Category: Music Licensing

4 Tips for Getting Your Music in Commercials

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

To an independent musician, the words “commercial placement” usually mean one of two things: you just sold out to “The Man” and ruined your artistic conscience, or you just earned a nice check and are excited about all the exposure your music is getting.

As an artist myself, I understand the first reaction. But it’s the second reaction I want to focus on today.

Getting your music placed in a commercial can mean great exposure for your band, an inroad to future licensing placements, and most importantly, an actual (often significant) payday.

But getting your foot in the licensing door can be difficult, especially when you are trying to get a placement in a commercial. Since companies allocate larger amounts of money for advertising, musicians can usually expect a higher payday from commercial placements. You’re still not going to become a millionaire by getting a song placed in a commercial, but getting your music licensed regularly helps generate a good income stream for many artists.

So how do you go about getting your song placed in a commercial? We’ve compiled 4 tips to help you get started.

1 – Create Great Music

This point can never be driven in enough. You need to have fantastic music. Spend some quality time getting a great recording and making sure that your music is everything it can be. Sub-par music won’t get placed, so keep an eye on the musical intangibles (the song itself, the instrumentation, the production, the vocals, etc.) and on the quality of the recording. This is especially important if you are recording at home. Make sure your songs are recorded well, mixed well, and have been mastered. If you need some help with the last step, check out The Mastering Source.

2 – Create Specifically

Keep in mind that most brands (and in conjunction, their commercials) will have a specific identity in mind. If you are creating a new piece of music to submit for a commercial, you need to know that brand identity and create music that works within that identity. Similarly, if you are submitting music that you have previously created–like the single from your last album–make sure it’s a good fit for the commercial you are submitting it to.

Remember that most commercials want songs that will make the viewer feel positively about the brand. For most commercials, an upbeat song in a major key is more likely to get picked than your breakup ballad in A-minor.

If you song has a specific “feel” to it, that can also aid in commercial placements. For example, if you’ve written a bright, summery song, you might want to pitch it to an allergy or sunscreen commercial.

3 – Research the Supervisor

Before your song can reach people’s living rooms, it has to reach a music supervisor. If you are looking for a specific ad placement, make sure you look for the contact information of the music supervisor who is in charge of that project. Knowing who you need to talk to is the first hurdle if you are looking to get placed in a commercial for a specific brand.

If you are more generally looking for placements, there are tons of online services you can use to submit your music for consideration. However, it’s still a great idea to dig into the submission machine and find the actual human who will be listening to your songs. A personal connection can go a long way in differentiating your submission from the other 500 submissions.

4 – Submit Correctly

In the same way that you need to know who you’re submitting to, you need to make sure you are submitting the right way. Some sites only accept direct submissions. Some supervisors work through third party websites.

Regardless of how you go about looking for submissions, I encourage you to revisit Step 2 with a submission lens. If you are creating specifically, you need to submit specifically. If the submission says “Hip-Hop Only” and you throw in your grunge rock track, you are not helping yourself by being a stand out submission. You are only frustrating the person that listened to your track even though it was clearly not what they were looking for (some submission sites, like musicxray.com have a computer pre-screen the music before it ever reaches a person.). So don’t waste your time, and don’t waste the supervisor’s time. Do a little research, and submit to licensing opportunities you have a chance of landing (this is called targeting and we wrote a whole blog about it!).

You should always respect the submission guidelines that the music supervisor has laid out. However, I do recommend looking for a good contact email if you submit through a third party website. Following up (without being annoying!) is vital when you are trying to get your music placed.

Have any additional tips in getting music placed in commercials? What steps have you taken to get your music licensed? Let us know in the comments below!


Related Articles:




Leave a comment
...Keep Reading
Understanding Music Copyright—Streaming, Music Videos, and Licensing

Understanding Music Copyright—
Streaming, Music Videos, and Licensing

By David Frazee - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

written by: David Frazee

I know how important copyright is, and I know that it can also be completely confusing and overwhelming… so I’m breaking it down and going through it, bit by bit.

This is the third article in the Copyright series. If you missed the first and/or second article, please take a moment to go back and read them before continuing this one.


Stream Digital Versions (Audio only)

You know some of your fans are all over the streaming services, such as Pandora, Spotify, and XM radio. While you don’t want to put all of your music on there (since they won’t buy it if they can stream it for free or almost free), you are interested in offering two songs off of your newest album—one is an original, and one is a cover.

