same piece of music, even though that recording doesn’t even belong to any of them. This thread over at Google Groups illustrates some of the problems people are having with companies claiming rights to public domain and classical compositions that they don’t own the rights to.

There’s not really much we can do about this, other than to recommend you use the “Dispute” feature and, if necessary, provide the license documentation that you got from our site when you made your purchase. You may explain during the dispute submission process that this is a case of mistaken identity and that this version so-and-so composition is a recording that is licensed to you via and it is not the same recording as (what ever company is claiming the rights to it). With a bit of luck, this process will lead to the claim being removed from your video.

Music License confusion – Non-PRO vs PRO tracks

Music License confusion – Non-PRO vs PRO tracks

We recently got this question from a confused customer who didn’t quite understand the role of performing rights organizations / royalty collection societies, and how it applies to stock music / royalty-free music. I ended up writing a lengthy answer to her, which I felt could be of use or interest to other customers too, so I turned it into this blog article.

This particular customer is in Italy, so her local collection society is SIAE, but the same applies in other countries. For example, if you’re in the UK, the performing rights society is PRS and if you’re in Germany, they are GEMA. But pretty much, the same principles apply.

Many of you will have noticed that whilst you search or browse for music on our site, you always have the option to “Display PRO and Non-PRO Tracks”, or “Display Non-PRO Tracks only”. But what really is the difference, and when / how / why does it matter?

PRO in this case does not stand for “Professional” as you may first think. It stands for Performing Rights Organization. PRO tracks are composed by composers who are members of Performing Rights Organizations. For those composers, neither we, nor any other stock music site, can legally sell the Performing Rights to their tracks. Non-PRO tracks are composed by composers who are not members of a Performing Rights Organization, and as such, we at or other stock music sites can in fact sell you the Performing Rights to their music.

In a music track there are three “rights”, three different parts of the copyright:

  1. Sync rights = The rights to use the music and put it into a media project, such as a film or a video game.
  2. Mechanical rights = The rights to produce CD’s, DVD’s or other physical objects that contain the music.
  3. Performing rights = The rights to broadcast the music on TV or radio,
    or to play it in a public place (such as a restaurant, cinema, etc.)

Depending on what you are going to use the music for, you may need
only one of these rights, or you may need two of these rights, or you
may need all three. If you are only going to make a film and put it on
YouTube, you really only need the Sync rights. You don’t need the
performing rights, because YouTube is the broadcaster and they already have performing rights.

Or maybe you are going to make a film about your local city and make
1,000 DVD’s of that film. And you want to use our music in your film. Then
you need the Sync- rights (to put our music in your film) and you need
the Mechanical rights (to manufacture DVD’s that contain the film that
contains our music). But you don’t need the Performing rights, because
you have no plans to broadcast this music on TV or Radio, or to play the
film in a public place such as a restaurant etc.

Broadcasters such as NBC, BBC etc
already have performing licenses, so
you don’t need one.

Remember also that existing broadcasters, such as TV stations, radio stations, cinemas, YouTube, etc. already have a Performing right license. So, if you are going to make a film which may possibly be broadcast on national Italian television later, you don’t need the Performing rights. It’s the TV station that needs the performing license. They are the broadcaster, not you. And they already have that license. All “real” broadcasting companies, TV stations, radio stations etc. already have performing licenses from the PRO in their country, which they pay for as one big payment each year. So for them, it doesn’t matter if the music is PRO or Non-PRO. They have already paid their large, annual sum for their performing license, so they already have the Performing rights covered. Which again means that you don’t need to buy the performing rights from us.

So… you see, whether or not you need Non-PRO Tracks, or just any tracks from our site, depends on how you are going to use the music. If you are going to play the music in public, or on your website, then you need the Performing rights. But if you are not going to play the music in public, or on a website, then you don’t need the Performing rights. And if you don’t need the performing rights, then you can use any tracks from our site.

If you need the Performing Rights to a track, and that track is “Non-PRO”, then simply buy the track from our site. With the Non-PRO tracks you are buying all three rights from us.

If you need the Performing Rights to a track and that track is “PRO”, then you have to buy that right from the performing rights society in your country. From our site you can buy only the two other rights; the Sync rights and the Mechanical rights.

