What Is Royalty Free Music and Production Music

What Is Royalty Free Music and Production Music

Posted in in Articles by Mark Malekpour on

What is royalty free music and production music? 'Royalty Free Music' (RFM) is a term that refers to production music that has no additional fees to pay once the music has been bought. It is purchased once and can be used again and again. Since it has no additional license payments it is classed as 'RFM'. This is not always true since fundamentally no music is ever 'royalty free' (RF).

"Royalty Free Music is simply a way of providing professionally composed audio and licensing it easier, cheaper and more conveniently to the user."

Steve Bainbridge, Beatsuite.com

Traditionally, production tracks had to be licensed each time it was used as part of a production or broadcast. For instance, TV programmers would have to pay a 'Needle drop fee' each time the audio was used as part of a broadcast i.e. every time the needle was dropped on the record! The disadvantage is that it could be expensive and time consuming.

Royalty Free Music is simply a way to make licensing audio easier, cheaper and more convenient.

The Convenience of Royalty Free Music

The convenience of RFM means that it is an excellent solution for most production companies. The audio is usually composed especially to work with TV, film, radio, computer games or multimedia. Its very composition targets certain moods, genres or themes. It is tailor-made for that exact purpose and fits the criteria of most production audio needs.

The audio at The Beat Suite has been hand picked so that it is high quality, has a professional sound, works with visuals and relates to the styles/genre's of modern day audiences. We try and give you the best new tracks that are both suitable for the project and also has the highest quality sound and production qualities.

The Beat Suite RFM library has been designed so that finding tracks, auditioning, downloading and licensing is all done quickly and easily. It is fast, accessible, direct and cost effective.

The Differences between Libraries

Although the term 'royalty free music' is frequently used, most audio libraries have various terms and conditions of use for their own audio. For example The Beat Suite allows you to use audio on a RF basis, that is it can be purchased once and used again and again on your projects. However to use that same piece of audio on a TV advertising campaign you must negotiate a license fee. Our license terms reflect that. It means RFM is cost effective for many users but higher end applications such as TV advertising requires additional licensing.

Since there are now so many different uses of production tracks, the licensing terms must reflect that. This is why most independent audio libraries have their own terms and conditions of use of their audio. It varies from audio library to audio library. That is to say if you intend to use RFM then check the terms of use!

Some audio libraries still operate a pay-per-use (Needle drop) licensing system. At The Beat Suite we have tried our best to create a music licensing system that is easy to understand and fair to a range of users.

The Beat Suite Royalty Free Music Library allows all of our audio to be used as royalty free downloads. We do however have a mass production license that deals with audio that is duplicated in high numbers. This is for over 500 copies and covers any main platform such as computer games, CD, CDROM, DVD, Website templates and Video. We also operate a broadcast license for companies who use our audio as part of broadcast production (TV, radio or film).


Broadcasters such as the BBC, Fox or Sky have to pay to broadcast audio. This payment takes the form of a license that is issued by a performing rights organisation (PRO) such as PRS (Performing Rights Society) or ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). PRO's administer licenses to audio users on behalf of their members (music publishers, audio libraries and musicians/artists).

Broadcasters notify the PRO's of which tracks they have used by completing 'cue sheets'.

A cue sheet is just a form that details the use of a piece of music within a broadcast. It outlines the name of the track(s), which programme it is part of and how the audio is used, for how long, and how many times etc.

Cue sheets are submitted to the PRO's who then calculate how much money is due to each of its members (composer, music publisher or audio library) depending on the use of the audio.

PRO's then pay each of their members according to how much their track(s) has been broadcast. This payment is known as a royalty. This is why even RFM is never truly RF.

It is law for broadcasters to have a broadcast license, it is this license that is paying the royalty.

What about Commercial Audio?

Sometimes production companies and other audio users like to use commercial audio on their projects but this can be very expensive and complicated. It takes a lot of time to find out the copyright holder and apply for the rights to use commercial audio. Also, the administration job can be lengthy and hard work. On top of this the fee can be quite expensive!

To avoid disappointment and even having to remove audio from a film or video project at a later date it is advisable to use RFM, since it is both easy to access and also always a cost effective solution.

RFM allows users to use a piece of audio that is just as well produced and composed as other types of commercial music but without the cost, time and effort involved.

What Styles are covered?

These days RFM is produced to a very high quality and covers every genre of music and mood. The extensive use of RFM means that all types of audio are produced to fit the job. RFM covers everything from jazz, pop, dance, orchestral to rock and more!

The Benefits of RFM

  • It is easily accessible
  • Simple to license and download
  • Piece of mind knowing you are using audio legally
  • Composed in all musical styles
  • Finished and mastered and ready to use
  • Can be used again and again

Common Definitions

The term 'Royalty Free' is widely used throughout the production and media industry. Royalty Free Background Music is a common term to describe music used specifically as a background track, to video, animations, slideshows etc. Royalty Free Classical Music refers to RFM that is composed by the likes of Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi etc. Royalty Free Christmas Music is a term used to define seasonal music which has been produced specifically to license, royalty free.

About this document

We hope that you have found this article useful. This is a free document and may be printed, photocopied, emailed, shared, published on-line or otherwise, but in no way altered!

Posted by Mark Malekpour

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