50 Rights-Free Songs to Use in Your Holiday Campaign

Have you noticed on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or other social networks that using certain music can result in muted or removed content? To avoid that happening to your brand or creator partners this holiday season, make sure to use songs in your campaigns that are rights-free and available for public domain use. Here’s how you can plan ahead.

What is a rights-free or public domain song?

Many classic holiday songs are presumed to be available for public use when they are in fact copyrighted. When music is copyrighted, it cannot be used for commercial or personal use unless a special license is acquired and the artist or label is compensated. Even if a song is an instrumental piece that has no lyrics, it might not be rights-free. It all depends on the artist and the rules behind their copyright. But be wary of music licensing, as it can be expensive.

Using copyrighted music in content without permission can result in disrupted or muted content. In some cases, content can be deleted altogether for crossing this line.

What does this mean for holiday music?

Any music published prior to 1925 is considered available for public domain use and does not require permission from the owner. While it may seem like this would only be a small niche of music, consider that the original “Jingle Bells” was recorded and released in 1857! 

That said, modern music is generally the go-to for lots of holiday campaigns and user-generated content. Some artists have procured the rights to popular holiday songs and will record covers that are then made available for public domain use. Similarly, some artists have also released remixes of popular songs that are perfectly acceptable by TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms.

TikTok, in particular, lets private users incorporate a vast variety of sounds into their videos. But sponsored content is required to choose from the commercial sounds option, which is a much more limited library. Popular options like Mariah Carey’s iconic “All I Want for Christmas is You” track are limited to about 16 seconds. Public domain music within the sponsored sounds, however, can be used for a full minute, and then some. 

A cheerful disclaimer to avoid holiday humbug

The fact of the matter is that each social platform is different in how it approaches music and sound usage. So long as you follow each social platform’s rules, you’ll be able to stay compliant with fair use laws. While this blog post is a guide on where to start, ultimately it is up to the brands on how to proceed. Instagram, for example, allows music in posts with a few caveats: It must have a visual component; it must be short-form content; you should always credit the artist. 

Luckily, we have a helpful guide full of platform differences and options to make sure you don’t miss a beat with your brand’s sounds. Check out our Guide To: Influencer Marketing and Music Licensing to learn more.

Avoiding a ‘Blue Christmas’

You may find yourself getting discouraged about the available sounds to choose from for your holiday campaign. But don’t despair! Let’s get into the holiday spirit with some of our favorite rights-free playlists: 

Key points

    • Not all holiday music is rights-free, even if it’s purely instrumental! But there’s no cost for Chrimmus cheer.
    • Make sure you’re checking your music’s domain designation. And while you’re at it, check it twice.
    • Don’t rule out original music if the available options don’t fit your holly jolly vibe.
    • For more guidance on music licensing regulations, check out our Guide To: Influencer Marketing and Music Licensing.