As it turns out, the vast majority of our customers do not need the performing rights. They only need the Sync- and or Mechanical rights. And if that’s the case, it doesn’t matter if you choose “PRO” or “Non-PRO” tracks. Many royalty-free music websites don’t even tell you which tracks are PRO and which are Non-PRO, because they figure it is so unlikely that you actually need the Performing Rights, that they don’t want to confuse you with PRO vs Non-PRO music.

On our website you can choose to browse only Non-PRO tracks if you like. As you Search or Browse for music tracks on our website, take a note of the options: “Display PRO and Non-PRO Tracks” / “Display Non-PRO Tracks only” options on top of the list of tracks.

I hope this has been helpful.

Have Yourself A Merry Royalty-Free Christmas

Have Yourself A Merry Royalty-Free Christmas

It’s almost Christmas time again and we can see that time coming, as people start buying royalty free Christmas music from our catalogue. Tracks like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, “Jingle Bells”, “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are so popular that many of our composers have made their own versions of these, from the straightforward and cosy to the cool and funked-up, to the downright silly. We also have a lot of Christmas music that aren’t actually traditional or well-known tracks, but that are new, original compositions made by our own composers in a Christmas style. We call this area New & Fun Christmas Music so if you’re looking for something a little bit different for this year’s Christmas presentation or electronic Christmas greeting card, you may want to check out those tracks.

But where are the other famous Christmas classics, such as Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow and others? What about Walking In A Winter Wonder Land? Why don’t we have it? We get customers writing in and asking about these tracks and about why they can’t find them on our site. It seems odd for us to have 66 search results for “Jingle Bells”, but nothing for other famous Christmas classics like the two I just mentioned and Frosty the Snowman? What’s up with that?

The simple answer is, that these “missing” Christmas tracks are under copyright and therefore cannot be offered up as royalty free music / stock music / library music, by anyone. In contrast to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” where the actual compositions are in the public domain, and only the recording and arrangement is in copyright to who ever actually created that recording — these other tracks including Frosty the Snowman have the actual composition still under copyright to the authors and their publishers. Therefore, these tracks cannot be done up as royalty-free music and this explains why you can’t find them here, or indeed on any other music licensing website:

  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Holly Jolly Christmas
  • Let it Snow
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • Walking in the Winter Wonderland
  • Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
  • …and others

We are a little bit bummed out about this, because several years ago we actually spent quite a lot of time and energy on making our own arrangements and versions of these tracks, and we have some pretty good recordings of these tracks that we’ve played and made ourselves. We wrongly assumed that these compositions were public domain until just before we were going to start selling them from our site.

Anyway, for those of you who were looking for this, and possibly other Christmas tunes that you can’t find on our site — that is the explanation. Merry Christmas!

Why we don’t allow artists to sing, rap, or play instruments on our music

Why we don’t allow artists to sing, rap, or play instruments on our music

Some of you may have noticed that the Terms and conditions under which you buy music from us has a chapter that says “You may not create derived musical works” from our music. What this means in plain language is that, if you are a singer, rapper, or other musical artist, you may not sing, rap, or play musical instruments on top of our music. You cannot buy a royalty-free music track from us, write your own lyrics, and sing/rap those lyrics on our music. We don’t allow it. And as a customer, you have to accept those terms, in order to actually proceed to the checkout/payment page on our site.

Earlier today I got an email from a guy who just couldn’t understand the reasoning behind this policy. Why don’t we allow people to sing, rap, or play instruments on our music? It seems an unreasonable policy?

To try to explain, this policy is in place to avoid confusion, disputes and long negotiations over rights. If a singer was allowed to download our music, come up with his own melody on top of that, his own lyrics, and sing that melody on our music – maybe play a guitar solo too – then who, now, owns the rights to that song?

If that artist now wants to put that music on a CD album and have that sold as CD’s through his own website, and maybe on iTunes, who should get paid for that, and how much? Should we ask that artist to start paying us half of the income calculated on a pro-rata basis according to how many tracks we he’s got on that CD which was partly built on ours? Should we ask the artist to keep track of exactly how many copies of each track has been sold through iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify, PayPlay, Napster, CDBaby and dozens of other online music stores, so that he can accurately calculate our shares of those particular tracks? And then pay those shares to us, quarterly, for all foreseeable future? Should we trust potentially hundreds or thousands of independent artists/songwriters (who are notoriously disorganized) to do this consciously, accurately, and persistently over many years?

