By Rory Kenny, CEO and founder of Loudly takes a look at the complicated world of copyright music when it comes to social media.
Copyright music is well known for being confusing. There isn’t a standard copyright law that covers you for what most creators need it for. Instead you often need different licenses for each platform, and these can also vary depending on where in the world you are.
But for many influencers and companies it’s vital to get this right. Music plays a significant amount of importance in the world of content as it can help set the tone of their videos, making them more engaging for viewers. Content without music can feel flat and turn the audience off.
So tracks need to be included in a way that adds to the visuals, but it’s not as easy as choosing your favourite chart hit and adding it to your post or stream. Enter the complex, expensive world of music copyright.
In the same way an influencer would want to be compensated for their work if used by others, music copyright exists to protect the artist and ensure they’re recognised for their work. It’s not only applicable to the full track but artists are able to claim money if their work is used in a number of ways including a cover, the lyrics or a few seconds of a track.
And just to confuse things further each platform has different license requirements, which means it can take up a lot of time and money to ensure you’re covered.
If creators fail to cover themselves appropriately with the correct licenses then they face potentially devastating consequences. Platforms like YouTube and Twitch have been known to delete content and switch off channels of those who don’t stick to the rules.
With the numbers of YouTube channels growing by the day to a staggering 37 million in 2020 the scale of this problem is huge.
The platforms have been quick to respond and haven’t shied away from investing in tools to help keep their platforms in line with copyright laws. For example Google developed Content ID, a digital fingerprinting system which is used to easily identify and manage copyrighted content on YouTube. Videos uploaded to YouTube are compared against audio and video files registered with Content ID by content owners, looking for any matches.
The software is clearly working because in one month alone Google had 75 million take down requests over copyright demonstrating the staggering scale of the problem.
Other social media platforms have different ways of compliance. Facebook and Instagram have partnerships with rights holders which means influencers are able to make use of certain tracks on their streams and posts, but there are limitations in terms of length, choice and also what country you live in.
With an increasing amount of streaming, lives and posts accelerated by the pandemic and a need to communicate virtually you could argue that music copyright laws are no longer fit for purpose in the modern day.
Social media companies will continue to keep on top of the misuse of copyright so it’s really important that users keep up to date with the regulations to avoid penalties.
So what can you do if you want to use music on your social media?
Well you can always obtain a music licence, but this is hugely expensive often costing thousands of pounds, and in some cases record labels want a percentage of the income the content generates on top. Whilst this may be an option for the macro influencers or large organisations with big budgets for the vast majority it’s just not a viable option.
Another option is you could commission a music producer to create tracks for you. This is quite a popular tactic in the world of podcasts, but they tend to use the same tracks in each podcast to help create continuity, so it makes it cost effective. For influencers who often have a variety of themes/moods to their videos this just isn’t fit for purpose.
However technology may hold the answer as we start to see users utilise AI powered music with their content. Companies such as Loudly offer the Creator Economy a seamless, easy and quick way to create their own tracks that can be tailored to different themes, moods and genres.
AI music allows users to create their own royalty free track that will work for a specific video or piece of content. The software is designed to be as easy as possible and takes you through simple steps asking questions about mood, theme and genre to help generate the ideal track for your needs. Essentially you’re creating a bespoke track for posts in a few clicks without any need to have music production knowledge or experience.
What we may see in the years to come is a shift in copyright music laws and regulations to better serve the way we use tracks in the digital age, however for now technology can provide the easy and affordable solution. I would encourage anyone who uses music in content to have a go at AI music production to discover how easy and rewarding the process is. It not only gives users the chance to really tailor tracks to suit their needs, it avoids the negative pitfalls you may find if you use more mainstream tracks.