Can I use that Song in my Marketing Videos?

Branding, Marketing

A Beginner’s Guide to Music Rights for Financial Professionals.

The power of video marketing has grown significantly and many advisors are trading in long-winded written content for powerful, eye-catching and engaging videos. Adding video components to your marketing strategy can help increase your conversion rate, boost engagement and leave a lasting impression with a client or prospect.

Whether you choose to add a video to your website, presentation or social media page, or to leverage your public relations placements in a media reel for your lobby and seminar introductions, you will want some sort of music component to keep the clip engaging and exciting. Your first instinct may be to select a song from the Billboard Top 100 or a classic hit that everyone can sing along to but unfortunately, due to copyright laws, it’s not that easy.

More than likely, you’ve seen your fair share of videos on various social media sites that utilize copyrighted material. So how did those individuals get past the copyright laws? It’s likely one of two options:

  1. The individual received written permission from the artist to use their song or music.
  2. Despite copyright laws, the individual decided to take the gamble, hoping they won’t get in trouble.

As you can imagine, receiving permission from a famous artist like Coldplay or Beyonce is quite the process and can take a great deal of time (and money.) So do you just bite the bullet and go for it? Here’s what you should consider before utilizing copyrighted music in your marketing videos:

Potential Penalties
What happens if you decide to use a copyrighted song in your marketing materials? Typically, you will first be notified with a cease and desist letter. However, if you choose to ignore this letter and continue using the copyrighted material, you could face additional legal action including a lawsuit. If you commercially profited from that use, you could be required to pay monetary damages and also be forced to hand over any profits you made as restitution.

At this point, it may seem pretty straight forward—avoid using copyrighted materials including music. However, there’s a little thing called “fair use” that may provide some wiggle room.

Fair Use
According to the U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index, fair use is a legal doctrine that permits the unlicensed used of copyright-protected work in certain circumstances. In simple terms, there are four criteria a judge uses to evaluate a copyright infringement case:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Section 107 of the Copyright Act also provides further guidance for determining whether or not something qualifies as fair use and identifies certain types of use including: criticism comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research.

As you can see, the fair use policy provides a lot of gray area under the copyright laws. Depending on the type of video or project you create, you may be able to argue fair use. However, a judge may disagree and you could still face some serious legal fees. The choice as to whether or not to take this gamble is ultimately up to you.

The Safe Solution
To play it safe, I recommend purchasing royalty-free music. Royalty-free music allows the purchaser to pay for the music license once and to use the music indefinitely while allowing the purchaser to avoid infringing on any copyright laws. Here is a list of websites where you can purchase royalty-free music for your marketing videos.

If you are ready to increase the impact of your marketing and incorporate video, we are here to help. Contact AdvisorPR at (866)888-5333 or email us at

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