But streaming is a bit more complicated than it seems, and you might have no idea what rights are involved with putting your music out there. The good news is I’ve done some digging for you.

Streaming companies gain a license from musicians to play the recordings; the particular license depends on whether the streaming service is interactive or not. An interactive service—such as Spotify—allows the user to select the exact songs they listen to. In that case, the company would have to obtain the right to “digital performances of sound recordings” from the copyright owner. On the other hand, non-interactive services—like Pandora or XM Radio—provide a pre-programmed or semi-random combination of tracks; with these services, users cannot control exactly what song plays or when. These services need a “statutory license.” SoundExchange is a service authorized by Congress to administer statutory licenses.

Additionally, streaming digital music is considered a public performance, so the services need to obtain performance rights to perform underlying musical composition.

So, to stream music online, you will likely need to transfer the underlying performance rights in the musical composition and the right to the digital performances of your sound recording to the service providing the streaming.

Unless you have given up some of your rights, you have the right to place your own music online or on the radio.

If you have not already created a digital version of a song someone else created, you will need a mechanical license to create that sound recording in digital form and to stream that song. Again, most copyright owners use the Harry Fox Agency to manage this interactive streaming license. Additionally, you will need a public performance license for the musical composition, and you will need to pay the performance fees to the correct PROs. After acquiring the proper rights from the original song owner or publisher and creating your version, you will need to give the service the right to the digital performance of your sound recording.

Creating a Music Video

In an effort to promote your new album, you’ve taken the best songs—the one with the killer hook, and the crowd pleaser—and come up with crazy-awesome concepts for a music video. You’re ready to start production, but you want to make sure you cover all the bases first.

When you create a music video of your original songs that is not being live streamed, your reproduction, distribution, and synchronization rights come into play. “Synchronization” is a special kind of right not precisely defined by law; that said, it is generally understood to be part of your reproduction rights and comes about anytime visual images are placed with your music.

To get your music video online or on TV generally requires you license the company or service a portion of your rights. To start, this will include both some sound recording (because you are not performing live) and musical composition rights (because your music and lyrics are still being played). Since companies will want to cover all their bases, the contract you enter with the company will likely be over-inclusive for what is actually required. Often this will include the right to reproduce the video, distribute the video, display your band name or CD cover, perform (or “play”) your work for public viewing, and derivative rights, to prepare derivative works. You may be thinking, “what are derivative rights, and why do they need them?” Derivative rights allow the company to adapt or change the music video—usually to fit their programming and produce the show for viewing—without infringing your copyright. It is more common with television programs than online services.

In terms of songs someone else created, you need two things to legally distribute your music video of a cover song: a mechanical license and a synchronization license. Why do you need two licenses? Your music video has an underlying audio track that exists as a separate file from the final video. That audio track technically requires a mechanical license (to create the recording and distribute it; the Harry Fox Agency handles mechanical licenses. But, in order to make a music video and align that recording of someone else’s song with any moving images, you need a special license called a “synchronization license.” This is obtained from the musical composition rights owner—likely the artist’s publisher. To find the publisher, you can look the song up on the PRO’s (BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC) website; find and contact the owner/publisher; and request to negotiate a synch license. One thing worth noting: since you can also obtain the mechanical right from the owner/publisher, you might be able to obtain a “sync license” that includes all the necessary reproduction and distribution rights you need for your video… meaning you wouldn’t need a separate mechanical license.

What does this mean, practically speaking? That hit song that everyone and their brother is covering online—those artists either obtained the proper licenses (which can cost a pretty penny, depending on the song) or they did it illegally. And doing things illegally has a range of repercussions ranging from your account being penalized to legal action. Even if everyone else seems to be doing it the wrong way, is it really worth risking your reputation, your online presence, your finances, and your career?

Song Placement: TV Shows, Movies and Commercials

Your music videos’ view counts are climbing by the minute, and your new album is trending on social media and climbing the charts (congrats!). You’ve had two emails come in—one from a company wanting to use your cover of a song in a television ad, and one wanting to use your original song in a movie.

Let’s start with your original song and the movie. The rights you might have to give up depend on whether the movie company is using a pre-recorded version of your song or is asking you to record a new version for the movie.

