Permission to use Justin Bieber and Beyonce in your Videos (For Real, Yo)

I’m not kidding.

The headline is the truth.

You can now use some specific copyright songs from mainstream pop artists like Justin Bieber, Drake, Fifth Harmony, Beyonce, “Barbie Girl” by Aqua (a little nostalgia up here).


Even ADELE is allowing “Someone Like You” to be used.

YouTube says this, “You can use music that copyright owners (like record labels) manage through Content ID.”

What’s the catch?

This “Ad-supported music” is just that.


Meaning, there are likely going to be ads on your videos that the record company is going to monetize. And YOU will not be able to make money with ads on those videos.

Your video might not be viewed in all areas of the world.For some reason, Justin Bieber has a playback restriction of “viewable everywhere except Germany.” Actually, a LOT of artists have the Germany restriction. What’s up with that, anyways?

Don’t just use any song on this list.Sometimes when click the dropdown, it says “this song is NOT AVAILABLE for use in YouTube videos.” I have no freaking idea why youtube would even put this on the “revenue sharing” list of the ad-supported music if you can’t use it.


A word of caution:

When you read the ad-supported music page on youtube, it basically tells you the artist can remove your video at any time. If you’re spending 2k hiring a videographer and doing some high-production value work, you may want to reconsider. If you want to publish this video elsewhere, for example use it in TV ads, upload it directly to your website, etc, you’re not going to be able to use this music. The music is for being published on YouTube only.

Note: Copyright owners can change their policies and issue copyright takedown notices under certain circumstances. If you use ad-supported music, your video’s status could change in the future (and may even be removed from YouTube) if the copyright owner changes the music’s policy. Learn more about Content ID claims.”


Oh no you didn’t just mention legal litigation…

At the very bottom, YouTube basically gets itself out of the legal litigation game, and lets you know you should contact an attorney.

Note: Policies displayed in the Audio Library describe only what will happen to your video if you publish it on YouTube. YouTube cannot give you information about legal liability or other issues that can occur off the platform. You may wish to consult a qualified attorney if you have questions about your use of music.”

What does that mean?

Well, how I see it, is you can only use these songs on YouTube. If you use Vimeo, Wistia, or frequently publish videos to Facebook? You’re gonna wanna stop that.

Instead, publish to YouTube and share the link on your pages, or embed the YouTube link into your website (do a google search on this if you don’t know how).

Don’t want to risk getting sued? YouTube’s permission is pretty damn vague.

Welp, neither do I. I would seriously consider the risks of using these songs. It seems like YouTube is sharing with us what the artist’s/producers have agreed upon with YouTube, however this is NOT a license.

For example, when I look at Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s song “Thrift Shop,” it says “ads can appear.” It then says “Copyright owners can change their policies or take action on your video that differs from what’s described here. Learn more

Let me share my own personal story with Mr. Macklemore & Lewis.

Another photographer and I used the “Thrift Shop” song in a high school senior spoof remake video. Does it make us nervous? HELL yeah! But having YouTube’s kinda, sorta permission also makes us feel OK about it, like, we aren’t going to get sued and have everything including our flip-flops taken away from us. The ““You can use music that copyright owners (like record labels) manage through Content ID” lets us sleep at night.

Could our video be taken offline? Yes.

Are there ads on our video that aren’t ours? Yes.

Could we be sued? If we only publish this to YouTube? Probably not. If we post this to our Facebook pages, use it on TV ads, etc? We absolutely could be sued.

Have we thought about taking the video offline? Yes, we have. But, no, we haven’t done it, because of this YouTube kinda, sorta, permission. If we ever get a notification from the producer, record company or artists? We’ll take it down.

But from the sounds of it, they like having the advertising income from the video, but they don’t want to give away a license because they still want to have all of the control. Sounds kind of familiar, right? As photographers we give away print releases that have “we may revoke this license at any time” written in it (well, at least I do).

It’s understandable. I get it. Though, it does make me nervous to use this music.

But, it means we can use these songs without being criminals. At least on YouTube.

And, the artist is getting paid through ads. It’s sort of like stock photography, but in this case it’s main stream music that is getting paid via advertisements, and they can revoke our privileges at any moment.

The free, the clear, the download here section.

Good thing Youtube also has a “free music” section.

It might night be Justin Bieber or Beyonce, but I would say it’s going to be pretty similar to the music you use on slideshow software like Animoto and ProShow Web.

You can browse genre, mood, instrument, duration and attribution.



A quick genre search for “country & Folk” brings up roughly 40 songs to choose from, and it even has descriptions like “happy”, “sad”, “bright” and “funky,” making it easy to make your song feel sappy or happy.


How to use these:

  1. Go to

  2. Click the “free music” tab

  3. Search for your song

  4. Download with the right hand download arros

  5. Click the song and copy and paste the Creative Commons Attribute license and paste in your video description (if applicable – not all songs require an attribute)

More Cowbell, anyone?

Yes, you can even download sound effects like this cowbell!



YouTube’s ad-supported info page:

YouTube’s free music info page:

Search mainstreem Ad-supported music:

Search Sound effects:


Barbie Girl Song:

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