Royalty-Free Music vs. Rights-Managed Music

The music industry often faces various misinterpretations. It’s time to set the record straight. Join us as we try to understand royalty-free music vs rights-managed music.

What’s Royalty-Free Music?

Royalty-free music is a music licensing procedure that enables music buyers to pay for pay once for a music license. By doing so, they can play music for as long as they plan to. In this era when people are leveraging the online space to boost their presence and boost their businesses, you can include a music video on your website or blog to push for or justify a certain point better.

However, to do so without getting in trouble with the music owners, you need to buy a royalty-free music license, after which the video can remain on your website for as long as it remains relevant on the website.

Who Receives Royalty-Free Music Payments?

Royalty payments are given to the legal owners of the copyrighted projects as a way of compensating them for using their work. It’s prudent to say that royalties are legally binding. Using copyrighted work without authorization from the owner can be an offense in a court of law.

What’s Rights Managed Music?

Rights managed music is a requirement that licensed should be obtained both for the sound recording and composition of music. Right managed music will earn royalties in the event it’s used in a revenue-generating entity such as the broadcasting sector and the YouTube program. The fee, length of use, in this case, is negotiable.

Is Royalty Free Music Free or Not?

Many people believe that royalty-free is an indication that they neither have to pay a fee or license to the music owner which is far from the truth. As we’ve seen above, it’s a music licensing process where interested parties buy a once-off license and this enables them to use the music over and over again. Take YouTube for instance. Many people are documenting their lives and posting the videos on their YouTube channels. To spice up their videos, they’d need to incorporate a tune or music that’s not their work. This is where royalty-free comes in. You may get in touch with your favorite music composer, artist, or producer and have them help you get a royalty-free song.

Make Payment

Proceed to make your payment and get the legal permission to incorporate the song into your videos. This means that you will get a once-off license and you won’t have to make any subsequent payments. Still, an artist can allow you to use their music free of charge. When this happens, however, you should credit the artist. This process can also be called a symbiotic relationship, seeing that you get the music without spending a dime, and in return, you promote the artist by recognizing and mentioning them every time you use the song.

Is Royalty Free Music Copyrighted?

If you’re a music composer, then the act of coming up with lyrics, the tune, and eventually producing the song makes you the ultimate copyright owner. This eliminates the idea of copyright-free music. When the copyright owner allows a third party to use the music in any way, then they give the end-user the authority to copy. In such a case while the music is free, it’s not without copyright.

Royalty-Free Music Pricing

There’s no definitive rate for royalty-free music as the music owner determines the price. This means that the copyright owner can decide to rate their work depending on the amount of time energy and finances they’ve used to finalize the project. This can be tens of thousands of dollars. Royalty-free music is a market operated industry with the final rate determined based on a willing buyer willing seller.


How else is Royalty-Free Music Described?

There are many other terms used to describe royalty-free music as seen below.


  • Pre-licensed Music Library
  • Single Fee Music
  • Pre-licensed Stock Music
  • Single Fee Production Music
  • Single Fee Music Licensing
  • Single Fee Stock Music
  • Pre-Paid Production Music

How do you determine the Quality of Royalty-Free Music?

In a free industry where artists are free to produce different genres of music, any music can be licensed in the royalty-free music classification. The quality of music doesn’t matter in this case but is a preserve of the musician. The end-user can choose any genre they want depending on their taste.


Understanding the Rights Managed License

The rights managed license is more restricted compared to the royalty-free license. In this case, the end-user is tasked with explaining how they plan to use the music. They also need to lay down various details such as the geography of use, time frame, and the publication volume. In this case and as we’ve seen above, the price is negotiated depending on the aforementioned specifications. If the product is used in other ways apart from the described ones, then the buyer will have to make an extra payment. A rights managed license is more costly compared to the royalty-free license.


How do Buyers Benefit from a Rights Managed License

They get all the rights to use the music in any of the described specifications across the licensed duration.

Importance of Royalty-Free Music

Royalty-free music promotes the legal use of music for sound and video-based productions. In this case, all producers have exclusive access to a wide range of music content that interested parties can legally obtain rather than illegally utilizing copyrighted music.

The illegal use of music can lead to the banning of your content and in severe cases legal prosecution. To avoid this, it’s important to get royalty-free music legally. Royalty-free music composers have exclusive rights to determine the terms and conditions to outline the process of acquiring music. Some of the factors that a copyright owner outlines beforehand are:

  • The Licensee or the person who can buy and use the music
  • The geographical location of the place where the music can be used
  • The duration of the license meaning how long the music can be used
  • The usage meaning how the music will be used
  • The cost or the one-off amount the end-user will pay


Royalty-free music isn’t free, contrary to what many people may believe. Users will have to pay some amount of money to acquire the authorization to use the musical content, Rights-managed music, on the other hand, is more costly and comes with more restrictions than a royalty-free music license.  In this article hopefully, you’ve learned much about Royalty-Free Music vs Rights-Managed Music