Podcast Licensing: 4 Things to Know

Learn about podcast licensing, including the types of licenses needed, costs involved, legal pitfalls to avoid, and steps to legally license music for your podcast. Understanding the rules and importance of music licensing.

Starting a podcast and want to include music? Here's what you need to know in simple terms:

Remember, taking care of music licensing is not just about following rules; it’s about adding value to your podcast and respecting creators' rights.

Understanding Different Types of Podcast Licenses

When you want to add music to your podcast, there are a couple of key licenses you should know about:

Synchronization (Sync) Licenses

Think of a sync license like a permission slip that lets you use a song together with your podcast. Whether it's talking, sound effects, or anything else, this license says it's okay to use the music with it. You usually get this from the person or company that owns the music.

Public Performance Licenses

If people can listen to your podcast on places like Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you're going to need a public performance license too. This is like getting a thumbs-up to play the music out loud for others to hear. Groups like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC are where you get these from.

Mechanical Licenses

A mechanical license is all about recording and sharing a song as part of your podcast, like playing a whole song during your episode. You get this permission directly from the song's owner or through a group called the Harry Fox Agency.

Understanding The Source

Where your music comes from matters. Whether you made it, got it from an artist, found it through a music service, or it's a song from a guest, each situation has its own rules. Make sure you know who owns the music and get the right permissions.

Getting all these permissions might seem tough, but there are services out there making it easier for podcasters. Making sure you have the right permissions helps you avoid legal issues with copyright infringement and keeps you on the right side of entertainment & media law.

2. How to Legally License Music for Your Podcast

To legally use music in your podcast, follow these steps:

Pick Your Music

Start by deciding which songs you want in your podcast. Think about the type of music that fits your show's mood and topics.

Find Who Owns the Music

After picking the songs, you need to find out who owns them. This could be a music label, a music publisher, or a group like ASCAP. Tell them you want to use their music in your podcast and talk about how much it will cost.

Get the Right Permissions

You need two main permissions:

Pay for the Music Rights

You'll have to pay to use the music. The cost can vary a lot depending on how popular the song is. Be ready to pay for the right to use the music.

Give Credit to the Musicians

Always mention the artists and songwriters when you use their music. It's the right thing to do and it's also required by law.

By getting permission and paying for the music rights, you can use music in your podcast without any legal worries. Reach out to music owners, publishers, and rights organizations, and think about using less expensive stock music if you need to.

3. The Costs Involved in Podcast Music Licensing

When you want to add music to your podcast, you have to pay for it. The cost isn't the same for every song. It changes based on how popular the song is, how long you play it, and how many people are likely to hear it. Here's a rough idea of what you might have to spend:

To avoid spending too much, you can:

By planning carefully and understanding your options, you can use music to make your podcast better without spending a lot of money. Remember, it's important to get the right permissions to avoid problems with copyright infringement.

When you're adding music or other stuff to your podcast, it's really important to make sure you're doing it legally by getting the right permissions. Here are some straightforward tips:

Always get permissions in writing. If you're allowed to use a song or any media, make sure you get that permission in writing from the person who owns it. Just talking about it isn't enough. Keep all these written permissions safe.

Know about fair use. Sometimes, you might be able to use small bits of copyrighted work without getting in trouble, but it's tricky. If you're not sure, it's better to ask a lawyer. Relying too much on the idea of fair use can be risky.

Stay away from music services that don't offer podcast licenses. There are websites out there offering music that seems okay to use but isn't legally clear for podcasts. Stick to services that are made for podcast music licensing.

Always credit the creators. When you use someone's work, make sure to mention who they are. It's not just polite; it's also required.

Think about trademarking your podcast name. If your podcast has a special name, getting a trademark can help protect it from others who might want to copy you.

When in doubt, talk to a lawyer. If you're unsure about any legal stuff, getting advice from a lawyer who knows about entertainment & media law can prevent big problems later.

Taking care of permissions and licenses might seem boring, but it's super important. Doing it right from the start can save you from legal issues like copyright infringement or problems with trademarks.

How to Legally License Music for Your Podcast

Getting the right to use music in your podcast isn't too hard if you follow these steps:

Some extra tips:

By following these steps, you can use music in your podcast without running into legal trouble over copyrights.

The Costs Involved in Podcast Music Licensing

When you want to add music to your podcast, you'll need to spend some money. But, this helps you avoid legal issues and makes your podcast better. Let's look at what you might need to pay for:

Synchronization (Sync) Licenses

Public Performance Licenses

Direct Song Licensing

Strategies to Save on Music Licensing Costs

Even though you have to pay for music licenses, there are ways to keep the costs down. This investment is important for staying on the right side of the law, making your podcast sound professional, and connecting with your audience.

When you use music you haven't officially gotten permission for in your podcast, you could end up in big trouble. This could mean being sued, having to pay a lot of money, and harming your good name. Here's how to steer clear of common mistakes when getting music for your podcast:

Get Licenses in Writing

Understand Fair Use

Vet Your Music Sources

Credit the Creators

Consider Trademark Protection

As more people make podcasts, the process for getting music rights should get easier. But for now, learning about the legal side, choosing your music carefully, and keeping good records are key steps to not getting into legal trouble. Doing things right from the beginning can save you a lot of headaches later.


Getting your podcast's music and content legally sorted is super important. It helps you avoid trouble and can even make your podcast better. Here's a quick rundown of what you need to remember:

By taking care of licensing the right way, you can make your podcast stand out, keep it legal, and build a community of listeners that helps your podcast grow. It's worth the effort to do things properly from the start.

What licenses do you need to start a podcast?

To kick off your podcast, you don't need a specific license just for starting. But, if you're thinking of adding music or other copyrighted stuff, you'll need to get permission. This means getting a synchronization license to mix music with your talking, and if your podcast is going to be out there for people to listen to, a public performance license is also necessary.

What is the ASCAP license for podcasts?

An ASCAP license lets you include copyrighted music in your podcast when people listen to it online. But remember, this doesn't let you share or distribute the music itself. For that, you need the okay from the person or company that owns the music.

What does it mean to license a podcast?

When you license a podcast, you're getting permission to use someone else's copyrighted music or material in your episodes. This means talking to the copyright owner, figuring out how you can use their music, and agreeing on a fee. Doing this makes sure you're following the law.

What are the rules for podcast music?

Here are the basics:

Following these steps will help you avoid legal issues with copyright infringement and make sure you're respecting the work of musicians and creators.

Related posts