We live in an age where content creation has become a central part of every industry, from huge megacorporations, to the privately-owned corner market, to the start-up working out of a garage. Without quality content promoting their products these companies would struggle to attract customers and their revenue would decline. Content for social media, podcasts, and YouTube have become as important as television or radio commercials when it comes to getting a potential customer’s attention.

Despite the wide variety of advertising and promotional platforms available, they all require licensed music. Whether it is the background of a YouTube clip, the introductory song for a podcast, or a radio bed, having legal rights to professional music is critical to developing content which is compelling and which avoids any potential legal entanglements. But how do you get permission (called a license) to use music? There are several options available.

Create Your Own Music

Perhaps you are already an accomplished musician, or have always wanted to try your hand at music composition. In today’s do-it-yourself online culture, this is a viable option. However, creating music which is appropriate for your content can be challenging. While you probably have a clear vision for the sort of music you want, writing music is hard, even for people who do it for a living. Getting musicians to play all the instruments, or learning how to use Pro Tools can take months or even years. Once you have recorded your music, getting the equalization and balance right for different platforms can be challenging as well: a mix that sounds good on radio may not necessarily sound good on TikTok. Ultimately, if your music sounds amateur it will negatively impact the way that new clients view your content, making that content seem amateur as well. Unless you already have experience with writing and recording music, this option may not be the best for your project.

Getting Licenses for Classical Music

There are thousands of classical music tracks available for background, stingers, and radio beds. Perhaps you would like the soothing sounds of Vivaldi to bring a sense of calm to your podcast, or a little Beethoven for your commercial. While there is a lot of classical music content out there, selecting the right recording is critical. Some of the larger orchestral pieces use almost 100 musicians in the recording, and if the music was not licensed correctly, getting the copyrights to that music may require contacting each musician individually. Additionally, while classical music does enjoy a great deal of recognizability, it may not have the right vibe for what you are trying to accomplish in your current project. If you sell motorcycles, then a radio advertisement featuring Bach may not be the best choice to appeal to potential customers.

Contact Music Companies for Popular Music

When you think of music for advertising you may think of a commercial for an Apple product or other big-name brand which uses popular music. Popular music is a frequent option used to create the background for a variety of promotional materials. However, popular music also is done for profit, and use of that music without obtaining the rights can result in your content being removed from the platform, or you can be liable to pay for the use of the music after the fact. It is important, therefore, to secure the copyrights or licenses for that music before you publish your content. That is where the use of pop music becomes problematic. Popular music licenses are often a distributed ownership, with the writer of the music, the performer, and the music publishing company all owning some portion of the copyright. Securing the music copyright for YouTube or a similar platform can be expensive and time consuming. Popular music licensing can cost tens of thousands of dollars and sometimes take over a year to secure. If you are heading up a big budget production where cost is no object and exhibition of the project is over a year away, then securing popular music licensing may be a strong option.

Use a Production Music Company

Another option for securing music rights is to use a production music company. Production music companies specialize in creating and publishing music to act as the background in podcasts or YouTube videos, the soundtrack for a documentary, the bed for radio advertisement, or any other project where music copyright is needed. The music that production music companies like Level 77 offer is written by musicians specifically to be used in these sorts of projects. The music licensing timetable is streamlined, often only taking the click of a button to secure. Similarly, because the company has already consolidated the publishing licenses, they can offer the music at a much lower rate than popular or classical music. Production music companies normally host massive libraries with thousands of tracks available in a wide range of genres and styles. The vast library, ease of use, expedited licensing, and low cost of production music makes it an attractive option for projects such as your own.

There are a lot of laws governing the process of obtaining licenses for professional use. There are also a lot of options for where and how music is acquired for different projects. While personal music compositions are a complication-free option, most content creators do not have the experience or the skill set to consistently produce professional music. Classical and popular options enjoy immediate recognizability, but it comes at a significant cost and can be complicated to obtain the licenses. Production music enjoys the best of both worlds, the lack of red tape and hassle with the immediacy of acquisition can make it an attractive alternative to writing new music, obtaining rights to classical pieces, or purchasing popular music copyrights. The next time you are considering adding music to your project consider using a production music company like the team at Level 77 that can help you easily, inexpensively, and legally obtain a full music license.