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Hollywood Production Music » Production Music Industry Articles & Tips » Royalty Free Music

Royalty Free Music

What is Royalty Free Music?

The term Royalty Free Music refers to production music or stock music that does not require additional fees to be payed once the music has been bought. For most usage types, the music (purchased once) can be used repeatedly in different projects and applications. Since, in most cases, there are no additional fees or royalties to be paid, it is classed as "royalty free music".

The royalty free licensing system is extremely convenient for production music or stock music. Instead of having to license the same music and pay each time it is used in a production or project, you only pay once and use forever and in as many projects as you like. Again, this is true for most scenarios; excluding most high end usage scenarios, such as: music for TV commercials, TV series, Trailers, Film, Mass Production (Video game CDs, Theme CDs …) and various types of broadcast usages!

Royalty Free Music (RF music) is an effective and time saving way to make licensing music cheaper and quicker. It is perfectly suited for most production companies, editors, music supervisors, game developers, multimedia service providers and many more. Most of the music licensed under the royalty free license is production music, which is often background music composed especially to work with TV, film, radio, video, internet, presentations, computer games or multimedia. Music tracks and sound effects target certain styles, genres, moods, and themes often with specific usage scenarios in mind.

Note that each Royalty free music library can have different terms and conditions with regards to the scope of the license that you buy, the permitted usage types and usage scenarios, and also different pricing.
For example, the Hollywood Production Music basic license covers many usage types and scenarios, and is priced farely low. This basic license covers usage types such as music for your website, music for company presentations, music for corporate videos, music for spas and gyms and many more. However if a client is looking to incorporate music into a high end application, such as a TV commercial / advertising campaign, music for trailer, theatrical film, TV series, part of a mass production product or CD (music that is duplicated in high numbers) and a few other usages … then he / she will have to purchase the license which covers the most relevant usage. This license will typically be more expensive than the basic license, and depending on the usage scenario, the client will also be required to fill out and submit a Cue Sheet, assuring that the artists / composers of the licensed music will receive their share of royalties. In most cases the client will just make sure that the Cue Sheet is filled out and submitted by the broadcaster of the music (Such as a TV channel). In most cases the client (our client) doesn't actually have to pay any royalties, only the broadcaster does.

Tip: So even though you are purchasing "royalty free music", it is important to check the terms and conditions of use of the music at the specific music library from which you plan to buy. Respectable music libraries are expected to publish accurate and up to date license information, including terms & conditions and a clear price table.
This tip is most important for people whi are looking to buy music for one of the following usage scenarios:
  • Mass production (music that is duplicated in high numbers)
  • Broadcast related production – TV (commercials / series / productions), radio, film …

Who pays royalties and when?
In usage scenarios as described in the Tip above, broadcasters such as Fox, BBC, CBS or Sky have to pay to broadcast music the purchased music (even though they may not have directly purchased it). This payment is transferred according to a general license that was signed between the broadcaster and the relevant performing rights organisation (PRO) such as BMI or ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). These PRO’s administer licenses to music users on behalf of their members (music publishers, music libraries and musicians/artists) – they are in charge of auditing, collecting, reporting and transferring the payments.

PRO’s know of all the music being played by collecting and managing ‘cue sheets’ – informative forms which are filled out by the broadcaster for each usage scenario, containing all relevant details regarding the piece of music being used, in which production, the duration and the frequency. In this manner, PRO’s can calculate how much money is due to each of its members (composer, music publisher or music library), then make money transfers accordingly.

So royalties are payed, but not by you (the direct customer), but by the broadcasters. So for you, it is considered "royalty free". Broadcasters are required by law to have such a broadcast license with the PROs.

Royalty free music is ideal for commercial use in your projects
Production companies, freelance editors and other music users often use professional music in their projects and productions. Using well-known commercial music is usually not an option, since it can be very expensive, time consuming and complicated. It ususally takes very long ours and days in order to find out the copyright holder, then apply for the rights to use in your project, all this covered by endless administration. And even if all goes well, there have been numerous cases when the music is already broadcasted with your project/production then something comes up with the validity of the license or an administration problem which indicates that you must actualy remove them music from your film or video project.

This is why royalty free / stock music is gaining popularity – Its quick and easy to access, preview and license, and its very cost effective. Minimum effort; minimum budget.

Here is a list of the key benefits of using Royalty Free Music in your film or project:
  • Very Cost effective.
  • Saves a lot of time and resources.
  • Many musical pieces available, endless options for your projects.
  • Many music pieces especially composed for film, productions and projects.
  • Easy to preview and audition. (Most libraries let you instantly listen to the music).
  • Simple to license and download.
  • Minimum to no administration needed.
  • Piece of mind - music is legal.
  • Finished and mastered - ready to use.
  • Can be used again and again, usually without additional fees or administration.

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