Overview on Music Licensing
When your music appears in a film, even an independent one, it's a great way to increase awareness for your music and elevate your personal brand. If you would rather talk to someone about licensing and get direct feedback, SOsync offers coaching that can be purchased here.
If you have never licensed music, here are a few basics to understand:
1. Songs for film are emotional and general topics and themes. The whole reason a song is selected is to support the scene emotionally. While I adore country music, it is almost always too specific story-wise for film placement (and country isn't often requested). Before you start, please read this blog about writing music for film/TV.
2. Before a song is pitched to anyone, it needs to be 'cleared.' This means that everyone involved in the song (co-writers, publishers) all agree that the song can be pitched.
3. A Sync Rep essentially acts as an agent for your songs to pitch them to people who need your music for film and TV. They have relationships with production houses, music supervisors, directors, and others that impact music decisions. These decision-makers prefer working with reps because we can find the right music quickly and make their lives easier.
4. There are essentially two types of fees for each song that is placed in a film.
The Sync and Master fees - These are one-time payments that can range from a few hundred or thousands depending on the project. These fees that are split with the sync rep:
A sync fee that is paid to the the copyright owner (usually the publisher or the writer if they own their own publishing).This is the right to synchronize a song or a piece of music with a visual image.
A master use - This is the right to reproduce a specific recording of a song in a film. This is the person who owns the specific recording that is being used in the film (usually the record label or the artist if they have their own label or fund their own records).
Performance Royalties - Composition owners (writers and publishers) also receive royalties for when the film is broadcast on TV or is streamed on Amazon, Netflix, etc. This back-end money is collected by ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI. These fees are collected over time in perpetuity.
5. The Sync is collected at the time of license and paid for by the licensee (typically the production company). The Sync Rep typically takes 50 percent of the sync and master fee. For example, if the fee was $500, the Sync Rep fee would be $250- and the master owner and publishers would split the other $250. Many Sync Reps also re-title songs to collect royalties on the back-end. For example, "Beautiful Day" might be re-titled "It's a Beautiful Day" for placement purposes.