Music Licensing Explained




Copyright is one of the most important aspects of protecting an artist’s work. Copyrights protect the owner of the intellectual property. The owner then can offer exclusive authorization to individuals or corporations to copy and reproduce their work in exchange for royalties. Music copyrights work in the same way. A music licensing agreement is a contract protecting the musician’s rights, ensuring all their works are copyrighted. The musician decides who can earn money from their work and reproduce it.

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Being an artist seems like a glamorous life to the outsider. The truth is there is paperwork to be done and legal issues to consider, just like in any other business. Licensing is one of the most important aspects of a musical career. Licensing your music can be thought of as renting your songs to another party. While you are not selling your music, you are allowing “users” to play your songs in exchange for royalties. A well-drafted music license agreement is important in ensuring that the producers and creators of the music get the money that they deserve from their work. The agreement is between the creator and a party wanting to use the artist’s work. If you want to use an original song in your adverts, films, or TV shows, you will need a music licensing agreement.


The creators and producers of the music compositions are the exclusive copyright owners of their works. They are allowed to give selective or absolute rights for the usage of their composition to a third party for commercial purposes. The license allows for the third party the right to negotiate and make decisions for the intellectual property on behalf of that creator. The key purpose of a music license agreement is to lend the copyrights of the artist’s work to a third party. Music licenses are probably the only way through which music reaches a large audience in many cases bypassing geographical boundaries.


Benefits of Music Licensing

Licensing music is a good practice of protecting the work and originality of the creation by its composer. A music license would clearly outline how the works would be used and how much they are worth.

By having their song or music piece as part of any film or album, an artist could use it as a platform to showcase their talent increase their popularity. With this, the artist could easily improve the recognition of their work to a wider audience

An increase in the popularity of the artist would result in more advertisers; movie and TV show producers working with the artist to use his original music creation. This makes the artist, an owner of his product; increase the ways that they can make money and earn fame in the music industry.

When music is licensed before making it public, the risk of someone copying the music and obtaining a license in their name would be eliminated. This ensures that all the credit and royalties earned from the will go to the person who deserves it


Listed below are types of common music licensing agreements that are used in the music industry for various purposes.

Types of Music Licenses

Master Recording License. This type of license gives the license holder the right to use a recording that someone else made. The master license is obtained from the rights-holder (usually record label or artist) for each song that wants to be used for the project. The master license gives the user permission to use a previously recorded version of a song in a visual or audio project but does not allow a user to re-record a song for example in a cover

Performance License. The performance license covers all music that is played in a public setting including music used at live performances, clubs, business establishments, multimedia presentations, music used in meetings and conventions, or simply played through a CD.

Synchronization License. It is one of the most used licenses in the market. It links the copyright owner and the licensee, granting permission to use a song and pair it with visual media. It has a broad range of uses, including advertisements, movies, personal films, internal communications, and more.

Mechanical License. This type of license is paid every time a copy of a song is made, for example for every time a CD is produced. The music publisher or songwriter usually has control over the mechanical licenses. This type of license is a formal agreement with the copyright holder, allowing the holder to reproduce the sound of a recording. . Primarily this refers to the manufacturing of CDs or distribution of music in any tangible form.

Print License. This license is obtained to copy or reprint lyrics of sheet music for a song that someone else wrote for personal use or reproduction. The royalties are paid to the composer or author of the song for the right to print the work

Blanket License. Performing rights organizations and collecting societies offer blanket licenses that allow a licensee to have access to a portion or complete repertoire of songs for a flat annual fee. It is less time-consuming than other options because it enables them to avoid clearing each song’s rights with the relative copyright owner. These blanket licenses allow the system to flow smoothly and efficiently while minimizing unnecessary administrative time waste


A music licensing agreement is a legally binding document that is drafted by legal entities but there are various samples of them available for viewing and download all over the internet.