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How To Legally Use Copyrighted Music For YouTube Videos
September 12th, 2023 by Terri Pinyerd

Incorporating music into your YouTube content or unique audio tracks can help set your work apart, but if you'd like to use copyrighted music in your videos while still monetizing your content, you'll need to obtain licensing.


Today we'll take a look at the basics of music licensing for YouTube, so you can get started including your favorite songs.



how does youtube content id system work


YouTube enforces copyrighted content using a Content ID system, which automatically scans uploaded videos against a vast database of content submitted by content owners.


When there's a match, the Content ID system will automatically enforce the copyright holder's policy of choice, including blocking the video entirely.


Unlicensed music usage in your YouTube videos could result in:


  • Demonetization: You won't be able to earn revenue from the video.

  • Strikes: After three copyright strikes, your YouTube channel will be terminated.

  • Video Takedowns: The video can be removed from YouTube entirely.


Because of these potential consequences, it's important to obtain music licenses for any copyrighted audio you choose to include.


How To Obtain Licensed Music For YouTube


how to get music license youtube


Licensing music is different for everyone depending on your specific needs, the quality of the track you wish to purchase, and the region you're located in. However, the general music licensing process follows the same overall steps.


Determine The Licensing Type You Need


Before you start seeking out music licenses, first determine what type of license would best suit your YouTube channel.


Some elements to consider:


  • Personal vs. Commercial Use: Are you creating content for yourself, or for business/monetization purposes?

  • Duration of Use: Do you need the track for a single video, or will it be used repeatedly in additional content?


Music Licensing Platforms


The most straightforward way to obtain licensed music is through dedicated music licensing platforms. Popular platforms include Epidemic Sound, Audiojungle, and PremiumBeat, but there are countless other options for various price points (and many are often free!)


Once you've found the track you want to use, you'll need to ensure that the license specifically covers YouTube usage. Without this specification, you could be leaving yourself open to future copyright issues.


When you've purchased the license, ensure you keep a digital copy in case a copyright dispute arises in the future.


With valid music licenses, you have permission to incorporate the music into your video and upload without fear of copyright strikes or demonetization.


Using The YouTube Audio Library


An even simpler way to obtain copyright free music is through YouTube's Audio Library, which provides creators with a variety of stock music.


Keep in mind that some tracks within the Audio Library are completely free and can be used without attribution, but some might require you to give credit to the creator in the description box.


The Audio Library also includes convenient filters to allow users to find tracks based on mood, instrument, and duration. You can also preview tracks before downloading.


Reaching Out To Artists


If you're interested in a music track that can't be found on one of the music licensing companies listed previously, you might want to reach out to record labels or artists directly.


In this case you would want to contact the artist or label directly to express your interest in licensing their music. If they agree, you'd then draft a licensing agreement.


The specifics of the licensing agreement would depend on both parties. We recommend seeking advice from a legal professional to ensure that your rights are taken into consideration during the license drafting.



youtube copyright claim


If your video has received a copyright claim, check out our guide for step by step instructions on how to dispute a copyright claim and prevent them from occurring in the future.


Frequently Asked Questions


Can I use a song if I give credit to the artist in the description?

Unless your content falls under Fair Use (meaning, among other things, that it's not being monetized at all), simply crediting the artist is not enough to protect you from a copyright strike if you're using music without a license.

I purchased a song from iTunes/Amazon; can I use it in my YouTube video?

No - purchasing a song for personal use and listening is not the same as licensing music. You will need to purchase a music license either through a licensing platform or by contacting the artist or label directly.

Can a video still get demonetized even after purchasing a license?

Content can be demonetized for a variety of reasons, including a violation of YouTube's Community Guidelines. It is possible that your content could receive a copyright claim even if you've purchased a license, but as long as you have proof of licensing you can dispute this.

How do I protect my videos from false copyright claims?


Check out our guide to copyright claims on YouTube to learn how to protect your videos and dispute any copyright claims you've received.


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