Do Influencers need to pay for a sync licence when they use songs in their posts? Today I address an interesting question posed by one of our clients in this episode of our Video Blog – Life on the Border of Music & Advertising. BTW – I got a new camera gadget that I am trying out in this one – Clare says I should tell you to strap yourself in for this!! You’ll see why …..

You’ll find the full transcript below:


Hello again. Welcome to the music licensing vlog. Today we’re going to talk about what could be a touchy subject. Do those beautiful Influencers need a sync license for the music that they use on their videos?

This subject has been triggered by an intriguing question from a producer from an agency in New Zealand last year. Thank you, Louise, if you’re watching this, much appreciated. She said that she’d seen lots of posts on Insta and TikTok, where the Influencers have really big songs as background music. And the question is, have they paid for those? I mean, some of them say paid for by, but certainly not all of them. And some of them seem to be promoting brands. So do they need a license? Of course, Advertising Agencies are being asked to work more and more with influencers, and then it becomes your problem because you need to make sure they have a sync license for that.

So here’s what I said. Basically, there are two scenarios. Just about all of the big music licensing companies, the Universal’s and Sony’s and Cobalt’s and so on have come to an arrangement with the streaming services, YouTube, Insta, et cetera, where they have a blanket music license, where people can upload videos with whatever music they want, and there’s a big pool of money that comes into the publishers and the record labels, and they share it out to the artists and the songwriters. Presumably there’s some complex algorithm that calculates how much each writer and artist gets, but fundamentally, the principle is that individuals don’t have to pay for a music license to upload videos with music on them. That’s the first scenario.

There is a twist to all that though, because when the YouTubers, the Influencers upload that video, if there’s a copyright song on it, they are not allowed to monetise the video. So, any views that they get can’t be cashed in on the YouTube algorithm for paying them as Influencers. I guess that means that if they get a million views on their videos, then all the money goes to a Universal or a Warner’s or somebody like that. However, all of that only applies if there’s no advertising. If they’re promoting a product, there’s a completely different scenario. In that case, they have to apply for a music sync license. It’s actually no different to, in principle, to an Advertising Agency posting a TVC on behalf of a client. You actually need to get permission from the music rights owners, even if you are just showing a logo.

Having said all that, it’s a bit like the wild west out there, and who knows what’s going on. It wouldn’t surprise me if lots of Influencers are posting without permission, without a music sync license. Yes, I know that could be a bit harsh, but it’s certainly possible. Now, I did confirm most of that information with a couple of our publishing partners, suppliers. They said I was on the right track. One of them also said that she’d heard of software that can track down music on the video posts, and there could be trouble in store for some of these influencers if they’re not doing the right thing.

So I hope that information’s been helpful to you. I should also add that I’ve made this movie on my new iPhone 12 Pro Max with a gimbal thing-a-ma-jig that my son gave me for Christmas. So I can do this kind of spinning thing and it’s just a whole lot easier than using my old big camcorder that I’ve been using for probably 10 years. Anyway, see you next time. Thank you. Bye.

Please contact us if you need help with music searches or licensing songs for advertising campaigns, or just want to chat about music and advertising. We would love to hear from you! About anything really.

bruce at



Credit: the opening and closing sequences feature “Strong Hands” from Ben Catley:

The song:…

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