5 Reasons to Avoid Using "Free" Music for Commercial Uses

I had a conversation with a business owner a while back. The guy owned a computer repair business and they were doing animated explainer videos on their website. I told him if he ever needed any music, he could license some tracks from me. He kind of laughed and said, "well I doubt you could beat the prices of where I get it" and I asked, "what was the price?"

He laughed again and said he get's it for free, can you beat that! I kind of laughed with him and told him oh yeah, where are you finding that. He was happy to explain exactly where he got it, and I know that library's business practices and he is NOT going to be happy with the result.

The reason being is the place he gets the music is not free for the application he is using it for. The only way that music happens to be free is if it is going to be used in a major broadcast/film/ect. They are kind of shifty and offer the music as a free download and then come back later with an email saying hey you owe us xxx for the music you are using illegally. I tried to explain it to him but he didn't want to hear it.

A lot of times if you are finding free music for business and commercial use there is a catch. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Here are the top 5 reasons to avoid using free music for commercial uses.

5. Stolen Music: One of the bigger concerns with "Free Music" is that it might be free because someone stole the music. They might be trying to drive traffic to their site for adsense or  trying to license tracks cheap to pocket the money. It has happened with my music and countless other producers when a thief has ripped off an entire catalog of tracks. This is not only a legal problem for the thief but can potentially lead to problems down the line for the person that downloaded and used the stolen music.

A lot of musicians now have elected to join digital fingerprinting providers, content id, ect programs to monitor against theft, and if it ends up on YouTube, you will have a copyright claim on the video.

4. Low Quality: A lot of times free music is free because quite frankly it's not that good or it's a low quality master. MP3's for sync typically sound best at 320 bit, but preview files are typically 128 bit or less. If someone ripped a preview file and is trying to pass it along as a free quality master, it's not going to sound very good when you re-render it in your final project. While their could be a diamond in the rough, chances are it's probably not worth your time trying to find one.

3. Illegal samples and Copyright Issues: Part of the reason professional music sounds great is that there is a lot of money that goes into buying high quality synths, samples, vst's, and gear. For a lot of producers, myself included, when we get extra money we put it right back into the studio and buy better and better equipment and sounds. Professionals make sure they are creating music with legit licenses, legal sounds and original material. On the other hand some try to take the easy way and rip samples, steal loops, resell others stock tracks, add slight modifications to existing tracks, ect.

2. The Bait and Switch: This is one of the more common reasons why getting music "free" can be risky. This practice is getting more and more common where a music library will offer a free music license for a small percentages of usages, typically broadcast only, and charging a high rate for every other use and sync license. They will promote themselves as a free music library, but then surprise you with the small print. Be careful and read everything clearly. If it's free and sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

1. You Get What You Pay For. You'd be surprised how much hassle "free" can be. The bottom line is why would someone give away something of value for free with no strings attached. Maybe someone attached some malicious software with the download and are making money that way. You have to wonder what is their motivation.

One of the nice things about professional music libraries is that the majority of them DO give away free music as promotional tools all the time. Pond5, AudioJungle, LuckStock, and many others give away free music every month for example.

There are also subscription based libraries like Motion Array which are a bargain if you need a lot of music every month while other libraries such as YouLicense have web use licenses for as little as a couple bucks.  Licensing music legally has become as easy as a click of  a button. It will save you so much time and headache to license music the legitimate way. Especially if you are using it for a business or commercial use!

Thanks for reading and feel free to share, like and comment below.

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