Peter VanRysdam / Design / June 30th, 2010

Adding Good Music to your YouTube Videos Without Going to Jail

I post a bunch of videos on youtube, and one of the biggest issues I face is music. Adding a music track makes a video so much more professional. However adding the thrilling stock music file called “car chase loop #5” just doesn’t do it for me. I want to add music that people know so it really grabs attention. That is why I was really excited to read the headline on mashable.com yesterday that read “License Songs for Your YouTube Videos at $1.99 Each.” Let me give some background for those of you who don’t do videos that often. Adding music to a video is a crapshoot. Youtube has some technology to detect songs, and takes action based on the copyright rules the owner has requested. In most cases, the song stays in your video. However there are ads overlayed on the video to buy the song. There are also other ads that you don’t have the option to turn off. I think a portion of those ad proceeds go to the music company as well. Here is an example of one of my videos where that’s happened:

What’s funny about that one is that there are actually three songs in there. It starts with Sublime before moving to Less Than Jake (which is the song youtube recognized) and then finally Flo Rida. Classy, I know. The other option is the youtube simply removes your audio track. What stinks about that is that you lose any other sounds like people talking or background noise. Here’s an example where that happened:

I know what you’re thinking…there’s a beautiful song about the wings of a butterfly. Well, originally I used Michael Buble’s version of “Come Fly With Me.” It was all lined up with the kits flying and looked great. Youtube has a feature called audioswap that lets you swap out the copyrighted track for a licensed one, which is what happened here. Not ideal, but it works. The big problem is, at least as far as I know, there is no way to tell what songs will make it through and what songs will be removed without just using trial and error. Also not ideal. The final option is it includes the song, but doesn’t allow you to embed the video on other sites. Where’s the fun in that? Anyhow, back to the Mashable article. I was really excited, because I assumed that meant that for $1.99, I could get a license to use most songs I wanted. Well, it’s still a great service from friendlymusic.com, however it isn’t all I hoped it would be. If you search for an artist like the Beatles, you get songs by other, unknown artists, in the style of the Beatles. A search for a genre like 80s gives you music in that style. Many of the songs are instrumental. Independent artists can go to www.rumblefish.com and submit their own work for inclusion, with some nice 50/50 profit sharing opportunities. So, at the end of the day, it is a good thing. You can use the music with peace of mind. However you’re not going to get the emotional connection to a popular song. I mean, just imagine this video we did to celebrate our designer Lincoln’s 10 year anniversary with the company without Lionel Richie!

Photo Credit: Fey Ilyas via Compfight cc