Using music in videos

Using commercial tracks on social media videos

Virtually every single film we make we have music of some description in the background. Music helps us in a number of ways; it keeps the film moving along, it adds to the atmosphere, and a change of music acts as a gear change such as going from slow-paced to energetic.

Music could also make a film seem shorter because there are no silent gaps, which helps to keep the viewers and listeners engaged.

The big question is of course what music track should we use? It’s not just the style and beat of the music, but whether we should use a commercial track or not.

Firstly commercial music; if we are making a video to be shown at an event, such as an awards night or business presentation, a commercial track can have real impact on the subject matter and be quiet emotive. But using commercial music in a video uploaded online, especially on YouTube, can give you headaches.

When you upload a video to YouTube, any commercial tracks are recognised by YouTube‘s audio detection (a bit like Shazam) and the owner of the music track or publisher will be given three choices:

  • To just leave the video as it is and do nothing
  • Whether to have the audio in the video muted (which means sound is removed from the entire video- not just the section with the music in)
  • Or the publisher opts to have adverts placed over the top of the video which they receive any revenue from and these will appear on the bottom of the screen (this is the most common one music publishers go for)

Example of adverts on YouTube videos

Now the adverts that appear are not for the artists music, the adverts are based on the viewers search history or other data. So if you are a training provider for example, the adverts that appear will possibly be from a rival training provider company- and quite likely a local one, which is the very last thing you want appearing over the top of your own video that you spent money getting made.

The music copyright owners can choose to change the decision to mute videos or add adverts at any time, so at any point in the future the circumstances can change.

The best way of avoiding problems is by using royalty free music, which not only is virtually always free, but also avoids competitors adverts appearing over the top of your video.

Above is the most recent video we made with royalty-free music.

It’s worth just mentioning Facebook. Right now videos are often getting far more views uploaded to Facebook than YouTube, and Facebook doesn’t seem to be as thorough as YouTube at the moment with commercial music. But they do stop videos going live if they detect some commercial tracks. So once again, even on Facebook, commercial tracks should be avoided.

As for Twitter, a bit like its policy on adult content (which it has recently been clearer on but doesn’t always implement) it seems to not stop commercial tracks in videos at the moment.

We give customers a choice of royalty free tracks to use in their films, and we let customers choose which one they prefer. There is some music you can licence for a small price of around £10 as well- and we have an archive of these we can use already.

Author: Jonathan Robinson is the founder of and a YouTube geek.



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