Royalty Free Music in Film

short film
by George M. Groutas

There was a time when you had to lug around bulky, costly equipment if you wanted to make a movie for school or another reason. It cost a lot of money to shoot and edit the footage, turning it into your vision. In today’s digital era, you can create a film using a cheap digital video camera and some computer software and broadcast your vision to the world. For very little money, you can also use royalty free music to add a soundtrack because, after all, you can’t have video without audio.

While there’s a world of possibilities at your fingertips, there’s also a world of risk. You have to know how to use them legally, especially music. For example, you can’t use just any piece of music for a school project. Copyrighted music, like the Beatles’ song “Revolution,” can be used in a lesson about the politics of the 1960s. It cannot be used in a video you make about your high school class’s volunteer day, unless you pay for it. For those who don’t want to pay, you can always use royalty free music.

Using royalty free music is not your only option. Another solution is to ask permission from the copyright holders to use that particular music in the film you’re making. Your movie doesn’t have to be for educational purposes, although you’d have better luck getting permission if you were making it for educational purposes.

Your best bet, though, is to use royalty free music so that you don’t have to go through the convoluted process of seeking permission to use your favorite song in the film you’re making. And you won’t have to pay through the nose to transform your vision into a digital masterpiece.

Don’t brush off the idea of royalty free music. You can find great music that sounds just like the ones you’d have to pay lots of money to use. High end companies boast extensive sound and music libraries to fit whatever mood you’re trying to set in your film. These unique musical pieces can make your film a memorable one, whether you’re simply making a short film for YouTube or a blockbuster movie.

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