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Licensing Licensing

Music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted music. Music licensing is intended to ensure that the creators of musical works get paid for their work. A purchaser of recorded music owns the media on which the music is stored, not the music itself. A purchaser has limited rights to use and reproduce the recorded work.

Frequently used types of licensing are:

  • Synchronization (sync / synch) license: This grants the licensee the right to take a SONG and combine it with a video work of some kind, such as a film or TV show.
  • Mechanical license: This allows the licensee to record and distribute a song or a coversong via “phonorecord”, which includes anything from tapes to CDs and MP3s. There are actually two subtypes…
  • Compulsory mechanical license: If a song has been made available to the public (intentionally), United States law allows anyone to record their own version of that song and sell it by acquiring this kind of license. They do not have to ask permission or negotiate with the copyright holder, but they do have to pay a standardized royalty rate based on number of physical sales, streams and downloads.
  • Negotiated mechanical license: The opposite of a compulsory mechanical license (CML.) An NML means that the licensee is not acquiring mechanical rights via statutory law, but is deciding on terms with the licensor. The Harry Fox Agency is an organization that makes the process of obtaining NMLs as easy as obtaining CMLs, though they do not represent all songs or all writers.
  • Master use license: This allows the licensee to edit and synchronize an existing sound recording. This must be acquired in addition to a sync license if the licensee wants to use an existing recording!

For more information about licensing, go to the Contact Us page.

For Licensing Contracts, go to the Music Contracts page.

For music platform licenses from collective rights societies, go to the Music Startups page.