On this page
Not sure how to get permission to use a song on YouTube? Whether it’s an upbeat intro jingle or slow melody over a slideshow video, adding music to your YouTube videos can take them to the next level. But not all of your favorite tracks are free to use in YouTube videos.
Read on to learn how to get permission to use music in a YouTube video, and explore copyright-free music alternatives.
What happens if you upload a copyrighted video on YouTube?
YouTube copyright rules are stringent if you upload copyrighted music. There are quite a few consequences when uploading copyrighted music or videos. The most significant outcome is YouTube can ask you to remove the copyrighted video from your account.
Receiving permission is necessary to avoid all the legal consequences. Uploading YouTube content without abiding by the YouTube copyright rules and proper music licensing could also result in:
Your video becoming muted
Demonetization of your video with ads placed throughout
Deleted videos from YouTube
YouTube channel penalizations
The owner of the copyrighted music gets all the ad money profits
Tracking viewership statistics is less reliable
Multiple infringements may lead to the permanent termination of your channel.
How to know if a song is copyrighted on YouTube?
If the audio or song in your YouTube video doesn’t state that it’s copyright free, it’s safe to assume the music is copyrighted. Suppose you’re unsure how to know if a song is copyrighted or royalty-free; follow these two steps below to check music licensing.
1. Check the video description on YouTube
The easiest way to know if a song is copyrighted or not is to look in the YouTube video’s description box. YouTube music downloads usually state in the description box if the audio is free to use or not. The artist’s details are usually displayed, or the description will say royalty-free or free non-copyrighted music.
2. Upload your YouTube video as private or unlisted
If you’re not sure if the music added to your YouTube video follows the YouTube copyright rules, simply upload the video as private or unlisted first. YouTube’s Content ID will let you know if there are any restrictions on the music licensing. If the audio is copyrighted, you’ll receive an on-screen alert.
A copyright error message could read, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim” or “Your video is still up on YouTube but may be unavailable in some countries.”
How do I get permission to use a copyrighted song?
Receiving music licensing can sometimes be a lengthy process for content creators. To save as much time and research as possible, explore how creators can legally use copyrighted music on YouTube below.
Step 1. Find the copyright owner
Firstly, you’ll need to determine who owns the music you have used or want to use and contact them directly.
You may be thinking, how do I get permission to use a copyrighted song from a famous musician? Sounds impossible, right? Luckily, many different organizations can help you contact music publishers, no matter how famous they are.
Look at our recommended music licensing companies list for the USA, Australia, and UK content creators:
APRA AMCOS (Australian users)
PRS (United Kingdom users) offer music licenses for many trending songs
Step 2. Discuss a permission agreement
Once you have found and contacted the owner of your audio track, you’ll need to negotiate a permission agreement with them. The non-copyright permission agreement should include:
Information about yourself and your YouTube channel
Media usage (TV or YouTube)
Duration of the song
How long you would like to keep the music for
The approximate number of expected views
The purpose of the license (commercial or non-profit)
Step 3. Create a written permission agreement
When a permission agreement has been discussed and approved, you must put the permission agreement into writing. Avoid all verbal agreements with music owners as they are less effective than written agreements. If the permission agreement isn’t in paper form, some misunderstandings can lead to future disputes.
How much does it cost to get permission?
Content creators using copyrighted music on YouTube will sometimes need to pay to get approval. The cost of a music licensing can widely vary depending on how well-known the artist's name is or if they are a small independent musician. YouTubers can pay less than $100 for smaller creators, but a track can cost thousands for more famous artists.
Some music licensing opportunities can come with a catch. Music licensing companies and original artists can charge YouTube creators a percentage of the revenue made on the video or use that as a form of payment instead.
When purchasing music licensing, be sure to read all of the terms and conditions, avoid payment if you’re unsure about the contract, and determine if the price of the music is worth it. There are always more accessible and cheaper alternatives than paying for music on YouTube. Read on to learn more about music licensing alternatives.
Alternatives to using copyrighted music
Sometimes paying for music licensing seems out of budget or can take up too much time. Instead, we’ve come up with four alternatives to using copyrighted music on YouTube that abide by YouTube copyright rules. These are royalty-free options, which suggests that creators can use the music or audio file without paying any royalties. Here are the non-copyrighted music alternatives.
1. Royalty-free music on YouTube
If you’re wondering how much YouTube music is, there are thousands of royalty-free music categories on YouTube. Whether you’re looking for rock, pop, meditation, background music, hip hop, or a dance party track, YouTube’s free non-copyrighted music has covered you. You can find music in YouTube’s audio library or save a royalty-free song directly from an existing YouTube video.
Just find the free music track, double-check it’s free to use, then download it straight from YouTube. Not sure how to download music from YouTube? Check out Clipchamp’s step-by-step guide for creators.
2. Clipchamp’s free non-copyrighted music library
Create captivating videos that don’t need music licensing with Clipchamp’s royalty-free music for YouTube. YouTubers can add stock sound effects and music clips to videos from thousands of categories like sports, vocals, intro and outro, chill, happy and upbeat, promo music, movie trailer music, and more. You can even publish videos directly to YouTube from Clipchamp’s free online video editor.
3. Royalty-free music platforms
Are you looking for a particular free non-copyrighted music track? Free and paid external websites are available to content creators with well-known songs turned into remixes. Websites like SoundCloud and Premium Beat are popular.
4. Use licensed trending sounds on TikTok
Is your YouTube video receiving copyright strikes no matter what you try? Maybe consider if YouTube is the right platform for you and your video content. Social media apps like TikTok thrive on trending sounds, fully licensed by the app. So if you want to make a video with a pop song or trending sound, consider sharing content on TikTok instead of YouTube.
Ready to legally use copyrighted music on YouTube?
Start creating videos for YouTube with free non-copyrighted music with Clipchamp’s online video editor.