Clear music the right way
If you plan to use anyone’s music compositions or recordings, other than your own music or songs which are now in public domain, you’ll need to clear music the right way before using them in any of your projects.
This article describes how to get proper music clearance and licensing for the songs and tracks (cues, recordings, etc.) you wish to you use in your upcoming projects including: tv, radio, film, video, advertising and virtually any other kinds of commercial media usage.
Most common ways to clear music
The most common ways to clear music are:
2. License music from music composers and publishers which offer production music catalogs and libraries. In most cases the music compositions and recordings will already be pre-cleared, so you can get clearance and pricing (based on your usage) for both the song’s composition and at least one version of the master recording. You can find a variety of composers and publishers with many catalogs and libraries on the LicenseQuote ‘Find Music’ search page: www.licensequote.com/find-music.aspx
If you want to use copyrighted songs (other than your own) that are NOT in public domain (free for anyone to use), you’ll need to first contact the publishers for clearance and licensing. If you don’t know who the publisher is or need their current contact information, you can use one of the search databases which the Performance Societies offer, such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. See listing with links below.
Their search tools will help you find the publishers by using the correct song title and songwriter name/s, listed on the Album or CD cover in the song title copyright credits. To get started, make a list of the songs and writers and then use to search for the music publishers. The publisher’s contact info will usually include an email address and website domain or link address.
Clear and license the music compositions
The publisher will need to know how their song(s) will be used in your project and will then consider clearance and price the licensing accordingly. Requesting a quote or making a realistic offer will get them interested to reply sooner to provide clearance, negotiate terms and a license price which you can then accept, decline or counter-negotiate with.
Clear and license the recordings
After you get clearance and the license from the publisher for the song’s composition, you’ll also need to get clearance and license to use a recording of the song, unless you already own your own recording, or licensed it from a record label, studio or the original recording owner.
In most cases (99% of the time) the Publishers can also refer you to one or more recording owner options for clearance and licensing of the recording. Many popular hits and standards have multiple cover versions (by various artists) and re-recordings (by studios), which you can often access at much lower licensing costs compared to the original (famous hit) recording you heard on the radio.
That’s about it! Be factual with the publishers, use common sense and try to negotiate the best deal on behalf of your business and intended project.
PRO database search tools to help you clear music
ASCAP – https://www.ascap.com/Home/ace-title-search/index.aspx
The ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SOCAN song title free, public databases allows you (or your staff) to search by song, title, songwriter or publisher for information on songs and songwriters registered with these performing rights societies.
If you don’t know which society a writer belongs to, look at the liner notes that accompanied the CD, cassette or check the ID Tag on the MP3 if you purchased a download of the song. If a songwriter isn’t registered with ASCAP, there’s an excellent chance they are affiliated with BMI. If all else fails, also try SESAC and/or SOCAN.
After you’ve found the publisher of the song you’re searching, you’ll see their contact info (Website, Tel, email, etc.) which you can use to contact them directly, or visit their website to contact them via one of their online forms. This will get you started on the right track to clear music compositions and recordings the proper and legal way.
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