If you’re working on a project that requires music or audio, you’ll probably turn to the magical platform that is the world wide web in order to find the track that fulfils your needs. In any search, you may come across similar terms such as ‘free music’, ‘royalty-free music’, ‘stock music’.
Initially, this may be confusing or overwhelming. You may be wondering how you can use a piece of music without infringing the copyright of the owner or creator of the track.
To provide clarity, this tutorial explains what is generally understood by the term ‘royalty-free music’, and how you can use it.
In this tutorial, I've given examples of tracks from Envato’s AudioJungle library of royalty-free music.
According to Investopedia, royalties are a fee that the owner of an asset or property gets from a third-party, that grants them permission to make use of said asset or property. These assets can be anything from franchises, patents, copyrighted works, or even natural resources.
In other words, the owner sells the asset to a third-party, but retains the right to get more money from the product as it generates revenue. This revenue is known as royalties.
To understand royalties, consider a publishing company that buys a work from an author in order to distribute it. They continue paying the author as the book is sold—subject to agreement negotiated.
Royalty-Free Music Explained
Royalty-free music is that for which only one payment is made; payments are not made each time the track is played.
So, instead of ‘renting’ the track, you ‘buy’ rights to it and it's yours to do with it what you will. More or less, depending on the license terms.
In a publishing company, the author's work would be royalty-free if the publishers made a different deal with the author, in which they only agreed to pay them once for the rights to their work, so they didn't have to share a percentage of the earnings from selling that work.
It's Not Free
No, it is not free. Confusion arises because the word free is used. The term royalty-free music doesn’t mean it won’t cost you any money at all; it means that you won’t be tied down by royalties. In other words, you'll only make one payment to use it.
As far as the copyright goes, the creator or owner of the track still holds the copyright to their work.
And to continue with the imaginary publishing company: yes, they distribute the work and gain some profit from it, but at the end of the day, the author is still the one who holds the copyright to their work. That is unless a different agreement was made.
Licensing Will Vary
Now, this is probably the trickiest part, since licensing depends on the agreement reached with the creator or owner. As well as some other factors. This means that each case can be a little bit different.
In general, the license is the permission granted by the author, or owner, of a work to the entity that will produce it or distribute it.
That permission may come with certain conditions. For example, the license may stipulate that the product can only be sold or reproduced in a certain context. Or, it may vary in the percentage the author/owner will receive as a royalty fee.
It Has Many Uses
One of the most common uses for royalty-free music is on advertisements, movies or other audio or audiovisual products that will be recurrently reproduced.
Using royalty-free music exempts the content producer from having to repeatedly pay to use the piece of music.
There's a Wide Price Range
By now, you know that royalty-free music needs to be paid for. The next step is understanding that a track's price can vary significantly.
From inexpensive to a little bit more expensive tracks, it will all depend on the length of the piece, the amount of work that was put into it, and what the author deems just to charge for it taking other variables into account.
Here are a couple of examples to give you an idea of just how wide the price range can be:
High Frequency Bell: $1
Old School Rock Energy: $354
It's Not Bland
For some reason, royalty-free music is often associated with elevator music: something calm, generic and without much personality or punch to it. Any type of music, however, may be royalty-free regardless of its style.
To get a sense of this diversity, listen to the following tracks from all around AudioJungle's library:
This is just a taste of the variety that can be found with royalty-free music in the extensive AudioJungle library.
Quality May Vary
As with most things in life, some royalty-free audio tracks are of professional, high quality and others that just aren't.
It's essential to find a source of royalty-free music that is of the very best quality and diversity. A library such as AudioJungle.
Royalty-Free is Not Just Music
Royalty-free isn't just about music. With high quality libraries such as Envato Elements, there's a wealth of creative content from which to choose, including:
Below are some examples of sound effects, audio logos and other audio pieces from AudioJungle’s library that are royalty-free:
To sum up, royalty-free music is not free in the sense that it does not cost anything at all, but won't require you to continue paying for it each time it is used.
Now you know that royalty-free music encompasses a wide variety of styles, lengths, prices, quality, and more!
Remember, you can trust AudioJungle to discover the very best royalty-free music for your next project.