I’ve devoted quite a few posts on Creatively Corporate to video production, which is unfamiliar territory to many professional communicators. However, one thing they learn when creating their own videos is that most require music in order for them to be engaging. We want our videos to make an impact, and often we desperately want to pair up a famous song with our content to set a tone or evoke certain emotions.
The problem comes when you want to post the video publicly. I’m not a legal expert, and certainly not an expert in copyright law. However, for the purpose of this post, I can give you my experiences with perspectives on protected material and what our options are as corporate communicators.
Using Music in Internal Videos
The bottom line for me when it comes to internal videos is that I use whatever music I want. If the audience is strictly to be an employee population, I have never had any issues with incorporating a popular song into my videos.
That being said, sometimes even videos meant for internal purposes wind up on the organization’s website and/or YouTube channel. I know of which I speak. I have several videos on my YouTube account, and have received messages about the fact that I have protected music incorporated in them. I avoid a lot of hassle by making the videos private (it’s not publicly searchable and can only be seen with the specific link). This is my portfolio for potential employers or clients, so I don’t need to make the videos public.
YouTube and Copyrighted Music
YouTube is the primary channel used by individuals and organizations when it comes to streaming video content. So that’s what I’ll concentrate on for the purposes of this post.
YouTube will take certain steps if you have licensed music in your videos, such as muting the audio or running ads before and/or during play. This is only reasonable for them as they can get sued for hosting unauthorized copyrighted material. So this is something you have to consider if there’s a good chance your video will eventually be posted externally. You have a few options:
- Let the video play muted (no audio). YouTube will do this automatically if it finds you’re using copyrighted music.
- Allow ads to run during your video.
- Re-edit the video with royalty-free music.
- Pay the publishing company the required fee for using their music.
The last option is rarely viable as these fees can be quite hefty. Obviously, bigger companies have more resources to pay these fees and get permission to use the music. But for smaller businesses, non-profits, and individuals, it’s more of a pickle.
Your Best Option – Royalty-Free
If there’s a possibility that your internal video will go public, then it’s best to avoid the hassle from the start. There are several websites that offer royalty-free music in a variety of genres and styles that can suit your purposes. For a one-time fee, you can insert the music into your video, and post without worry. Below are a few of these sites:
There are also hundreds of royalty-free music CDs on Amazon.com and albums on iTunes. You can search for the particular style you want, listen to the clips until you find a song you like, and download the individual tracks you want. The best part is that once you purchase your music, it’s yours to use as often as you wish. I still have music that I purchased years ago and use in new videos.
So that’s my limited experience and thoughts on this topic. Have you encountered any issues with music in your videos? What’s worked for you and what would you recommend to other communicators? Let us know in the Comment section below.
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