Use Copyrighted Music Legally

Keep lawsuits away by making sure that any music you use in your podcasts is properly licensed or is license free.

At some point in the process of putting together a podcast, you’ll run into the need (or desire) to use music. Whether it’s for an intro [Hack #63] , a sound bed (music that plays in the background while you’re talking), or a featured part of your show, music can improve the way a podcast sounds significantly. Unfortunately, you face a huge obstacle when it comes time to distribute to your listeners a podcast that includes music. It’s known as “the law.”

Know Your Rights

Most of us, when we work, expect to get paid for what we do, and artists are no exception. Both composers and musicians have the right to be paid for the songs they create and those rights are protected by copyright law. As someone who wants to use those songs, you need to make sure you understand those rights, because the failure to do so can result in some hefty fines (up to $150,000 per song, as of this writing).

For the sake of keeping things simple, this hack focuses on how song rights are handled in the U.S. Because it can be a full-time job to manage the rights to a song, most composers will assign the responsibility to someone else. In the case of a composer, this would be a performing rights organization. In the case of an artist, this would be a record label. For you, the podcaster, this means that to obtain legal permission to use a song, you must not only obtain ...

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