If they want to use a previously recorded version of your song, they will have to obtain a synchronization license and the sound recording license (called a “mast use license”). The mast use license is acquired from whomever owns the rights to the sound recording–likely you or your record label. Anytime your music is placed with moving images, a sync license is required from you and/or your publisher. The sync license should cover your performance royalties from the showing of the movie; this means the producer will submit a “cue sheet” to your PRO and the authorized broadcasts will be granted only to companies registered with your PRO. The license might also include a mechanical license, since they will likely want to release, reproduce, and distribute a soundtrack with copies of your song… and you want to get paid for those copies!

If you are recording a new version, you will likely have to give up sound recording rights, display rights, distribution rights to the work that results, the right to reproduce copies of that recording, as well as any derivative works resulting from that recording. Seems like a lot to give up, but it is pretty standard.

This is important: if you have already recorded a version of your song with a record label, be sure you do not need their permission to use the previous recording or to record a new version of the song for this new use.

Now, for licensing the cover song. Whether it’s a movie, a music video, or on television, anytime you want to place someone’s music with moving images, you need a synch license. If you already have a music video and obtained a synchronization license from the artist’s publisher, you might think you’re covered. Think again. Since this is a different use, the sync license will most likely need to be negotiated again. Additionally, performance rights to the underlying musical composition need to be obtained from the proper PRO and fees paid accordingly. Hopefully, the ad producers will take care of this for you!

So far, we’ve covered the most common Copyright issues. Let me know if there are additional topics you’d like me to address by leaving a comment below… and be sure to check back and find out more!


Disclaimer: The above article is not legal advice; is it not intended to, nor can it, replace professional legal advice in any way. It is only intended to provide a short guide to basic legal terms and practices in the music industry. In your own interest, consult with a copyright attorney before entering into any contractual agreement or taking any action against copyright infringement.




2 Comments
...Keep Reading
How To License Your Music for Film and TV

How to License Your Music for Film and TV—Four Tips to Improve Your Odds

By Cliff Goldmacher - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Written by: Cliff Goldmacher

I’ve been lucky enough to have song placements in both films and television shows, and I’m deeply grateful for those opportunities. While I can safely say there is no magic potion to guarantee a placement, there are certain things that you, as a songwriter, can do to improve your odds. A few of my best tips are below:

Make Sure Your Song Is Professionally Performed and Recorded

This may sound obvious, but—when you’re pitching to film and TV—there is absolutely no room for a poorly sung, poorly performed, or poorly recorded version of your song. Why? You only have one chance to make a first impression.

Put yourself in the position of the music supervisor or studio executive who is listening to hundreds of songs for a project. If the recording sounds like it was done by amateurs, or if the voice makes you lunge for the mouse or volume control, you’re ready to move on to the next song… regardless of whether or not you’ve heard the melody or lyrics, and regardless of how wonderful the song may be.

In the end, you don’t want a poor recording or performance to bias the listener against your fantastic song before they have a chance to actually listen to it. This means that, if you want someone to give you money for your song, you might need to invest some money to present it in the best possible light.

Do Your Homework

Randomly submitting songs in hopes of landing a placement doesn’t make much sense, and it’s a waste of your and the recipient’s time and energy. Pitching for opportunities that you aren’t a good fit for is not a sign of a professional, and doing so frequently can damage your reputation. By doing a little homework before submitting your song, you can avoid this waste and preserve your reputation.

You need to find out which music supervisors are looking for music and which projects they need music looking for. Good places to start are industry pitch sheets and industry magazines, which often contain information on upcoming projects and who is looking for what. Once you know what the projects and who the contacts are, find out all you can about exactly what the contacts are looking for. Make sure your song fits those criteria.

Make Sure You Have Complete Ownership of the Recording

In order to give permission to a film or TV show to use your music, you will need to own your recording. Don’t let your pitch plans be derailed (or even delayed) down the line by musicians who won’t allow you to use their recorded performance, or by studios who stake a claim in your master recording.

You can avoid this by obtaining the necessary releases up front from all session musicians and singers involved in the project and by making sure that the studio where you record gives you full ownership of the master recording.

Having your songs “free and clear” for use also tells music supervisors that you’re a professional who knows what to do and who values their limited time. That’s a good impression to make.

Be Known For A Style of Music

While it’s good to be able to write in a variety of styles, you and your music will be easier to remember if you become known for specializing in a particular style, especially if you’re known for doing it well. Since music supervisors are often asked to gather songs by style, being known as a “go-to” person in a style increases your odds of being remembered when the time comes.

