Podcasting Music: How to Build the Right Soundtrack for Your Podcast
Would you like to include music in your podcasts? Then you're probably inundated with legal and practical questions.
Don't worry, we’ve got you covered.
In today’s post, we'll share with you:
- How podcasting music can improve your podcast’s listening experience
- How to use music legally in your podcast
- Where to find royalty-free music for your podcast
Without further ado, let's dive in!
What Podcasting Music Can Do for Your Show
Music is very present in our culture, and it's an extremely powerful language to communicate ideas and feelings.
By using music on your podcast, you can:
- Strengthen your brand identity with original songs
- Set the tone of your podcast
- Build an ambiance at specific episode moments
- Identify different sections within the episodes
- Support and exemplify ideas
Let's take a closer look.
Strengthen Your Brand Identity With Original Songs
Along with many other tools, you can use music to build your podcast brand. In fact, a lot of podcasts reinforce their identity with an original jingle, often used as the intro and/or outro music.
You can create an original jingle by:
- Recording it yourself with your podcast studio gear and audio editing software
- Commissioning it from a professional musician
- Experimenting with online tools like Chrome Music Lab’s song maker
Original music isn’t a must. You can always rely on stock music for your podcast jingle. However, you should keep in mind that, depending on its license, that same song could be used in other shows.
Set Your Podcast’s Tone
Besides original music, your choice of music during your episodes is key to making an impression on your audience. Especially if you’re just starting your podcast.
For instance, some musical genres such as classical music tend to be perceived as sophisticated and solemn. Even if your podcast isn’t related to classical music or its era, if you're trying to portray solemnity and elegance in your podcast, maybe that's the type of music you should be using.
However, playing songs isn’t the only way you add character to your show through music. For instance, you can incorporate individual sounds to transition from one segment to another.
When choosing music for your podcast, we suggest you evaluate:
- Your podcast's values and differentiators
- Your audience's cultural codes and preferences
Build an Ambiance During Specific Episode Moments
It’s no surprise that music can set a mood. But what’s the best approach to do it on a podcast episode? This will greatly depend on your podcast genre and it's really up to your creativity.
Here are two great examples of how music can be used to set an ambiance on an episode:
In this example, music is present throughout the entire episode, to help it maintain its nostalgic mood. Music starts as an opening theme but stays in the background for ambiance.
In this example, the music fades in at minute 08.00, when the episode’s coming to a close. However, it doesn’t only work as an outro song, but rather adds epicness to the conclusion the narrator’s sharing.
Identify Different Sections Within the Episodes
Whatever your episode’s structure is, you can take advantage of music and sounds to emphasize each segment or the transition between them.
Usually, music is present both at the beginning and at the end of an episode. But you can get as creative as you want. Place musical snippets wherever it makes sense to you.
Here's an example of how you could incorporate music into an episode’s script:
Spoken introduction – Here's where you’ll let your listeners know what topics will be covered in the episode and introduce the guests. Background music can work nicely in this section, but it's not essential.
Theme song - This could be your original jingle or whatever song you choose as your podcast's theme song. This is the moment where most podcasts incorporate music, to separate the intro from the main episode content.
Main section – Here's where the episode develops. You can use background music in this section to complement speech. You can also incorporate music or cut it abruptly to emphasize certain phrases or moments.
Outro - There are many ways to incorporate music into your episode’s outro. For instance, you can use your theme song once you're done talking, make it slowly fade in while you finish talking, etcetera.
Bonus track - Sometimes podcasters add well-known songs to introduce or give closure to an episode's topic. Since that's usually either at the beginning or end of an episode, this song can replace your podcast's jingle.
Support and Exemplify Ideas
Popular songs on their own are a powerful way to convey a message quickly.
Depending on the topic of an episode, there are songs that can either be used to:
- Explain a concept further
- Give an example through lyrics or melody
How to Use Music Legally in a Podcast
Now you know when to use music in your podcast. So, let’s move forward to how copyright laws affect your capacity to use most songs. If you own the music’s rights, you have nothing to worry about, but that’s probably not the case.
You can inform yourself about the current copyright status of almost any song with a song copyright checker.
However, misusing copyrighted music in your podcast has some consequences. Namely:
- Your episode could be demonetized
- You’d have to pay royalties to the music owner
- Your episode could be taken down
- Your podcast channel could be suspended
- The music rights’ owner may threaten or initiate legal action
The consequences will vary depending on how you misuse copyrighted music, which platform detects it, and the music copyright owner’s stipulations.
Here’s what you can do to legally use music whose rights you don’t own:
- Follow the fair use doctrine
- Get the owner's permission
Alternatively, you can use royalty free music.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
Fair use is an exception to copyright law that allows you to reuse copyrighted material without the author’s permission.
To be considered fair use, your episode must be "transformative". This means that it should add something of value and not merely copy the original work.
Fair use’s scope and limits (even its name) vary from country to country. But generally, you’ll be more likely to use copyrighted music in your podcast without permission if:
- The episode isn’t being monetized
- You’re only using a fraction of the song
- The focus of the episode isn’t the copyrighted music
- You’re not harming the author's ability to profit from their music
Nevertheless, none of those factors guarantee the rights owner won’t dispute your fair use. So there’s always a risk that your episode will be taken down if you only rely on the fair use doctrine.
Keep in mind that in the event of a claim, a court of law would have to address the issue, not your streaming platform or hosting provider.
Get the Owner’s Permission
If you want to incorporate a song into your episode, you need to have the rights owner's permission to use it.
Sometimes a song's rights are owned by the artist, the artist’s music label, the songwriter, or all of them simultaneously. However, finding these people and getting their permission directly is extremely difficult.
So, how can you get permission to use copyrighted music? Get a music license through a third-party company.
Music licenses are legal documents that establish that you have the music author’s permission to use their song for certain purposes. Platforms like Lickd offer paid subscriptions to help you display mainstream songs on your podcast.
Use Copyright-Free Music
When referring to copyright-free, we mean music that doesn't require royalties from the original author.
There are hundreds of platforms that offer royalty free music.
If you have a small budget, we recommend checking out:
If you’re only interested in free music, take a look at:
Boost Your Podcast Promotion With Audiograms
Now that you have your episodes musicalized, you’re ready to share them with the world.
Short videos are more relevant than ever on social media. And audiograms are the perfect way to incorporate video marketing into your strategy.
With audiograms you can share your episodes’ highlights in an eye-catching and engaging way. And with Audiotease, you can easily create audiograms from your browser. No editing skills or expensive software required. Curious? Try Audiotease today. Create your first audiogram, for free.