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A Quick Guide: What is Royalty Free Music?

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   Let's say you are a video creator and you've made an amazing project to share with the world. Your in the final steps and you need the perfect piece of music to go with it.  You get online to find music and you see that if you want to license music the right way, its a good idea to get Royalty Free or Copyright Free music. The common misconception is that the names can be a bit deceiving, as neither are free or at least not totally. This quick guide will help you understand this these terms.

Royalty Free ain't Free....

Just because a track is labeled royalty free, does not mean that  it's free to use.  The music must be paid for in order to own the license to use it. Copyright free music is very difficult to truly find. Most of the music you are going to find is NOT in fact copyright free but is in fact owned by someone.

Most Royalty Free music you license does typically have an upfront fee attached to it, which can be one time and be used as a royalty payment for the composer of the track. This basically acts as the royalty payment in many cases for usage.

Royalty Free Music isn't just always background music but can also include vocal tracks or songs by artists as the companies you are licensing them from may represent a large catalog of different types artists.

Beware of Terms and Conditions.....

Royalty free music companies work differently so it's important to be aware of terms and conditions before you license music from them. "Royalty Free Music" refers to the music licensing that allows the purchaser to pay for the music license only once and to use the music for as long as you like.

For instance if you purchase a Royalty Free piece of music,  you pay one single price whether you have 5 visitors to your video  or 1 million visitors. Typically that  flat fee always stays the same in that concept. That typically can cover time frame of usage also which should be in perpetuity or forever for that type of license.


Public Domain & Creative Commons License?

There are other options like Public Domain music and Creative Commons but they are not as simple as you might think.

Public Domain allows you to use any music created before 1923 with no license but you have to be careful to use the original version of the track. Since the track is public domain, there could be hundreds or thousands of versions of that track around created by other composers which would not be the original version and in turn not be public domain. It would be a nightmare if you did use the track and find out later that it was not the original version and owe the composer fees for usage.

Creative Commons can be another option. The composers of these tracks may only ask for attribution or credit for usage and you can use the track for no fee. The problem is that there can be fine print attached to those types of licenses stating that the license may only be used privately or may have other terms in the agreement that don't make the track "that" free for usage.

Ultimately its always a good idea to go to a trusted music resource for music like  us at All of our music is pre-cleared and ready to use and you don't have to worry about copyright issues. 


The Cueniverse is a music licensing company of Musicians, Composers, Trendsetters and Taste makers that work together to bring unique & quality music to the masses. Whether you need a theme song, a parody, original library tracks or music supervision, The Cueniverse can take care of all your music needs.

  • 23 January, 2020
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