Video Production Tips

How to get permission to use a song on YouTube

Updated October 27, 2022
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From background melodies to upbeat jingles, the right music can quickly polish your YouTube video. However, not all audio tracks are royalty-free and ready to be added to your video. Music licensing can be confusing for new YouTubers, so we've created a guide to help you understand how to use a well-known song that has a copyright or use alternatives like stock music.

Learn how to get permission to use a song on YouTube, and discover easy alternatives like Clipchamp’s stock library full of free and paid music.

What happens if you upload a copyrighted video on YouTube?

There are many different consequences that can happen to your video and YouTube channel if your content contains copyrighted material. Your YouTube channel can get penalized in multiple ways, such as the following: 

  • Your video gets muted 

  • Your video gets deleted from YouTube

  • Your video gets demonetized, and all ad revenue goes to the owner of the copyrighted music

  • Your channel may get terminated if you have multiple infringements.

If the music you are using doesn’t say it’s copyright free, assume it is copyrighted. All royalty-free and copyright-free music will be marked as safe to use with no copyright infringements. 

If you’re unsure whether your music is copyrighted, follow these two options below to check.

Check the video description on YouTube

The easiest way to know if a song on YouTube is copyrighted is to look in the video’s description box. YouTube music downloads usually share the audio and artist’s details, which helps your check if it is free to use or not in the description. 

Upload your YouTube video as private or unlisted

You can also upload your video as a private or unlisted YouTube video. YouTube’s content ID will let you know if there are copyright and licensing restrictions. If the audio is copyrighted, you’ll receive an on-screen alert.

How do I get permission to use copyrighted music? 

To get permission to use a copyrighted song, you’ll need to find the artist or owner of the song and contact them directly. You can’t contact famous musicians directly, but you can contact their music publishers. We recommend contacting any of the below music licensing companies for the USA, Australia, and UK content creators: 

  • SESAC, ASCAP, and BMI (United States users)

  • APRA AMCOS (Australian users) 

  • PRS (United Kingdom users) offer music licenses for trending songs

Step 2. Discuss a permission agreement

Once you have found and contacted the owner of your audio track, negotiate a permission agreement. The non-copyright permission agreement should include the following: 

  • Information about yourself and your YouTube channel 

  • Media usage (TV or YouTube)

  • Song title

  • Duration of the song 

  • How long you want to play the music for

  • Number of expected views 

  • Purpose of the license (commercial or non-profit)

Step 3. Create a written permission agreement

Avoid verbal agreements with music owners as they are less effective than written agreements. If the permission agreement isn’t physical, misunderstandings can lead to future disputes.

How much does it cost to get permission?

Sometimes getting permission to use a song on YouTube requires payment. Music licensing costs can vary depending on how well-known the artist is or if they are a small independent musician, usually starting at $100 for small creators.

Along with the permission payment, some artists and publishing companies can also charge a percentage of the revenue from the YouTube video. In some cases, this can be a solo form of permission payment instead.

When purchasing music licensing, 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, like using royalty-free stock music.

Alternatives to using copyrighted music

Royalty-free music on YouTube

There are millions of royalty-free music categories live on YouTube. All you have to do is search YouTube’s audio library and save the song directly from YouTube. If you have a YouTube premium account, you can directly download the music track without using a third-party downloader.

Clipchamp’s royalty-free music library

Clipchamp provides you access to thousands of stock audio files from Storyblocks that you can use in your YouTube videos for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Explore our free and subscription background music tracks and find the perfect fit for your video.

Royalty-free music platforms

Check out SoundCloud or Premium Beat for the perfect remixed tunes if you're looking for a particular music track. These remixes are usually royalty-free and free to download.

If your YouTube videos receive a copyright strike no matter what you try, consider uploading your video to TikTok instead. The app fully licenses TikTok’s audio files, so you won’t get a copyright strike if you use a trending sound.

Now that you know how to get permission to use a song on YouTube, level up your video editing skills by learning how to add your audio to a video. Ready to add a song to your video and upload it directly to YouTube? Get started with Clipchamp’s online video editor.

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