March 30, 2021

4 Things You Need to Know About Podcast Music Licensing

Some more straightforward and helpful tips to properly license and obtain the rights for music for your podcast.

4 Things You Need to Know About Podcast Music Licensing

Digital audio content is an excellent way for people to consume knowledge, and podcasts have seen a massive uptick in interest this past year. Edison Research shows that almost a third of the United States population listens to at least one podcast every month, and approximately a quarter listens every week.

If you own a podcast, you know that branding your podcast to tell your story is essential. In order to do this, many podcasters will utilize music because music is one of the best ways to help drive your storytelling and engage more listeners.

Having a theme can determine the identity you are hoping to convey within your podcast. Music is used to enhance this by bringing about certain moods and emotions.

While there are multiple sources of available music, finding music can create a challenge due to royalty fees and copyrights - not to mention finding just the right music to set the mood. But it doesn't necessarily have to be so difficult. There are some more straightforward and helpful tips and ways to properly license and obtain the rights for music for your podcast.


When choosing music to license within your podcast, you want to know the ins and outs surrounding music licensing rights for podcasts, including what rights you should have and what ones you might not need to worry about getting. Some of the more specific rights you should be sure to obtain or ask about are below.

Publishers or owners will grant permission for you to use music in your podcasts with what is known as Synchronization Rights, or ''Sync'' for short. For podcasts, you want to be sure you have these and the Master Rights, which gives you the allowance to use the recording of the song or track.

Other rights you may want to ask about are Mechanical Rights in case you need these as well. It will give you the right to produce the recording of the music by itself.

The cost will also be something you will want to consider when obtaining music licensing rights, so be sure you find out if there is a flat fee or if you have to pay for use every time you use it. The license you want to get to ensure that you can air the music as long as you wish to is called an In-Perpetuity License. You can use this as long as you don't make changes to your podcast, but you need a new license once you do.

The key takeaway here is to make sure you have dotted all of the Ts and crossed all of the Is. You do not want a publisher or owner coming at you with any infringements or lawsuits for doing something illegal. It can wreak havoc with your business and brand. If you need to, consult an attorney or ask for some legal advice to ensure you have your ducks in a row.


You have probably heard the term thrown around in podcasting when it comes to music - "fair use." The term refers to utilizing a small portion of a track or song with copyright without a license. Trying to utilize "fair use" music is not something that you should consider when using your podcast music.

Why? Well, because it is only allowed in particular situations or conditions. Those situations are if the user comments or parodies the original work or if it is being used within the podcast as "transformative." This is typically allowed for use within podcasts that focus on album reviews or song breakdowns. They claim fair use since they are only commenting on the original music track.

To be on the safe side, it is much better if you steer clear of trying to utilize fair use as a "legal" way of putting music into your podcast. You'reYou're more likely to end up with a lawsuit on your hands for not obtaining the proper license for use. Think about it this way, too - if you lose a copyright lawsuit due to music sampling, you could be fined approximately $150k PER SAMPLE and per copy of the song distribution. Do you have that kind of money to spare?


If you are still feeling unclear or uncertain about how to go about licensing music to use in your podcast, there are solutions out there. Music licensing agencies, such as Marmoset, are great options for you. They not only have a wide variety of music for you to choose from for your podcast, but they have already cleared copyrights for podcast usage in many cases (or they can easily find the proper licensing necessary). Many agencies also offer a library full of royalty-free music that you don't need the actual copyrights for, in case your budget is tight.

When you go through a music licensing agency, there are upfront fees involved, such as creating a membership with the agency to utilize them for licensing music. The investment can be worth your time and effort to go through all of the licensing and is sometimes a much easier option.


While you are looking at various costs for licensing, it is essential to make sure you still do your research to have the proper licenses to use the music you want for your podcast. This might require finding where the music is registered and/or contacting the publisher or owner yourself for rights.

It would help if you also took note of sources that claim music has been vetted and is ready for use. Proper vetting of the piece means that the authority has confirmed that the music will not infringe upon other work. Take time to read that fine print and know that you completely understand your rights and what they entail.

One last thing to remember is that if your podcast has guests, and your guests have music - you guessed it - you have to make sure you have all the proper licensing if you want to play their recordings. If the guests or artists you bring on don't have 100% rights, you need to contact their label or whoever the publisher is to gain access. Your guest may think that they have the licenses all squared away - but you must be sure of this before allowing the music on your podcast.

Podcasts will continue to grow and gain more notice and become a lucrative way to help develop and sustain businesses. Keep yourself up-to-date as things change or expand within the podcasting realm since, at this point, podcasting is still a relatively new concept.

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