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Can I Use Copyrighted Music For My Podcast?

podcasting tips Mar 15, 2018

Today I want talk to you about using licensed music for your podcast.

Before jumping into this topic, I should note that you shouldn’t take this blog post as any type of legal advice. You should consult with your own attorney when it comes down to using licensed music.

Maybe you’re a brand new podcaster and you’re looking to step up your production game. Or maybe you’re a podcaster who’s been doing this for a while and you just want to feature a couple of clips of music in your podcast to really drive home a point.

This blog post may give you a perspective that will have you rethink whether you should be using licensed music inside of your podcast.

THE LICENSING GIANTS - ASCAP AND BMI

Most podcasters consider their podcast as another piece of media that can be consumed by the general public. But what they don’t realize is that what they’re hearing on TV and on radio has been licensed or a license has been purchased to use that music within their program.

Over the course of my 18 years in radio, I have learned that there are two major entities that you need to consider if you’re trying to license your music.  One of those entities being ASCAP and BMI. Both of those entities give you the opportunity to purchase the rights to use music within your own piece of media.

However, when it comes down to licensing, those license cost can be really, really expensive.

You might be saying to yourself, “No one’s really gonna know that I’m using a piece of copyright material within my podcast. I'm a small timer!”

THINK AGAIN BEFORE YOU START USING ANY TYPE OF COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL WITHIN YOUR PODCAST

Say your podcast becomes popular and people start going back and reviewing older episodes of your podcast. There is that possibility that someone comes across your podcast and says, "Ooooh, they’re using my music within their podcast. Where are my royalties?" 

A good example of this was in 2008 when Arizona Senator John McCain was making stump speeches all across the United States during his Presidential run.

He ended up using the song "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters each time he walked out to the podium to give his speech.   The moment lead singer, Dave Grohl, caught wind that McCain was using that song, Grohl asked that McCain stop. 

Grohl made the case that McCain was showing little respect for the intellectual property of that song. In other words, McCain did not get the permission from Grohl, the music label or even purchase a license to use the song.   

As a result, McCain stated that he respected copyright infringement and eventually would stop using that song.

DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO WHAT OTHER PODCASTERS MAY BE DOING ILLEGALLY

You might be saying to yourself, “I have listened to podcast where copyrighted music has been played on those particular podcasts. How are they getting away with it?”

There are a couple of reasons:

  1. Maybe that podcaster is using some type of copyrighted music but they don’t realize that they are violating some type of copyright infringement. They could potentially be in trouble if they have not bought some type of license for ASCAP or BMI.
  2. The podcaster has actually purchased a license through ASCAP or BMI and you jus don't know it.
  3. That the podcaster that is featuring the music on their podcast may already have struck a deal with the musical label to play that music on a podcast. In other words, that particular podcaster has gone to a music label and asked for permission to play that music on their podcast. It could have come in the form of some type of written permission.

You will always see this or hear this on TV and radio that you can’t use a particular piece of music or a particular clip from TV without getting express written consent.  So if you're looking for that permission, you should be reaching out to the label.

THE JASTA SHOW PODCAST EXAMPLE

Jamey Jasta is the lead singer of band called Hatebreed and also hosts his own podcast, The Jasta Show.

It's given that Jamey has already built the relationships with musical labels, so featuring music on his podcast may be the result of a deal he's struck with the label. 

He's regularly featuring bands from particular music labels due to the written consent he has probably acquired.

CAN I USE A MUSIC CLIP THAT IS LESS THAN 5 TO 10 SECONDS? 

My answer is going to be, "Just stay away from any type of copyrighted music unless you've purchased a license."

Stay out of the eyes of the copyright police because you don’t want to find yourself paying some type of fine that you don’t have the money for.

USING ROYALTY FREE MUSIC FOR YOUR PODCAST

What if you want to use some type of music for intro or your segueways on the segments of your podcast, where do you get that music?

That music can be found on royalty free music sites.

The two sites that I particularly use for my intros or segueways are:

AUDIOJUNGLE.NET

NEOSOUNDS.COM

Both websites are repositories for hundreds of thousands of music beds that can be utilized for your podcast.

You, as a podcaster, will realize the amount of work it takes to create something, so please keep in mind that it does take work to create these pieces of music.

I would recommend that you pay the money that it cost for creator to make that music.  Share your appreciation and thanks to the creator.

Once you have purchased this music, you can use it for your podcast particularly without being hunted down by the copyright police.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, there are tons of great articles on this topic. 

 

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