Following is a list of some our most frequently asked questions. Please review this information before sending an inquiry. The information 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 over 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 compilations. Our services include researching rights owners, obtaining permission, price quotes, as well as issuing and administering licensing agreements.
2. Will my Request be approved?
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!
3. My request to use a song in my film was denied! WHY? ...
There are 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.
4. What about changing Lyrics for my advertising campaign?
The majority of lyric parody requests are DENIED, and those that are approved often pay a hefty premium.
5. How much does it cost to get a music license?
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 - $1000-$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): $20,000 - $60,000 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.
6. How long does it take to obtain a song clearance?
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 less time.
7. I am a film student - can you help me get a sync license?
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 - if you are a student send us an email for more information.
8. 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.
9. Register my Band Name for Copyright?
We do not research and register Band names.
10. Can you Help me find 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 fees.
11. Public Domain?
The music I want to use in my production is so old I think it's in the public domain (sometimes called "PD"): 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 arrangement.
12. Non-profit organizations.
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.
13. Recording song covers.
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.
14. Assembling CD compilations.
I want to assemble a CD compilation of existing recordings and put it on the market for sale: 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 10,000 units.
15. Sampling other songs in your own song.
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.
16. 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 - try googling the phrase "music production library" for a massive list of resources.
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.
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 in your 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.
18. I'm a Singer-Songwriter ... can I send you my songs?
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.
19. I'm a Composer ... can you help me find a scoring job?
we specialize in licensing pre-existing material. If you are seeking new scoring opportunities we suggest you turn to your registered Performance Royalty Organization (i.e. ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc.) for tips on generating work opportunities.
Send us your questions! We might include yours on our FAQ page here.