Friday, January 29, 2016

Understanding Music Licensing

We wanted to utilize a song for Redeemed and wasn't sure where to start.  We knew that we had to have licensing of some sort, but what does that mean?  Where do we "acquire" the license?

After some research, I found out how some of this works.

Synchronization License is Getting the right to synchronize video content to the song.  This typically goes to the composer of the music.

When we spoke to the Publisher, we were told that there are different uses that would each need to be "asked" for.  Where given these use cases and prices...  This was for a very small film (in terms of budget) and a popular, but not megastar Christian artist.

  • Art House:  $250 for a couple of weeks
  • Streaming: $1,500 for a year
  • Film Festival: $1,500 for a year
  • In-House:  $1,500 for a year
Now, what is good in this case - for us - is that the song we are considering is covered by one publishing company and one service.  If there are multiple artists who wrote a song, they may belong to different Performing Rights Organizations.  These links may help someone determine who wants to own the synchronization rights to a song.


This does not give you the right to use a performance, just the song.  This is okay because we were planning on making our own recording.

The easy way to think about this to consider where does the money go.  When you use your own performance of a song, the money goes to the songwriter and that song writer's publisher  that is the Synchronization license.  When you use a performance of a song, you still have to pay the  Synchronization License, but you also have to pay for a master use right for the performance.  This money goes to the performer. 

To use a performance, we would had to get a master use license.

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