Licensing Music for TV and Film


Licensing music for TV and film is the process of music procurement for motion picture, usually handled by a Music Supervisor working on behalf of the television network, film production company, or advertising agency. The project’s Music Supervisor is responsible for identifying the most appropriate music for the motion picture and liaising with the copyright owner/administrator of the recording and publishing of the music, which may not necessarily be the same person: signed artists’ publishing (the music’s intellectual property rights) are usually managed by a publishing company or publishing rights division within a label, and the recording (or “Master”) is usually managed by a record company or master rights division within a label.

For unsigned artists (artists who own both the publishing and the master), licensing music for TV and film may be a very lucrative endeavor and excellent source of exposure. Depending on the scope of the project, the artist may enjoy three sources of revenues:

1. The Synchronization (or “Synch”) License Fee which is the fee for the right to synchronize the music to motion picture. If the artist is signed with a publishing company, he will typically receive 50% of the fee which the publisher collects on his behalf.

2. The Master Use License fee which is the fee for the right to use the recording under the terms of the licensing agreement. If the artist is signed with a record label, who knows how much of the money he will ever see!

3. The Performance Royalty which is a “backend” fee for each public broadcast of the music, monitored and collected by the artist’s performing rights organization. The royalty is paid directly to the artist whether he is signed or unsigned and protected under the copyright statute of his country of assignment (usually country of residence).

Many artists choose to waive both the Synchronization License Fee and Master Use License fee to attract music supervisors to procure their songs and, in turn, enjoy as much exposure as possible. If the project is successful and the artist’s music is used in length, the Performance Royalty may amount to several thousand dollars overtime.

Licensing music for TV and film is one of many services We Are Listening provides through our song contest platform. Submit your songs for a chance to work with an accredited Music Supervisor and secure lucrative television and film placements.



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