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Does my client need a licence to use music on Instagram?

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“Does my client need a licence to use music on Instagram?” is a query we see in our communities all the time. And if you're using music in Reels, TikToks, Shorts or any other video content online, this is a question that should be on your mind too. You'd ensure you have the right to use stock images, and music is no different.

The aim of this article is to help demystify the licensing of music on Instagram, but it is not intended to give you legal advice or advise you on how you should and should not use music or other audio on Instagram (or other online platforms). For more information please consult Meta's terms or consult your lawyer.

Can I use copyrighted music on Instagram?

Copyright law grants exclusive rights to creators of original works, including music, giving them control over how their work is used and distributed.

To use copyrighted music legally, you typically need to obtain the necessary licenses or permissions from the respective rights holders.

Nearly all music is subject to copyright. Anyone who posts videos on social media, whether in a professional or a private capacity, should be wary of using music to enhance their content.

Can business accounts use trending music on Instagram?

It depends!

Instagram's built-in music library provides access to a wide range of songs and soundtracks. The music you have access to will depend on the status of your account (business, creator or personal) and your geographical location.

Meta has agreements with rights holders to enable personal, non-commercial uses of music. This means if you are using music for business purposes, you are not automatically granted a licence to use the music on Instagram.

For accounts that do not have access to the Meta licensed music library, you can access Facebook's sound collection, which includes over 9,000 songs and sounds which are entirely royalty-free and safe to use in Reels and Instagram Stories, including for commercial purposes (such as an ad).

You can find this music library using the music sticker in Stories or by tapping the audio icon in the Reels camera. Some of these sounds may be ‘trending' on Instagram, but typically, trending sounds are not available to Business accounts.

Can I switch to a Creator account to access music on Instagram?

Switching to a Creator account or using an Entrepreneur account may grant you access to the wider Instagram music library. However, this does not mean you have a licence.

Remember that Meta only licences audio for personal, non-commercial usage regardless of the type of account you are using.

Does the ‘Entrepreneur trick' give me a licence?

The ‘Entrepreneur trick' on Instagram means that some Business profiles will get access to a larger music library when they change their account category to Entrepreneur.

Tricking Instagram into thinking a business is not a business does not mean you have a licence to use music. Remember that Meta only licences audio for personal, non-commercial usage regardless of the type of account you are using (do we sound like a broken record yet?)

As a social media manager, it is your responsibility to ensure your client understands that they need a licence to use music on social media. It is then up to them to decide whether they wish to take the risk to use it or not.

If your client insists on using music without gaining a licence, it would be advisable to have them take responsibility for this in writing.

Using user-generated music and audio on Instagram

Trending audio on Instagram isn't always music. Sometimes other types of audio work well too, and this might be something you wish to use in your client's content.

As we already know, Meta does not grant you a licence to use any audio for commercial purposes. So in cases like this, the way to get permission is to ask for it from the original creator.

Sending a direct message or leaving a comment expressing your interest and intention to use the content is a polite and professional way to handle this situation. Bear in mind that unless the creator responds and explicitly agrees to its usage, you do not have the right to share it, so simply stating your intent is not enough to get a licence.

What happens when you use music on Instagram without a licence?

Meta uses AI technology to determine if your content has a licence to use music.

When Meta finds copyrighted music, they will either:

  • Mute the music on your post
  • Remove your post from the platform
  • End your live if you’re live streaming.

But the issue doesn't end there. The owner of the copyright could also go after you or your client legally for compensation.

In 2022, Iconic was sued by Warner Music for using unlicensed music in their content on Instagram, and the more brands use music without a licence, the more likely it is they might find themselves in hot water too.

Despite popular opinion, trending music is NOT the reason that some content works well!

Focus more on your overall social media strategy and create content that your audience is looking for, as that is far more important than the audio attached to it!

Looking for more help getting results with your social media content? Check out our psychology-driven social media marketing programme here.

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