Podcast music licensing guide for a beginner

a.) Learn how to do a copyright search -as a podcaster you will be responsible for finding out the legal owner of the song. In the copyright search, you will know the music publisher and songwriter of the song that you are planning to license.

b.) Read this complete procedure on asking permission to use copyright music. The first step is to know the music publisher or the songwriter of the song then you can ask permission.

Music Licensing Cost of Operating Podcasting station

The cost varies a lot; it can be free to any amount. Contact the publisher or the performance right society as well as any agent to get a complete quote on the music licensing fees.

1. The first one to contact is the music publisher and ask how much does it cost to use the music catalog for podcasting. Make sure you know what rights are granted. And then for the remaining rights (if it’s not included in the licensing agreement); proceed to the next item.

3. Another cost would be public performance royalties. You need to deal very carefully with public performance right societies as they monitor public performances of their catalog (they represent a LOT of songwriters/publishers songs) very closely. It is important that you negotiate with them and make sure they understand your podcasting needs. They will advise whether you will be paying some fee or not.

In US, the biggest performance rights society is ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. There are other performance rights societies abroad. For example, there is FILSCAP in the Philippines.

If you are a serious podcaster, you need to understand whether you are publicly performing songs. You can read this useful tutorial on public performance to know this in detail.

Other things you need to know is the public performance of sound recording that is monitored by SoundExchange. This performance right society operates similarly with ASCAP, etc. They paid royalties to the owners of sound recording copyrights as well as the artist. If you are podcasting, you might be using a copyrighted sound recording and possibly publicly performing it. You can learn more about SoundExchange and becoming a member.

4.) You also have cost with regards to mechanical licenses. This gives you right to include the copyrighted music in storage media such as DVD, CD or downloadable media along with your podcast content. Learn more about this topic pertaining to mechanical music licensing agreement. In US, the biggest mechanical licensing agent is Harry Fox which represents a lot of songwriters and music publishers. You also need to contact them regarding your podcasting project licensing cost.

Important documentation and management

Make a list of all copyrighted songs that you are using and have it always documented, so that when publishers or performing right societies ask the status of your podcasting, you are ready to show some paper works.

The agencies, agent and publishers mentioned in the previous section can advise you what to monitor in your documentation. The objective is to track the usage of copyrighted music and recordings.

Content last updated on June 29, 2012