Myth 1 – Royalty free music is free to use
Probably the most misleading term ever. It may may have free in the name but royalty free music is not free to use. The free part refers to the fact that no ongoing royalty payments are due for using the music, unlike conventional music licensing.
Although many stock music sites have adopted royalty-free models for licensing original music, use of mainstream music requires conventional licensing through societies such as MCPS, PRS and PPL in the UK, with numerous other organisations around the world.
Myth 2 – It’s bland
Not really. There are many great composers producing royalty free music with real instruments and some even hire the services of real orchestras. Yes, there are some bland and dated tracks out there, but on the whole royalty free music in 2011 is really good, especially when purchased from a music library that hand-selects its royalty free music.
Myth 3 – You can share it
Just because you bought a license you can’t go sending a copy to all your friends to use in their projects. You have the license and it will specify that you as the license holder can incorporate the music into your projects. You can not share it freely with others; they would have to purchase their own license to cover their usage.
Myth 4 – Composers get paid really well
I have often heard comments like… “composers get paid well, it won’t harm if I use the music without paying”, “my friend bought the license so they have been paid” etc. This is not true.
Independent composers and producers spend many hours composing their music and it can take a long period to generate an income. They work hard to make a living and do not typically lead the lavish lifestyles of pop stars
Myth 5 – You can create your own song from it
You can not sing over royalty free music and sell it as your own. This is not covered in the music license agreement. Typically the agreement allows the music to be used with visuals for corporate purposes or advertising. Selling it as your own music would require a collaborative agreement with the composer, which is not offered by music libraries.
Myth 6 – You can play it in public
Not always. This is a grey area. Some royalty free music providers allow this and others do not. You will need to check with the specific music library.
The rules related to public use of music are complicated as some composers join PRO’s (Performance Royalty Organisations) so that they may receive an additional royalty if it is played on TV or Radio. These organisations also collect from public venues and it is down to the individual composer to waive any performance royalties on a case by case basis.
This should be covered by the terms and conditions of the royalty free music library.
Heard any other myths? Want to know if they are true? Feel free to leave your comments or own experiences below.