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🎼 Free music and all that jazz

🎼 Free music and all that jazz
By Dan Mason • Issue #13 • View online
🎶 Where to find free music … in harmony with copyright
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Ted Lewis (clarinet, standing) with Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band in 1918.
Ted Lewis (clarinet, standing) with Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band in 1918.
Someone asked: Do I think it’s OK to download a vintage jazz tune on YouTube, recorded in 1934 by bandleader Ted Lewis, for use in a podcast?
True, White Heat was recorded 87 years ago and is easy to download elsewhere on the internet. But my view: Not OK. Or at least, probably not. Which is the same thing in practice. 🙁
While copyright can be a minefield, it exists for a good reason and my advice is always: only use audio (or video or images or any other media) if you have permission.
Don’t worry … there are plenty of places online where you DO have permission and can legally download and use music for free. Some of my favourites are at the end 😊
Back to our friend Ted. I have a few alarm bells ringing. In the UK, to quote the PRS: “Copyright lasts for a period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.
Since Ted Lewis died in 1971, his work is still covered and, adds Copyrightuser.org, if you are uploading or downloading videos to or from YouTube in the UK, then UK copyright laws apply.
In the US, recent legislation says that music recorded and released between 1923 and 1956 does not enter the public domain for 95 years. The Public Domain Information website doesn’t mince its words: “Sound Recording Rule of Thumb: There are essentially NO Sound Recordings in the Public Domain in the USA.” Wow 😳
While YouTube’s own terms of service frown on downloading videos, it is not illegal if the copyright holder has given permission, for example via a Creative Commons licence (although what you can do then depends on the CC licence applied).
Creative Commons doesn't replace copyright, but provides a framework for sharing creative works for the benefit of creators and the enjoyment of all
Creative Commons doesn't replace copyright, but provides a framework for sharing creative works for the benefit of creators and the enjoyment of all
Incidentally, we can nail that myth that it is legal to use under 30 (or 20 or 10) seconds of a piece of copyright music. It’s not, ever 👊. And while ‘fair use’ (fair dealing in UK law) is a legal defence acknowledged by YouTube, just giving an author credit or claiming ignorance won’t protect you.
Finally, the Cotton Club music video featuring White Heat, was posted by Halidon Music, who sell the music online. In the description, several tracks are clearly labelled ‘licenced to YouTube by [the copyright holder]. And the phrase 'these tracks are available for sync licensing’ (permission to use the music with video, film or TV) suggests Halidon Music or others might not be too pleased to hear Ted Lewis making a surprise appearance elsewhere.
If I really wanted to use White Heat, I’d start with Halidon Music.
OK. Take me to the free music
I’ll leave aside the many sites selling royalty-free music and list a few that offer music that is legal and free to use in your projects.
Some sites don’t even ask for attribution, but please thank creators whenever you can, and always respect licence requirements
Pixabay brings its famous ease of use to a growing music library
Pixabay brings its famous ease of use to a growing music library
Pixabay. You thought it was just for images? Pixabay has a wide selection of music you can download and use without registration.
FreePD: As free as it gets, but not so easy to search.
YouTube Audio Library. You’ll find the library in the left menu of your YouTube Studio. Some tracks require attribution, many don’t. There are grey areas when it comes to using tracks on other platforms such as Instagram.
Audionautix. All music is created and produced by Jason Shaw 👏 and available free for all uses, even commercial, with credit.
Audionautix is a one-man show, and bursting with original music
Audionautix is a one-man show, and bursting with original music
Free Stock Music. Many free (requiring attribution) and some paid tracks. Use the licence filter.
Open Music Archive. They’re on a mission to open up access to public domain recordings.
Free Music Archive. A mix of free and premium tracks. Check the licence that applies to music you want to download.
Anything else?
Learn more about YouTube’s copyright system called Content ID and how to check if music you upload will suffer a copyright strike.
Thanks for reading 👏
🌍 I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing creatives and causes around the world as a trainer and educator. I get lots of ‘how do I …’ questions, so I started this newsletter to share the answers.
If you enjoy it, please share it! And if you have a question, suggestion or useful stuff you’d like to share, get in touch: dan@danmason.co.uk 🔗 bio.link/masondan
⭐️ Main image: Band: Wikimedia Commons. Gramophone: Andrzej Rembowski/Pixabay
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