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Thursday, September 28, 2006

In Search of...Legal Music?


While I was creating my nifthy book trailers, I learned a lesson about those freebie MP3 download sites. It might be legal to download the music, but it is entirely a different matter using it on my website or blog. If you take a look at all that legal stuff that nobody reads (okay, maybe some people read, but I'll confess I tend to skip past it) you'll see that it is NOT permissible for you to download a track and use it for book trailers, myspace sites, etc.

Bummer! I'd found the PERFECT song for Mark of the Beast's trailer and I couldn't use it.

Lest you doubt me, I'll even copy and paste the applicable portions of the terms here:

http://music.download.com/
All materials published on our sites, including, but not limited to, written content, photographs, graphics, images, illustrations, marks, logos, sound or video clips, and Flash animation, are protected by our copyrights or trademarks or those of our partners. You may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create derivative works of, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, or in any way exploit any of the materials or content on our sites in whole or in part. If you would like to request permission to use any of the content on our sites, please review our copyright notice and visit our Permissions and Reprints page.

(Note: Posting on MySpace/your website/blog is considered a "public performance".)

Amazon
All content included on this site, such as text, graphics, logos, button icons, images, audio clips, digital downloads, data compilations, and software, is the property of Amazon.com or its content suppliers and protected by United States and international copyright laws.

Every other free MP3 music download site I visited had a similar clause in their terms of use.

And so, on a virtual quest I went, traveling far and wide, in search of reasonably-priced royalty-free music.

What did I find?

That most sites that specialize in the distribution of royalty free music charge a figgin' fortune for a license.

That a lot of people don't realize they're breaking the law when they snag their fave band's latest release and put it on their site. They have, after all, given credit. That's all that's required...right? (Wrong!)

That there are royalty free midi files available for free, but the music is pretty crappy (synthesized versions of pop music) and the quality isn't exactly the best. Plus, at least with MS Movie Maker, there's the thorny issue with having to convert the files to a format that MM will accept. Which means the quality suffers even more.

So, where did that leave me? I was going to have to get out the credit card and relinquish ownership of some dead presidents.

But which ones? And how many?

Depended upon the site and the rights I was after.

There was www.blish.com
Going rate there: $109 per album. Not bad per song, but ACK! That is a lot of dead presidents to depart with all at one time. Think I'll move on...

Then I found Stockmusic.net
Price: $29.95 per track. Still a little steep. I'll keep looking...

Or Smartsound.com
Price: 99.95 per download...unless you're a big spender and can afford to buy more downloads at the same time.

Royaltyfreemusic.com
Price: 99.95 for an album of 12 tracks. I don't want to invest in 12 songs. I want one. Or maybe two. Oh wait! They offer that option...at $59.95 per song!

There are hundreds of others. But you must see the theme by now. No one's going to let you use their music for free. And cheap doesn't seem to be in any of their vocabularies either.

I finally found a site that sells licenses for instrumental background music for a reasonable price--$7.00 a song (not $7.00 for a ten-second snippet). That is a STEAL in the market of royalty-free music. www.stock20.com.

Another person mentioned classical music. After all, much of that music was written at least a hundred years ago. They fall under Public Domain. So they're okay to use...right?

Not necessarily.

With music, there are two copyrights involved:

1. A copyright of the musical score or arrangement. The notes on paper. The copyright holder is the music's composer.

2. A copyright of the sound recording of the music, the performance on musical instruments, garbage can lids, whatever, captured on recording equipment and transferred to audio tape, disk or MP3 file. The copyright holder is usually the recording company or musician.

The first copyright could very well have expired, but it's highly unlikely (given the limited means of audio recording so long ago) that any copyrights for musical recordings you might find on the 'net have expired.

I pulled this quote from the website cited below:

"Music recordings are protected separately from musical compositions. Virtually every sound recording in the USA is under copyright protection until 2067. If you need a sound recording, you will either have to record it yourself or license one. A large selection of easily licensed sound recordings can be found in our Royalty Free Music sections..."

All that to say IF you can find a musical recording on the internet that was recorded pre-1922 (a date specified by legal-types), then it should be safe to use.

For more information on Public Domain, go here: "Public Domain Music"

So... anyone who has found a LEGAL and inexpensive source for royalty-free music, please step forward and share! I'd love to have some choices.

posted by Tawny Taylor at 1:01 PM |

4 Comments:

Commented by Blogger Babe King:


You made a good job of this Tawny. Glad all our questions led to such an interesting article. Hopefully you'll get someone telling you a cheap, legal source and we'll all benefit.


2:48 AM 
Commented by Anonymous Angelle:


I don't think there are that many cheap legal music availabse for movie making stuff. Most musicians go through a lot of training and spend a ton of money on their instruments and lessons, and they have to find a way to recoup their investment. (I'm talking about real musicians who know music, not one of those poptarts or something.)


10:32 AM 
Commented by Blogger Emma_Sanders:


Thanks for the insight, Tawyny. The only place I found something (I think is legal) is under a fun pack I downloaded from Microsoft for their Movie Maker. They don't have a lot of clips, though.


1:01 PM 
Commented by Anonymous Anonymous:


Hi, another Royalty-Free Music resource - NEO Sounds (www.neosounds.com). Quality content at low cost, especially music loops.

Hope it helps :)
Alex


6:39 PM 

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