What Is Music Licensing?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2019
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The industry known as music licensing is a lesser known, but still important part of the greater music industry; it consists of processes for collecting copyrights for songs and other works by recording artists. In the music licensing industry, several companies maintain collective licensing for the community of musicians and groups in a specific country or region. These companies collect royalties in the form of licenses from businesses, or other entities, that use music in a public manner.

Because so many businesses do not understand music and song licensing, the whole process of collecting licenses for musical works can be extremely difficult. Large music licensing companies often employ many freelancers or contract workers to secure payments from business owners. Businesses that do not consider their use of music to be a licensable use, may not pay music licensing fees assessed by music licensing companies. This necessitates much more legwork and general communications between music licensing companies and elements of a business community.

Frequently, a music or song licensing company may make an agreement with a top-level business or enterprise. For example, a headquarters office for a corporation might agree to pay a blanket music license covering the use of all recorded or performed copyrighted music within a chain of hotels or restaurants. In other cases, the independent business owner might pay an independent licensing fee.


Businesses that do not cover their public use of copyrighted music leave themselves liable to specific kinds of lawsuits. Types of music used that may require licensing include playing recorded music in public, as well as other uses like karaoke or live acts. All of these can, in theory, generate high fines, though in most countries, enforcement is so limited that the majority of business owners never think about music licensing requirements.

In some cases, music and song licensing requirements relate to recorded music that is played in public. In these situations, most business owners claim that their media providers are responsible for top-level fees. For example, music distributed in a country or region through a large cable television or internet provider is generally thought be to a case where the provider handles top-level licensing requirements.

Those who want to know more about the music or song licensing industry can talk to professionals in that industry, as well as recording artists and others with practical knowledge of the field. Although the music licensing is a substantial part of the music business, it isn’t something that is extremely prominent to individual music consumers. The idea of licensing music is a contract that takes place largely in private, between artists and groups, record labels, specific licensing companies, and businesses or other formal enterprises such as churches, community centers, or non-profit organizations.


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Post 1

Some companies help independent artists secure music licensing deals with tv shows, commercials, film and directly with brands. They also do not charge artists anything except a split of the fee for a successful placement.

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