Today we hear a lot about royalty free music, but what is it? in which projects can we use that “free” music? In this article I explain what is that type of free music and in what projects to use royalty free music libraries. Read carefully because, if we use free music without knowing how its mechanisms work, our project could go much more expensive than expected at first!
Royalty free music, what is?
First thing’s first. When we create a non-physical work, such as a song, we say that the creator has intellectual property over that work. Each country has a organisation in charge of collecting and managing intellectual property rights. Free music libraries are music files whose intellectual property is not managed in any country or state, but is managed by the author of the music itself.
Any music creation has an author and as a consequence the author can decide what to do with his creation, which is what we call intellectual property rights. All the music of recent years, including royalty free music, has intellectual property rights.
But then, what is the difference with normal music? Well, the difference is that when the author manages the rights of his own music, he can assign his music for non-profit purposes. That is, if the project in which the music will be used does not intend to generate money, such as the video of a wedding or a house party without money involved. On the other hand, if you want to use royalty free music to sell a product you will have to talk to the author and agree on the price and conditions (usually the author puts the price in the description of the song).
So is it better to hire a composer or pay a royalty free music?
It depends on your situation. Composers like me, make music specifically for your movie, commercial video game, etc. Never another project will have the same music, your music will be unique. In addition as a lot of professional composers, i manage my music by myself. That means that we sign a personal contract where we give all music to your project to never have copyright or intellectual property problems. That is, a professional composer is exactly the same as royalty free music, only he will not make the free music for the baptism of your neighbor’s cousin.
There are cases where it may be better to hire royalty free music and cases when it is better to hire a professional composer. But there are situations where a project can be on the border of the two options, so let’s see the most common examples to know when to choose a composer and when to choose “free music”.
Royalty free music for YouTube
If you are looking for music for YouTube you should think about this: I will use the music in monetized videos? Or am I going to use music in non-monetized videos?
If you do not monetize the video, and in the video you do not sell anything, you should go to royalty free libraries, since in these situations you can use music freely.
If you monetize the video or if you use the video to sell something (in the same way that a commercial does on TV), then you should buy royalty free music license to be able to use it without problem.
Prices of both options of music
A royalty free music of 1 or 2 minutes for an introduction of a YouTube video can cost you between € 29 and € 50 (+ € 150 if you want the tracks separately for a better result in video edition). You will not be the only person who will have that music and any other person will be able to use the same music buying it from its author. I recommend this option for small non-professional projects, where it is not important to differentiate yourself from the rest.
A music made by a professional composer for an introduction of a YouTube video costs about € 100 (+ € 50 if you want the tracks separately). Your music will be unique and you are the only person who can use it. Recommended for professional projects or where it is important to have that personal brand touch.
Royalty free music for games
In the world of video games we can identify two types of projects: Professionals and fan / amateurs.
A professional video game project is not necessarily an AAA game. For example, Angry Birds or Tetris can be considered professional video games nowadays. Unlike the AAA games, these two are designed to cover other kind of needs, are intended for other users. The only element that all professional video games have in common is that they will generate money, either through the direct purchase of microtransactions or the sale of merchandising.
On the other hand, an amateur video game is characterized by being created only for pleasure, without ever generating any income. Obviously, a single person, who loves his work and creates a game for pleasure, can also create a good professional game.
Then, royalty free music or professional composer ?.
Amateur video game: I recommend the royalty free music option if your video game is amateur and you do not want to sell it and generate profits with it. In a normal video game we have about 45 minutes of music in total, which is repeated depending on the scene. If we take into account that 1 minute of royalty free music costs € 30, an amateur creator can afford to reduce the number of minutes of music that his budget can afford, and with 5 or 6 loops of royalty free music you can have the music of your amateur video game for € 200 / € 300.
Professional video games: I recommend a professional composer for professional video games, those who want to generate profits. If you want your video game to have a unique music that everyone recognizes. If you do not want the music of your game to be the same as the 600 videos of YouTube and 240 podcast use. Hire a professional composer. But what is the price compared to Royalty free music? If 1 minute of royalty free music is € 30€, 45 minutes are € 1,350, about € 2,400 with separate and editable tracks for your video game (something normal in professional projects!).
