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Royalty free music

Royalty free music

Interesting facts about royalty free music.

Royalty-free music is music whose rights management is not handled by the Society for Musical Performance and Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA). This is the case if the author of a music title is not a member of GEMA or the author died at least 70 years ago.

The use of royalty-free music is often cheaper for the customer, as the GEMA institution does not have to be co-financed through the licensing costs. In addition, the licensing process is usually much less bureaucratic and therefore a lot faster and more transparent.


Who is GEMA?

The GEMA (Society for Musical Performance and Mechanical Reproduction Rights) is a legal association in Germany, in which composers, songwriters and music publishers are voluntary members. With their express consent, GEMA monitors all German media that can use music commercially (e.g. TV, radio and the Internet) as well as in public areas (such as a restaurant or a trade fair stand) to ensure that the copyrights to the protected "Products" of the members. GEMA sees its task in protecting the intellectual property of music creators and ensuring appropriate remuneration for the use of music.

What functions does GEMA have?

The works of a musician are automatically protected by copyright as their intellectual property. Only the author may grant permission for commercial use (a so-called usage license). However, since a professional musician hardly has the opportunity to monitor all media for the use of all of his protected works, he entrusts GEMA with it as a kind of "debt collection". GEMA in turn carries out checks in restaurants or at trade fairs to determine whether the copyrights of its members are being observed, i.e. whether there is a written permission from the artist or GEMA for the public performance of the respective work for commercial purposes. Such a permit (license) must be purchased from GEMA by those who want it. GEMA distributes the income from these license sales to its members according to a complex system.

Royalty free music

What is royalty free music?

Not all musicians, composers or music publishers are members of GEMA or another collecting society. This leaves you in control of your works. In these cases, licenses for the public performance of a work for commercial purposes must be acquired directly from the artist or a representative such as musicfox.

In addition, a work is GEMA-free if the author has been dead for more than 70 years and thus the copyright has expired. However, if someone edits such a work and publishes it, a GEMA fee is due if the editor himself is a member of GEMA.

Advantages of royalty-free music

As a rule, the use of royalty-free music is very inexpensive compared to the use of the GEMA-subject repertoire, as the GEMA institution is not co-financed. In addition, the authors are completely free to design the tariffs for which they issue a license. Therefore, the terms of use are far more flexible and the acquisition of usage rights is simple and unbureaucratic.

Licensing of royalty-free music is usually quick and easy as part of an online order. After completing the order process, there are usually no further costs after a one-off payment. For the customer, this manifests itself in a low administrative burden and inexpensive music usage.

Legally secure use of GEMA-free music

If a royalty-free music title is licensed, the provider provides the customer with a GEMA exemption document in addition to the license for use. In the GEMA exemption, the composer of the music title is named and it is confirmed in writing that the author is not a GEMA member and the music title is not subject to GEMA.

The GEMA exemption is an important legal document, because GEMA assumes that every musician has concluded a contract with GEMA (GEMA presumption), as long as nothing to the contrary is proven. The GEMA exemption document serves as confirmation that the music title used is GEMA-free when it is checked by GEMA.

Professionalism of GEMA-free music

GEMA freedom in itself says nothing about the quality of the music. Nevertheless, in many people's minds, GEMA-free music is still firmly associated with low-quality music. This can be traced back to the origins of GEMA-free music, where this was often the case.

In the meantime, however, a large repertoire of GEMA-free works has grown that is in no way inferior to the GEMA-compulsory repertoire in terms of quality. Musicfox's GEMA-free music repertoire is produced by a professional and experienced team of composers and used by well-known companies such as Mercedes, Nestlé and Deutsche Bank. Examples of film scoring with GEMA-free music from musicfox can be found under References.

Royalty free music

Contrary to the misconception that users can do whatever they want with so-called "royalty-free music", every single piece by a musician is automatically protected by copyright. Only the author may grant permission for commercial use (a so-called license). Of course, this is also the case if the musician is not a member of GEMA or another collecting society. The term "license-free music" is therefore misleading and wrong: there is no license-free music, at most GEMA-free music (the use of which is still subject to copyright). For more information about royalty-free music, see the following page: Royalty-Free Music.