Video Production Tips

How to get permission to use a song on YouTube

Updated June 16, 2022
Clipchamp is a free online video editorTry for free
Share this post
A woman listening to music pointing to a YouTube video

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.

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: 

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

  • 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)

  • Song title

  • 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. 

Clipchamp’s free non-copyrighted music library

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. 

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. 

More from the Clipchamp blog

How to use video for remote employee onboarding

December 12, 2021
Looking for creative ways to use video when onboarding new hires? Welcoming new employees…

How to use a smartphone to level up video quality for Microsoft Teams and Zoom

November 1, 2021
Whether you’re holding a Microsoft Teams business conference, working from home or…

8 Tips to live stream like a pro

June 28, 2021
Worried about live streaming? Feel like it's as hard as walking a tightrope? We can…

Start creating free videos with Clipchamp