What Is Music Copyright? How Does It Affect Dancers?


What Is Music Copyright? How Does It Affect Dancers?

Charise Roberts
January 23, 2024
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Due to music copyright infringement, a dance video gets muted. Or taken down. Someone’s account gets a strike. Then their whole account is terminated completely…


While music copyright regulations create somewhat of a crappy conundrum for dancers who want to share their work, you don’t have to feel completely helpless about it.

If you want to keep posting dance videos, then you should study how copyright music works on YouTube.

You can find smart ways to upload and share on YouTube, and know what to do if you run into a copyright infringement issue.

Here are the things you (and all dancers) should know about music copyright, royalty free music, copyright infringement, and more.

What is music copyright?

“Copyright” basically means legal ownership over the things you make.

Copyrighted music belongs to another entity, whether it be the artist, music label, production company, etc.

There are 3 main types of licenses that allow you to legally "own" music:

Master Use License

Master rights are owned by big music companies such as Sony Music, Broadcast Music, Inc., Warner Music Group, EMI, Universal Music Group, etc.

They basically own the original recording file of the song.

Publishing License

Publishers are mostly music labels, such as Def Jam Records. Think of them like book publishers to the song.

They own the rights to the composition and can use the song in their published content. Sometimes Masters are also Publishers, sometimes they’re not.

Music Synchronization License

A Sync License, usually granted by the Publisher, allows the holder to sync the song to some kind of visual output (like a movie, TV show, video game, or advertisement).

***This license is the most relevant to dancers, since we are are syncing choreography to music!!!***

The tricky part about uploading your videos to YouTube is that some licenses don’t get cleared by certain publishers.

When you see that a video is ”blocked in (Country),” – it’s because the publishers don’t have the rights in that country.

You may be starting to realize...

YouTube is not the bad guy!

So many of us are quick to blame the platform itself because that's the place we’re running into the issues. But YouTube is actually your friend! It's trying to help you!

They have an entire team trying to get rights for music so that you can post your concept video – without getting sued.

It matters what song you use

YouTube keeps things fair to music creators by finding the songs that people are using (through *matching), then running ads on those videos.

The money from those ads go to the music creators so they can make some sort of profit off of their content that other people are integrating into their own.

When someone writes a book, they, as well as the publisher, make profit from those who purchase the book.

For music, records, tapes, and CDs worked under a similar model, but with the frequency that music gets used on the internet, it gets difficult to regulate.

That’s why music copyright is such a big deal. Without it, it’d be this free-for-all of someone else’s intellectual property.

You wouldn’t want someone taking your choreography, using it, and making money off of your work without your awareness or involvement, right?

Find other ways of finding music to choreograph to! How To Use SoundCloud To Find Music As A Dancer

*Copy ID Match

When videos are uploaded, they run through a system that basically Shazams it to see if its contents are copyrighted.

If it is (which most songs probably are), the owner of the original content is notified. They can then either choose to block your video or monetize on it through ads.

For example, you probably didn’t pay Rihanna for using “Work” in your video. So YouTube gets money from advertisers to pay her for ya.

This really sucks for dancers

You can dance without music. But most of the time we do use music.

This is why, for so long, dancers had a tough time making money – because choreographers and dancers were always at the mercy of the musicians.

Think about it: at a concert, the headliner is the singer or band. Then there are the backup dancers. “Backup.” Just accompanying the singer.

But now, with YouTube and social media, dancers can self-publish their work and get recognition for it.

We’re pushing ourselves to the forefront by saying “Hey, I created this movement.”

But the song still belongs to someone else. And you could still get in a lot of trouble for it.

How to avoid music copyright infringement

As mentioned, some songs are okay to use, and some are not. It’s important to always CHECK to see if the song you used is going to be cleared before you upload it.

If you know you’re going to make a video out of a certain piece, then check for copyright infringement FIRST.

Content ID, as explained in this video, lets you know exactly what will happen if you use a specific song in your video.

You can stop putting your video or account at risk! Here are a few other ways to avoid running into copyright issues:

Use completely original music

Obviously, if you make a song yourself, you’re the creator and owner of that music – therefore not subject to copyright infringement.

Work with independent artists

This is similar to the first point, but rather than learning how to produce your own music, you can collaborate with artists who create their own original music.

The end product would have been completely self-produced by you and the artist, allowing that content to be uploaded and even monetized.

220 recently worked with SoundCloud artists to create royalty-free dance videos.

Purchase royalty-free music

Royalty-free music is music that you pay for once, and can use it in whatever content after that.

When you buy a song off iTunes, you’re only buying the private rights – meaning you can listen to it wherever you want, but you cannot use it in any media production thereafter.

You can find royalty-free music for your dance videos on a number of different websites.

How to deal with a music copyright strike

Music isn’t a tangible item, but it is intellectual property. Taking and using it is considered theft as would taking someone’s wallet.

So when you get a strike, you will, unfortunately, suffer consequences like losing access to certain YouTube features.

If you receive three copyright strikes, then your account and all your videos will be terminated.

You will be unable to create any new accounts under that e-mail address.

It’s important to note exactly why you received a strike, so that you can take steps to contest it, and not repeat the same mistake.

You can find out why going to Creator Studio > Video Manager > Copyright Notices> Copyright Strike. You will be able to find more information on that removal.

To resolve a strike, you'll have to wait the 6 months for it to expire while laying low to not receive any additional strikes in that time.

You also have to complete Copyright School.

Copyright School is actually quite beneficial to watch to prevent any of that from happening.

In addition, you can also get what’s called a “retraction."

This means taking away the strike by asking the person who gave you that strike and asking them to retract their claim.

If your video was removed by a mistake – as in, you really didn’t breach any copyright laws, then you can submit a counter notification.

If becoming a successful choreographer is the goal, knowing how to market yourself is crucial.

And you can’t put your work out there if you have no idea why your videos keep getting taken down!

We hope this helped you content creators understand music copyright laws better.

Have you run into music copyright infringement issues? Got any tips? Leave a comment to share!