Licensing means granting permission for the use of one’s music to which you own the copyright

Licensing is a great way to make money by placing your songs in film, TV, commercials and video games. This article explains what licensing is and how it works so that you can join the legions of music artists who are enjoying additional income from having their music licensed.

What is licensing?

Licensing means granting permission for the use of one’s music to which you own the copyright.

Certainly the goal of an artist who writes their own music (a la the copyright owner) is to maximize the revenues generated by the musical composition.

When you license the use of your song, say in a TV show, you not only get a fee for the use of the license, but it gives the song and the artist greater exposure to the listening public, which can increase one’s fame and fortune. The use of music in the TV program, “The OC,” has launched the careers of several previously unknown independent artists, Rooney, in particular.

Before we dive into how to get your music licensed, we need to go over some terms that are commonly used with licensing.

Copyrights

Be sure to file a completed copyright form along with a copy of the music with the US Copyright office before attempting to license your songs.

You can find the forms and instructions at www.copyright.gov. There are two copyrights for a song; a copyright for the sound recording (Form SR) and a copyright for the underlying song (Form PA). For our purposes here, let’s clarify that we are talking about licensing original music of an Independent Artist who is not signed to a label or a publishing company and who owns both these copyrights.

Publishing

Publishing is one of the most complex parts of the music business and yet it can be the most lucrative area of income for musicians. music publishing is the owning and exploiting of musical copyrights. A song is made up of two equal shares: the writer’s share and the publisher’s share. Songwriters affiliate with Publishers because their main job is to commercially exploit (increase use and value of) songs. Most independent artists/musicians are their own publisher, and therefore own 100% share of the song. If that is you, then this is why you want to get educated on how to pursue licensing for your music.

Licenses

The license for use of the sound recording is called theMaster Use License. The license for the underlying song is called the Synchronization License (aka synch license), used when a musical work is synchronized in time with visual images, either background, theme or feature use in TV shows and Film.

Now we know the basic terms…time to learn what to do next.

Do your research by watching existing TV programs and write down every show you think your songs would fit into. From TV programs including reality TV, types of scenes in movies, video games, and commercials. Learn to think and listen visually; everything visual has a potential sound accompaniment.

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