Legally Adding Copyrighted Music to Your YouTube Video

Put Music in Your Videos Without Fearing Copyright Issues

Woman listening to music lying on grass
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If you use commercial music as the background for your YouTube video without permission, you might be violating US copyright law, and the music rights holder might issue a copyright claim on your video, which will probably result in the video being taken down or the audio stripped from it.

As an alternative, using YouTube's video editor is an easy way to add music to the video; it's 100% free and legal.

This method works for both videos with no existing sound and videos with dialog or other sounds where you just want some music in the background.

Over 150,000 songs are available for use and you can easily choose one that still lets you monetize your video if that matters to you. You can clearly see how long the audio clip is as well as the name and artist/band.

How to Add Legal Music to YouTube Videos

Before we take a look at how to add a soundtrack to your video, we need to open the video that needs to be edited:

  1. Log in to your YouTube account from a computer.
  2. Open the Video Manager page to see the list of all your videos.
  3. Click the Edit button next to the video you want to add music to.
  4. Choose Audio from the top of the editor.

All the available tracks are now listed alongside the video you chose to edit. You can search through the tracks or browse them by category like Children's, Dance & Electronic, Cinematic, Country & Folk, Pop and Classical.

If you search for a song, you can even select Only show songs of a similar length to this video to get music options that closely resemble the duration of your specific video. Otherwise, you might get a song that's 3 minutes long when your video is only 2, and the whole song won't be able to play.

To actually add the music to the video:

  1. Click the song to preview it in your video.
  2. You can drag the bar at the bottom of the video to favor the original audio or the music, which will make one louder than the other. Another option is to choose equally so that you can hear both, or Only music if that's what you'd rather have.
  3. With the Position audio button, you can trim the audio from the beginning and end and drag the whole audio clip left and right to choose where it should begin and end in your video. Click Done positioning to save the changes.
  4. Click Save or Save as new video at the top right when you're finished adding music to the video. The Save as new video option is useful if you don't want to edit the original video's audio.

Tips on Adding Music to Your YouTube Video

If you want to make your own fan video for a song, you might want to experiment by uploading a blank tester video and setting your broadcast options to private. You can get the timing right and upload the actual video later.

You might get a copyright claim if your video has music from a commercial source. However, rather than blocking the video, YouTube might explain that: Copyrighted content was found in your video. The claimant is allowing their content to be used in your YouTube video. However, ads might appear on it.

In this case, you're allowed to keep the video as is, but you can't run ads of your own on it. Some copyright holders do this in order to advertise their own product.