Note: While there are many different ways that music can be licensed, this article will focus on getting your music licensed for TV, film, advertising, commercials, websites, radio, etc., via online resources.
What Is Music Licensing?
Music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted music. It also ensures that the creators of musical works get paid for their work. In layman’s terms it can be viewed as leasing your property out to someone for a fee, based on how and where they intend to use it, and for how long.
What’s cool is you’re not selling your music, so you still own the copyright to your songs and recordings. Furthermore, many music licensing deals are non-exclusive, meaning you can license the same song to as many people or companies that are willing to pay for its use!
Music Licensing Terms
The following words and phrases often turn up when discussing music licensing:
A full ownership transfer of a copyright interest, in whole or in part, from one person or entity to another. A copyright assignment MUST be in writing.
The replaying of pre-recorded works to multiple listeners through various media or in a ‘semi-live’ setting such as a bar or bookstore, and including radio, TV, webcasting, podcasting, etc.
With regard to musical works, the exclusive right to make and publish copies of the work, to make other versions of the work, to make recordings of the work, and to perform the work in public. license The right, granted by the copyright holder, for a given person or entity to broadcast, recreate, perform, or listen to a recorded copy of a copyrighted work.
The person or entity to whom the work is licensed.
The owner of the licensed work.
master use license
Gives you permission to use an existing recording such as an accompaniment track in an audio or video project. You must obtain a license for each track in the project from the owner of the recording.
master use rights
Required for previously recorded material that you do not own or control. They can only be obtained from the owner of the master recording, usually a record company. It is recommended that you obtain the master use license from the owner prior to requesting a mechanical license.
Grants the rights to reproduce and distribute copyrighted musical compositions (songs), including uses on phonorecords (i.e., CDs, records, tapes, and certain digital configurations).
The live performance of a musical piece, regardless of whether it’s performed by the original artist or in the manner it is best known.
performing rights organization
Large companies, the best-known of whom are ASCAP, BMI, and to a lesser extent SESAC (there are others as well) whose fundamental job it is to keep track of every single performance or broadcast of all works protected under copyright.
The legal status of a work
- for which copyright protection was never available;
- for which copyright protection was never properly secured; or
- for which copyright protection, though may have existed, has expired or otherwise has been lost. No permission or license is required to use a work that is in the public domain.
Music that has been pre-negotiated for price, distribution and legal use, generally through licensing for film, video, television (commercials and programs), Internet, events, video games and multimedia productions.
For the purposes of copyright, a publisher is the owner of the copyrighted work.
The licensing of musical works to be performed as a soundtrack, bumper, leadin, or background to a motion picture.
work made for hire (work for hire)
According to copyright law in most countries, if a work is “made for hire,” the employer, not the employee, is considered the legal author.
Online Music Licensing Resources
I’ve thrown together a list of various music licensing websites. Each company may differ in the way they license music, as well as how they charge for their services. Do your research and choose the one that’s tight for you.
A bridge that links independent artists and musicians to those in the industry who want their songs. Humtoo Connects music makers with projects that need music.
Music Licensing Store (Rumblefish)
Helps independent artists, songwriters, and composers get record, publishing, and film/TV deals.
Don “Wicked D” Harrison provides business development and web management for entrepreneurs within the arts & entertainment industry. This post was originally published on his blog, Network or Die. Follow Don on Twitter @Wicked_D