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Q: Music Licensing ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: Music Licensing
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Music
Asked by: kingtury-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 09 Jul 2006 14:55 PDT
Expires: 08 Aug 2006 14:55 PDT
Question ID: 744735
I would like to create a DVD for Sale. In it I'm using copyrighted
music. How to I go about Licensing the rights to use the music in my
DVD. And what are the costs?


Clarification of Question by kingtury-ga on 09 Jul 2006 15:45 PDT
Do I need a Sync or Mechanical License?
Subject: Re: Music Licensing
Answered By: easterangel-ga on 09 Jul 2006 19:41 PDT
Hi! Thanks for the question.

Please take note of the important disclaimer below that Google Answers
only provides general information and isn?t a substitute for informed
professional legal advice. So I still dvice you to seek professional
legal advice.

The arena of music licensing is kind of grey area right now but there
seems to be some of form of basic necessities that you could go by
depending on your needs. Please take note as well that based on my
readings, there are instances that for some music companies, there are
slight differences. But here are the general principles:

Since you are only using the music on DVD, the only license applicable
for you would be Synchronization or "Synch" Rights.

?A synchronization or "synch" right involves the use of a recording of
musical work in audio-visual form: for example as part of a motion
picture, television program, commercial announcement, music video or
other videotape. Often, the music is "synchronized" or recorded in
timed relation with the visual images. Synchronization rights are
licensed by the music publisher to the producer of the movie or


The numbers as to costs vary widely depending on the artist or on the
one doing the research. But these resources can give you a pretty good

This data is from a 2003 article so costs might have gone up even
more. Still the article pretty much gives us a good picture on what
costs to expect.

??networks such as HBO routinely pay per-use licensing fees of
anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 to feature prestigious musicians in
their original programming, and subsequently, their video releases.?
(Note that this is only for TV use. We cited this to get a good
picture on how much for synchronization rights later on.)

?Add in miscellaneous costs (such as $70 per hour to have an expert
run a copyright search on a song); expenses arising from where a song
is placed (using it over the credits costs about five times as much as
putting it in the background of a scene); and the right to use the
song in a permanent medium like DVD instead of in a single broadcast
(three times the cost)? (So DVD music rights costs can go by $70 + 3 x
(5,000 to $100,000)!)

?May I see your license, please??,4,27,1,1001,03.html 

In this more recent 2005 article here are some figures to take note.

?Fees for song usage range from $1,500-$15,000, with superstar tracks
reaching up to $20,000-$25,000. That amount usually includes master
rights for broadcast and most other media rights, with a time frame
ranging from three years to perpetuity. An additional home video fee
is equal to or greater than those quoted. Synchronization rights are
negotiated separately, with master and sync rights usually split
50/50, unless the song is a cover -- a situation that favors the

?The song doesn't remain the same?

Search terms used:
Costs of "Synchronization rights" dvd
I hope this would help you in your research. Before rating this
answer, please ask for a clarification if you have a question or if
you would need further information.
Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by kingtury-ga on 11 Jul 2006 01:20 PDT
Thank You. If possible would like more clarification on the type of
license needed, still unsure if only "sync" or mixture of sync and
mechanical.  The DVD is a type of "work out" video, with copyrighted
songs playing in the background.

Clarification of Answer by easterangel-ga on 11 Jul 2006 03:20 PDT
Hi again!

A mechanical license in your situation seems to be inappropriate but
just as tr1234-ga mentioned, you might need to have Master Use
License. I think tr1234-ga has some good basis and thanks for the

"This can also be used when a film company wants to use the master in
a film also obtaining a synchronization license to use the song."

Please read the following page as well. This link supports the notion
that Master Use License and Synch License is what you will need.


As for the fees, again it varies greatly.

"Fees and advances for synch licenses vary greatly depending upon the
prospective use (e.g. whether the song will be used as a title song of
a movie or in a commercial), the prominence of use (background music
or featured performance), the popularity of the song and/or the
songwriter, the media in which the song is to be used (e.g.
television, motion pictures or even a video arcade game), the budget
of the potential licensee, and the amount of goods that are to be
initially manufactured, as well as other factors."


I hope this would be of help to you.

Subject: Re: Music Licensing
From: tr1234-ga on 09 Jul 2006 17:02 PDT
I'm no expert, but I think the licenses you need are a Sync License
*and* a Master Use License, but I don't think you need a mechanical
Subject: Re: Music Licensing
From: tr1234-ga on 10 Jul 2006 07:53 PDT
Again, I'm no expert, but the more I contemplate the question, the
more I think that we'd need to know more about the questioner's exact
plans for usage before knowing for sure what licenses would be

He/she is definitely going to need a Synch License, which will permit
using a copyrighted song in part of a DVD.

But a synch license alone might not be enough if he/she plans to use a
*specific recording* of a particular song, in which case I think an
additional license would be required. Which might be the Master Use
License or a Mechanical License...
Subject: Re: Music Licensing
From: sofras-ga on 07 Aug 2006 16:38 PDT

If you are in the US, the 3 things you need are as follows:

1.  The name of the copyright holder(s) (which can be the record label
who usually owns the master rights to the music)  If this is music
from a major label, check the liner notes on the back of the tray card
or cd booklet.  You can also find it by the symbol that looks like a
"c" with a circle around it.

2.  The music publisher (usually also found in the liner notes as
well, although it will be different for each song on the album)

3. Performing rights organization for which the music publisher and/or
songwriter is registered. (they have a search tool), and/or SESAC are the ones in the US.  Most will be on ASCAP or
BMI.  If the work is performed or distributed publicly, you may have
to obtain performing rights license as indicated in a previous post.

Another great place to get information is the US Copyright office. 
I've called them for SEVERAL questions and as you have here, just
describe your situation to them.  They've usually been on point with
the answers because this has to do with copyright law as well.  The
only cost you have is the time to wait for an operator and the long
distance charge during normal business hours.

From a music industry standpoint, I suggest checking the Harry Fox
Agency for more information on mechanical licensing because if you are
making COPIES of this DVD you will definitely need this type of
license.  That's what it means, to make copies of it.  CDS, DVDS,
Tapes, etc., you are making MECHANICAL COPIES of the song.  You will
need to pay a certain amount of royalties on the song which are
minimal depending on the amount of time of the song you are using. 
Here is a bit more from their website:

"For current royalty rate information, please review the Statutory
Royalty Rates page. It should be noted that a mechanical license does
not include the right to reproduce an already existing sound
recording. That is a separate right, called a Master Use Right, which
must be procured from the copyright owner of such sound recording." - check the
links on this page.  Again, they have some great information to help
you cover yourself.  The more you know, the more you can protect

Check out this page and then do some research on that page, it has a
good question and answer section:  Do I Need a Mechanical License?  The copyright
office told me about this.

So performing rights licensing, synchronization license, mechanical
license, master use license - each of these has their own set of
royalty/fee structures, these are all ways to make money in the music
industry.  These are what you need to keep in mind.

Just more for your info (also on Harry Fox website):

What are Master Use Rights?   
  Master use rights are required for previously recorded material that
you do not own or control. The Harry Fox Agency does not process
licenses for master use rights. They can only be obtained from the
owner of the master recording, usually a record company In order to
expedite processing, we recommend that you obtain the master use
license from the owner prior to requesting a mechanical license from
The Harry Fox Agency.
Mechanical rights should not be confused with "master rights" that are
granted by a record company in order to use an existing recording, or
with "performance rights" that are granted by publishers or societies
for the public performance of a song. Depending on the use, one may
also have to obtain these rights in addition to the mechanical

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