So often you may hear a song and the melody or message sets you free for a moment or two. But don’t mistake music for anything but free, its intellectual property protected by copyright.

While music may touch your heart and feel like a gift from heaven it’s actually a big business with corporate watchdog authorities in place to insure the music is paid for and used appropriately. These performing rights organizations (PRO) are “societies responsible for collecting income on behalf of songwriters and music publishers when a song is publicly broadcast”. BMI, ASCAP and SESAC are the top three copyright holders and are made of mostly of lawyers insuring compliance of complicated copyright laws.  They are a force not to be reckoned with,  just read this horror story or google it for yourself.

An interesting note is that these royalties are not paid by the DJ’s, or the cover bands playing the music like you might expect but rather by the venue at which they were played.  Everything from your favorite clothing store to your church. Each time you hear an original melody or song its considered “a performance” and most likely owned and protected from piracy under copyright law. Even the song and melody of Happy Birthday is copyrighted.  That’s why you often hear custom created alternatives at restaurants everywhere.

As a content creator I am limited to the type of music I can use for use in a public forum like the internet. If you heard a mainstream song on your friend’s YouTube video it was probably used illegally. Now don’t get me wrong I have no problem using songs you want as long as it is for personal use and wont be put on the internet.  For example, if you want your uncut first dance to the song you actually dance to, no problem, as long as you watch that privately in your home.

Although when it comes to corporate work, marketing videos, wedding highlight videos including trailers & teaser films I only use licensed music. If you are adamant about choosing the song(s) in your feature you can browse and choose from the collections of license music I use at The Art List , SoundStripe or The Music Bed.

I can also work to obtain custom licensing agreements from other publishers although additional fees may be required to cover those costs.

You can read more on the best Music Licensing Platforms For your Video Project at Preston Kanak’s blog.