is a list of some our most frequently asked
questions. Please review this information
before sending an inquiry.
contained here is not intended to replace meaningful
consultation with an experienced attorney. Thanks!
1.What kind of materials can you help me license:
We have almost twenty years of experience in helping producers
obtain the rights to use music, photos, and video
clips in all types of media productions. We
also clear audio-only products, such as music samples and
services include researching rights owners, obtaining permission, price
quotes, as well as issuing and administering licensing
agreements. Visit our
Services page for
2.How can I know what the outcome will be?: Fortunately most request do go through in a satisfactory manner, but it's important to remember that there are no guarantees. Obtaining permission to incorporate someone else's
creative idea into a new project - such as a film or
book or recording - is never a sure thing. If someone does guarantee that they will get you a positive result for every request then RUN!
several reasons why a rights holder will deny a request
- including but not limited to temporary contractual
restrictions, creative issues over certain topics
(alcohol, violence, etc.), and the most common issue
in obtaining rights is that the song owner may feel that a usage warrants a
higher fee than you have budgeted.
LYRIC PARODY: The majority of lyric parody requests are DENIED, and those that are approved often pay a hefty premium.
3.How much does it cost to License a Song:
Licensing fees required by song owners typically start in the thousands (not hundreds) and depend on many things - including but
not limited to the fame of the song, the fame of the
performer, the way the song is used in the
production, and the media the production will be
presented in. In some instances we may be able
to give a very rough estimate at what a particular
fee may be, but the only way to know if you will
receive permission and exactly what a
fee will be is to start the clearance process. Here are a few examples of recent license fees (in US Dollars):
Film Festivals Only - $500-$4,000 per song licensed
Corporate Video (no public distribution): $4,000 - $17,000 per song licensed
Documentary Film (limited media, limited territory) $4,000 - $12,000 per song licensed
Independent Feature Film (all media, worldwide): $10,000 - $40,000 per song licensed
We can't guarantee these fees for every job, and as you can see the fees are wide ranging, however we will work with you in every way possible to make sure that you are paying a fair rate for the distribution rights that you need.
4.How long will it take to receive approval from the Song Owners:
The time it takes to clear a song can depend on many
things, including the same considerations in
establishing the costs of licensing a song (see just
above). A big budget production will usually
get rights holder's attention quickly, but if you
are looking for a bargain and have a small budget
you may have to wait. On average allow at least 2 weeks for a response from the song owner(s),
but a response can also take more or
Some (not all) music owners will not issue a license
for free under any circumstances, some do not accept
student requests at all, and others may charge a
student anywhere from $50 to $1500. Any uses
outside of required school-work are considered at
the professional rate and
subject to standard licensing fees by song owners. We have created a simple how-to guide on
clearance process specifically for student uses -
check out this easy to use
6.Can you register my songs for copyright:
We do not register your materials for
copyright. Please visit the U.S. Copyright Office, we understand that this is an easy and manageable process that you can handle on your own.
7. Can you register my Band's Name for Copyright:
We do not research and register Band names.
8. Can you help me locate a song owner:
Yes, we are well versed in researching rights
holders for various types of materials. We are
not a search engine or free service, but we will
endeavor to always provide services at reasonable
Services page for
9.Public Domain: The music I want to use in my production is so old I
think it's in the public domain (sometimes called
Don't jump to conclusions. Whether a song
is PD can depend on MANY things - laws vary
depending on WHEN the piece was created, as well as
WHERE your production will be exhibited. If
the piece is PD and you use a pre-existing recording
you still must have permission from the owner of that recording.
Sometimes old PD pieces are newly arranged and that arrangement is under Copyright, so you
will still need to clear the publishing rights for the new
The term "not-for-profit" or
"non-profit" is generally reserved for
charitable and cultural institutions who have a
certain tax status known as 501(c)3. Just
because you don't intend to make a profit with your
project does not give you "non-profit"
status. The major rights holders will keep
"non-profit" status in mind when quoting
on a particular usage - but there is (almost) always
a fee involved.
11.Covers or Remakes: I am recording "covers" of songs to create
a "for-sale" Digital Download or CD:
For limited runs (5,000 units or less) you can visit
the Harry Fox Agency, a company specializing in handling "compulsory mechanical
licenses" for a great majority of U.S. publishers.
12.CD Compilation: I want to assemble a CD compilation of
existing recordings and put it on the market for
You will need to obtain permission from the
"Master" owner (usually a record company),
as well as obtain the mechanical license from the "Publishing" owner.
There are many limitations, most major record labels
will not even review requests that are for less than
13.Personal Videos and Yearbook DVDs: I have a business making Personal Video
Albums. As the videos are for personal use
only (no broadcasting) do I need to license and pay
for the music? We
understand that (almost) no record label or music
publisher would be interested in granting this type
of usage for free. We know people assemble
video montages at home with music of their choice -
the difference is that they are doing this in the
privacy of their home, while you are a commercial
business and profit from it. Stay Legal!
Try using production music instead - we recommend
for great production music.
Yearbook DVD's - Many schools have
contacted us in regards to licensing popular music
for Yearbook DVD's. Please note that popular songs have very expensive licensing criteria
and so unfortunately we are not able to provide
assistance in clearing Yearbook DVD's, even if you
are a non-profit organization and even if the DVD is given
away free. Stay Legal! Try using
production music instead - we recommend
for great production music.
14.Sampling: I want to use a sample from a little known
song in one of my songs - it's only 2 chords vamped
under completely new material.
We have cleared many samples for commercially
released albums. There is no minimum time for a sample - even
two chords from a song can be very recognizable.
The owners of the sample are not required to grant
you permission, and if you do get permission a
portion of the income from all sales will go to the
sample owners. If you intend to publicly
market a new song containing samples then be
prepared to pay ... pay ... pay.
15.What is a Music Supervisor? A Music Supervisor can
function in many different roles depending on the type of
project. For the most part a Music Supervisor brings
together the creative and business needs into one role which
oversees the music for a given project. Not only does a
Music Supervisor help identify music you might like for your
project, but also takes care of the formal business arrangements
you will need (i.e. Licenses) so that you can market your
project for sale. Kinda like a D.J. and Entertainment
Attorney all in one!
16.What does a Music Supervisor do? A Music Supervisor can help you
establish a musical style and direction for your project. A Music Supervisor
can help you identify cost prohibitive songs and keep the music
project on budget. A Music
Supervisor performs many (if not all) of the legal functions relating to to the use
of music - identifying, obtaining, negotiating, and finalizing
formal licenses. Depending on the type of project you want
to create, a Music Supervisor can help you devise music-related
Marketing tactics that help you promote your project, and
develop better relationships with the companies that own the
songs you want to use. A Music Supervisor can be an invaluable member of the
team - as both a creative partner and financial adviser.
not sure what music I want for my production, but I need something:
We can help you find great songs on budget for your production.
an artist/songwriter, how do I get my materials
submitted for use in Film or TV:
We do not promote music here. While licensing can
appear to be a great career move, be extremely
careful who you give your materials to. Many
"Licensing Agents" have taken to unethical, business practices! Our best advice is to first work on your music career and music business savvy. Read books on the music business - and there are many - but a great place to start is "All You Need To Know About The Music Business" by Donald Passman. If you write your own songs then join an organization like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC; study up on music publishing and current day copyright issues; and register your materials with the U.S. Copyright Office.
a composer seeking new scoring opportunities:
Sorry, we specialize in licensing pre-existing
material. We suggest you turn to your registered Performance Royalty Organization (i.e. ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc.) for tips on generating work