When it comes to placing songs in film and TV, being a great songwriter is often not enough. You need to be a savvy businessperson who is willing to take care of the unromantic day-in, day-out details of a career in music. You need to do the work, including the above steps.

That being said, there is no greater thrill than turning on your TV or going to a theater and hearing one of your songs playing. Somehow, it makes all your effort worthwhile.




3 Comments
...Keep Reading
Protecting Your Music from Illegal Use or Distribution

Protecting Your Music from Illegal Use or Distribution

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Musicians need to worry about a lot of things: protecting their gear, booking more gigs, connecting with fans, writing music, recording music, whether or not to pursue deals with record labels, and so on. Sadly, one of the biggest issues that affects all musicians at some point is illegal music distribution.

When To Worry About Illegal Distribution

If you are an up-and-coming artist, you might not be worried about illegal music distribution. You might reason that people playing your songs, even if they’re doing it illegally, is a good thing. This attitude, while somewhat understandable, can hurt you in the long run. If you’re a more-established artist who has recorded music and is making money, you’re likely going to be worried about illegal distribution.

Regardless of the stage you’re at, if you find your music being misused or unlawfully distributed, you should be concerned and act on it. Acting swiftly is key to preventing further illegal distribution, so knowing your options ahead of time is a good idea.

How Do You Track Illegal Distribution?

Well, you could spend your free time scouring the internet for illegal uses. Or, you could use a service that alerts you when your band/songs/albums appear. Google Alerts will send you emails anytime your designated keywords appear online, but this still requires sifting through legitimate versus illegal activity.

Another method for tracking illegal use is Topple Track. This service offers perpetual protection for illegal use anywhere online. It provides musicians with detailed reports, and verified problems are handled in as little as 24 hours. Pricing for this service ranges based on how many songs you want covered. For only one or two songs, coverage is $7 per song. For more than ten songs, it costs as little as $3 per song. Either way, you have ongoing protection for a very reasonable fee.

Your Options

If you use ToppleTrack, the company will work to remove the offensive uses for you. If you’ve gone another route, you have a few options:

  • You can shut your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, sing at the top of your lungs, and ignore it. (We don’t recommend this option.)
  • You can contact the offenders directly and ask that they remove and cease the illegal usage. (It might work, it might not.)
  • If you’re a member of a PRO, they might be able to step in, either advising you with courses of action or acting on your behalf.
  • You could have a lawyer step in and contact the offenders.

When contacting offenders, you can simply ask that they remove the illegal content, or you could ask for reimbursement (following standard licensing fees for use or using retail prices if the music was shared or downloaded). Lawsuits might not win you popularity, but they could help you recover the money you lost and prevent future losses.

Keeping guard over illegal music distribution is something that all musicians in this day and age need to be aware of. A service like Topple Track helps keep an ever-vigilant eye open for you and your work.

Has your music been illegally distributed? How did you discover the illegal use, and how did you address the issue?

See also: Copyright Your Music: The Why and How, Music and Royalties: What You Should KnowThe Why and How of Music Licensing




Leave a comment
...Keep Reading
Cover Songs: Give Them a Chance

Cover Songs: Give Them A Chance

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In the never-ending struggle to get more fans, you may be tempted to parrot your muse or the song that’s hot at the moment… but you’re also wondering if this is the right move for your band. If you’re struggling with the cover song dilemma, read on.

To Cover, or Not To Cover?

The debate over covering other artists’ work is one of the dilemmas many artists—new and old—face. While you likely don’t want to become a cover band or be pigeonholed, covering songs can be beneficial.

For new artists, adding a couple cover songs can help round out your set list. It also provides venues an idea of who your band is. If you’re playing gigs on the road or with strange audiences that don’t know your original work, cover songs can help you connect with that audience.

Sometimes, covering another artist’s work well can lead to a devoted following and a big break, as was the case with Michael DelGuidice, the lead signer of a Billy Joel cover band. For semi-established acts, covers can add another facet to your musical profile. Even experienced songwriters and performers, like Bruce Springsteen, are known to occasionally cover others’ songs.

Legal Issues with Cover Songs

As much as you may want to get more fans by playing music that those fans and you both like, stealing someone else’s likeness and sound is not a good idea; the same goes for using their work without going through the proper channels. There are a few legal details that you should be aware of.

