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How to Secure Music Rights for Your Video Content

In recent years, where video content reigns supreme, the right soundtrack can elevate your project from ordinary to extraordinary. Securing music rights is a crucial step in ensuring that you have the legal authority to use a particular piece of music in your creative projects, whether you’re creating a YouTube video, a documentary, or a short film, music adds depth, emotion, and resonance. 

However, using copyrighted music without proper permissions can lead to the dreaded “music copyright claim” or, in worse cases, legal troubles. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to secure music rights for your video content, ensuring your creative work remains both captivating and legally sound.

Understanding Music Rights and Copyright

Before diving into the process of securing music rights, it’s crucial to grasp the basics of music copyright. In essence, music is protected by copyright as soon as it’s created and recorded. 

This means that the original creator (usually the songwriter, composer, or performing artist) has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and perform their work. If you use copyrighted music in your video content without proper authorization, you’re infringing on these rights, which can result in a music copyright claim on YouTube or even legal action.

Types of Music Rights

There are several types of music rights that govern how music can be used, distributed, and monetized. Understanding these rights is essential for musicians, composers, producers, and anyone involved in the music industry. We will talk about two primary types of music rights you need to secure for your video content:

Master Rights

  • Master rights refer to the rights associated with a specific recording of a musical composition. These rights typically belong to the recording artist, record label, or producer.
  • Licensing master rights is necessary to use a particular recording in audio-visual projects or other commercial uses.

Sync Rights

Sync, short for synchronization, refers to the right to use a piece of music alongside visual media, such as in a video. To use a song in your video content, you need to secure sync rights from the copyright holder, typically the songwriter or their publishing company.

  • Sync rights allow a musical composition to be synchronized with visual media, such as film, TV shows, commercials, video games, and online videos.
  • Securing sync licenses is necessary to use music in audio-visual productions.

Steps to Secure Music Rights

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to secure music rights for your video content:

  • Identify the Music You Want to Use

First, determine the specific music you want to use in your video. Consider the mood, tone, and message you want to convey and choose music that complements your content.

  • Understand Copyright Laws

Familiarize yourself with copyright laws in your country. Copyright laws vary globally, so it’s essential to know the regulations that apply to your project. You can also understand how to make your own copyright free videos with different apps.

  • Determine the Copyright Status

 In many countries, including the United States, copyright protection is granted to the creator (or creators) of the music from the moment of creation, and it typically lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years. This protection encompasses various exclusive rights, including the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, and create derivative works. Therefore, it’s crucial to err on the side of caution and seek proper permissions and licenses when using copyrighted music in your projects to avoid potential legal issues.

  • Identify the Copyright Holders

Find out who holds the rights to the music. There are typically two primary rights holders:

1. Master Rights Holder: This is often the record label or the recording artist, and they control the specific recording of the song.
2. Sync Rights Holder: This refers to the copyright holder of the composition itself, typically the songwriter or the music publisher.

  • Contact the Copyright Holders

Reach out to the copyright holders or their authorized representatives. This may involve contacting the record label, the artist, or the music publisher.

Clearly state your intentions, including how you plan to use the music in your video content.

  • Negotiate Licensing Terms

Be prepared to negotiate the terms and fees for using the music. Licensing fees can vary widely depending on factors like the song’s popularity, your intended use, and the bargaining power of both parties. Discuss whether you need exclusive or non-exclusive rights and for how long.


  • Obtain Written Agreements


Once you reach an agreement, ensure that you obtain the necessary licensing agreements in writing. These agreements should detail the scope of use, any limitations, and the duration of the license. Make sure all parties involved sign the agreements to make them legally binding.


  • Pay Licensing Fees


Pay any agreed-upon licensing fees or royalties promptly. This may involve a one-time payment, ongoing royalties, or a combination of both, as outlined in your licensing agreement.

  • Maintain Detailed Records

Keep thorough records of all communication, agreements, and payments related to the music rights. This documentation is crucial in case of any disputes or claims in the future.

  • Adhere to License Terms

Strictly adhere to the terms and limitations outlined in the licensing agreement. Failure to do so can lead to legal consequences and damage your reputation.

  • Consider Royalty-Free Music

If securing rights for a particular song proves challenging or expensive, consider using royalty-free music. Royalty-free tracks are specifically created for licensing and can be used without the need for individual permissions.

By following these steps and ensuring you have the necessary music rights in place, you can create video content that not only captivates your audience but also avoids the pitfalls of a music copyright claim on YouTube or other copyright issues. 


Remember, respecting copyright is not just a legal requirement; it’s also a way to support the talented artists and creators behind the music you love.


Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Acting as the CEO and founder of the site, the highly successful entrepreneur soon saw his team grow meteorically under his stewardship, amassing more than 1 million followers across the brand’s platforms. In addition, working with esteemed global entities such as Tomorrowland, AMF, EXIT Festival, Ushuaïa, Hï Ibiza, Parookaville and many others festivals and clubs aswell as some of the world’s most reputable record labels, artists and agencies.