Stock media companies provide ready-made media content that can be legally added to your work in a matter of minutes.
What is Stock Media? – Stock Media includes photographs, illustrations, video footage, music recordings, sound effects, Flash animations, website templates, PowerPoint backgrounds, and clipart.
Many stock music companies refer to themselves as libraries because, like a library, they carry a broad array of materials that tries to satisfy a wide range of tastes and needs.
Licensed Not Sold – With stock media, what you are really buying is a license that gives you permission to use the material you’re interested in.
Once you have a license you don’t, in fact, own the material. It is still owned by the stock media company. They remain the copyright holders. Your license lets you legally use the material in your production. There are two main types of stock licenses.
- Rights Managed – The price of a Rights Managed license depends on how you wish to use the media you’re interested in. For instance, is it going to be used in a national advertising campaign or is it for your company brochure? Is it being considered for a PowerPoint presentation or is it going to be used in a motion picture? Each usage has a different price.A Rights Managed license also takes into consideration how long you will use the media. Periods usually range from 3 months to several years. If you are going to include the material in a product, your license will be based on how many pieces you plan to manufacture. With a right managed license, at the end of the license period, you no longer have permission to use the media. Your relationship with the company ends (unless you extend your license).
- Royalty Free – Royalty free means you are not charged a fee for each separate commercial use of the media. You can use the material as often as you’d like for as long as you’d like. You pay an initial fee for the license and are then free and clear of any further licensing restraints. Licensing is fast and easy, with one price you acquire synchronization rights to use the music as background music in your production.
A Rights Managed license is more expensive Why? Usually, the production values for Rights Managed media is higher. The media has more of a professional sheen than royalty free media. Also, in some cases, for instance, a Rights Managed photo, the stock company will remove the photo from circulation for the period of your license. No one else can use it.
This is a huge advantage for Rights Managed licenses. It protects against simultaneous use – so your competitor won’t be using the same photo as you to launch their ad campaign. When you use royalty free content, there is no such protection. The same photo or music track may be being used by hundreds of companies at the same time.
The question to ask is…is this important to me? Do I care if another company is using this image or this particular web template? If you do, then you will want to pursue a Rights Managed solution. If on the other hand, it really doesn’t matter to you, then you’ll want to take a serious look at royalty free media because it is so much cheaper.
Stock by any other name – Rights Managed recordings are also known as “needle-drops” in the stock music world. This name came from the days of actually lowering a phonograph needle onto a record to place the music into a production. With compact discs in the 1980s, it started to be called a “laser-drop”. Both terms are confusing. I find Rights Managed to be a much better description.
Royalty free is sometimes called “buy out”. I’ve also seen it referred to as “copyright-free” but this is really an error. The material is in fact fully copyrighted by the stock media company.
UniqueTracks is a stock music company that offers Rights Managed licensing. This means each license is written for your exact usage. We began licensing stock music in 1998. For more information about our recordings and music licensing packages, please visit us at