I’ve seen and heard this question being asked on occasion from those who perhaps don’t understand the legalities of using music that doesn’t belong to them.
“Is music licensing a scam?”
It’s certainly no scam whatsoever, but is sometimes misinterpreted by those who don’t really know what music sync licensing actually is.
The Music Rights Defined
Businesses especially suffer from unintentional ignorance when it comes to music licensing. There are two types of music licensing which will affect businesses and other establishments:
- Sync licenses
- Performance rights
The difference between the two is quite simple. If you are a business and wish to use existing music in a project – music you don’t own the rights to – then you need to purchase a sync license to legally be able to feature that music. The project could be a corporate video, for example.
For performance rights – which are collected by performing rights organisations known as PROs – whenever a business such as a restaurant plays music as a part of entertaining their customers, royalties for this right must be paid to a PRO so artists are compensated for their music being used to enhance your business. Generally these royalties are just paid collectively, rather than being broken down by artist. It’s just another way for artists and music publishers to earn money from their hard work. After all, businesses that use music are benefitting from it.
Likewise, when a cover band plays music at your restaurant or other venue, it is the responsibility of the venue to pay the performance rights to their local PRO.
There is definitely no scam in this. It’s the same the world over, and there are PROs in just about every country.
Why Get a Sync License?
It is a common belief among those not in the know that they can download free music from the internet or buy a track on iTunes and use it in their videos, projects, short films or whatever. It’s actually illegal to do this as it’s a breach of copyright.
When you purchase an iTunes track, all you are really buying is the right to listen to the music for your own pleasure. You have no right to do anything else with it. The copyright is still owned by the rights holders.
That’s why music sync licensing exists. It enables people to utilise an existing piece of music in a project, whether that be:
- A movie
- A video
- To play on their website
- Used in a wedding video
- Video games
- Movie and game trailers
The list goes on. Rather than having to create the music yourself or hire a composer to score it for you, you simply find a piece of music you like on one of the many music licensing sites on the web and buy the sync license appropriate to your project. Once you have done this, legally you are good to go.
It saves both time and money.
There is literally stacks of great music out there just waiting for you to discover it and use it in your projects. I license the music I create on music licensing platform – Songtradr. If you’re interested, you can check out their website by clicking on their logo below.
This is an excellent post! Thank you for this!
I’m actually a lover of music. There have been many times where I’ve created multiple videos playing other people’s music, and I actually thought it was ok to just buy the music and be good. Thank goodness I never actually published any of those videos. But thanks to you, I now know what I need to do if I actually wnated to publish those videos. So thank you!
Hi Caleb, Glad you found the information helpful. Cheers.