I think you can see the world of problems and complexities that this would open up. It gets very complicated very quickly, and we do not wish to get into that kind of “market”. There is no way that we could ever follow-up hundreds, thousands, of disorganized “artist types” and make sure that we have contracts with them with shared ownership of musical recordings, payment of royalties and shares that they should be paying us, and so on.

Therefore, we allow our music to be used only “as it is”. We do not allow our music to be used as a basis on which other artists can sing, play, etc.

If you only want to sing, play, rap, whatever on our music in the privacy of your own home, we don’t have a problem with it. But the resulting recording that combines your talent with our music must not be distributed on the internet, on CD, or in any other way.

Cue the Music, Part 3: Royalty Free Music Under the Microscope

Cue the Music, Part 3: Royalty Free Music Under the Microscope

by Simon Power

 Cue The Music is a three part series examining the options available to amateur and semi-pro audio/visual producers who wish to incorporate music in their productions. In Part One, we examined the process of clearing copyrighted music. In Part Two, we offered some alternatives to using copyrighted music. And in this Part Three, we will be examining the process of using royalty free music.

In part two, royalty free music scored high on convenience, expense and usability when searching for a music resource. But what exactly is royalty free music and what does the process of buying and using royalty free music really entail?

Royalty Free Music under the microscope

Let’s start with a definition. royalty free music describes a composition that you may use as many times as you like and for whatever purpose after paying just a one time license fee. So, you could simply purchase a suitable piece of music for a one-off payment and include it in our small budget, short run audio/visual project with no further costs incurred to you, the producer.

Within that definition there are a number of stipulations. You can’t just buy a load of royalty free music and release it on a CD, and you can’t alter the composition by for instance, adding lyrics or a rap and releasing it as your own. But other than that you’re pretty free to do with it what you want.

Our catwalk footage features some published music

One other point. As with any music, performance details would be noted if your project were to be ever broadcasted by a third party. But this is the responsibility of the broadcaster and not the producer, whose commitment to the project would have been fulfilled prior to broadcast. To the producer, the music remains entirely free from royalty payments.

How To Access Royalty Free Music

That’s a brief outline or definition. So how does the process work?

Let’s go back to our original brief in ‘Cue The Music – Part One’. We were toying with the idea of seeking permission to use the track ‘Still D.R.E.’ by Dr. Dre, the original background music on our fashion show footage.

Let’s suppose that there were too many obstacles and expenses and the process of clearing the track for copyright became counter productive as a result.

We decide instead to remove the audio track from the original footage and replace it with a sound alike track (we can always add some crowd atmosphere and applause to give the event a live feel and make it sound realistic).

So what we need is a sound alike piece of music to replace the original music bed, ‘Still D.R.E.’ by Dr. Dre.

First of all it’s useful to know the tempo, key and genre of the track. Far from being random elements, they could hold the key to finding a suitable sound-alike. So our track, ‘Still D.R.E.’ comes in at 93bpm in A minor and is rooted in the category of Hip-Hop.

Armed with this info we approach a royalty free music website.

Visiting A Royalty Free Music Site

Many of the sites have a variety of ways we could now precede. We could check out their ready-made collections. These are normally available as either download or physical CD’s. Many of them will be categorised by predetermined moods. You may get a CD called ‘Chilled’ or one called ‘Uptempo Dance’ or ‘Rock Radio’. Normally their titles are pretty self explanatory.

The better sites have preview facilities so that you are able to listen to each track and decide whether the collection suits your needs. Remember, these CD’s may cost close to $100, so you’ll need at least 4 or 5 tracks that you think maybe useable. The best way to check usability is by previewing the track and running your footage alongside it in your Movie Making program. Do all the elements work together? If not, move on.

Perhaps in this case as we need only a single track we should check out the sites Music Genre categories. On top end sites, a list of categories won’t be far away. Usually displayed skyscaper-style down the left or right hand side of every page.

Remember, our track is routed in Gansta Rap. Most sites will refer to this as Urban/R’n’B or Hip Hop. ‘Gangsta Rap’ may be available as a sub genre, but is more likely to be a little too esoteric for most tastes! Let’s try Urban. That’s the closest. Clicking on this category link will take you through to a list of tracks available in the style of ‘Urban’.

Now the fun begins. At your leisure, you can read through the description of each track and preview them against your footage. The music will usually be ‘watermarked’ with an ident. A voice over stating that ‘This is a preview’, or something to that effect. But this shouldn’t prevent you from judging whether the track will be suitable for use.

