Music Publishing and Licensing Blog

Music license categories and types

This article sorts and presents our standard license types (and a few suggested custom license types) in unique categories. The primary categories are sorted in alphabetical order under which the most relevant license types are then listed and expanded on. Therefore, this list provides a general introduction and overview of the many music license types which are commonly used in every-day licensing inquiries, negotiations and sales transactions.

Composition Licenses
Usage: No sync or master, only license to record and sell the song’s composition.
License Types:

  • Mechanical Royalty License (Up to 5 Minutes, $0.091 per song)
  • Mechanical Royalty License (Over 5 Minutes, $0.0175 per minute)

Basic Mechanical Royalty application: A mechanical right is the right to record and distribute (without visual images) a song on a phonorecord (e.g. CD) for private use. Mechanical rights or a mechanical license must be obtained in order to lawfully make and distribute records, CD’s and tapes.

  • Phonic Ringtones – Ringtones using standard MIDI sound files

There are two basic types of ringtones:
Phonic Ringtones and Pre-Recorded Ringtones.

  1. Phonic Ringtones are (most commonly) standard MIDI sound files that are either monophonic, where the ringtones are recreated using standard single notes, or polyphonic where notes can be played simultaneously creating harmony and/or counterpoint.
  2. Pre-Recorded ringtones play actual clips from sound recordings. It should be noted that the term ‘Pre-Recorded ringtone’ is not the standard (industry wide) term. They are also known as Trutones, Songtones, Master Ringtones, etc.

Reference: To learn more from the HFA, follow this link:

Master Use Sound Recording Licenses
Usage: License master audio recording with no use of visual synchronization.
License Types:

  • Audio Projects
  • Composition and Sound Recordings
  • Master Ringtone (Pre-Recorded music which play actual clips from sound recordings.)
  • Music Compilation (CD, DVD, PC Audio)
  • Public Space (Restaurants, Trade shows, Retail spaces)
  • Radio Ad or Production
  • Sampling, Remixes, Covers and Derivative Works
  • Telephone or Music On Hold

Mixed Usage, Special Licenses

  • Custom License – publisher/buyer negotiated according to exact usage, for example, blanket, per-program, exclusive or foreign rights deals, etc.
  • Stock Music License – some restrictions normally apply and vary according to publisher

Personal Use Licenses
Usage: Non commercial usage, may be sold as retail product, offered for promotion or evaluation for commercial licensing purposes.
License Types:

  • Free Demo – for promo or commercial project evaluation only.
  • Personal Use – typical retail sales application. May not be used for any commercial projects OR purpose requiring other kinds of licenses.

Performance Rights Licensing
Application and Usage: The public performance rights most commonly collected via the Performance Rights Organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN, PRS and other PROs around the world. Their fundamental job is to keep track of performances and broadcasts of all works protected under copyright. Common uses include TV and Radio broadcasting and a variety of public venue performances.

Cue Sheet Resource:
LicenseQuote offers our members a free CSV template resource which lets composers and publishers set up a Cue Sheet form to collect production music usage details from their clients. A link to the Cue Sheet form can be placed on the Music Licensing Page, for example, above the Store or included in an email communication with the client during or after the license purchase process. The Cue Sheet form can be easily installed, customized and managed with a Free Google Docs account. Please check this article for complete details:
Music Cue Sheet Form – demo & tutorial

Print Rights Licensing
Usage: Generally sheet music, song folios, scores or notation in any printed or digital form released for sale. Once sold, printed music earns royalties from the print rights license which the publisher negotiated.
License Types:

  • Scores or notation
  • Sheet music
  • Song folios

Tip: With the LicenseQuote “link to page” feature, it’s possible to set up a unique Licensing Profile for the sale of digital Sheet Music including scores or notation in PDF and/or Midi (.mid) file formats.

Sync and Master Licenses
Usage: Use of master in synchronization with visual for film, games, video, etc.
License Types:

  • Corporate, Theater and Competition (unless no visual media is used)
  • Film Sync License
  • Games and Software
  • Internet Website, Flash
  • Products and Toys
  • Single Units (Wedding video, small quantity for profit)
  • Slide Show or PowerPoint
  • Software – Multimedia, All platforms, any use
  • TV Advertising
  • TV Show Sync License
  • Video (Music for Video, DVD or CDROM)

Please note that all these License Types are available as part of the standard (default) licensing profile along with suggested pricing. Our other articles provide guidance to customizing your license types or add new profiles and create your own rate cards (if needed) from scratch.

One thing that makes LicenseQuote unique is that our publisher clients are able to modify their licensing categories, types, usage parameters, base pricing and property values, hence giving them full ability to manage and control their own licensing profiles and related pricing.

Add a Comment

Comments are closed.