You Ask, I Answer: Sources of Music for Podcasts?

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

You Ask, I Answer: Sources of Music for Podcasts?

Jenna asks, “Where are some good sources of music for your podcast?”

Let’s talk licensing for a bit. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

First, there are two sets of rights you have to know. Performance rights give you the right to use the music itself, to use its copyright. Mechanical rights give you the right to use a recording of the music made by a performer. If you’ve ever heard a musician cover another musician, the original musician has the performance rights, and the cover musician has the mechanical rights. It’s like baking a cake. Someone else has the recipe rights, and you as the baker have the mechanical rights.

To play music on your podcast, you must have a license for both sets of rights (unless you own both).

There are three kinds of music – podsafe, meaning it is licensed for podcasters to use, public domain, and everything else.

Podsafe music is music where you typically get a license by asking the musician directly. You get both sets of rights authorized by the performer. You must get this in written permission for safety.

Public domain music is exactly that – and you have to make sure you have both the performance rights and mechanical rights. Using a recording of someone else performing a public domain work does not grant you the mechanical rights. A public domain MIDI file that you render yourself is the best bet there, but you need to have either secured permission to use the copyright of the MIDI file creator, or the file creator has released the rights by declaring it in the public domain (which many do).

Everything else requires licensing from performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, as well as mechanical rights organizations like Harry Fox Agency. If you purchase these licenses, you can then play any music you want on your podcast, as long as you adhere to the terms of service and report it. Bonus: they then compensate artists for you playing the artists’ music, so if your organization can afford it, get licensed.

I particularly like music generated by AI, because both sets of rights are yours if you’re the one generating it.

You Ask, I Answer: Sources of Music for Podcasts?

Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.

Listen to the audio here:

Download the MP3 audio here.

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode Jen asks where some good sources of music for your podcast.

Oh boy.

Alright, first, I am not a lawyer.

Let’s get that away.

I am not a lawyer.

If you need legal advice, please seek a qualified attorney.

Now let’s talk about licensing.

There’s three kinds of music when it comes to podcast.

Number one is public domain music.

This is music for which there is no copyright.

And you are free to use that music as long as it is in the public domain.

We’re going to come back to that in a second.

The second type is what’s called pod safe music and this is music that you directly contact the musician the artist for and obtain written permission from them to use their music in your podcast.

And you need to document that in case they ever do.

For example, hit big and Don’t start issuing requests to people to stop playing the music and you have to adhere to their wishes, right.

And then there’s the third category of music, which is everything else.

There are two types of rights that you have to acquire for music.

One is what’s called the performance rights, which is the right to play the music.

And the second are called mechanical rights, which is the rights to play the recording of the music and this is why public domain music can still be tricky sometimes because in the performance rights cover, essentially the the copyright of the music itself, and then the mechanical rights covered the playing of the music.

When you go into a buildings lobby and you hear you know, music playing, that that building has to pay licenses if it’s you know, Taylor Swift’s new song have to pay for licenses to play that music for both the performance of the mechanical rights.

When you do public domain music, the performance rights are covered by Being in public domain, it’s no longer copyrighted and therefore you don’t have to pay for the performance rights.

But if you’re playing say the Baltimore symphony orchestras, rendition of that, you may still need to pay for mechanical rights will depend.

So that’s the catch there.

And then third kind of courses, everything else and for those other songs, anything else that you’d see like on youtube music or Apple Music, whatever, you have to have a performance rights license, typically, you’ll have to get one from each of the performance rights organizations, ASCAP, BMI, and sesac.

So you need three licenses on them, and they run anywhere from 200 to 600 a year.

And then the mechanical rights from Harry Fox agency.

All in, you will probably pay about1,000 a year for those licenses and you have to report your usage of songs for each of those.

I think quarterly.

It was quarter the last time we did it.

My company way back in the early 2000s.

When I was running up daily podcast, we had to do reporting for those things.

And so you have to, you have to send that in that money, and then it’s an annual license, you have to renew it.

If you play music that is covered by a performance rights organization or mechanical rights organization, you play it without permission on a podcast, you can be sued, and the fees are not inexpensive.

Another organization I was working at they they had a little mix up, and they got a $60,000 bill for the playing of 30 seconds of one song.


So it’s a pretty big deal.

So where do you get your music from? Go to the artists directly, if possible.

And the other place that I’ve been using a ton because it is the right are cleared is artificial intelligence generated music.

So artificial intelligence is generating music.

Now, is it gonna win any Grammys? No.

If you have a music podcast where you’re trying to get people to find new music, is it appropriate? No.

But if you just need some background music for like transitions or in videos like this, then it’s good enough.

It’s good enough and again, check with the vendor that you’re working with.

But many vendors will, if you pay the appropriate level of licensing actually give you the license and then that music is copyrighted to you to your organization, and no one else can use it.

The one vendor I’ve used a lot that has really good output is a company called Eva, ai VA.

And it’s not bad guys, you go to a it’s the it’s not bad.

It’s not great, right.

It’s not gonna win any Grammys, but it is in many cases good enough.

There are no exceptions to the law.

A lot of people have said, Well, what about fair fair use? Well, the problem with fair use is that you don’t know whether you’re going to win in court or not.

And going to court is very, very, very expensive.

Your lawyers going to charge you 300 500 800 bucks an hour, just for you to not have to owe a whole bunch of money.

And if you do get caught, and it’s really easy to get caught these days, you will run into issues, right.

Even when you load stuff up to like YouTube, whatever.

YouTube’s AI based algorithms in the back end are all checking to make sure that you’re not using any copyrighted sound.

And you’d be amazed at how good it is at detecting misuse of copyrights, you do not want to be in a position so to recap, pod safe music is your best bet because you will have in writing from the musician themselves.

Both the performance rights and the mechanical rights covered Yes, you may use my song that I played that I gave you this mp3 or WAV file for artificial intelligence generated music is also good.

If you if this if you don’t care about you know the quality beyond being good enough.

Public Domain music public domain music can be tricky if you don’t secure both of the sets of rights, and then everything else if you want to and if you’re a company, you should go secure the rights.

You can then play if you have your licenses from ASCAP, BMI susac, and Harry Fox, you can then play any song you want on your podcast.

You can play the latest, you know Taylor Swift song, and then when you report it to those agencies, what is beneficial is that they then take a percentage of the proceeds and give it to that artist to say, you know, you got this many, this many plays on this podcast.

And you know, they get like a 10th of a penny per play or whatever.

But that benefits the music So if you are using music by musicians, even if it’s pod safe, check to make sure that the musician is with is properly licensed.

And if they are, do them a favor, get yourself the licenses and then report in to say like, Hey, you know what, I want to make sure that you’re supported for your work that we that you’re getting compensated for your work.

If you have all those licenses, you can play whatever you want.

If you want to use songs from the latest movie by the rock, you can because you’ll be licensed for it appropriately.

Do it right.

And you will not have to deal with lawyers.

If you have follow up questions on this topic, please leave them in the comments box below.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter.

I’ll talk to you soon take care.

One help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems.

This is Trust today and let us know how we can help you

You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Take my Generative AI for Marketers course!

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This