[WARNING] 5 Hidden Ways Background Music Will Get You Banned from YouTube
Avoid costly mistakes that can ruin your online campaign and bring shame to your business
You’re on the hunt for awesome background music for your video but don’t know where to start.
A quick search on Google shows a few websites pushing free background music in exchange for a link or a social media shoutout.
At this point, using unsolicited music in a YouTube video can land you in hot water.
You run the risk of a channel take-down and demonetization of your video, not to mention a suspension or ban from YouTube’s partner program.
In this article, we uncover common mistakes made by YouTubers and content creators and suggest ways in which they can successfully license background music without getting into a cacophony of legal headaches.
- Unsolicited music
- Commercial music
- Inadequate license coverage
- Altering the music (work)
The Pitfalls of Using Unsolicited Background Music
Nowadays, everything is on the internet.
Within just a few clicks, you can find unsolicited background music posted on a multitude of websites, available as a free download.
You may even come across Top 40 music from some of the world’s most popular artists.
Not so fast.
You could be in for a world of headaches if you decide to use these tracks in a YouTube video.
Firstly, you don’t know who the rightful copyright holders are.
Secondly, you’re unclear whether or not the soundtrack is being offered under the creative commons license, a license commonly granted against a link exchange or a plug in a video.
Despite your doubts, you decide to download the music and ignore all legal implications.
After countless hours editing and finalizing your video, you finally upload it to YouTube.
You spend time actively promoting your video in hopes that your audience likes, subscribes and comments.
Within the span of a few months, your video receives thousands of views, shares and an endless stream of comments.
As your subscription base increases, becoming a full fledged YouTube partner appears to be right around the corner. YouTube partner accounts are eligible for monetization through ad revenue. This means advertisers will run ads prior to or during your video while YouTube grants you a monetary kick-back in exchange.
Monetization represents a major milestone for YouTubers. For some, it may translate to a healthy stream of income with full-time career implications.
Through hard work and perseverance, you get admitted into YouTube’s partner program.
You’re now in the big leagues and success didn’t come easy.
In hindsight, you’ve had to tweet, Facebook, blog and Instagram your way to the top.
You’ve lost countless hours of sleep capturing footage, editing videos and crafting share-worthy posts.
Promoting your brand wasn’t easy, either.
Outperforming the 13 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute has left you feeling tired yet strangely fulfilled.
That’s a whole lotta video to compete with.
Nonetheless, your channel thrives as you’ve put in the hard work.
People are loving your content and your brand is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
Like a Bad Ending to a Great Soundtrack
As you bask in the glory of success, ‘bad luck’ rears its ugly head as all good things come to an end.
Remember that unsolicited background music you’ve been using in nearly all of your monetized videos?
Well guess who decided to serve you with copyright claims up the wazoo?
Mr. Copyright Holder(s).
This is bad news…
like, skateboard trick gone wrong bad news.
YouTube’s policy states that videos with copyright violations are automatically demonetized. Moreover, copyright claims against your videos means that you will no longer be the financial beneficiary of Google Adsense program.
No Money For You! (cue Seinfeld’s soup nazi voice)
In short, Mr. Copyright holder(s) (claimant) becomes the defacto financial beneficiary of your monetized YouTube videos.
Meet your new digital pimp.
You can kiss your ad revenue, goodbye.
But it doesn’t just end there…
No longer are your highly acclaimed videos promoted on YouTube’s recommendation list.
Eventually, you see a sharp decline in subscription count as viewership fizzles away – not to mention the embarrassing “this video is in breach of copyright infringement” text sitting underneath each video you’ve ever made.
Not a good look, is it? – especially for your brand’s YouTube channel.
It gets worse…
Let’s hope you weren’t the video editor who decided to use free and unsolicited background music sourced on the web for a client’s video campaign.
An unsightly copyright claim is a surefire way of having your reputation besmirched and sabotages your chances of repeat business as a freelance video editor.
I think we’ve just about summarized why we want to stay away from random unsolicited background music.
Using Top 40 Commercial Music is Not An Option
As Instagram users ourselves, we frequently stumble upon posts containing commercial music from well-established pop artists.
Drake and Taylor Swift are popular choices not to mention EDM (Electronic Dance Music) Top 40 hits.
Record labels (copyright holders) often file claims against users who unabashedly make use of their property.
If you absolutely want to use recognizable commercial music in your project, then browse through your favourite royalty free music library in search of a sound-a like. It’s your best option when dealing with a smaller budget. Legally licensing Top40 commercial music isn’t cheap.
If you’ve got the financial means to license Top 40 chart topping music, then go for it. The composers will be greatly appreciative.
Altering a Work by Adding Vocals to Background Music
In case you’re thinking of using background music as bed tracks for vocals, think again. Most royalty free music libraries restrict users from turning soundtracks into Karaoke-style accompaniments. It’s important to thoroughly read a stock music library’s licensing policy and F.A.Q. Altering and remixing a soundtrack in any form is prohibited. Moreover, selling modified background music is also not allowed.
Buying The Wrong Music License For Your Project
Before purchasing background music, ensure you’re covered to use the soundtrack in a YouTube video. Don’t just assume you are safe. It’s a safe bet that most stock music libraries include YouTube usage in lowered tiered licenses but be aware that other licensors include YouTube publishing rights in higher tiered license packages. When in doubt, double check the music licensing policy.
AdRev Background Music
AdRev is a company responsible for tracking the usage of soundtracks in videos. Registered soundtracks are triggered in the event a track is used in your production. You’ll have to provide the claimant with the necessary documentation stipulating that you own a legal license to use the soundtrack. Failure to do so may result in the claimant becoming the recipient of your monetized earnings.
Navigating the world of background music libraries can be both fun and challenging. We recommend avoiding unsolicited background music at all costs. YouTube and music copyright holders are becoming demonstrably more aggressive in tackling online piracy. With the abundance of cost effective and high quality background online, finding the right soundtrack for your videos shouldn’t be a problem. Lastly, you’ll find an assortment of background music for videos right here.
Julian Taylor, writer
Musician, Marketer and lover of locally-brewed craft beers.
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