If you’re performing the songs, make sure that you (or, more commonly, the venue) has obtained the proper permission from the right Performing Rights Organization. In order to record someone else’s songs, you need what is known as a “mechanical license.” This license indemnifies you from any legal recourse and allows you to profit from the sale of these recordings, so long as you adhere to the terms of the license.

While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, don’t count on that saving your band’s hide if you cover songs without the proper permissions. If your band is going to take on recording or performing other artists’ music in an attempt to get more fans, be sure you are doing everything you are supposed to in order to obtain those rights.

How does your band feel about cover songs? Are they your primary focus, or something you do occasionally, or something you avoid like the plague? Have cover songs hurt or helped your band?




2 Comments
...Keep Reading
Music Licensing

The Why and How of Music Licensing

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Your first big check as an indie musician likely won’t come from a platinum debut album. If it does, congratulations! However, you can still experience the satisfying results of getting paid for your music if you license your music properly.

Many artists shy away from the music licensing issue; it may seem a bit complex, and honestly, you’d rather work on your next great hit than rustle through paperwork. Still, it’s worth learning more about the subject so you can protect your work and reap the benefits of licensing your music.

You technically own the copyright of a song as soon as you write down the lyrics and music and/or record the song. That said, the easy access enabled by modern technology makes registering your music critical. Doing so provides grounds for defending your copyright in court if someone uses your work without permission. Registering your music also ensures that you get paid for agreed uses of your song by any radio station, television commercial, independent movie, and so on.

You can license your music through the U.S. Copyright Office by opening an account with them on their website. You then fill out a Form CO and upload your music (thus submitting it to the Library of Congress), or you can opt to mail both portions in. It takes from six months to a year for your registration to be processed, but your license holds as soon as you submit the information.

Using a performing rights organization such as BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC to license music has become increasingly popular due to their ease of use and the opportunities they offer. These organizations also take an active stance in tracking down usage of your registered works to make sure that you get paid. ASCAP charges a one-time fee while BMI does not; SESAC does not charge any fees, but you can only join by invite. Research each of these companies thoroughly before signing up with one; you can only join one.

The powers that be are making the music licensing process easier than it was before. Now that you know the benefits, put this on your “to-do in the immediate future” list. If you already knew of the benefits, hopefully now you are persuaded to stop procrastinating and start getting your just dues for your hard work.

Click here to read more about licensing and royalties.

Have you licensed your music before? If so, is there insight on the process that you’d like to share with other artists? Do you use a performing rights organization? If so, which one? Are you waiting to license your music? If so, what’s holding you back?




4 Comments
...Keep Reading
Copyright Your Music: The Why and How

Copyright Your Music: The Why and How

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

So, you’d like to register your band’s songs as intellectual property? This is a good idea, especially if your songs are good enough that people might want to use (or steal) them. Copyrighting your music is a simple and effective process for protecting your babies.

Why Copyright Your Music?

The copyright on your music protects you if somebody steals your idea and passes it off as their own. Should this happen, it is your responsibility to file a law suit; you can use your copyright registration to prove that you are the intellectual owner of the music.

A Copyrighting Fairytale

There’s a fairytale about copyrighting that goes something like this: Mail a copy of the CD to yourself before it’s available to the public. Then, if copyright issues arise, you can in court submit the post office’s date stamp on the package as proof that you are the original creator… all for the cost of one stamp!

While this is certainly clever, it’s also flawed. Just because you mail something doesn’t make it yours, and it is possible that you switched the contents of the package at a later date. In short, this method is ineffective at protecting yourself. So, what can you do? Go through the official channel.

How to Copyright Music

The cost of copyrighting an entire CD through the U.S. Copyright Office is just $35 (if done electronically). Processing the copyright application online immediately creates a time stamp, and it is a faster method of registration.You can also submit your application through the mail, but you’ll have to scrape up another $30; physical applications cost $65. While this is more than the cost of a stamp, it’s still enough of a bargain that most musicians can afford to do it.

The good news is that you can copyrighting several songs in a submission, as long as they are being registered to the same individual or group of individuals. You can copyright songs individually (if you really want to, or if the members of your band want each song’s copyright registered to the individual who wrote it), but each submission costs $35. While the most cost-effective way of copyrighting music is to wait until you have several songs or a whole album ready to submit, doing so can leave your songs unprotected in the meantime.

