Music licensing and copyrighting can be very confusing for non-professionals. Luckily, we are here to explain both concepts and walk you through how to obtain song rights.
Let’s start with explaining what music license is: In short, music license refers to the legal documentation that gives the carriers the right to commercially use a song when certain pre-agreed criteria are met. Music license documentation clearly states the duration of the license and the cost of the right to commercially use that piece of music. Moreover, what you can and cannot do with that song is also set out in the license documentation.
In accordance with the details explained above, there are different types of music licenses. The most common ones are:
Master license: Master license protects the rights of the master recording of a song, thus, it is often known as master rights or master lease. If you want to use an existing recording of a song, you need to obtain master rights. Regardless of the duration you want to use (from only few seconds to the entire song), you need to get master rights. Once you paid for the master license of a song, you can use entire song, a guitar line, only the karaoke version and so forth in your video. You also need to pay for master license to use a song recording in a mash-up, stage production, retail product, interpolation, advertising, tv show, movie and so forth.
Synchronization license: Also known as synch license or synch rights, synchronization license allows the license holder to use a song released in the video format such as a DVD or a YouTube video. You need to obtain synchronization licenses to use a copyrighted song in commercials, advertisements, films, tv series and more.
Public performance license: One of the most common music licenses obtained these days, public performance license refers to the “performance” rights of a music. Once you acquire the public performance rights of a song, you can play it online, at a concert, on the radio, on a tv show, in public and so forth. Without having public performance license of a song, you cannot play it in public spaces –spaces that are outside your friends circle, family gatherings and such.
Mechanical license: Mechanical license, or mechanical rights aim to protect physical reproduction of a song, such as CDs, vinyls, cassettes and various other “tangible” forms and distributions of music. The owner of the mechanical license of a musical work, often the artist, makes a deal with the publishers, distributors, and record labels to publish and sell the physical copies of their work. In accordance with their deal, owner of the mechanical rights get paid per copy.
You need to obtain mechanical rights of a song if you plan to publish and distribute it physically. In addition, you will need mechanical rights if you want to record a cover of the song or use samples from it. Any derivative work that changes the original recording requires having the mechanical rights.
Theatrical license: If you want to perform a copyrighted song on stage, you need to obtain theatrical license, also known as theatrical rights.
In accordance with your plans regarding the use of a copyrighted song, you need to get the relevant license. Unless you get the appropriate copyright permission from the owner, you may face serious consequences after using a copyrighted song in your video, commercial, advertisement, play, film, tv show, podcast, live stream and such.
Copyrights all around the world are very ironclad. Moreover, all major social media platforms use state of the art algorithms to detect illegal use of copyrighted songs. Such use of copyrighted songs results in getting a warning from the copyright owner and the social media platform you shared your video on. The best case scenario is that you get asked to take the content down. Yet you might also get banned from the platform, lose your channel, or even get sued. That is why most content creators opt for using free beats or purchase song rights.
If you want to buy a song’s legal rights, you need to follow the steps below:
- First and foremost, find out who is the copyright owner of the song you want to use. Then you need to find the contact information of the owner. You can check websites of the record labels, or personal websites of the artist to get their email address or phone number. Performing rights societies like ASCAP, SESAC or BMI can also help you to get in touch with the right people. Another option is contacting music licensing companies.
- Once you have the right contact information, you need to explicitly ask for the song rights vi a letter or an email. You need to introduce yourself, explain why and where you want to use the song, and which particular license you need (see above to learn more about different kinds of music licensing).
- Next step is making the payment. After you pay the asked amount, you will be given an official document stating that you purchased the license to use that song. Then you can use that song in your personal and commercial endeavors without facing legal consequences.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting song rights, you can always use non copyrighted songs we offer here on Snapmuse. Take a closer look at our YouTube background music download library to discover non copyrighted, high quality songs that will elevate your videos.