Blogs » Post-production » Royalty Free Music

Royalty Free Music

  • For my filmmaker friends:

    I am a composer (and film producer).  There is some rather confusing information out there about “royalty-free" music, especially from music libraries.  First of all, all music you license is “royalty-free.”  Filmmakers and production companies never pay royalties.  Those are paid by networks (NBC, HBO, etc.).  You can use a track directly from any composer or songwriter and it will also be “royalty-free.” 

    Some royalty-free libraries will offer a track for on multiple-projects.  That can sound tempting, but you need to make sure it will be perpetual (forever) and for use beyond festivals, including television broadcast.  The contracts from these companies may be written heavily in favor of the library.  A filmmaker needs a good contract that clears all rights for any use in the future.  Personally, I do know that some track stealing can happen in bottom-feeder libraries.  I would hate to see a filmmaker invest time and effort into putting a track against picture, and then have it have a copyright issue later.  That can really screw up E&O insurance, which can require involved clearances.

    All I am suggesting is that you might reach out to local composers and see what they have to offer.  Many of us can create custom tracks for your film virtually overnight.  (I did a full orchestral track for a Vancouver Web series that was in the style of Carmina Burana in less than two hours! ( Do you really want something that is used in a dozen other productions? In the end, how original do you want your film?  Stock music, like stock footage, can work, but your own is usually incredibly better.

    BTW:  I also teach music licensing, and can answer questions about how to license music for your own film or show.  My music is in a number of very high-quality libraries. I can also make it available directly for less  (I have over 600 tracks).  Custom scores are honestly the best way to create something special and unique.  If your film attracts awards for the score, that can only help promote the project and attract better distribution. 

    I can also offer suggestions about festivals and distribution from my experience.  My personal film projects have resulted in over 400 festival selections, awards, and nominations.  It’s all about the laurels!  Distribution can vary quite a bit, and festivals are getting into it, as well.

    Please reach out. I can do a quick zoom call anytime.

    Ed Hartman





  • Oskar Kuusk
    Oskar Kuusk Very kind of you to share this information with us!
  • Marianna Schmidt
    Marianna Schmidt As an experienced composer and film producer, you have a lot of knowledge that you can share with us.
  • Charlotte Davis
    Charlotte Davis Very nice!
  • Ed Hartman
    Ed Hartman Thanks very much for your kind comments. I'm always happy to answer questions about music, scoring, licensing, etc. I have a free music licensing/scoring newsletter (9th year), and free resources for composers and...  more