How to Get Permission to Use Copyrighted Music?

3.) Include the other important details such as:

a.) Scope territory- where you would like the work to be published (state the country, territories, etc.).

b.) Period – indicate the date/inclusive months.
c.) Exclusive or non-exclusive?
d.) Licensing budget- if you want to know how you can save some licensing fees or know the typical music licensing fees; you can read the following post:

Typical Music Licensing Fees and Cost for Different Projects

4.) Send all the information in an email or music publisher supplied form. Then the publisher would take a look at your licensing request and process it. It can take some time, so make sure you do this in the starting phase of your project to avoid delays.

License a song for film or video

(If you are looking for detailed licensing steps, please read the first section read the first section)

Licensing a song to be used for film projects isn’t that all difficult. This short guide also applies to video production such as licensing songs for wedding video montage. For example; you are working on a documentary film of an important Olympic swimming champion which you are planning to sell to swimming class students. You go out, roll in the budgets and starts filming. When everything is near done, you intuition suggest that a song should be added in some parts of the film to make the scene more captivating to your audience.

You do not have a big budget for licensing fees to get major label songs. Instead, you open up your laptop and search the internet for music to be licensed. You stumble in a music publishing website, with the entire song catalog. After that, you then listen to the songs, and find out what seems to be the perfect song for your film. Finally, you decide the song to become a theme or featured song in the documentary film. The most important step is to ask permission which are thoroughly discussed in the previous section. Some additional information:

1.) You are then required to submit a cue sheet to your country public performance organization. For example this is ASCAP in US. The cue sheet list the songs included in your project including author information, etc. This is not required for video production. Only for those film projects that would be publicly performed. Visit their website for cue sheet form.

2.) Film synchronization license – it will state the terms and limitations on how you are going to use their song. This will depend on your request also on how you are going to their song and this is a confirmation that they are OK with it. The license gives you right to insert the song in synchronization with your film. This is often bundled with the right to use the sound recording, if the music publisher also owns the recording.

3.) The tricky thing is that if you plan to reproduce it in physical forms (CD for example), you then need to acquire a mechanical licensing agreement which is entirely different from a film sync agreement.

4.) After receiving the licensing agreement (sent by email during licensing application), you need to keep this in the safe place.

Licensing Music for your website: Short tips and Guide

(If you are looking for detailed licensing steps, please read the first section)

One of the most common applications of music and songs is to use it as background music for a website. Not only background music, but some websites are even using songs as their “main theme”. Below are the procedure and steps in how you can be able to successfully/legally use a song/music for your website:

Step1: Shop for songs, you can search the Internet. You need to assume that all music found on the Internet is copyrighted, this is safest legal approach.

Step2: OK, once you have the song. The next crucial step is to ask permission to use the copyrighted music. You can refer to the steps in the previous section.

Step3: You need to be “exact” and “detailed” on how you are going to use the song because the music publishers or recording right owners might ask you. Tell them that you are interested in using their songs for your website and that (select appropriate application) you are:

a. A commercial website that depends on their music to get profit (in this case you should be prepared to pay for performance royalties). Contact ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for details.


b. A noncommercial website compilation songs for non profit use.

You can also state if the song is used a “main theme” or just a background in one of your pages. All of these factors are used by the music publisher to decide to grant you license. Do not forget to save a copy of your mail/or any licenses received.

Permission to record song

This guide is useful for anyone who is planning to ask permission to record a song. You might fall into the following situations:

Situation1.) You are planning to cover a song which is written by someone else (could be your artist), but it is not yet released or published.
Situation2.) You are planning to record a song that is written by another songwriter, and it’s already published.

Some common questions:

1.) Who will be asking permission? – The one that will be asking permission will be the future owner of the sound recording copyright. For big projects, this can be the recording label. For small projects, this can be the artist themselves (if they self-produced the cover song) or the recording producer owning the copyright.

2.) Where to ask permission? – OK it depends on the situation above:
a.) For Situation 1, you will directly ask permission from the songwriter of the song. Both of you will enter some agreement highlighting the terms of use and license in using the song. You will be needing a lawyer to draft this agreement.

b.) For Situation 2, you will be contacting the music publisher of the song (it can be the songwriter itself if it’s self-published). If you are not sure about the publisher, you can follow the steps and procedures mentioned previously on searching the publisher. In big music publishers or songs released by major labels or indie labels, these are handled by Harry Fox agency in the US. So you will need to contact them in asking permission.

3.) What rights do I need to clear? – recording a song requires to be cleared of mechanical and printing rights of the song. There can be other rights, make sure you know exactly how you will be using the song in your recording project. This should be communicated clearly with the publisher.

4.) How much licensing cost is required – it depends on the mechanical license fee set by the publisher and the government laws.

Music Licensing Matrix/Table

If you are confused in asking permission what rights are required, possible or not applicable; you can see the table below. Take note that this is just a rough guide and this is by no means exact. For details, what rights are to be used, you need to describe “in detail” how you are going to use the music to the publisher. And then the music publisher knows what rights to be granted with permission.

To use the table, supposing you would like to use the song for personal listening; then you will not need to be granted with public performance rights, mechanical rights, etc. However if you are an owner of TV station airing shows with music, you need to be granted with public performance rights. If you are an owner of a radio station, you only need a public performance license to operate; you do not need to be granted permission to use other rights.

The rest of the application are then easy to understand using the above examples.

Music Licensing Matrix Guide

Music Licensing Matrix Guide

Content last updated on June 14, 2012