A Content Creator’s Guide to Music Licensing for YouTube

Hey YouTubers 📹, I get the struggle:

You want to be able to play hit music 🎶 on your channel without copyright strikes.

In the past, adding music from top artists to your videos would involve buying a synchronization license 📜, which was a huge pain!

Obtaining this license would involve researching the music publisher for the song you want to use and contacting that publisher to request a #quote 💲.

These quotes could range from hundreds to thousands of dollars 🤑, and, obtaining one could take a very long time ⌛.   

For creators with smaller YouTube channels, chances are you don’t have the time or money to request a quote from a music publisher. 

Luckily, there is a way to legally use music in your videos without running into copyright issues.

Interested? 🤔

If you want to include music from top artists 👨‍🎤 like Imagine Dragons, Jason Mraz, and the Lumineers on your channel, here are five steps to help you avoid copyright strikes:

1. Go to songfreedom.com* on your web browser 🌐

2. Register for an account on SongFreedom

Registering with SongFreedom is easy: just insert your name, email address, and payment information 💳 into their online form.

Unfortunately, SongFreedom does require a monthly 📅 payment of $60, which won’t cover the cost of premium music – the kind we really want. Songs from top artists cost an additional $10 each.

This may seem like a lot of cash 💵, but it’s actually a very good deal. 

Obtaining a sync license could cost upwards of thousands of dollars, so a base payment of $720 per year with SongFreedom is nothing in comparison. Plus, using SongFreedom means you’ll have access to the premium tracks you really want in your videos – and the ones your viewers 👥 want to hear, too. 

3. Browse available songs 🎹

If you’re like me and just looking to get to the good stuff, here’s where you’ll find it:

On the SongFreedom website, click on the Playlists link in the upper left corner, then select a playlist that you expect will have some of your favorite songs. Something like Top Hits is a good bet. 

Artists featured in playlists like these include Maroon 5, M83, OneRepublic, and Ariana Grande 🎤! 

Having the ability to feature incredible artists like these on your YouTube channel is pretty exciting, and believe me, you could get lost searching through all of the quality music SongFreedom provides.

4. Select 🖱️ a song 

Let’s say that I need Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” for my video on copyright law, so I click on “use,” which takes me to the premium track screen. 

As I mentioned earlier, SongFreedom charges an additional $10 for premium songs 🎙️ like this one. 

I know, I know… None of us are big fans of spending more money than we think we have to 🤷‍♂️. But in reality, SongFreedom is a great value when compared with its alternatives.

On a different note, keep in mind that if you needed a Lady Gaga song for a corporate project, short film 📽️, or a nonprofit presentation, you would click on “need a different type of license”. 

Additionally, remember that SongFreedom songs are not available for commercial use. In other words, it would be illegal to take Lady Gaga’s song and use it to sell t-shirts 👕, or anything similar.

5. Download the track and license certificate 📄

Once you’ve answered a few questions from the drop-down menu on SongFreedom, you’re ready to purchase your premium music!

Songs must be downloaded 📥 in an MP3 or WAV format, for better quality. 

However, the most important part of this step is making sure to download the license certificate.

This is your proof of ownership of some of the #rights to that song for use in your YouTube videos.

Keep in mind that YouTube has no way of knowing that you’ve legally downloaded your video’s musical content and obtained a license. It’s still very possible that their content identification system will flag 🚩 your song as copyrighted material.

In this case, you would email 📧 proof of your license certificate to

claims@songfreedom.com and let them know that YouTube identified your song as copyrighted.  Once you’ve done this, SongFreedom will deal with fair use music YouTube to ensure that you don’t receive a copyright strike on your video and, more importantly, that the song remains on your channel.

So now that you’re educated on adding music to your videos while avoiding copyright strikes, you’re ready to go ahead and add some top hits to your channel!

By the way, as a content creator, I’m always wondering: what other music licensing websites do you use? 

I’ve used Triple Scoop, Epidemic, and AudioHero, but I’d love to hear if there are other ones out there that I’m missing. 

Let me know!

*Please note that I am not #sponsored nor do I have any #contractual arrangement with songfreedom.com. This is simply the only website I have found that allows me to insert quality hits into my videos without facing copyright issues; I highly recommend them.