Whether we are conscious of it or not, instances of music licensing are everywhere; from the ads you watch on TV, music playing in the background of a video presentation, the soundtracks of movies, games and trailers, music licensing plays a huge role in all of these industries and more.

As a very basic explanation, music licensing is akin to allowing someone to rent music to use for a particular purpose or project without actually purchasing the rights to the music. In order to legally use music that doesn’t belong to you, for any sort of public purpose, a music license is required.

Music licensing can seem confusing to the uninitiated, but it doesn’t have to be; and these days with all the music licensing websites available on the internet, music licensing – no matter what the purpose – is all very quick and easy.


Song Rights Broken Down

Essentially there are three parts to songs that contain lyrics and vocals and two parts to instrumentals. Who holds the rights to each part will vary depending on how the recording was made.

  • The lyrics
  • The composition
  • The recording

When it comes to the lyrics, these are the rights of the songwriter. The rights to the composition of melody and lyrics belong to the music publisher, or the songwriter if self-published. The sound recording is the master rights and these belong to the record company or whoever financed the recording. If it’s an indie recording, then generally the master rights belong to the artist.

With instrumentals the composition becomes the music itself as their are no lyrics or melody for vocals. And once again the recording or master rights belong to whoever paid for the recording or did the recording.




Kinds of Licenses

Performance License: This one is very common and is required whenever anyone wants to play covers as a live performance, music played in pubs and clubs, or any public music broadcast in any venue. Royalties are paid to the artist and publisher through a PRO (Performing Rights Organisation).

Master License: Allows the rights holder to use the song in a project in its original form. To use a song in conjunction with a visual project, a sync license is required in addition to the master license.

Mechanical License: This allows the rights holder to reproduce music in a physical format such as a CD. If a band or artist wants to record a cover of a song, they will need to obtain a mechanical license.

Sync License: This is short for synchronisation license and is the license one needs to acquire to use someone else’s music in a project, usually in sync with a visual project such as a movie.


When a Music License Is Required

There are many different occasions where a music license will be required and I’ll list a few of the common ones:

  • happy-days mystique MuzikMovies and trailers
  • Video games and trailers
  • Online videos
  • Advertising
  • Television shows
  • Apps
  • Public performance
  • Cover songs

These are just a few, and the type of license required will vary depending on the project.


Songtradr Makes Music Licensing Easy

There are many music licensing companies online and one of my favourites is Songtradr. They just make the entire licensing process seamless and easy. All music tracks available in the Songtradr catalogue are cleared for licensing in every way with all rights holders before the music is made available on their website.

To check out the awesome and ever expanding Songtradr catalogue of artists and music, just click on their logo below.