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5 Music Licensing Tips

Below are 5 essential tips to get you started with your music rights clearances. 

1 – Know your copyrights

If you don’t know the difference between a sound recording and a composition, find out! Music licensing is much easier once you understand the basics of how music copyright works.  

2 – Do your research

Research, research, research.

Not everything is straightforward and the mergers and acquisitions that have taken place in the music industry recently have muddled things even further. Ask questions, speak to collection agencies (PRS for Music, PPL), record labels and music publishers, in short do your research!

Forearmed is forewarned and the more you know about what you are trying to clear, the more power you will have when it comes to negotiating. 

Your research may also unearth problems around the clearance of a specific track, which may make you think you need to go for plan B even before you have sent that first music clearance request. 

3 – Have a plan B

Unfortunately and for many reasons, you may not be able to clear the track that you really want. So come up with alternatives early on. There are thousands of record labels and several hundreds production libraries so surely there must be something out there that you use… 

Bonus tip: avoid writing a track in the script and making it central to the plot or a character. Once again, you may not be able to clear it. 

4 – Have a budget

Regardless of whether you are clearing commercial music via synchronisation licences or commissioning a composer to write a score, you will need to pay for whatever music you want to use. 

The rule is 10% of the total film budget should go to music but even if you can stretch that far, remember to put some money aside. There are ways to reduce the music costs but you can’t get music for free. 

5 – Avoid film soundtracks

Film soundtracks have become very popular, yet they are best avoided if you can. 

First, most film scores are owned by the film companies, which often make them unclearable. 

Second, they are very expensive to clear even if you only use a few seconds. 

So unless you have a lot of money in your music budget, you are better off using something else. 


And if you need any help, let us know. We’re always happy to help and you can reach us at info@musictopicture.co.uk

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