Video Production Tips

How to get permission to use a song on YouTube

Updated July 20, 2023

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From background melodies and upbeat intro jingles to sound effects like pops, clapping, and clicks, the right audio can quickly enhance any video. But, not all background audio tracks are copyright-free and free to use on YouTube.

Music licensing can be quite confusing for new YouTube creators, so read on to learn how to get permission to use a song on YouTube and discover an enormous range of royalty-free music library in Clipchamp.

What happens if you upload a copyrighted video on YouTube?

If you upload a video that includes copyright music, there's a few different consequences your YouTube channel and video could face. 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.

Take a look at these two ways to find out if your music is copyright free.

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. Most of the time you contact famous musicians directly, but you can contact their music publishers instead. 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. Obtain 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. To use a copyrighted song, make sure to obtain a written authorization agreement before adding the music to your video.

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. Some artists and publishing companies can also charge a percentage of the revenue from the YouTube video, along with the initial authorization cost. This can sometimes be a solo form of permission payment, depending on the agreement.

Make sure to read all the terms and conditions, avoid payment if you’re unsure about the contract, and determine if the price of the music is worth it when purchasing music licensing.

If paying for copyright music isn't in your video editing budget, take a look at the royalty-free stock music library in Clipchamp.

Alternatives to using copyrighted music

Royalty-free music on YouTube

YouTube audio library has a wide range of royalty-free music and sound effects options ready for creators to use. You can also search royalty-free music in the YouTube search bar to find free soundtracks other creators have made. Just download the YouTube audio to your computer, add it to your video, then share directly to YouTube in high definition with Clipchamp.

Royalty-free music in Clipchamp

Clipchamp has a library of free and premium stock music that you can use confidently in your YouTube videos for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Our original sounds cover all your YouTube needs, whether you're looking for an upbeat hip hop track for your vlog, lo-fi music for your travel video or cinematic music for your video ad.

Tracks are also hand curated into categories for intro and outros, gaming, and vlogs, explore an endless library of stock audio in Clipchamp.

An abstract image of adding a music track to a video in Clipchamp video editor

You can layer multiple sound effects and music to your video, easily trim away excess media, edit the volume of your track, and add a fade in and fade out to make your video's audio more polished and professional.

If you're looking to level up your audio even further, capture the attention of your viewers with AI voiceovers. Effortlessly create a professional voiceover in a range of different voices, languages, accents, and tones, then add it to your video.

Other 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 intuitive app fully licenses TikTok’s audio files, so you won’t get a copyright strike if you use a trending sound.

Whether you're creating travel highlights, gaming videos, tutorials or vlogs, entertain your viewers with royalty-free background music and sound effects in Clipchamp. For more ways to level up your YouTube videos, take a look at auto-captions.

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