Music Licensing

Music licensing can be a very confusing subject. My intent with this article is to give you enough details on what music licensing is and what are your rights to use music in advertising and / or video productions.

A few months ago I was contacted by a company that was celebrating 20 years in business. They wanted to put together a radio commercial that highlighted their celebration. Their request was to use Kool and the Gangs song Celebration in their radio spot. I explained to them in order to do this they would have to obtain a licensing which would cost them quite a bit of money. This was not an option for them due to their limited budget and ultimately they told me that they "went another direction" with their advertising.

If I had agreed to use this song without obtaining a licensing I would have put both of our companies at risk. It was not worth the risk just to make a sale. Beware that there are unscrupulous production companies that will do this type of illegal activity so the best protection you have is knowledge.

The copyright law protects writers of music by giving them exclusive right to their music. Once a piece of music is under copyright protection it is illegal to use it without getting permission to the owner of the copyright.

There are actually two types of copyrights in the United States. One is the actual copyright which is denoted with the familiar C with a circle around it. This protection is for the actual melody, lyrics and arrangement of the music. The copyright is usually owned by the actual artist that wrote the piece or their publishing company.

The second form of copyright is the actual recording itself. This is denoted by a P with a circle around it. This protection covers the performance of the song caught on tape or digital media and released on CD or other media. Many times a record or production company will own this performance right.

If you want to use a song in a production, you need obtain a Master Use license from the owner of the copyright and a Synchronization license (often called a sync license) from the owner of the performance of the song.

The fees for synchronization licenses vary greatly. Low-end TV usage (music is playing from car radio in a scene) can cost up to $2,000. In a film, the fee may be as high as $10,000. A popular song is worth more, possibly $3,000 for TV and $25,000 for film. A song used as the theme song for a film might get $50,000 to $75,000. Commercials can get even more money. Fees for a popular song can range from $25,000 to $500,000 plus per year. The typical range for a well-known song is $75,000 to $200,000 for a one year national usage in the United States on television and radio.

I think you will agree with me that that is allot of money and usually way over budget for many video and radio productions.

To get around these outrageous fees, music production companies sell buyout music. When you purchase a buyout CD you do not need to obtain a licensing to use the music. You can use the music hassle free and at a much lower cost.

Buyout music or royalty-free, as it applies to my products, means that for your one-time purchase price, you can legally use the music in your productions for life of ownership. All copyrights of the music remain with Zebra Music LLC. My jingle licensing agreement allows a protected area of 200 miles. By doing this no other companies in a local market will have the same jingle.

Many other production companies offer a similar buy out music licensing. I would advise you to read the licensing agreements with other production companies and ask questions if you have concerns.

Network broadcast and international broadcast of buyout production music is cleared through a performance organization (like BMI or ASCAP). The revenue that these songs produce when they are aired is paid directly from broadcast station licensing, NOT from you as a producer. These performance organizations then in turn pay each artist based on the amount their song or songs were aired on the radio or TV.

I hope this article has cleared up any confusion or questions that you have had about copyright and music licensing.

***************************************

Steve Veloudos owns and operates Zebra Music LLC. It's a one stop shop for jingles, radio production, custom music, library music, and sound design. Visit Steve's web site and get free monthly music that you can use for your productions.
http://www.zebramusic.com

[email protected]

480-540-7768

***************************************

In The News:

Music Week  Music Week

Five Steps to Protecting Your Music and Your Money

There are a lot of independent labels out there waiting... Read More

How to Improvise Using a Few Chords

When a painter is getting ready to paint, a color... Read More

Performing, Whats the Big Deal?

Performance anxiety is not something that only happens to musicians,... Read More

How I Compose a Piece of Music

A number of people have asked about my own methodology... Read More

How Any DJ Can Increase Their Gigs and Profits By This Simple Strategy

The DJ industry is very competitive. There are many DJ's... Read More

To Record or Not To Record - At Home, That Is

I will be honest. I am addicted to music recording.... Read More

These MIDI Tools Are Music To My Ears

Curious about MIDI? Want to find out what tools are... Read More

Music Industry Secrets Revealed - How To Become Succesful The Music Industry Without A Record Deal

Before the internet, unsigned music artists couldnt make a living,... Read More

Right Hand Guitar Playing Tip

This lesson can open for you a secret of high-speed... Read More

The Need To Perform

I can't believe how much of the year has gone... Read More

Ibanez SR400 Bass Guitar

The Ibanez SR400 bass guitar is very comfortable to play.... Read More

Creating Within Limits

When I first started playing the piano I wanted to... Read More

Shopping For Your First Drum Set

Your first drum set purchase is very exciting! You have... Read More

Is Your Child Struggling in School? Get Him (Or Her) Music Lessons

This is counterintuitive, I know. Our natural response to seeing... Read More

Origin of Erik Saties Gnossiennes

The 'trois Gnossiennes' (1890) is a set of dance-like pieces... Read More

Arpeggios and New Age Piano Playing

Chopin used them extensively. So did Beethoven and Mozart. Arpeggios... Read More

Protocol for Piping a Formal Dinner: A Ceremonial Guide for Highland Bagpipers

It is believed that the custom of dining in began... Read More

How Much of Your Potential Will You Release?

Do you ever feel there is an inner voice speaking... Read More

Review: The Dissociatives - Self Titled

In 1994 Daniel Johns and his group Silverchair were catapulted... Read More

Music Making as Spiritual Experience

If you've been playing piano for some time, you may... Read More

?Who Else Wants to Get Screwed When Signing a Recording or Songwriting Deal?!?!?

You've got your recording (or songwriting) contract in hand and... Read More

How To Make a Fortune Teaching Piano (or Guitar, or Drums, or Singing, or?) To Beginners

"But I'm not in it for the money" you say.Me... Read More

The Future for Independent Record Labels

Small independent record labels are facing a different fight today... Read More

An Interview with Angus Young of ACDC - Why He Plays a Gibson SG

Steven: Maybe more than any other guitarist ever, you're inextricably... Read More

Learn to Read Music Online

If you or anyone you know wants to learn to... Read More