Everybody likes music. So why not add some to your podcast? You’ve probably heard something like this:
“You can play any copyrighted song if you keep it at 30-seconds or less!”
The truth is, you can receive a cease and desist from the rights holder for playing a song for any length of time. In fact, having unlicensed music on your podcast is a violation of some podcast outlets policies including, Spotify. Your podcast can be removed from their directory for playing even a second of “My Heart Will Go On” (not sure why you would be playing that to begin with.)
Imagine having a recording artist on your podcast. You ask him or her if it’s OK to play their newest single on your show and they give you permission. You play the song and think you are in the clear. The only problem is, the artist may not own the song. Their record company does. So a few weeks later, you receive a cease and desist from 123 Record Company telling you to remove the song from your show. Now, you have to re-edit the podcast and reupload without the music. Imagine having to re-edit several episodes because you used unlicensed music for your breaks or outro!
So what is the best way to keep the record companies off your back and out of court? You can always license the song to legally play the music you want. However, for podcasting, it can get pretty complicated and VERY expensive. So we recommend using royalty free music. There are several sites out there that offer great music for free or for a small fee that you can safely use on your podcast. Here is a list of some of our favorites:
Free Music Archive
Make sure to always read the fine print on these sites. Some have different pricing for different uses. It may be free for personal use, but for broadcast or commercial (such as podcasting), there may be higher pricing. Some sites allow you to use the music for any use as long as they are credited. Other sites require a subscription to access their library and offer unlimited downloads. Depending on how much music you plan to use, a yearly subscription may be worth the investment.
Another option is to have someone create music just for your show. There are several freelance musicians out there who are up to the task. You can find some very talented and affordable composers at Fiverr.com. Again, we urge you to read the fine print when working with freelancers. They also may have different pricing for different uses. So make sure you let them know how you plan to use the music they create for you and pay them accordingly. They have to eat too!
Give your listeners the sound of music. If your creative vision calls for music, then add music. Just don’t risk it by using music without written permission from the owner. If your idea calls for a certain type of sound, you are almost certain to find a sound-alike on one of the sites mentioned above. If you can’t find what you are looking for, there is always someone out there who can make it for you.