As a professional composer, I charge € 2,700 per project including separate tracks. If i have to hire more people to record orchestral instruments, hire special or rare musicians to find, record Bulgarian voices etc, you can go up to € 15,000. But normal it’s 2.700€.
So, € 2,400 for canned music or € 2,700 for special and unique music made especially for your video game? I absolutely recommend hiring a professional composer for serious projects, since there are few things in a video game that are as ugly as bad music or music that does not adapt to the video game.
Royalty Free Music for Podcast and radio.
In the case that you are looking for music for podcast I recommend you use royalty free music directly. Why, as a professional composer, do I recommend using prefabricated music? Because, in the case of a podcast, a royalty-free generic music works perfectly for your amateur Podcast. Also for the beginnings of your professional Podcast project.
Although I recommend a dedicated composition once your professional Podcast begins to work, or directly if you are clear from the beginning that your podcast project will last at least 1 year, since a dedicated music will differentiate you from the rest and will establish a much stronger relationship with your listeners.
We apply the same principles to the radio, with the difference that if the radio is going to have a National broadcast the price of using royalty free music is much more expensive than hiring a professional composer.
Which would be the price?
Thus, a professional podcast that wants to buy two different royalty free music for its Podcast must pay about € 120 without the possibility of modifications or issuing nationally or internationally, in which case we would be talking about € 600 with generic royalty free music.
As a professional composer, I charge € 200 for Podcast service, which includes special music for the Podcast and special music for section changes, the tracks separately and the national and international licenses.
Royalty free music for videos and movie.
You are finishing your animation movie. Your final year project. You are a producer that does not know where to find your music and does not want to have problems with copyright claims. Relax, here you have the solution.
If you do not want to generate money with your animated short film, such as an end-of-career film, or an amateur project where the only objective is to have fun and have a good memory, I recommend royalty free music with the usual condition, which is to put your name in the credits, although in general you can talk to any composer to reach a similar agreement with an existing music.
If on the other hand, the project can generate money in royalties, merchandising, sale and broadcast of the animation or prizes, we have two options:
Then, royalty free music or personal music composer?
1) Use royalty free music, buying the music before making the film to make the script inspiring you in the music and that the result is as professional and integrated as possible. This option would cost about € 180 if we want the audio tracks to have a good final integration between the music and your movie. In that case I recommend Royalty free music. But beware! If your short film is going to be broadcast on a national network you must pay € 580 + € 130 for the tracks = € 710 with royalty free music, at that point it does not come out at all profitable, especially if we think it is € 710 for 2 minutes of music not adapted to your project, and that in general the standard licenses of royalty free composers are only 1 year.
2) If you have a good idea for your film project and you do not want to adapt it and limit it to pre-made music, I recommend a professional composer. A person who composes directly for your project, taking the main idea and the small details helping the viewer to reinforce the link with the idea of the film through a dedicated soundtrack. As for the budget: as a professional composer I am charging between € 240 and € 300 per minute for animation and video projects. That means that two minutes would be between € 480 and € 600, this includes a specific license so you can use the music in your project, on any national and international television. In this case I totally recommend a professional composer.
So where should i put royalty free music?
I recommend you use royalty free music when you have an amateur or school project, or a project where you do not want to generate any kind of benefit. If you want to publish your project in different platforms, monetize the content, sell merchandising or in general you have a professional project, I recommend a professional composer since the result will be much better with a dedicated music, you will not have any problem with the license since a Professional composer gives the music to compose so you can sell your video and broadcast it wherever you want without worrying. And finally in terms of price, it is almost the same when it comes to professional projects, sometimes even absurdly cheaper.
When we talk about projects that generate money, there is no free music. Royalty free music is music that has rights managed by its own author, not by a national agency or tyrannical record companies. That way, when the tracking code (which all the songs have today) send a message to its author saying that you have used your music for the wedding video of your cousin who is on YouTube, the author, as being Human will allow it and will not ask for money in return (as the labels do!).
Have you seen yourself identified in any of the cases in this article? your case is not in this lines and would you like me to expand the article? Do not hesitate to write me to continue helping.
Would you like me to make the music of one of your projects? Write me now and let’s start creating!