Royalty-Free Music Vs Direct Licensing: What’s the Difference?
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Royalty-Free Music Vs Direct Licensing | Rabbeats Music

Do you want to know how to avoid copyright claims for good?

It goes without saying, but just to be on the safe side, when you’re looking to add music to your ads (or any audiovisual project), the first thing you should consider is copyright.

In our previous article, we discussed in depth that copyright is the legal means of protecting an author’s music. As a reminder, it’s not necessary to buy all the rights to use copyrighted music because some rights are legally impossible to purchase.

However, you may use music licenses to buy rights based on the intended use of a specific music track. If you follow this route:

  1. You’ll have to speak and negotiate separately with the Publisher (or with the author directly if not represented by a third party), the record label, and Performance Rights Organisations (PROs).
  2. It’s costly.
  3. The whole process is complex!


As a result, many content creators, companies, and agencies choose to get royalty-free music for their videos. We, at Rabbeats, always explain to our clients the dangers of following this route! The vast majority of such platforms:

  • do not have a so-called direct license: the music license that protects you against any copyright claim
  • and you never know if someone else will use the same music as you!


Do you want to know how to avoid copyright claims for good?

In that case, stick around because we will explain everything you need to know about royalty-free music and direct licensing in this article.

Royalty-free music vs copyright-free music?

As we have said numerous times, copyrights and royalties cover two different concepts. A copyright protects a licensor that charges a royalty to use their intellectual property.

On many occasions (but not always), Royalty-free music is bought once and can be used as many times as is agreed in the terms of the license.

That is:

“Royalty-free music = Music free of royalty payments.”


It is also important to remember that:

The term “royalty-free” refers to the license under which the music is obtained, not the music itself.

But what is a music license?

What are music licenses?

Think of a music license as legal permission (an agreement or a contract) that allows you to use a music track for some time (period bound) and for a specific purpose.

Therefore, it highlights what you can and cannot do during that period by defining the legal aspects of your license. Thus, depending on the use of the song, you will, most probably, need one or more music licenses. For clarity purposes, we will mention them here but for a more detailed discussion read our previous article:

  • Sync License.
  • Master License.
  • Public Performance License.
  • Mechanical License.
  • Print License.
  • Theatrical License.

Let us give you an example; if you are about to use a copyrighted song in a YouTube video, you would then only need a sync license, from both the copyright and the master rights holder. But be aware that if you purchase royalty-free music from one of the online platforms, you’ll also need to get the same licenses as buying use a copyrighted song.

The problem of royalty-free music licenses

Ok, there are hundreds of platforms where you can download royalty-free music on the Internet.

But here is the problem! Not all platforms include the licenses mentioned above -synchronization license, master license, and public performance license.

But why? Because the majority of these platforms don’t own all the economic rights of the music provided in their catalogue!

This situation can get you into a delicate situation that will result in getting copyright claims and your content being muted, blocked, or even taken down. It is imperative to know in order to use commercially “free” royalty music you’ll need to purchase an additional license.

Concluding Remarks

Getting quality music and legally using it in your projects doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process.

However, if you don’t want any unpleasant surprises or additional costs, it’s better not to choose a random platform to download your music.

You already know that the vast majority of them do not have a direct license, which is what you need to have total peace of mind and avoid copyright claims.

We at Rabbeats can assist you in finding the right music for your projects, be it an original piece of music or from our music libraries.

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