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production music licensing

I've recently been hired to compose music for a cycle training video. After this project, i would like to sell these songs as a library to other, similar production companies. Does anyone have advice on do this?


dvdhawk Fri, 08/28/2009 - 12:33

I'm not a legal expert by any means, but this is the red flag that went off when I read your question -

If you've been commissioned to compose music for someone else's project, I think you need to have a contract that clearly states who owns the musical work / intellectual property when you're done. That way they can't come back later and claim they own the work, if they hear it used elsewhere for some other purpose.

Someone here with a legal / publishing background can answer this much better than I can, but I think you need to establish in writing whether the music ( that you're being paid to compose ) is exclusively for their use.

Licensing someone to use your work is different than composing music specifically for their project. And if they want to 'own' the song, they should pay accordingly.

It would be like a graphic designer that sold the same logo to two different businesses.

There are a number of places that sell royalty free music beds for commercials and video production and that can be a good place for you to sell your work. There's no big payoff like writing a national jingle, but you might be able to sell the same track to a higher volume of end-users.

Food for thought.

anonymous Sat, 08/27/2011 - 02:34

Music licensing can be a very confusing subject. 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. 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. 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.

MadMax Sat, 08/27/2011 - 14:43

While you are right Victoria, it should also be noted that most of these song selections, amazingly, come from within the parent company holdings.

e.g. It's quite unusual for a Warner Bros (et al) movie to feature a song that wasn't produced or distributed by a Warner affiliated company.

Additionally, it's even rarer for major film companies to rely solely on previously released works. I don't recall the exact numbers, but it's something on the order of over 90% of feature length films rely on work for hire contracted film scores.

TV is a bit more open, but even there, services like Taxi are screening out and only awarding a fairly small percentage of submitted songs.

While brokerage services and libraries like Taxi are putting songs in placement, they are not always negotiating the actual fees. Leaving the artist to negotiate for themselves. As a result, it is my understanding that the actual fees are going down, while the buyer is getting better profit at the expense of the content creator.

Would you care to comment?

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