If you want to share something you made with the world, you do it on the internet – for any type of content, there are several massive platforms made specifically for sharing. But with this opportunity comes equal risk, as online platforms make it easier than ever for small creators to be affected by piracy, plagiarism, and content theft.
The most common way to protect your content is to use a watermark. You’re probably used to seeing these on memes, stock images, branded video, and professional photographs. But it’s just as important for you to protect your audio projects online – that’s why audio watermarks are just as important as visual ones, even if they’re not as commonly used.
The principle of audio watermarks is the exact same as visual watermarks: they couldn't be easier to add to content, but they're very tricky to remove. I’ll show you how to make your own and add them to your own audio content, without interfering with your sound. Let’s get started:
- Record your watermark
- Add effects or edits
- Export as MP3
- Add to audio file
Step 1: Record Your Watermark
To start creating your audio watermark, you need to record a bit of audio, likely a short phrase, name, or brand. You can use whatever audio recorder you’re used to, whether it be an external microphone and recording software, QuickTime on Mac computers, the voice memos app on your phone, or an online audio recorder like Kapwing.
I recommend using whatever public-facing name you’re going to attach to your audio project. If you have an artist name, brand, or tagline you use, record a short satisfactory clip. The more distinctive and individual it is, the better it will serve as a watermark, and the shorter it is, the less it will interfere with your work.
Step 2: Add Effects or Edits
You may not want your audio watermark to be simply the clip you recorded, and add effects or edits, as well. I recommend using a dedicated audio editing software like GarageBand on Mac computers, or Audacity, which you can download for free. Using these apps, you can add sound effects, pitch changes, speed shifts, and EQ adjustments to make your audio watermark sound exactly how you want.
For an online solution, I recommend using the Kapwing Studio. It doesn’t allow more complex edits like pitch shifts, EQ adjustment, or audio filters, but it lets you balance audio layers, import sound effects from online locations, and attach audio watermarks to audio or video files in one online location.
I recommend adding some sort of sound effect to the background of your audio watermark, if only to set it apart from the rest of your project and make it clear that it acts as a watermark, rather than a part of the music or speech of your project. I recommend finding a sound effect collection on YouTube that uses the types of sound you want for your watermark, i.e. “bells,” “chimes,” “swooshes,” or similar sound effect type. Then, paste the YouTube link in Kapwing, trim it to the part you want to use, balance its volume with the other track(s) in watermark, and adjust its speed.
Step 3: Export as MP3
Audio files come in several different file types, but by far the most common and easiest to use is the MP3. If you’re using GarageBand, Audacity, or another desktop editor, make sure your export settings will generate an MP3 file. If you made your audio watermark in Kapwing, use the dropdown arrow next to the Export button and select Export as MP3. In just a few seconds, your watermark will be ready to download as an MP3 file.
Step 4: Add to Audio File
When you’ve created an MP3 file of your audio watermark, you still need to add it to your audio or video work. If you’re using high-quality audio, like for music projects, I recommend using your main audio engineering & editing software to add and balance your watermark.
For other types of content, like videos, podcasts, and interviews, a quicker option would be to use a software like iMovie or Kapwing, where you can place your watermark anywhere you want in your content, balance its volume so it’s both audible and unobtrusive, and store it in a built-in media library so you can conveniently access it for future projects.
I hope this article helps you protect your audio and video content from digital plagiarism using custom audio watermarks! For more tips and tutorials on creating great digital content in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel or read through some related articles on online audio editing: