6 reasons why you shouldn’t use free music on YouTube

As a YouTuber, a large chunk of your job involves editing your videos to make them more entertaining. For example, you might want to add in some hip hop music when you’re having a thug life moment or some tropical house while vlogging at your favorite beach bar. It can be really difficult to find free YouTube music that totally fits your vibe. Read on to find out why you should consider paying.

Over the years, YouTube has become stricter and stricter about music copyright claims. Some videos have even been completely stripped from the platform because they used tracks they didn’t have a license for. If you’re monetizing your YouTube channel – take note – if you get slapped with a claim, you could risk being totally demonetized. In fact, this is exactly what happened to beauty guru, Michelle Phan, who faced a lawsuit several years back because she didn’t have the rights to use some of the music in her videos.

Michelle Phan

So, even though using free stock music for YouTube videos may seem like a quick win, there are so many reasons why paid services can be the better bet. Check out these six reasons why you might regret using free music on YouTube:

1. You’re stuck with bad quality music

Have you ever scrolled through the YouTube free music library? If you have, you’ll find that it’s mostly stock music. Though some of the tracks in the library aren’t necessarily bad music, the recording and production quality will be a far cry from the music you’re used to hearing on the radio. Poor quality music can really detract from your content and can leave a bad impression on your viewers.

So if you plan on using free music for YouTube videos and you’re not quite finding the beat of your dreams. Remember that sometimes it’s worth paying a little more for the song that’s really going to take your content to the next level.

2. You get mostly outdated music

There’s also the fact that those stock music tracks are often old, and not the good kind of old. We’re talking about tracks with overused chord progressions and outdated styles. These will instantly make your video seem out of date even if you just created it today.

It’s 2020, so using a dubstep track from the early 2000s will instantly make your content a little off.

3. You don’t get popular tracks/artists

Using trending tracks from well-known artists makes your content more cultural, relevant and engaging. If you’re going to connect with your viewers, you need music that they won’t instantly hate and might even bop along to. But the problem with most free music libraries is that they won’t have any of the popular tracks that you want to use.

That doesn’t mean that popular songs are completely out of the question. The claims-free chart music platform, Lickd, has a massive collection of classic and currently trending music from popular artists like The Kinks, Joey Ramone, Rhys Lewis, John Newman, Right Said Fred, and more. Check out the full list of popular artists on Lickd, or take inspiration from our guide to the best songs for YouTube videos.

Lickd music platform search feature

4. You have limited ways to filter your search

Free music libraries sometimes have a decent search and filtering system, but decent isn’t good enough. We all know how long it can take to find your perfect track and sometimes searching by genre, mood, instrument and duration just doesn’t quite cut it.

Pay-per-song services like Lickd often have a more fine-tuned (not to mention more relevant) filtering system. For example, Lickd lets you search for tracks by artists, labels, playlists, moods, movie music, trending songs on Spotify and many more. It also gives you the option to filter out just the instrumental tracks, if that’s what you need.

Lickd music platform, an alternative to free youtube music

The best part about Lickd for YouTube content creators is that you have the option to search for tracks relevant to your niche. If you check out the ‘Themes’ section, you’ll find plenty of tracks sorted by relevant themes such as beauty and fashion, comedy, food, gaming, and more. This seriously reduces the time it takes to find tracks that would suit your videos.

5. You risk blending in with the crowd

Another major problem about using free music for your YouTube videos is that everyone else has access to the same limited selection of tracks. Since these tracks are available for free, there’s a good chance a lot of people are going to use them too. This means you’ll be using music that everyone else is using, and you’ll have a hard time setting yourself apart from the competition.

Not to mention, your viewers may be sick of hearing the same tracks over and over again. So your best bet at avoiding this situation is by finding your perfect track from a much larger and more musically powerful library. Songs that perfectly fit with your content and resonate with your subscribers are much more likely to pack a punch.

6: YouTube could switch up on you at any time

This is perhaps the trickiest part about using free music on YouTube. There’s no guarantee that the free music you get for YouTube is actually free to use even if it’s labeled “royalty-free.” There could be some hidden costs depending on how you’re using it.

Plus, there’s no clarity about who holds the copyright. So even if you can use the track for free now, there’s a chance someone could bring up a copyright dispute later on. For example, a track that’s free to use might have sampled some parts of a song licensed to another artist or label. In fact, several YouTubers have experienced issues over such copyright claims.

Exhibit A – Matt Lowne

One of the more recent cases involves YouTuber Matt Lowne who has amassed almost 60 million views on his channel. Matt had 24 of his videos claimed by SonyATV and Warner Chappell, even though he specifically chose a track from what he thought was the YouTube free music library to avoid copyright issues.

Turns out the track he used had sampled ‘Weaver of Dream’ by Kenny Burrell Quartet, and its copyrights belong to Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. and Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. Now the YouTuber will be obligated to hand over the revenue from his videos to these record labels.

And throughout this copyright crisis, Matt got little support from YouTube. According to them, Matt must’ve been duped by a channel that wrongly advertised itself as the YouTube free music library. However, the YouTuber insists the track was listed in the official audio library.

Matt Lowne's twitter thread about music copyright claims on his videos

Source: Twitter

Regardless of whether or not YouTube listed the track in its official free music library, the whole thing is a mess. And the best way to avoid getting into a similar kind of copyright nightmare is by only using music that you actually have a license for.

What’s the fix?

For all of the above issues, the best solution is to get a license for the track you want to use in your YouTube videos. Though using free music on YouTube might be cheaper (for now), it’s not worth the sacrifice you may have to make on video quality or the risk of possible legal troubles in the future.

It doesn’t hurt to invest a little bit more in licensing popular songs for your videos, especially since Lickd makes these licenses so affordable and easy to get your hands on. Additionally, paying for music licenses supports the artists that created your favourite songs. As a creative community, we all know this is the right thing to do. So check out Lickd to find the best music for your videos and say goodbye to copyright stress. Start now to get 25% off your first song!

Content and SEO Marketing Manager

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