Why Epidemic Sound Music Can Be a Trap for YouTube Creators

Epidemic Sound’s music subscription at $15/month seems like a sweet deal for individual creators. But this low-cost subscription can be a trap for Youtubers. Let’s see why.

Epidemic Sound is a well-known provider of stock music for video and other creative projects. The company was founded back in 2009 in Sweden and has been focused on stock music and SFX creation and distribution ever since.

Several years ago Epidemic Sound announced a new way to consume stock music by subscription. It was an innovative way to attract the growing number of YouTube creators to license more music. The $15/month music subscription or $144/year sounded like a beautiful and cheap way to get tons of good-quality audio into YouTube videos.

With years past, the sweet deal does not seem too sweet anymore. Let’s talk about what’s changing and how Youtubers may have to deal with a lot of headache while working with Epidemic Sound.

Spoiler alert: Epidemic Sound’s 30,000 music tracks have a good quality of sound. But the licensing rules for the low-end music subscription can create big problems for Youtubers seeking to monetize their video content.

Epidemic Sound Music Pricing

From the pricing perspective Epidemic Sound is offering an extremely competitive music pricing model. From $15 per month you get access to their music library. Here are the pricing options in 2021.

The promise with the lowest pricing – Personal – includes the monetization permission.

A newbie Youtuber with a growing channel will jump on this opportunity to tap into this audio library. In the end, for $15 you can only buy a good lunch in a major Asian, European or North American city. But this small monthly fee will allow to access over 30,000 music tracks – sounds like a good deal.

Epidemic Sound also explains what easy four steps a personal user can take to start benefiting from the stock music they offer. Here are these seemingly easy steps.

In addition, the risk seems to be low as you can cancel your music subscription with Epidemic Sound any time.

With all the above information a non-sophisticated creator will be convinced that Epidemic Sound is the best music library out there. The pricing is good, the music catalog is big enough, the promise to monetize is there, you can cancel anytime. What’s the catch? Read on.

Professional video editors and creators know very well that the only free cheese is in the mouse trap. Sorry for being so straight-forwardly honest, but the low-end music subscription from Epidemic Sound may turn into such a trap for a lot of creators who hope to monetize their video work.

Let’s unpack it all in detail.

First off, let me provide my personal experience in managing a couple of YouTube channels owned by an individual creator, and a small brand.

These channel owners reached the levels where they were able to monetize their YouTube channels. So they reached out to me to help with the further steps. Some of these creators had videos with over 500K views. They were happy to start monetizing this content and they had ideas for more similar content in mind.

After getting access to these two YouTube channels and reviewing the videos, I noticed copyright claims for over 50% of the videos. Here is a snapshot of what it looks like in the YouTube Studio.

The further investigation revealed that the copyright claims were sent by Epidemic Sound. The next step was to ask the channel owners about the music used in the video and request access to their Epidemic Sound accounts. The fun part started there.

The channel owners were using external freelance video editors who had been adding Epidemic Sound music into the cuts. The video editors were using stock music from their personal Epidemic Sound accounts. Both channel owners were not working with the video editors anymore. So I had to spend some time going through Epidemic Sound’s documentation about music licensing to find a solution as we wanted to keep the videos on YouTube to preserve those view counts!

Here is what we did to rectify the situation and remove the copyright claim from Epidemic Sound.

  1. The YouTube channel owners had to pay for new music subscriptions with Epidemic Sound
  2. We had to license the same tracks under the new music subscriptions
  3. We had to link the new Epidemic Sound accounts with the YouTube channels
  4. We had to initiate copyright disputes by providing the documentation about the audio licensing.

The story ends well for the YouTube channel owners as the copyright claims have been solved. I admit that the original problem was with the channel owners who were not educated enough about asset licensing, whether it’s audio and video. This is a good lesson for them.

But it all got me thinking about what happens with all that ad revenue during the period when the copyright claim was on. I was also thinking about what would happen when these two Youtubers would decide to cancel the Epidemic Sound music subscriptions.

Why Epidemic Sound’s Music Subscription May Be a Slow Trap

My work to solve the copyright claims from Epidemic Sound pushed me to read their music licensing documents in detail. This effort helped me unearth a couple of unpleasant details that a lot of YouTube creators may not know about.

Epidemic Sound can monetize your YouTube videos without your knowledge

It is so easy for prolific YouTube creators to lose track of what’s happening with their videos, especially when they publish several videos each week. Copyright claims from Epidemic Sound may be issued rightly or with mistakes (bad linking between your YouTube channel and your music account, for example). If you don’t act fast, Epidemic Sound reserves the right to monetize your content. They will not mute your video, they will just start collecting the ad revenue that may belong to you. They are honest about it.

If this practice happens with their YouTube Content ID technology, Epidemic Sound may be getting a huge load of revenue. Just think about all those videos where creators have no time to act fast on these claims.

Epidemic Sound gives creators only 5 days if they don’t want to lose any monetization-related revenue. Here is the snippet of that policy.

What happens after you cancel the Epidemic Sound music subscription

The music service is promising that all the content with the music used during the active subscription period will not get copyright claims. Any content published after the cancellation will be monetized by Epidemic Sound.

So, don’t re-use the music from the past. Otherwise, Epidemic Sound will take all the monetization revenue from this content.

Final Thoughts

Epidemic Sound may be a popular stock music provider with a growing customer base. But their music licensing is extremely strict within their low-tier pricing. Their low-cost music subscription may create additional work for individual creators in the long term, if the creators are not familiar with the details about Epidemic Sound’s music licensing. Also, creators need to have healthy habits and practices in working with licensed assets, like audio and video:

  • Link your Epidemic Sound account with your YouTube channel
  • Don’t use the same Epidemic Sound music in multiple projects for different clients
  • Think about the long-term vision about where your audio and video content lives and will live
  • Think about the time when you cancel the music subscription

Alternatives to Epidemic Sound’s Music Subscription

The best alternatives to the traps that the low-end Epidemic Sound music subscription may create is to look for perpetual online music licenses. The following stock music sites are known to provide perpetual licenses. These sites don’t seem to be policing music licensing on YouTube like Epidemic Sound.

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