How to Obtain Music Rights for a Video? Whether you’re an independent filmmaker, a video game enthusiast, or a YouTube star in the making, you may have thought about incorporating music into your work at one point or another. Let’s face it, Royalty-free music will not always cut it, especially when it comes to enhancing your audio-visual creation to the next level. However, adding music without following the required protocols can put you in a legal pickle. Unless you have the capacity to deal with lawsuits worth millions of dollars, you’re better off avoiding going down that road.
At this point, you may be wondering how to obtain music rights for a video when it’s almost impossible to get in touch with the original artists themselves. So here’s the deal. Obtaining rights to a song do not require you to knock on the doors of famous artists, well, not anymore. Music licensing can be a long and tricky journey, but quite frankly, it’s the only solution to a modern content creator’s biggest dilemma: using quality music in their videos and without having to deal with legal intricacies.
Music Licensing 101
If you’re dumbfounded by the word, let us break it down for you. A music license is a type of license that allows you to use a song in a certain capacity (in a video, for example). However, since there are different types of licenses, you may want to sit tight and keep reading because we’re about to reveal some of the most sought-after details about the process.
The Crux of It All
Almost every piece of music you come across can essentially be broken down into two parts, musical composition, and sound recording. While the former consists of the lyrics and musical score, the latter is all about what you hear.
Hence, in order to incorporate the musical composition in your video, you must aim to obtain a synchronization license. Again, this does not entitle you to use the sound recording exactly the way it was created by the recording artist, but it does give you the right to record a cover version instead.
In order to expand your rights further and use the original sound recording, you must consider getting a master use license. Together, a sync license and a master license are all you need to add your favorite song to your video and give it the much-needed finish before you publish it for the world to see.
Obtain Your License in One Go!
While it may seem too overwhelming of a task to go through with the process of obtaining a music license, here’s the good news. You don’t necessarily have to do it entirely by yourself. There are many organizations in place that not only grant those licenses but also provide you with all the guidance in the world and the ins and outs of the process. Here are some of them:
- SESAC– Society of European Stage Authors and Composers
- ASCAP– American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
- BMI – Broadcast Music, Inc.
- GMR – Global Music Rights
Now that we know what a license is, it’s time to jump into how to obtain music rights for a video.
Step 1: Find the Copyright Owner
Finding the copyright owner is one of the most challenging aspects of obtaining a license and for a good reason. Since the option of getting in touch with a famous artist is pretty much off the tables, here’s a good place to start.
Find a suitable licensing organization (from the ones listed above) and let them help you connect with the record company or music publisher.
Step 2: Negotiate, Negotiate and Negotiate!
Once you’ve tracked the copyright holder down, it’s time to get down to business and see how well you can negotiate your way into a permission agreement. Remember, obtaining a license becomes a lot easier when you have the following information sorted out:
- License type
- Song duration
- License application (where else can it be applied?)
Step 3: Don’t Settle for an Oral Agreement
Remember, settling for a verbal agreement can turn out to be one of your biggest nightmares. Not only is it unreliable, but it can also lead to several disputes later down the line. Hence, if you’ve made it this far, it’s only reasonable to have the agreement drafted formally.
Your Career Deserves to Thrive!
Are you ready to tell your story to the world? Nothing communicates emotions as vividly as music does, and so, choosing the right song to blend with the visual aspects of your video is surely the recipe for success.
However, should it come at the cost of copyright infringement? No. According to the US Copyright Law, using an artist’s piece of work without acquiring or obtaining rights can result in detrimental consequences. For one, you could be sued. Unless that’s the path you would like to take as your career proceeds, clearing rights in advance is the only way to move forward and establish trust among buyers and distributors.