Can I use music in a client slideshow or marketing?

Jun 3, 2016

Topic: Copyright, Licensing
Time Investment: 9 Minutes
Suggested Product:  Commercial Contract Bundle


Understanding copyright law and music licensing can be about as clear as mud.  When you are creating marketing materials or client products, you must have an understanding of what is proper or isn’t.

Some examples include:

  • slideshows for business promotion
  • use of music during a sales presentation
  • background music in a client slideshow for purchase
  • music on Snapchat/Instagram videos
  • any other unlicensed use that is in furtherance of your business

The danger comes when the proper commercial license has not been acquired.  In fact, so many social media platforms are in this infringement fight by creating automation to kill/remove videos with unlicensed music.


iTunes is NOT a commercial license

The most common example of unauthorized use is iTunes being used in a commercial activity. Unfortunately, iTunes terms are for personal use and not commercial use.

Anytime that you go and purchase a song (or even a template!), you need to be mindful of this licensing, so that you are following the legalities and the terms that the seller has put in place so that you don’t get in any hot water in marketing. It doesn’t look good when you put out an awesome slideshow with music that you are not licensed for and then get in trouble for it.

If you are still stuck on the difference in commercial versus personal use – take a look at this example for photography.  The same ideas translate to music.

Rule of thumb: If it’s being used in the course of your business – get the proper license!

As creatives, we need to be more respectful and understand the difference between personal licensing and commercial licensing.  You need to take a look at the license and determine whether or not you have the permissions to use it the way that you’re intending to use it in marketing.


Getting A License Or Permission

Be respectful (and legal) by purchasing the proper commercial licenses, using music that doesn’t have copyright protection (such as Free Public Domain music), or get permission from the artist.

Side note: The same goes for when you have headshots taken for use in your business.  Acquire a commercial use license and not a personal print license, so you can use it in the course of business.


Where can I get songs for use?

Paid Sites:

Triple Scoop –

– Will cost you about $60 per song

The Music Bed –!/

– About $50 per song (though some are less)

FyrFly-SongFreedom –

– From $20-40 per song. Lots of current music even!

Ear Candy Digital –

– $25-$40 per song OR $199 for a one-year membership.

Stock 20 –

– $30 per song. Instrumental music only. Think “on hold” and “elevators.”

Renee & Jeremy –

– Used to be no cost to photogs, but you can find them on The Music Bed now.

Tim McMorris –

– As low as $14 per license.

Free Play Music –

– Not as “free” as they say. Most of the songs will cost you at least $75 to use ONCE.

SmartSound –

– Single tracks starting at $50.

JewelBeat –

– $2.99 tracks. Yes, you read it right. That’s only $2.99 per licensed track.

Premium Beat –

– $49 (standard) or $199 (premium) per song depending on type of use

– They say you buy once and can use it forever.

Brace yourself for TRULY FREE MUSIC:

Free Public Domain Music –

– Exactly what it says. Free music that is within the “public domain.” Anyone can use it for any purpose, without having to credit an artist or pay for a license. That said, there’s not going to be something here to fit every need.

Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech) –

– You have two options:

  1. Give him credit in your piece (as directed on the website) and pay ZERO dollars for his music [Thanks to the Creative Commons License!].
  2. Pay $30 for a song and not worry about giving credit. From Mr. MacLeod’s website, I found more music that was TRULY FREE, composed by people that are actually still alive, and that doesn’t (all) sound like it is meant for car dealerships and supermarket PA systems. All thanks to the Creative Commons!  Just please remember, if you use this, to credit the artist!

Anthony Kozar –

Jason Shaw –

DanOSongs –

Josh Woodward –

The Tune Peddler –


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