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Music Licensing Guide

Music Licensing Terms

Welcome to our all-inclusive guide on music licensing. This guide aims to simplify the complex world of music licensing, providing clear directions on how to obtain the necessary rights and clearances. We’ll delve into the specifics of Synchronization and Master Use licenses, guiding you through the process of securing these rights. Additionally, we’ll discuss the key terms and negotiation points in a license agreement. This guide is designed for both seasoned professionals and beginners, equipping you with the knowledge to successfully navigate music licensing.

Think of licensing as renting rights to a song or a collection of songs. When you hear a popular song in a movie or TV show, it’s likely that the song was licensed from the artist or record label.

To synchronize music with visuals, you need two types of licenses:

  1. Synchronization License: This license allows you to synchronize the underlying composition (the Performing Arts, or PA copyright) with a sequence of linear images (video).
  2. Master Use License: This license allows you to use a specific “maser” or Sound Recording (SR) copyright.

Both these licenses are necessary to legally license a song for your video production.

Let’s use the previous example of “My Song,” written by Jason. If you want to license Jason’s hip hop version of “My Song,” you would need to approach Jason for both the Synchronization License and Master Use License, as he owns or controls the Performing Arts (PA) copyright and also created his hip-hop Sound Recording (SR).

Synchronization License | Performing Arts Copyright and Master Use License | Sound Recording Copyright

What about the Kidz Bop version of “My Song”?

To obtain the licenses for the Kidz Bop version of “My Song”, you would need to approach two parties.

For the Synchronization License, which grants you the right to synchronize the underlying composition with linear picture, you would need to approach Jason. This is because Jason controls the underlying composition and the Performing Arts (PA) copyright.

On the other hand, for the Master Use License, which grants you the right to use a specific Sound Recording (SR) copyright, you would need to approach Kidz Bop. This is because Kidz Bop created a new recording or master of the song, and therefore, they control the Sound Recording (SR) copyright for their version of “My Song”.

Synchronization License | Performing Arts Copyright and Master Use License | Sound Recording Copyright

In the case of Jason and Kidz Bop, we’re dealing with two distinct negotiations and contracts.

Now that we’ve identified the sources for the Synchronization and Master Use licenses, let’s delve into the terms of these licenses.

There are four key elements to be negotiated when acquiring a license:

  1. Media Type: This refers to the platforms or mediums where the licensed content can be played. Is it restricted to YouTube? Can it be broadcast on all digital streaming platforms? Is radio or other broadcast channels permissible? Or is it applicable across all media types?

  2. Term: This is the duration of the license’s validity. Is it for one year? Two years? Or should it be granted in perpetuity, meaning it will be valid indefinitely?

  3. Territory: This defines the geographical areas where the license is valid. Is it limited to the United States? Does it include both the United States and Canada? Is it globally valid? Or, in a more whimsical sense, does it extend across the entire universe?

  4. Compensation: This is the cost of the license, which is negotiated based on the extent of rights and usage required. Generally, the more comprehensive the rights needed, the higher the license cost will be.

The process of licensing a popular song can be quite complex and overwhelming. However, help is available from Bulletproof Bear for “Music Clearance”, who can guide you through the process and manage the necessary paperwork, making the licensing process simpler, even when different parties own or control rights in different territories.

Review

  • When licensing a piece of music to be used with video, both a Synchronization License and a Master Use License are required. (TRUE)
  • One party may have the rights to clear BOTH the Synchronziation and Master Use. (TRUE)
  • Music from Bulletproof Bear has all of the rights pre-cleared and there is no need to go anywhere else for any additional clearance. (TRUE)