Everything You Need To Know About Music Licensing
Everything You Need To Know About Music Licensing

Why is this important?

Let’s start by looking at why music licensing is so important. As with any commercial content you see, whether that be TV advertisements to radio ads, music used in these mediums would have commercial licensing cleared — influencer marketing is not an exception to this. Any music used in your commercial content must have been cleared for this use or yourself and the brand could be held liable if reported. This means you could be asked to remove the content, suspension of your social media profiles, or worst case scenario be sued by the copy owner.

Part of the Project Management team’s responsibilities at TAKUMI is to stop any non-royalty free tracks being used on a campaign to protect both yourself and the brand however, there are a few areas to look out for when selecting your music before submitting.

Music Licensing Watch-outs

So, you have created your amazing content and now you’re looking for that perfect track to bring it all together. The majority would turn to the internet and start scouring the countless music databases there are available. This is a great way of finding unique tracks however different services have varying rules. We have listed below the top sources for music and the watch-outs you should be aware of.

Membership Sites: Usually one of the best ways to source unique music and can provide a great array of independent artists. However, you will find with some that they’ll be advertised as copyright free and free for you to download however in the small print, terms vary.

These sites usually have subscription tiers that permit a varying level of music usage depending on how much you spend. Often for small personal projects downloading the tracks for free is fine however as soon as you are using the tracks as part of a paid promotion, this moves into commercial use-age.

In-app Music: It is a common misconception that music already part of an app’s music database is permitted for commercial use. This includes popular social media platforms and also editing software. Music is pulled in through a third-party meaning the app does not own the rights to these tracks. Third parties are often software that allows labels and independent artists to upload their music for streaming.

For organic use, it is completely fine to feature that latest viral pop track however as soon as you are promoting, the licensing changes. This also means because there are so many different uploaders- it is very tricky to obtain any information about the licensing rights. Instagram is an example of this, reports have been made of influencers using the music directly from their database and then receiving copy infringement warnings from Instagram.

It is always best to stay clear of in-app databases when sourcing for any campaign unless you have been permitted to do so- such as for TikTok music artist campaigns or if the brand you are working with has obtained rights.

Credited Music: You typically see this last watch out on YouTube. If you regularly source music you will be very familiar with the titled videos such as “COMMERCIAL USE POP TRACK ROYALTY FREE”. This can be a great way to discover tracks however a lot of these videos usually have a disclaimer far down in the description with a word for word paragraph on what you need to include in your captions or a list of rules. An example below shows the rules attached with some of the videos titled “Copyright-free”.

Since this track comes with a list of rules and requires crediting this would not be classed as copyright free. Of course, there are YouTube channels out there that specialise in commercial use tracks so our advice is to look out in the descriptions for any small print on the track rules.

Our Top Tips

Now we have outlined the watch-outs, there are a few things you can put into practice that will make sourcing music so much easier (let’s face it, it can be a tedious task) and quicker for any brands that want to vet it before approving your content.

  • List of Trusted Sources: Starting to build up a list of databases will make the process a lot smoother. We are spreadsheet enthusiasts at TAKUMI (a good spreadsheet is like a work of art to us) so we would recommend curating a list and adding notes on the kind of genres, tracks lengths, and terms of licensing. You’re going to be using different tracks on TikTok as opposed to YouTube so just having a list ready to go is going to make the process smoother.

  • Consider Membership Schemes: If you are a full-time creator and find yourself needing music on the weekly, consider signing up to a subscription database. Although you will be adding another element of overhead to your content creation process, you will save time when creating your content and have instant access to 1000’s of tracks in one place. Of course, do your research before subscribing- a lot of databases offer one month free to start so you can work on that list of trusted providers.

  • When In Doubt Reach Out: Some licensing terms can be confusing on what you can use their tracks for so we always recommend emailing a database support service to be super clear before you decide to add it to your video. Having a solid list of where you can use the music also will speed up your music selection process.

TAKUMI’s Music Vetting Process

As highlighted above- our Project Managers are there to protect you from any potential music issues so we have a vetting process for any campaigns where you upload video and have to use external tracks not provided

by ourselves or our brands.

It is a very simple process- once you have submitted your content, your Project Manager will reach out and ask you for receipts on where your music has been sourced. We will ask for the following:

  • Track name and artist

  • Website, Database, or Software sourced from

  • Link/Screenshot of licensing terms

Once you have provided this, the Project Manager will review and forward your content to the brand if you have passed the vetting. If your music does not pass, you will be given a reason as to why so you are aware of any watch-outs on your new track and asked to re-submit.

We always give a heads up in our briefs if you will be required to complete our vetting process and if you are struggling for music on the campaign, our Project Management team has a list of trusted music databases they can share with you.

If you would like to find out more or if you have any questions, please get in touch hello@takumi.com