If they’re further categorised by BPM (our tempo is 93BPM) and key (A minor), then check out those first, so that our search becomes as accurate as possible.

Most tracks will be available as full versions, or as loops of various durations (10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute etc.). There may also be an underscore, which will include basic instrumentation, useful when there is a voice over to be added. In our case, there is no voice over.

OK, so let’s judge the quality of the music.

Choosing The Right Track

I can virtually guarantee that many of the composers on many of the sites you visit will have produced a (shall we say) homage to the great Dr. Dre and his ground breaking world wide hit, ‘Still D.R.E.’. Ah, yes. If only that royalty free producer had grown up on the wrong side of L.A., come up with that incredible piano riff before Dr. Dre, and befriended Snoop Dogg who then agreed to rap on it…Well, it could be a whole different story, my friend. But no. His royalty free version will forever merely be a facsimile, albeit a very good one, of the original track. And as we listen through, it becomes clear…This Dr. Dre homage is just what we need to replace the original on our fashion show project. In fact, it’s perfect…

As for format, most mp3’s on offer will use a high quality compression algorithm barely distinguishable from a 44.1 wav. But the audiophiles among us will feel more secure in the knowledge that our project offers the best possible quality and download the wav version rather than the mp3. Be aware that the wav takes longer to download, depending on your broadband connection.

The decision is yours.

OK, happy?

So ‘Add To Cart’ and let’s go!

Add To Cart

Woah, there! Before we go any further, let’s consider the cost. Typically an mp3 version of the track should hover around the $30 mark. With a 44.1 wav version being slightly more expensive.

Many sites will be offering ‘bargain bin’ prices ($7.00, $4.00…My entire catalogue for $37.50!). This low cost is often reflected in the quality of what’s on offer. Of course, some sites will charge a lot more than $30, but this is no indication of quality. That’s left to your own judgement, discretion and indeed budget allowances!

Trust your ears and preview a number of times against your footage. Remember that truly robust music will stand up to repeated listens. If there’s any doubt about the quality of the composition, the flaws will expose themselves after a number of plays. Is our chosen track Dre enough? It is? OK, proceed to checkout.

Proceed To Checkout

But what’s this? We’re being asked a number of questions about ‘licenses’…I thought this was supposed to be ‘royalty free’?

Patience, it is. But there are a number of different licenses within that category and you need to make sure you choose the correct one.

Normally there will be a choice of two (some sites have more). These will be a broadcast license (for TV, radio and film etc), and a non-broadcast license (typically the best one for our short-run audio/visual project). This non-broadcast license will have a restriction on the number of copies you can produce. As an example, anything over 5,000 may be termed as mass market and would require you to buy the alternative license.

Sealing The Deal

So, after choosing the correct license you will be forwarded to a typical Internet shop where you are able to pay for and eventually download your royalty free track.

Within minutes the process is complete and the track is yours ready to import into your movie maker program and sync up to your fashion show footage.

And that’s it!

A Conclusion

OK, so we’ve been through the definition and the process involved in using royalty free music as a music resource.

But as always, there are downsides. There will be times when you find it impossible to find a good match to what you have in mind. You may spend a frustrating amount of time searching through music that just doesn’t somehow meet your needs. There is also an enormous amount of royalty free music available, which can lead to confusion over choice and price comparison.

Sometimes you will be scared away by the frustration of visiting sites with music that just doesn’t come up to the mark.

But find the right site, and buying royalty free music can be the most satisfying and enjoyable process of all. And the results quite often speak for themselves when your project is given that indefinable ‘X’ factor by a well chosen music bed. If you haven’t used it already as part of your audio/visual production toolkit I can recommend it as a highly beneficial resource of good quality music.

Now let’s move on and finish that fashion show project before the weekends comes!


Royalty free music at shockwave-sound
Comprehensive international list of royalty collection agencies

More in this series:

There are previous two parts in this series:

Part One – Using Copyrighted Music
Part Two – Top 5 Music Resources On A Budget

About the author: Simon Power has made
over 50 short films and documentaries for the music technology website Sonic
State. He has also removed & replaced copyrighted music on a number
of commercial BBC releases. In these articles he offers advice and tips
about using music in your low budget film and audio/visual projects. You
can learn more about Simon and his projects at his website,