September 20, 2014 at 11:03AM


Using Royalty Free Music

So I plan to shoot a short film soon and I wanted to have music playing in the background. However, I'm conflicted between using a song that's considered royalty free and that of a local composer. Basically, what I wanted to know is whether you are required to give credit to the artist if it's in the public domain, even if it's a really old song from the say, 1800's? What if it's present day music and still in the public domain - how do I go about using it?


Hi. You vahe two things.

1.- The credit to the artist always you must hace it (credit it's not permision)

2.- If yo want permission, you must have a royalty free (you have the licence to use it)

3.- In songs with a think 50 years old, you don't need a permission.

September 26, 2014 at 12:38AM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

Thanks for the comment Raguel!

September 26, 2014 at 2:36PM


I have read that songs recorded in 1923 or earlier are in the public domain, but I'm not a copyright lawyer so don't quote me on that.

One thing to be aware of are that, even if the song itself is in the public domain, the recording of it might not be.

October 17, 2014 at 11:42PM

Minor Mogul

Hi Chelsea,

I'm a film composer and music supervisor, hopefully I can clear things up a little for you. First of all, copyrights last 70 years after the author/composers death, so you have to figure out when the composer died. Second, there are two copyrights with every piece of music: 1) the composition itself [unrecorded] and 2) the recording itself. So you can have a 300 year old song, in public domain, but if it's a recent recording IT IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Credit is not necessarily required if you have licensed the music properly. Depending on the aesthetic of the film, I usually recommend working with a composer as it's an incredible experience to work with another artist to bring something new to the film.

If you have any other questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

November 7, 2014 at 8:05PM

Nick Dolan
Film Composer

It can be time consuming but finding existing royalty free music is a lot cheaper than hiring someone to compose it. Plus you'll know if the song is right for your scene. Sites like offer their music for free for personal use or a small fee for commercial use.

May 3, 2016 at 2:35PM, Edited May 3, 2:35PM

Rick Costello
Music Producer

Hi Chelsea,
For me the best is to use Creative Commons music.
BUT! there's different licenses in Creative Commons...
You can use CC-0 license (Creative Commons Public Domain) and make use of it like you want... but hard to find the good music you need.
Or you can use CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution) and you have to quote where it comes from and the Artist...
My favourite site is because there's only CC-BY music there...

February 27, 2017 at 1:58AM


Nice post!1
Thank you for sharing....

June 30, 2018 at 8:42PM, Edited June 30, 8:42PM


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