Why Producers Need Music Licensing Agreements

Licensing,Production,Synch No Comments

If you are producer who develops and distributes television shows, feature films or documentaries, you better make sure you have your music license agreements in place. There are a few reasons for this, but before we get to that lets just be clear what music licensing is all about.

Music Licensing

As a producer, this type of license gives you the right to use someone else’s copyrighted music. As an example, you might use a service like Pond5 to get music for your television show or movie. In this particular case you are allowed to use the music for a nominal fee. The fee normally covers “all media, worldwide”.

In other circumstances, you may have to pay licensing revenues for a song through BMI or ASCAP. Licensing for this type of music is generally expensive.

What If You Don’t Get A Music License?

If you like to live dangerously, then don’t get a license. However, it is tantamount to playing Russian roulette. Why you may ask? It is a simple answer. If the people who wrote the song or created the track find out you are using their music for free (read stolen), they will sue you for damages. That can be very expensive. Even if your E&O insurance pays for the damages, it may be harder for you to get insurance the next time.

Songwriters, composers and music publishers deserve to be paid for their hard work. It is a talent that requires skill. So, as a producer it imperative that you have a license to use any and all music in your movies and shows.

Another very important reason a producer needs music licensing is a thing called “Chain of Title” documentation. In this particular case, these documents evidence proof of payment with any transfer of rights.

What does this mean to you the producer? It means whether you are delivering your television show to a network or your movie to a distributor they are going to have some legalese in the contract that is going to hold you accountable for all music licensing.

Most agreements will require: a copy of your fully executed music licenses covering your different musical compositions featured in your movie or TV show. The minimum term for any music license is perpetuity for worldwide free and pay TV, home video and DVD, theatrical and non-theatrical and internet usage. Proof of payment via cancelled check or wire transfer. If any composition or recording is asserted to be in the Public Domain, proof of such should be provided.

So, as a producer it is better to be safe than sorry. Do yourself a favor and just get a license to use music in your productions.

Share this