How To Use Licensed Music in Your YouTube Videos
Follow these steps to avoid having licensed music removed from your YouTube videos
If you’ve ever tried to legally inject a copyrighted song into your YouTube video (meaning you licensed it or otherwise own the song in question), you know it can be an exercise in frustration. It’s not that using music is difficult—the problem stems from YouTube’s sometimes overzealous efforts to keep everything on the up and up. Even though you have permission to use an audio track, or own the copyrighted song, YouTube may take down your video, essentially claiming you’re a copyright crook. Have it happen enough times and you might even find yourself banned.
Part of the issue has to do with Content ID, which is a system YouTube uses to look for copyrighted music. It automatically scans every video that gets uploaded and sniffs out potential copyright violations, but one of the problems with Content ID is that it only identifies the song, not the license. Alternately, someone can file a copyright claim on music contained in your video and, well, it can be a hassle.
Well folks, the good news is there’s a relatively easy way avoid the headache of having your video removed from YouTube over false copyright concerns. Here’s how.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have permission to use the copyrighted song you want in your video. Depending on the song, this can be relatively easy or a bit of pain in the backside, and potentially time consuming. Be that as it may, it’s necessary if you’re not trying to skirt the law.
You can request permission from major music labels by using the following links:
- WMG Music Licensing
- Sony Music Licensing
- Universal Music Special Markets
- EMI Music Publishing
- BMC E-License
For other labels and music rights holders, you’ll need to do some digging on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or whatever happens to be your search engine of choice.
Or Use YouTube’s Catalog of Music
If you don’t want to go out and license music on your own, you can swap out audio tracks on your video using YouTube’s audio swapping tool. Here’s the thing—YouTube possesses over 150,000 tracks that are free to use, and since they’ve all been pre-approved, you don’t have to worry about a copyright claim yanking your video offline.
YouTube provides plenty of free music to add to your videos.
You can find step-by-step instructions by clicking here, though if your click finger is sore, here’s what you do:
- Go to your Video Manager page, and click the arrow next to Edit on the video you’d like to edit
- In the drop-down menu, click the Audio button
- Select a track by clicking on it and preview your video with the music track added
- Search for a track using the search box, or browse by genre using the Featured Tracks tab
- Once you’ve found a track you like, click the Save button, and the new audio will be applied to your video. Audio tracks can be positioned in a precise part of your video using the Position Audio feature.
That’s it, you’re finished, there’s nothing more to see here. For the rest of you, move on to the next step.
Be Audacious and Grab Audacity
If you routinely work with music files, then you’ve probably heard of Audacity. And if not, well, here’s your chance to get acquainted with the program. It’s free, open-source, and works on multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, and GNU/Linux. You can grab Audacity here.
What we’re going to do with Audacity is ever-so-slightly alter the speed and pitch of the copyrighted song that you licensed. By doing this, it throws YouTube off the scent and greatly reduces the risk that your video will be taken down.
Once you’ve installed Audacity, fire it up and load your song inyo the program. You can either drag-and-drop the music file into Audacity, or load it the old-school way: File > Open and select your song.
With your song loaded into Audacity, go ahead and highlight the length of the track. Since there’s no “Select All” option, the easiest way to do this is to click the gray area on the left-hand side. Alternately, you can scroll until you reach the end of the track, click in the gray area, and drag left until you’ve highlighted the entire song.
Don’t go overboard or your altered track will sound noticeably different from the original.
After you’ve selected the length of the song, it’s time to alter the speed. Click on Effect > Change Speed. A pop-up box will appear giving you the ability to speed up or slow down a track, either by dragging the slider or entering a percentage. You don’t want to go crazy here, or the song will sound funky, but at the same time, a slight change won’t be enough to duck YouTube’s filter.
We recommend changing the speed by 0.3 percent—it doesn’t matter if you speed it up or slow it down. It will take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to process, depending on the length of the song and your PC. When it’s finished, give the altered track a listen. With such a small change in speed, only the most discerning ears should be able to notice a difference.
You’ll need Lame to save to MP3 files with Audacity.
If you’re happy with the result, go to File > Export Audio and save the track to WAV or MP3. If you choose MP3, you may get a message letting you know that Audacity needs the file lame_enc.dll. Don’t sweat it—just hit the Download button (or click here) and follow the instructions.
If changing the speed doesn’t do the trick and/or you want to err on the side of caution, you can also alter the pitch. The steps are mostly the same—load up your music file and highlight the entire track, but this time select “Change Pitch” from the Effect menu.
Alter the pitch too much and it will sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks hijacked your track.
Under the Frequency heading, there’s a Percent Change box. We suggest changing the pitch anywhere from 3 to 5 percent in either direction (for slower songs or tracks with an emphasis on instrumentals, like bluegrass, you’ll probably have better results with negative percent changes). Try it one way and give it a listen. If you don’t like the result, go to Edit and select Undo Change Pitch. Try again in the other direction and/or alter the percentage.
Upload and Enjoy!
All that’s left now is to upload your slightly altered, licensed music track to your YouTube video. It’s still possible that a person could manually report your video, so you may want to leave a note letting viewers know that you licensed the copyrighted song(s) in your video.
NOTE: Maximum PC does not condone the stealing of copyrighted material, so we do suggest that you ask for permission whenever possible.