Essentially, a music licensing agreement is something that explains who owns the legal rights in an exclusive or non-exclusive fashion to a piece of music, a video, or a song to someone who is using that piece of music, video, or song.
A music license agreement is used in the music industry to establish the rights for a copyright owner. In the music business these legal documents give exclusive rights to a recording or a song. Those rights might be given to the licensee for film music or they might be given to an artist after they make or create something.
For example, if somebody wants to use a video for a fundraising event or use a song as part of a commercial, even if it’s used as background music, just a sample, or a remix, both parties need to sign a licensing agreement that provides information on the terms under which that music or song can be used.
If you have any type of original music. you might choose non-exclusive rights where you offer it to the public for free so anyone can use it as background music, as a sample,or anyone can remix it, use it for fundraisers, and more. In other cases, if you write an original song you might decide you want exclusive rights, which means if people want to use it they have to pay you for it.
You should use a music licensing agreement if you are the original owner of a piece of music and someone else is using it or if you are the one who wants to use a piece of music. Any recorded material might be subject to copyright laws which means you need to find out who is the original owner. There might be more than one owner. In fact, it’s quite common for a composer, lyricist, a performer, and even a publisher to have joint rights to a single piece of music. You can find information about the publisher, the record label, the composer, or the artist and go into a settlement to decide what the payment structure is in exchange for you being able to use that song. In most cases, payments are done as a royalty which means if you choose to use a piece of music for commercials, the original music owners get a percentage of your earnings or they get a prepaid amount. All of this is what you put into the music licensing agreement.
This protects you and the other parties and gives everyone legal grounds in the event that something goes wrong. It also establishes clearly cut rules as to how music can be used and what compensation must be offered.
Music licensing agreements or a song license agreement will vary in terms of what’s included in the contract depending on the type of license you have.
The first section to include is information about the copyright owners. This is where you list anyone who has ownership over a piece of music. Sometimes an artist will have sole ownership of something they produced like an original song but in other cases the copyright owners might extend to people like a lyricist who wrote the lyrics, a composer who wrote the piano part, a producer, or a record label. You need to include every owner from whom permission must be received in order to use the music.
The next section is the specific use permission section. This is where you include information about how the song is allowed to be used. This might include the song being used for a single purpose, or the song being used for multiple purposes, which means the company might choose to remix it.
The third section is the exclusivity section where you explain how long a song gets to be used, where the song gets to be used, and for what purposes. Usually the more exclusive a contract is the more expensive it is.
A subsection to this might include the agreement duration which indicates how long this license agreement lasts. Some people write an event-related contingency where the music license contract only extends to the length of a specific event or gets canceled under certain, listed situations agreed upon by both parties. In other cases it is set up as a fixed period at the expiration of which the music can the longer be used.
Similarly geographic location is often included as a subsection which specifies where this agreement applies. It might stipulate that the song can be used only in the United Kingdom or only in the United States but not internationally.
The sixth section is that of royalties or payments. Here you list how the owners earn profits from the licensing contract throughout the duration of the agreement. This can be a fixed-price payment or it can be a royalty which is earned based on the performance of the campaign or event.
You can also add a subsection that lists when and where song augmentation can be completed by the licensure. This might include extending the song, remixing the song, or clipping the song. If the owners want to maintain complete integrity over the song without any modifications then the section would stipulate the song modification is not allowed.
This music license agreement (or “agreement”) is made effective as of ____________ between _____________ and _____________.
In the agreement, the party who is granting the right to use the license property will be referred to as the “copyright owner” and the party who is receiving the right to use the license property will be referred to as the “licensee”.
The copyright owner owns the copyright, publishing rights, and all other rights to this music and the licensee desires to obtain certain rights to the music to use it.
_____ owns ___________. In accordance with this agreement, the copyright owner hereby grants to the licensee subject to the payment set forth below the right, license, and privilege to use the music. The music remains under title and ownership of the copyright owner. This grant of license only applies to the state of Georgia.
The licensee shall have the right to record in the above geographical area, to reproduce, distribute, and perform the music throughout the area between the months of February 2008 and April 2008 for the Georgia Big Music Festival.
Payment of royalty shall be calculated based on admission to the above Festival. At the end of the festival the royalty payment will be submitted to the copyright owner by the licensee.
This exclusive music agreement does not include any modifications to the song.
If you choose to write a music license agreement yourself, you just need to make sure that you have all of the relevant sections.
The most important thing to understand is whether you want an exclusive or non-exclusive music license. When the song licensing agreement is a non-exclusive agreement, it means you are the licensor and that means you have complete control over who you allowed to use your music. This means that your song is not directly connected with a single company so you can rent out your music, so to speak, to more than one individual or organization at a time.
If you have an exclusive agreement, that means you can’t charge more than one company to use your music. So, if one company were to approach you and ask if they could pay you to use your original song at a concert, and you sign an exclusive contract, you wouldn’t be able to get compensation when a second company approaches you and asks if they can use it in the commercial.
Frequently Asked Questions
A standard PDF or word document is just fine. you want it to be something you and another party can download, something printable too.
Absolutely. When you are looking for exclusive, not exclusive, or sync licensing examples, you can find free music licensing forms online where you just fill in the information that's relative to you. Usually you can download these and you can edit the document which means any sections in the original example that you don't need can simply be deleted and the form can be updated to include things you want. As long as everyone signs it, it's perfectly legal.
This depends entirely on where you live. In most states you do not need to have a notary public when you sign the document. Simply having all parties sign the music license agreement template is legally binding. Check with your state just to make sure.