What’s your favorite scary movie? No, this isn’t the start of a terrorizing prank call, a la Wes Craven’s Scream. Just take a moment to think about your favorite horror film, or even just your favorite horror scene. What is it that makes it so gripping and terrifying? Although you may not always be consciously aware of it, music is an important part of building up tension and atmosphere in film.
Just imagine your favorite horror scene without music; does it still chill you to the bone? If you can’t imagine it, take a look at this comparison of Psycho’s shower scene with and without music. It certainly loses much of the effect that Alfred Hitchcock originally intended.
Whether it’s a Hollywood film, a TV ad, or a YouTube video, music is really important to delivering your message. If you currently run, or are thinking of running, video marketing or advertising campaigns, then you should think carefully about your use of music.
Navigating copyright laws of using popular songs in your videos can be a challenge, though. Here are a few bits of advice for sourcing music for your video campaigns.
Using copyrighted music
Hopefully, you’re all aware that you can’t just take an image on Google and stick it from your blog. In the same way, you can’t just take a song that you’ve heard on the radio and add it to your marketing video. Do your research to find out whether that song is copyrighted, and who owns the copyright.
It’s not enough to simply say that you don’t own the rights to a song you use and give credit to the original artist. You need to actually gain permission to use it. If you get caught out using copyrighted music without permission, consequences can range from having your video suddenly removed to being sued by the copyright holder.
How to get permission for copyrighted music
If you absolutely have your heart set on a certain copyrighted song, you have a couple of options. The first thing you could try is contacting the artist or their record label directly on the off chance that they’ll give you permission to use their music. This may be unlikely, but if it’s a song by an upcoming, independent artist, then they might be happy to earn the extra exposure your video provides them.
Otherwise, you will need to obtain a license to use copyrighted music. You will often need to obtain two different licenses; the synchronization license and the master license. Online services such as ASCAP can help you to research and obtain licensing for copyrighted music. Obtaining licenses can be a complicated and expensive process. If you don’t have the budget or a legal team to help you handle these proceedings, there are a few other options.
Stock music sites
You’re probably familiar with websites such as iStock that provide stock images for public use, but did you know the same thing exists for music? You may be able to find open source music on stock sites, that are available for you to use in your marketing material. These sites generally contain royalty-free music as well as copyright-free. Check out Pond5 to find something that suits your project.
Public domain music
You are free to use any music that is in the public domain. This includes music that was never copyrighted and that which the copyright has expired on. Copyright expires when a certain amount of time passes after the artist’s death – typically between 50 – 75 years. In the US, any music published before 1922 exists in the public domain. Artists can also choose to place their work in the public domain.
An artist can make their work available under a creative commons license, making it free to use for certain purposes. Make sure you read all of the terms to make sure your use of the music is covered under this license. Creative commons licenses may specify that you have to credit the original artist.
One way to ensure that you won’t get in trouble for the music you use is to create it yourself. If you’re a musician or have a friend or family member that is, you can have your own custom piece of music created specifically for your video. If you have the budget for it, you could also hire someone to create the music for your video campaign.
Whichever option you choose, make sure you read the fine print to make sure your use of the music is appropriate and, most of all, legal. Although it can be complicated and time-consuming, finding the perfect music for your video could determine its success.