THE Music Licensing Guide

Finding music for your guided meditations, yoga classes, or YouTube videos that you can legally use is quite confusing as there are many pitfalls people are unaware of. This guide for the layman will help you navigate, find, and use music hassle-free.

If you are searching for “no copyright” or “copyright free,” this guide is definitely for you because you unintentionally search with the wrong terms.

Table of Contents (Click to Show)

Copyrights are a set of rights that you gain by creating something. In short, you are the owner of your creation.

That can be music, lyrics, a logo, photography, a blog article, or even comments and quotes. Whenever someone creates something, they own it and have all the right to it.

It’s protected rights by most countries in the world. However, note that there is not just a single copyright law globally; each country has its own. If at all.

But what they have in common is always:

Who creates it owns it. And only the owner can decide how and when her work can be used.

Quick summary:

  • Whoever creates something owns it and the copyright to it.
  • The owner is the only one deciding how to use her work.
  • You can NEVER use it without having the permission of the owner.
  • You need proper permission from the owner for EVERY way you use her work.

The most important thing for you to remember is that you need the proper permission of the owner to use the music in your YouTube videos, yoga classes, guided meditations, etc.

How do I get permission, aka licensing

Getting permission is called licensing. And you need a proper license for your use case before you start using the music.

This guide covers the most common licenses and terms so you can legally get the right music for your use.

Public Domain

Public domain is the term for works like music that are in public and have no copyrights attached to them anymore. So it’s not a license but a legal state in the copyright laws and part of the laws.

This can happen in two situations:

  1. The copyright holder irrevocably gave up their rights and gave it to use by everyone.
  2. The copyright holder died, and it’s 70+ years after his death (depending on your jurisdiction). So until this time is up, the rights are transferred to the heirs.

If music is under in public domain in your jurisdiction, you can freely use it for your guided meditations, classes, etc. But beware, there can be some issues when you download it from free sites, which we’ll cover in the Common Mistakes section.

Create Commons Zero (CC0)

Create Commons Zero is an explicit license for giving up your copyrights. Contrary to public domain, which is a state defined in the laws.

Under this license, the copyright holder essentially declares that she releases all ownership, and everybody can use it as they wish under the CC0 terms. Which is basically, do whatever you want with it.

Other Creative Commons

Other Create Commons licenses besides CC0 allow a huge range of uses but don’t give up the rights. It covers different use cases and a clear framework for the rights holders to define how it can be used.

The most used parts are:

  1. With Attribution: You must attribute the creator every time you use it close to where you used it, like in a YouTube description.
  2. No Derivates: You can use it but not edit it.
  3. No Commercial: You can use it for personal use, but any commercial use is prohibited. If you intend to make money using it, you fall under it.

For further reading, check out

Licensing with Royalties

The main differentiator for other licenses is whether you must pay royalties or not. Royalties mean that for every use of your, i.e., guided meditation using the vendor’s music, you have to pay a fee (royalties) to the vendor.

The license you get from the copyright holder defines how much and what limits and ranges apply. No two licenses are the same.

All other rules of those licenses differ from music vendor to music vendor.

Royalty Free Licensing

The term “royalty free” indicates that music licensing comes without having to pay any royalties. You usually pay a one-time fee for acquiring the license and can then use it under those terms without having to pay any additional royalties for every use.

It’s the license type we use here at ZENmix for all our music. You pay a one-time fee for the music and can use it in how many projects you want and sell as many copies of your guided meditation using our music as you want. Doesn’t matter if it’s 10 or 100,000.

Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive:

Music licenses can be either exclusive or non-exclusive. An exclusive license grants you the sole right to use the music, while a non-exclusive license allows multiple users, aka licensees, to use the music.

Our music here at ZENmix is non-exclusive.

Common Pitfalls:

Using Consumer Music

A common mistake is believing you can use the awesome relaxing music you just found on Spotify or bought a CD in the store recently in your next meditation or yoga class.

You paid for it, so you can use it?


What you bought or subscribed to is a license for the music for consumers. You can do with the music what consumers under the law are allowed to do with it, like listening to it personally, sharing the CD with friends and family, listening together, or playing it at your 30’s birthday party.

But that does not include using it in your yoga, meditation, or fitness classes. That’s out of the scope of personal use.

In the offline world, folks got away with it because nobody could control if you owned a license for the music you played in class.

The online world and its content detection systems did change that. Before you even blink, you’ll get a copyright notice if you use such music in your yoga videos on YouTube, Facebook, etc.

Remember: You need proper permission from the copyright holder for your use case.

Wrong Place to Get CC0 & Public Domain Music

There are tons of free sounds and music sites with a vast offer of sounds. But they all have a common problem. They never verified that the music or sound is in the actual public domain. They don’t verify if the person uploading the sound actually owned the rights before giving them up. And, of course, they upload sounds from each other either by themselves or their users do it.

As much as I love those licenses, you need to be careful where you get them and be aware that the music you used could be wrongly labeled as public domain or CC0 and still has a copyright owner.

In this case, you will get the trouble, not the site you got it from.

Overused Music

This can become a problem when the music is used by too many people, and this can happen with any license. However, it is prevalent with public domains and CC0 music.

  1. Folks are tired of hearing the same old music as you’ve probably experienced yourself.
  2. YouTube de-monetizes videos with public domain sounds and doesn’t even allow monetization of channels using too many public domain sounds.

Not Reading the License

It doesn’t matter what kind of license you acquire for the music. You still need to read the license and adhere to it.

Every single license will be different and have different regulations, i.e. there is not a single “royalty-free” license, but each music vendor has their own rules.

Creative Commons license is the exception, as it tries to standardize and simplify things for free stuff.

ZENmix has a generous royalty-free license that offeres a wide range of uses that our competitors prohibit.

Don’t miss to check our license and then head over to our vast meditation music collection.

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