What is a Music License

What is a Music License - By Scott Thomas

Licensing music can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry… that’s where I come in. This subject can be very confusing when stumbling around in the dark.

The scope of this article will cover what your rights and other musician’s rights are when using music in media and advertising productions. Not long ago I did a small video production for the company I work for. Our Company had just moved into a bigger brand new facility and wanted to show our customers our expansion. So, we had and open house party. The owners went all out with catering and decorations. The theme they used was from the movie Beach Party with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. Surf boards everywhere…

After the video was done, my boss asked if I would put the music from the movie as the back ground music in the video. Well… I knew that purchasing the rights would be way to much money. Of course if I had put the music in the video, I would have been risking a lawsuit for both me and the company. Knowledge is your best weapon of defense.

Ok, let’s talk about copyright laws for a moment. The copyright law is there to protect writers of music by giving them exclusive right to their music. Once your music is copyrighted it is illegal for anyone to use it without getting your permission.

There are actually two types of copyrights in the U.S. There is one for the actual lyrics, melody, and arrangement of the music. (This is the one with the circle around the “C”). Either the actual artist or publishing co. will own the rights.

The next copyright is the actual recording. This is the one with the circle around the “P”. This performance copyright protects the recorded performance on CD or other media and this is usually owned by the record company. To use someone’s song in a production, you need to get a Master Use License from the owner of the copyright. Next there’s a Sync – Synchronizations License from the owner of the performance rights. The fees for such a license will very depending on the popularity of the music and what it’s being used for. This can range from $2k to $75k. Commercials can range from $25k to 500k. You can also obtain a yearly fee for national coverage. This will run you around $75k to 200k a year.

However, there are ways around such hefty fees. There are production companies that sell buyout music. You can use this music at a much lower cost and not worry about violating any copyright laws. I would advise you to read the licensing agreements very carefully. Never be afraid to ask questions and definitely voice your concerns if you’re not sure what you’re agreeing to. Always get a second opinion.

ASCAP Music and BMI Music are music organizations that collect money for the artist based on the amount their songs were played and aired on the television & radio.

Here’s more : Insider Tips on Copyright From Official Copyright

Another way around this is to create your own music like I do. I use Sony Acid Pro for my music creation software. Acid Pro is a software program that uses license free instrument, vocals, loops to build my musical creations. Then when I finish with making the music, I can upload it to Acid Planet.com for all to world to hear and give me feed back. With all the music creation software out there, you can be a novice musician and still put music to your video production or any media production. This would probably be the cheapest way to go. Oh! Yeah! Look at all the fun you’ll have too!

"I hope this gives you an understanding of copyright and licensing agreements.

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