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Music Legal Advice Audio Branding

By Mauritz Kop LL.M.                                              May 28, 2013

Audio branding (sonic branding, sound branding) can set a game apart from the competition. A strong product or brand should not only be visually recognizable but also auditorily. Audio branding creates an auditory identity. The first chord of a particular song is then associated directly with a specific game. The player will associate the music with the game. The melody is being printed in the memory of the player. Catchy themes and appropriate sound design are decisive factors. This creates a strong brand identity, as a kind of sound logo. Music can make or break a game. See here the importance of music for games.

An important part of audio branding is securing the rights to the music. In the context of audio branding the game studio can choose to license a particular song exclusively for a certain period (or even unlimited in duration) of time. Exclusivity will link the music inextricably to the product: it cannot be licensed by the competition. In addition to audio recognition by the user, exclusive music provides great marketing benefits such as brand strengthening, consistency, increased sales and better consumer experience. Licensing existing (hit) repertoire exclusively will usually be much more expensive than having custom made music produced or using library music. Licensing non-exclusive music will be much cheaper but have a less significant audio branding effect. The budget of the game developer is often decisive.  

The costs for music usage in games and other audiovisual media alike will vary considerably depending on many factors. The various music rights involved as well as the types of music being used in the game largely determine the music copyright clearance route to be taken, what the costs will be and how long the approval process will take. Other important factors are the notoriety of the music, jurisdiction, the composer or his heirs, record company, distribution method, territory, scope, duration, style and performance, number of broadcasting channels and the number of programs involved. It also depends on whether you want to work out a royalty deal or buyout the music rights, pay a lump sum, scale up or even a revenue share. Because of this multitude of factors and the almost impenetrable forest of rules and regulations, there are many different music clearance paths to distinguish - each with its own procedure and timeframe. We can assist you with this process in an efficient manner. 

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