An introduction to the world of “Music Licensing”
Music Licensing refers to the buying and selling of musical rights. Businesses like restaurants, radio stations, and any company that produces video games, movies, and TV shows all licensed music for their products. Each product requires a different sound or style so there is space here for every kind of artist to prosper. A hip-hop artists song could land on the next Grand Theft Auto or Love and Hip-hop while an alternative rock band song lands on Guitar Hero or Arrow. There are millions of dollars transferred each year in licensing fees/payments in the US and there are great opportunities for indie artists who want to turn their music into cash. This article will introduce you to the world of music licensing and what it would take to get your music earning income through licensing.
Types of licenses
As stated above there are several different businesses that license music. However, how those businesses are using the music determines what kind of rights they must obtain. Radio stations, restaurants or any business that wishes to broadcast or play music publically must obtain the Public Performance Rights to each song they want to use. This could be a major headache for business owners and radio stations that play tons of music in a day, luckily they have performing rights organizations or PROs to handle those rights. PRO’s offer a blanket license that allows stations to broadcast any music registered with them throughout the year. The PROs keep track of what songs are played and distribute the royalties to the artist accordingly. I wrote an article several weeks back that explained the importance of artist finding the right PRO to register with. For more on that click on the link here.
For commercials (radio and TV) film and TV series owners need to acquire a Master use License from the label (unless they are re-recording the performance) AND either a synchronization license (TV) or a transcript license (radio) from publishers. The fees for these licenses can be as little as nothing for a low value (un-popular) song up to $25,000 for a smash hit to appear in a film.
A music supervisor is a person who pitches songs to the director or producer of films, TV shows, and commercials. They are the liaison between music rights holders and the projects they have been hired to work on. Each project has a budget that t a supervisor must work within to complete their job so often times using well-known songs are out of the question. This is great news for Indie artists as this opens up doors for a possible revenue stream. Artists can contact supervisors directly to open up lines of communication and land a deal. Below is a video of music supervisor Frank Palazzolo explaining how to reach out to a supervisor and exactly what to do and say to increase your chances of getting your music licensed.
There you have it. This introduction to the world of music licensing covered the details of what music licensing is and how indie artists can take advantage and earn some cash. I will write another article with more tips on how to get your music licensed soon so stay tuned!
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