Thursday, September 19, 2013

Music Business/Law Tips - "Synch" License Request

If an artist gets a request to use their music as part of a film (or TV) show, it will commonly be a license for use in a "trailer" only (not the film itself) in any and all media (i.e., TV and Internet). Normally the film company will offer an "all in" fee for both the "master + synch", which means that they want to get a license for both copyrights from the artist and only have to pay one up-front fee. The master use is for the master recording copyright, and the synch license is for the song that is contained on the master (i.e., the publishing copyright). A lot of these companies refer to the license as a "synch" but that really means that both copyrights are being licensed. For this arrangement to work, the artist must own and/or control both copyrights for the master/song to be able to grant the license (i.e., a 1 stop shop). If the artist does not, then he/she cannot agree to the all-in license for both master and publishing and the film company would have to get a license for the copyright side the artist does not control from a third party. For instance, if the artist only owns the master then he/she can only license the master. Of course, if the artist controls the publishing side as well he/she will also get back-end "performance" income from BMI or ASCAP once the trailer plays on TV. Ben McLane Esq

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