Using Music For Your Podcast Without Going To Prison

A great way to lift the sound of any podcast is to add music to it. This might be an intro theme or a music bed (music that’s played underneath your voice as you’re talking).

Now before you rush out and put your favorite songs in your podcast be warned that they’ll probably be protected by copyright. This means that the music has an owner and you’ll need their permission before you use it in the public domain.

I still hear lots of podcasters throwing caution to the wind on this. Using all their favorite tunes without a care in the world. And so far they’ve got away with it. But that’s only cause the fat cats at the record companies have no idea what podcasting is let alone how to regulate their material in this new domain. But as soon as they do, they’ll come knocking and maybe even dragging people through the courts for copyright infringement.

Oh and by the way all those arguments you’ve heard for playing someone else’s music aren’t much chop either. They have about as much credibility as a Big Foot eyewitness.

Some folks think it’s ok to use commercial music if:

  • You only play a quick 10 second grab of the song.
  • You reference the song by title and artist.
  • The music is being played in a not for profit context.

Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this is all nonsense. So if you’re playing commercial music on your podcast and hiding behind one of these reasons you’d better reconsider. Sad I know. I actually believed some of these myself.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have any music on your podcast, because there is such a thing as ‘pod safe music’. This is music the artist has licensed specifically for podcasting use for a small fee or recognition.

And lucky for you there’s plenty of podcast safe music websites out there. Once you find the track you like you part with a small fee ($5 and up) then you can use that music in your podcast as much as you want. And there’s music for just about every genre.

Yup, doesn’t matter if you’re into rock, blues, jazz. ambient, trance etc. You will find something that suits your taste – it’s out there!

A couple of my favourite podsafe websites are:


So if you’re using music in our podcast make sure you’re on the right side of the law. It gives you lots of peace of mind and helps support those struggling artists who aren’t driving round in their fleet of hot pink hummers.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

scottlo March 14, 2011 at 8:02 am

any thoughts on creative commons resources such as free music archive or internet archive for music to play on your podcast?


Dan March 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

Hi Scott,

Generally the rule of thumb with creative commons is that you can use the material if you give a simple form of recognition. That is, if you use an artists music you credit them accordingly.

As much as creative commons music is ok, in my opinion I find it’s a step below the royalty free stuff in terms of quality.

Generally creative commons stuff is produced by artists with limited access to professional studios / equipment and this can often be reflected in the quality of the music.

However with royalty free sites, because the composers make an income off their work, they generally have access to better resources. This means a higher quality recording and often a better piece of music.

So in my opinion the biggest difference between the two options is quality of sound.




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