Just recently, the hoary old problem of music use in videos popped up again. It’s one of those things that surfaces from time to time, mainly by people asking about the legality of using commercial music in their videos for their own use.
So at the start, let’s get one thing very clear.
In every aspect, it is illegal to use someone else’s music in your productions without express permission from the publisher of that music. Note the word “publisher”. Just because your favourite track is a song by for example Sting, it doesn’t mean you can just add it as a music track.
I pick Sting here purposely (but I could have picked say Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder or various others) as while he performed the song, and maybe even wrote it, he is NOT the publisher as he and those others (at least) sold the rights to companies such as Sony Music.
So you would need the written permission from Sony Music to use the track. And that is a “Good luck with that” thing, or less likely, it’ll cost you about 10 years’ salary…
Of course, in the real world, if you make a video with a soundtrack by Billie Eilish and only your family will ever see it, and it is not on the ‘net in the public domain in any shape or form, Ms Eilish will never find out and the Music Polis will never come banging on your door.
There is the slight hitch though that Ms Eilish (or whoever) will never see a financial benefit from what is rightfully hers, but that I guess is between you and your conscience.
The way I have got around this, and therefore never get the dreaded YouTube ‘strike’ is by using a program called Smartsound Sonicfire 6.
Unlike a simple library of songs and tunes, Sonicfire 6 allows you to actually dig into the music and play with it to create something absolutely unique. You can change the length and it automatically adjusts accordingly, play around with tempos and timing, fiddle around with the instruments used and most importantly in specific tracks, alter what is called “Mood Mapping”.
To quote the online help system, “Mood Mapping allows for quick adjustment of the instrument layers to best suite your needs. With Mood Mapping, you define your emotional and structural requirements for a scene along the Sonicfire Pro timeline and any SmartSound Multi-Layer Music track not only fits the length from beginning to end, but it adjusts instrument levels and musical arrangements to best match your defined Mood. This new level of flexibility and immediate results delivers the ultimate emotional impact for your production.
Moods are different present instrument levels designed to accommodate several different scenarios. When you select a Multilayer track from the Search window, you can choose from the different preset instrument mixes by using the Mood dropdown menu. You can also create a custom instrument mix from the Advanced section.”
You also have access to what are called “hit files” that can be dropped into a track at a pre-determined location. An example of a hit file is the sound of a window smashing, the drawing of a blade from a sheath, the deep sound of a tolling bell, and so on.
The music library (and effects and hit files) you can get from Smartsound is huge and grows almost daily. And once you have an album, it is of course yours and no further royalties or fees need to be paid.
And so you are aware, this is NOT a paid plug for the company! I have been using Sonicfire for about 10 years now and am very happy as a customer with it indeed!
You can get a 21 day trial of the package and some sample files to play with at https://www.smartsound.com/sonicfire/downloads/. Its available for Mac and Windows, and there are also plugins for popular NLEs such as Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Final Cut, Pinnacle and Vegas Pro.
I think you’ll be impressed!