The decisions about whether or not to copyright, and when to do so, are those you’ll have to make at some point in your music career.

Have you already done this? Did you copyright each song separately as they were ready, or did you copyright several at once? If you haven’t copyrighted your music, what is holding you back?

See also: Music and Royalties: What You Should KnowThe Why and How of Music Licensing




6 Comments
...Keep Reading
Sell Your Music

Make Money Selling Your Music

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The music industry is changing quickly and unpredictably, which leaves musicians in a familiar situation: living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, in the age of the internet, there are many ways to make money from your music. Follow these tips to get started:

Book Live Performances

Although there’s no such thing as a steady income for a musician, getting a regular gig is the next best thing. Finding a bar, club, restaurant, or other venue that regularly advertises live music is a reliable and surprisingly-easy way to earn money and gain new fans. Develop a press kit and email it or, better yet, hand deliver it to different venues around town. Most venue owners are primarily looking for reliable musical talent that draws a crowd. Generally, the better you are at bringing and entertaining a crowd, the better you will be paid.

Go Online

Digital services like iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon (among hundreds of others) are the new-age record stores. iTunes alone has sold over 25 billion songs. These sites are where the ever-growing computer-savvy masses browse and purchase music. Submitting your music to the dozens of online music sales platforms individually can be time consuming, but distributors can help streamline the process. Also, selling music directly from your website usually results in a higher profit margin for you.

Sidenote: listing your music on these sites doesn’t guarantee sales; you still have to get fans there.

CDs Are Still Cool

Despite the increase in streaming and digital sales, people are still buying physical CDs. They, along with other merchandise (t-shirts, posters, CDs, vinyl records) sales, are popular souvenirs for concert-goers. So, take care of business onstage, then man the merch table after the show to network with fans and sell your music.

Music Licensing

Could you imagine your original song in a video game soundtrack? Do you have a piece that would fit into a film score or television commercial? You might consider licensing, then. Nearly every industry uses music, most frequently for marketing purposes. If you have specific uses in mind, find the “music supervisor” of the show or outlet and contact them directly. Or, reach out to local advertising firms or independent filmmakers. Have a stellar 30 seconds of your selected song ready to win them over.

Keep finding places to perform your music, and keep your online presence strong on sites like Facebook, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. If your music is impressive enough, the money will follow.

The most effective method for making music will vary for each musician. Which method works best for you?

See also: How Should I Price My Merchandise?, Finding Music Distributors




4 Comments
...Keep Reading
Music Licensing and Royalties

Music and Royalties: What You Should Know

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

When Vanilla Ice ripped off the Queen/David Bowie classic “Under Pressure” for his 1990 single “Ice Ice Baby,” there was an outrage. Vanilla Ice tried to tell Queen and David Bowie that his bass line was a little bit different from theirs, but many—fellow musicians, fans, critics—disagreed. Fast forward to today, when thousands of musicians upload cover songs to YouTube. It seems that we’re constantly repeating Vanilla Ice’s mistake… but we really shouldn’t.

To avoid a similar debacle, you might want to brush up on your understanding of licensing and royalties.

Who Gets Royalties?

In terms of music licensing, the original creator is paid royalties by the person wanting to use the music. The price of using it can vary depending on the song, the creator, and the intended use.

Getting Permission

If you are considering sampling anyone else’s work, you are responsible for getting permission first. Don’t count on your lack of superstar status to protect you. If you don’t obtain permission, you can face serious trouble. There is nothing more devastating than pouring your time, money, and heart into a song only to find out that you can’t use it because you didn’t obtain permission first.

Ask the Right People

With remakes and cover versions floating around, be sure that you get permission from the original creator. Either search online or pull out the original recording’s CD/album and check the liner notes. Then, reach out to the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) or EMI. These are two principal players in music licensing, and most professional artists work with them. These groups can tell you what’s required to get the rights to sample, cover, or otherwise use this song.

Flipping the Tables

If you have original content, you have the option of licensing it for use and being paid royalties. There are hundreds of sites that can work with you on this. American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) or EMI are both great sites to start researching this process.

Now that you know more about music licensing and royalties, head out and make your music with confidence, knowing that you’ve taken the steps to protect yourself.

Have you licensed your music for others to use? How did the process go for you? Do you have advice for those considering licensing their music? On the other side, have you paid to use someone else’s work?

See also: Copyright Your Music: The Why and How




6 Comments
...Keep Reading