Brian Copeland had an excellent blog post (Sweet Home Alabam, a Video Tour and $150K) about using popular music with video projects that inspired me to share my thoughts on using music with my video production projects. Essentially, my advice on using popular or copyrighted music in your video projects is DON’T DO IT! Even if a client is asking for it and many other videographers out there are slapping up videos with popular music, it’s not a risk worth taking. And, as Copeland pointed out, the process for getting permission to use copyrighted songs is difficult to say the least.
So, what’s a videographer to do?
The obvious answer is royalty-free music which can be purchased at a reasonable cost ($30-$400) and used in your projects. A frequent criticism of royalty-free music sites is the lack of sophistication in the music. It’s often too cheezy for most of my projects and lyrical royalty-free songs are hard to come by for romantic wedding videos and such. I have found one royalty free music site that I recommend over all others: Premiumbeat.com. They’re got a nice selection and some really great sounding tracks. Check ’em out.
Another option I want to recommend is contacting a local recording studio to see if you might work out an exchange. The smaller, local recording studios might have some talented, but otherwise unknown artists recording songs you could get permission to use in your videos in exchange for credit and a hyperlink to the artist and studio websites. That’s what I did with C-Sharp Productions here in Minneapolis. I met with producer Chad Sharp for lunch and we worked out a deal. I can’t speak for Chad, but it’s worked out great for me and helped me add some great vocals and modern music to my wedding videos that won’t land me in court.
Another opiton is to seek out music schools or friends who might be recording something in a home studio to see if they’d be interested in getting their music featured in a project of yours.
The final option I recommend is creating something yourself in Garageband or Soundtrack Studio Pro. Both programs have various loops and instrumentation that make it easy, even for non-musicians, to create some basic mood music.
So, get out there and find music the right way and you’ll find your videos will sound even more original than your competition!