Trending Music and Social Media: What Businesses Need to Know

What do The Carpenters, 2Pac, Guns N’ Roses, ABBA, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry all have in common?

They were recently trending on TikTok at the time of this writing. 

With billions of users and plays, social media and music can be powerful tools when brands effectively combine and leverage them for increased brand awareness and audience engagement.

Trending sounds are, of course, an integral part of reaching new audiences on TikTok, and the Instagram and Facebook Reels algorithms work similarly — using an audio track that is trending (or increasing in popularity on the platform) can help boost your video’s audience and chances for virality. 

However, although there are plenty of benefits to using trending music in your personal (non-commercial) social media posts, there are also some serious pitfalls for businesses, who may be vulnerable to claims of copyright infringement when using music in this manner. 

To learn more about trending music and social media, and what potential pitfalls businesses need to be aware of before they post, read on.

Trending Music and Social Media: What Businesses Need to Know

Can You Use Music in Social Media Posts?

There are common misconceptions about the use of music on social media. 

For example, if you think a platform like TikTok, where trending music is so vital to discoverability, must have music licensing agreements built-in by default, you’re not entirely wrong. After a flurry of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices and copyright infringement claims followed TikTok’s 2020 surge in popularity, the app has now entered multiple licensing agreements with major rights holders. 

However, businesses must understand the nature of these licensing agreements. While the exact terms of the arrangements are usually not made public, they generally do not extend to commercial use. In the case of TikTok, that means that although “regular” (non-commercial) users may utilize the TikTok music library for their videos, business accounts may not do so.

Likewise, Facebook and Instagram make it clear in their terms and conditions that the “use of music for commercial or non-personal purposes in particular is prohibited unless you have obtained appropriate licenses.” Both Meta-owned platforms are especially strict in enforcing this policy, as well. The algorithms will quickly and easily detect and restrict posts that use copyrighted music, likely by muting or removing the post. Repeated violations can even result in Meta disabling your account. 

YouTube, meanwhile, uses a system called Content ID to scan every uploaded video for copyrighted content. If it finds a match, your video may be muted, blocked in some countries, blocked worldwide, or classified as ineligible for monetization. 

On the other hand, in some cases, a YouTube video is permitted to contain copyrighted music on the condition that ads play during the video. It all depends on the prerogative of the copyright owner. 

To further complicate matters, even tracks that you have purchased from a royalty-free music library may trigger a copyright claim on YouTube. 

There Is Some Good News

For a business account wishing to use music in a social media post, all is not lost. Each of the aforementioned platforms has introduced special music libraries just for commercial use. 

In May of 2020, TikTok unveiled its Commercial Audio Library, containing over 150,000 royalty-free tracks pre-licensed for commercial use. Meanwhile, the Facebook Sound Collection provides an audio library of high-quality sound effects and royalty-free, rights-cleared music that users can use on Facebook, Instagram, or other Meta-owned platforms. Finally, YouTube’s Audio Library is a record label dedicated to providing free and safe music for content creators without copyright issues or Content ID problems. 

There are drawbacks to these resources. For example, the selection is limited and likely will not include popular music or current trending songs. 

There are still options. Brands can create and use their own original sounds or use music that is in the public domain. Additionally, some royalty-free subscription libraries, like Epidemic Sound, maintain partnerships with TikTok, making it easy to use content from their libraries on the app. 

And if you just absolutely need to use that popular, copyrighted song in your commercial social media post, just remember that you are responsible for securing all the necessary usage licenses and permissions. 

In closing…

It may not be possible for your business account to hop on the latest viral music trend. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from using commercially-licensed music in your posts. 

Music is a universal language and a powerful tool for drawing attention and evoking sentiment, mood, and theme. It also presents opportunities to increase brand awareness by building an association between your business and a consistent musical style or track.

Whether you want your audience to associate your brand with a fun, upbeat mood or cutting-edge coolness, music is a surefire way to accomplish your goal. 

Sociality Squared can help you incorporate music into a comprehensive social strategy optimized to achieve meaningful results.

Connect with us here to discover more today.

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Written By:

Edward Gibbons-Brown