What is Royalty Free Music?

In a nutshell, Royalty Free is a music licensing model in which a purchaser pays a one-time licensing fee to the producer of the music. In exchange, the purchaser gets to use the music as long as they wish, in whatever productions they wish (with some limitations).

This model is different from music that requires a purchaser to pay a small fee each time the music is used, like on TV, a film, or in a video game. Those small fees are called royalties and can add up fast.

A big misconception is that Royalty Free music is free of cost. It is in many cases not free of cost, although some producers choose to give their music away gratis in exchange for credit in the end productions. Most Royalty Free music costs money, and the price can vary widely.

Buyers of my music and other audio products get to use it on a Royalty Free basis with the following limitations, which are explained in more detail in the license document you get with a purchase:

  • Buyers cannot claim authorship or ownership of the music. The producer (that’s me) retains all ownership and copyrights to the works.
  • Buyers cannot resell the music. The license allows the buyer to use the music in other multimedia productions, such as background music for TV, film, advertising, podcasts, a video game, a presentation, a guided meditation recording with voiceover, a hypnotherapy recording with voiceover, etc. The music needs to be synced with video or other audio to be sold.
  • Buyers cannot use the music for background tracks for their own music; the music must be synced with some kind of interactive media. For example, a buyer cannot overdub their vocals on to one of my tracks and release it on their album. A buyer can, however, overdub their voice over it on a podcast.
  • Buyers cannot share or sub-lease the music to others.
  • Buyers cannot duplicate and distribute it without being synced with other media.
  • Buyers cannot let others use it in their place. The license agreement is only valid between the buyer and the producer.

There is one further part of the license that is not a requirement, but is appreciated and generally good practice. Buyers are not required by the license to credit the producer of the music in their productions, but it is nice to get recognized for your work. Please credit me whenever possible using the language “Music by Jon J. Morin”.