Music Licensing: Film/TV Deals Explained Part 2
(Below the video is a full article on licensing music for film and TV)
As promised, here is part 2 of Music Licensing for Film, TV, and other Media Deals featuring my good friend and guest vlogger, Winnie Jow!
(here is part 1 in case you missed it).
Please check out the above video, or if you prefer reading see the full article below.
Take it away Winnie!
Hey Lawyers Rock!
Winnie Jow here with Film/TV Deals Part II. In Part I we covered:
- How To Find Song Info
- Writer/Publisher Information
- Licensor vs. Licensee
- Media Types
In Part II I will cover other key terms including:
- Description of Use
- Duration of Use
- Release date
Description of Use.
This term addresses how you plan to use the music you license.
Three of the common uses are:
- Visual Vocal (e.g., a character or actor singing the words of the song)
- Background Vocal (e.g., the words of the song are playing as synchronized to the action ongoing in the scene)
- Instrumental (e.g., music bed moving one scene to the next)
These factors affect the cost so if you only require a background use, make sure that the Licensor knows and can charge you accordingly.
Duration of Use.
If you are going to use only 10 or 15 seconds of a work, then do not submit a license request for the entire song (usually around 3-4 minutes) because it will be much more expensive to license the entire work as opposed to just a snippet.
Being specific here in your license request will play in your favor when the fee is calculated.
This is the most highly requested topic in Part II. Certain media types such as films are licensed in perpetuity or to use industry terminology, “in perp.” This just means “forever”. For example, when you license a song for a film then the music will usually be incorporated with that film forever.
On one hand, once the song is synched to the film and it is released to the public, that part of the film can never exist without the song because people will have already seen it or own a copy. On the other hand, a commercial for example may have a limited run and might only require a term of a few weeks or a few months.
After that commercial is done airing, then it is not likely that the commercial will be seen again thereafter.
Realistically, considering how long of a term you require will help you to pare down the rights to only the rights that you really need. This will have a great effect on the cost to use that composition in your production.
The territory considers where the production will be aired, viewed, or distributed. On one end of the spectrum, if you require rights for the territory of the world—or commonly nowadays—the universe given all of the satellites that relay signals, then this is likely going to be more expensive than if the territory is limited to a local geographic region.
The release date notifies the Licensor when the production is going to air or when the product containing the composition is going to be released. The release date commences the term of the production and the clock will start counting thereafter.
This concludes the overview of basic terms in a Film/TV synchronization license. I hope that this has been informative for new Licensees (users of music) as well as Licensors (content owners).
See you next time for another episode of Lawyers Rock.
-Winifred C. Jow, J.D.
Also, if you can’t afford an attorney to draft a license agreement (which is always the best approach to any legal matter), we have a good License Agreement template in our Music Agreements Package.
This is called a Master Use/Sync License, and it’s a FREE Bonus as part of my affordable full package of Music Industry Agreements.
Disclaimer: Ms. Jow is not a licensed attorney in California and nothing stated within this blog is intended to be, or shall be considered, legal or other professional advice. To properly develop and maintain your career you need to have a competent attorney, accountant, and other professional advisers on your team to assess your specific situation. In addition, note that all of the disclaimers applicable to this site also apply.