To use music in your YouTube videos as a content creator, you'll need to know what a synchronization license is. Essentially, it's what you need to legally add copyrighted music to your projects. In this article, we'll answer all your questions by providing a complete understanding of synchronization licenses, or "sync licenses”, exploring how they work and when you need one.

Before we talk sync licensing, let's clarify what a music license actually is. A music license grants you the legal right to use copyrighted music in your projects. It serves as a permission granted by the copyright holder, allowing you to use their music under specific terms.

Different projects require different music licenses, but as a content creator, you’ll mainly be concerned with sync licenses.

What is a Synchronization License?

A synchronization (sync) license is necessary when you want to synchronize music with visual media. This includes using music in films, TV shows, commercials, online videos, and other audiovisual projects. The sync license grants you the right to pair a specific song with visual elements, ensuring that you have legal permission to use the copyrighted music in your project.

The use of a sync license can be confused with that of a master use license. While a master license grants permissions for a specific sound recording or version of a song, a sync license covers the use of the composition itself in an audiovisual project. Therefore, with a sync license, you can use different recordings, or rerecord a version of the same song, as long as you have the rights to the underlying composition. Sync licenses may also be referred to as synchronization rights or sync rights.

As a content creator, you’ll want to make sure you obtain a sync license as using copyrighted work in your videos can result in a copyright claim or strike. In the case of a copyright strike, your YouTube channel may even be suspended or banned for repeat offenses, so make sure you fully understand how copyright on YouTube works.

Track Club’s subscription model grants you unlimited sync music licenses for songs in the Track Club catalog and takes care of all the technical, legal business, and royalty payments so you can create quality content without any worries.

When Do You Need a Synchronization License?

You need a synchronization license whenever you want to use copyrighted music for a visual project. To make it easier to remember, with a “sync” license, you are basically “syncing” the music with video.

Sync licenses are required when you’re syncing any copyrighted music on any video on any platform. Whether it's for online streaming, television, radio, or any other medium, obtaining a synchronization license is a must when legally using copyrighted music.

For example, if you are a content creator and find a song you want to use as background music in your video, but it happens to be copyrighted, you’ll need a sync license. Or, if you’re a live streamer wanting to use music in your starting soon screen, you will also need a sync license.

How Do I Get a Sync License?

There are a few ways to obtain a sync license depending on the song you’re aiming to use in your project. For some tracks, you may need to directly communicate and negotiate with copyright holders, while some content creators prefer selecting music from a music licensing service. If you decide to directly negotiate with the rights holders, the process usually looks like this:

  1. Contact the Rights Holders: Songwriters, producers, music publishers, and others behind the song's creative process are examples of copyright holders. Usually, you can find information on who the rights holders are through performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, or online music publishing directories. Then, ask the copyright holders about obtaining a synchronization license. Explain your project's purpose, why you want to use the music, and how their song will be used.
  2. Negotiate the Terms and Price: Negotiating the terms of use with the rights holders will depend on factors such as how long you will need the license for, geographic locations where the project will be shown, and the nature of your project. The licensing fees can also vary based on these considerations.
  3. Sign the Agreement: Once you and the copyright holders reach an agreement on the terms and the license fee, a synchronization license agreement will be drafted and signed by both parties.

However, this process comes with risks as copyright holders may not even respond to your request and they could present fees higher than you expect.

If you're a content creator, obtaining a music license doesn't have to be a complex and overwhelming process. Track Club offers an affordable and efficient option that provides unlimited sync music licenses for songs in the Track Club catalog. You won’t need to worry about needing to negotiate with the rights holders since Track Club does it all for you. On top of that, Track Club’s easy-to-use TrackID feature ensures that you have proper clearance to legally use the music tracks in your YouTube videos.

Can I Get a Sync License for Any Song?

Whether or not you can license a song for your video project depends on the copyright holders. It's possible to obtain sync licenses for a wide range of songs, but some songs may be off-limits due to exclusive agreements, restrictions, or the artist's personal preferences. Additionally, certain popular songs may come with higher licensing fees or a more complicated licensing process.

Track Club provides a meticulously curated small-batch catalog of unique, high-quality music for brands and creators. Track Club uses Smart Filters which allow you to filter through our catalog by Mood, Genres, Energy, and more, making sure you find just what you need.

If you find a song that’s almost perfect for your project, but could just do without the dramatic strings or horn lead, Track Club’s music editing tool, MixLab, gives you access to all of the stems of a song so you have the freedom to customize your song to your liking.

How Much Does a Sync License Cost?

Sync fees depend on various factors, including how the music will be used, the duration and number of times the music will be used, and where the film will be performed. Different publishers and record labels charge different amounts, and it’s also possible to negotiate the price.

For example, licensing a popular song for a nationwide commercial ad will likely cost much more compared to licensing a lesser-known song from an independent artist for a local short film project. To give you a general idea, the cost of a sync license can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars or more.

Track Club offers unlimited sync licenses and access to a collection of high-quality music at an affordable subscription price. Subscriptions start at just $12 a month.

What Can Happen If I Don't Get a Sync License?

Uploading a video that contains copyrighted music without a sync license violates copyright law. If you are caught using copyrighted music without a sync license,  the copyright owner can decide what to do with your video. A copyright owner has several alternatives after YouTube notifies them that their content was detected in a video. Your video may be taken down, muted, or if it escalates, your account may be terminated. Consequences may differ by platform, but it’s safe to say if you use copyrighted music without a license, you run the risk of facing legal trouble. Additionally, respecting copyright law means that you respect the original artists by making sure they are paid fairly for their work. Obtaining proper licenses ensures that you’re good legally and supports the creative community.

There are a couple of instances where you don’t need a sync license in your video project. If the nature of the project falls under fair use or the music you’re using belongs to the public domain, you might not be required to have a sync license. However, determining whether your use qualifies as fair use can be complex and is interpreted on a case-by-case basis.


Having a complete understanding of synchronization licensing is a must for content creators who wish to use music in their projects. Now that you know how sync licenses work, when you need them, and why they’re necessary, you'll be able to easily take your project to the next level with the perfect song.

Track Club has your back with unlimited sync licenses and a music library that contains a meticulously curated selection of high-quality, authentically crafted music. It’s the only small-batch music catalog that’s 100% customizable.

Start your 30-day free trial today!