Welcome To The JAG Show Podcast!
Feb. 8, 2022

Can I Use Commercial Music in My Podcast? (2022)

Can I Use Commercial Music in My Podcast? (2022)
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Can you use commercial music in your podcast?  Or movie clips?  Or other snippets that are commercially licensed?

No.  You can't, and you shouldn't.

This is a question I'm  frequently asked by clients and potential clients.  And I've heard every excuse in the book.  Oh, it's only a few seconds, so it falls under "fair use."   Oh come on, are Guns N Roses really gonna sue me?  Well, remember when Metallica did sue Napster back in the day.?

So let's dive a little deeper.   The bottom line is, when it comes to podcasting, the law hasn't caught up to the technology.  I think there's a day coming when you'll be able to pay a small fee to use a big artist's music in your show.  But that day isn't here yet.  Do I know people who have pulled it off? Sure. But I don't think it's a risk you want to take.  We'll start with music.

Music artists, to me, fall into three categories.  Big names, smaller names that have a record label deal, and independent artists.  The first group, the big name A-listers,  have the money, lawyers, and resources to come after you.  You might think, "oh, well only a few people listen to my show."  Well, it only takes one listener, or one episode to go viral. Then you have a target on your back.   

Now, the second group, signed to a label, but not quite A-list.  The music industry has radically changed over the last 20 years. They aren't making money from CD sales anymore.  And if you spend a buck for their song on iTunes, how many pennies do they get?  Touring has been non-existent since the pandemic, so it's not easy to make money.  And using their music on your show, without their permission, is essentially stealing. Also, even if they love the idea of you using their song on your show, they no longer own 100% of it. You need to get sign-off from ALL the stakeholders.  And that can be a legal nightmare.

The final group, independent musicians - COULD be your answer.  If they are unsigned to a label, and own 100% of the rights to their music, you can use their music - but you better get their permission, in writing, before you do.     And if you don't personally know an aspiring aritst to work with, there are services for royalty free music on the web - a simple Google search will get you there.

What about movies?  Kind of the same thing as A-list artists.  They  may not find you, but if they do, they have deep pockets and very expensive lawyers.   I'm actually told Disney is diving headfirst into this crackdown.   So you better think twice before using that "We don't talk about Bruno" clip in your show.  In other words, we don't talk about Bruno in your podcast.

Look, I don't want to be a total downer here.  But Spotify, Apple, and others have AI built in that can find copyrighted content and immediately yank your show if you're in violation - the same way YouTube does.   Do people get away with it? Yes.  Do you want to take the chance of having your show removed, being sued, or even getting  a cease and desist letter with very fancy letterhead on it?  I don't think so.

There will be a time you can use this stuff on your show - it's coming.  It's just not here yet.

Until next time, stay healthy and stay safe. Lata!