How to License Famous Songs

How to License Famous Songs

Copyrighting your music is a great way to earn money from your work. The permits cost anything from one hundred to several thousand dollars. So, how do you license famous songs? Keep reading on to learn more!

The usual rule is that you need a music license to utilize a song (that isn't yours) in a public context where other people will hear it. In addition to the ownership rights, this license will also include “use rights” and “term rights,” which specify how you may use the song.

In this article, you will learn more about the procedure of obtaining a license to perform a famous song, how to find the owner of a song's copyright, the leading music copyright licenses available and more.

Which is the process of obtaining a license for a famous song?

Which is the process of obtaining a license for a famous song

1. Identify the original creator of the famous song at issue.

2. Identify the owners of the copyrights. The song's composer, lyricist, and music publisher have rights to the song itself, but the recording's owner (the record label) and the performer(s) hold rights to the recording.

3. Identify the Rights and benefits That You Require. The rights to reproduce, distribute, and alter an artwork are all within the purview of the respective copyright holders. Copyrighted works carry various related rights; therefore, it is crucial to be specific about which ones you want.

4. Ask for permission in advance. There may be a delay of up to three months in receiving approval. Once the copyright owner discovers that you need authorization for a specific reason (say, because your song is currently in production), they may increase the fee. Getting permission is complex, and you need to get it to avoid repeating the job, which is both time-consuming and costly. The wisest course of action is to begin the process of acquiring the necessary authorizations without delay.

5. Determine whether or not a payment is necessary. If the proposed use is small in scale, or if the work's owner is willing to make a charitable or educational contribution, the owner may waive payment. An artist or musician desperate for recognition may agree to defer payment until the project becomes successful, or they may set additional conditions for receiving money.

6. Get authorization in writing; depend on something other than verbal understanding.

How can you find out the owner of a song's copyright?

How Can You Find Out The Owner Of A Song's Copyright

Locating and getting in touch with the owner might be the most challenging aspect of the permissions process, but the music publisher or the record label can be good places to start looking.

Since many composers and music publishers are members of a performing rights society, you can usually obtain the contact information you need there. Members may only be part of one of the three primary groups (SESAC, BMI or ASCAP).

Suppose you are still looking for the copyright holder through these channels. Contact licensing agencies like PRS for Music (representing songwriters, composers, and publishers) or PPL (representing artists and labels) to learn more about the recordings they have permission to distribute.

How do you request the rights to utilize a song?

Once you identify the copyright holder, get in touch with them through a letter or email. The most important things are to provide transparent information about who you are, what original song you are interested in using, and where and how you want to use it. Is it a charity? Is this for profit? After that, you may request that they either sign and return the letter as an agreement or get in touch with you to discuss the terms of the music rights.

What are the repercussions of failing to get licensing for a famous copyrighted song?

In the best-case scenario, you get a request to remove your video if you use music without copyright authorization. Suppose you use this music as background music in a video you upload to YouTube, for instance. In that case, you risk having your account suspended or the audio muted for copyright violations.

Again, you may have to pay the copyright owners a portion of your advertising revenue or face legal action.

It would be best if you got written permission from the copyright owners before using any music to prevent any legal complications (and possibly costly costs and settlements).

Which are the various music copyright licenses available?

various music copyright licenses

The artist opens the door to potential earnings by issuing a license for someone to utilize an artist's music legally. You can apply for and use the main categories of permits in different contexts.

  • Authority to Sync (Sync License) used for songs you will include in a video or other visual media project. You can use it for various purposes, from commercials to feature films, corporate communications, personal films, and streaming adverts.
  • You will need a mechanical license if an automatic duplication of an artist's work mainly pertains to the production and distribution of physical music formats like CDs. Creators (also known as “copyright holders”) often negotiate per-copy royalties with music companies (such as record labels, distributors, and publishers).

Moreover, if you want to record a cover song, even if you use a small piece of the original music, you will need a mechanical license. It is also the case if you add your own words to the original recording, remix it, or modify the artist's original work.

  • Master license. You may use a previously recorded song in your video or audio production with a master's permission. Still, you can't register a new version of the music to use in the output (i.e. to cover or edit a song). In most cases, you will get master and sync licenses.
  • Permission to Perform in Public. This kind of license is quite widespread in the music industry nowadays. Though the word “performance” might be restrictive, it does include the broadcast of any artistic creation. The term “public performance” encompasses anything from a shop playing music in the store to a jukebox to a concert. PROs like BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP often handle public performance licenses and per-use music payments.
  • Get Permission to Print. Specifically, this license is for the physical sheet music that an artist has created. It is required whenever you print a collection of sheet music or duplicate a copyrighted work's sheet music.

When submitting it for licensing, what should you do to prepare your song?

Here are some rules to keep in mind while getting your music ready for licensing:

  • Ensure that you use your original work.
  • Check to see all necessary information in the audio files, such as the title of the track, the artist's name, the album's name (if relevant), the kind of music, and the date it was recorded and released (s).
  • Find out which music libraries are the most active for your genre before submitting your work there.
  • Market your services! Make a webpage with your contact details, a link to your music, or a full-fledged music website. Additionally, you may upload concert clips, generate excitement for an upcoming release, or showcase your killer recording setup.

How much are the Music Licensing Costs?

How much are the Music Licensing Costs

The fee for permission to use a piece of copyrighted music varies greatly. Song licensing fees may range from less than $100 for those created by unsigned artists to several thousand dollars for those produced by large labels and artists. Furthermore, some licenses will take a cut of your earnings instead of a flat fee.

Who doesn't have to pay for a music license?

Different rules apply to the two categories of music listeners who are exempt: those who use music in a restaurant or bar (“a restaurant, inn, bar, tavern, or any similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink, in which the majority of the gross receipts are derived from the sale of food and drink”), and those who use music in a hospital.

Who has the authority to grant copyright?

The Constitution grants Congress the authority to establish copyright laws for the United States. It only took two weeks after Congress passed the first federal copyright legislation in May 1790 to register the first work.

Which four things are not subject to copyright protection?

not subject to copyright protection

Copyright does not protect Ideas, concepts, systems, or techniques for achieving something. Even if you put your thoughts on paper or in a sketchbook and then try to claim copyright for your description, you should know that the concept, as exposed in your written or creative creation, is not protected by copyright.

What makes copyright apart from a patent or trademark?

A patent safeguards innovations and discoveries, whereas a copyright protects the artists' original works. Although copyright law protects the form in which an idea or discovery gets conveyed, the idea or discovery itself is not. Trademark law protects Words, phrases, symbols, or patterns that are distinctive and identify the origin of a particular company's products or services.


You'll need to pay for a license if you want to utilize a song by another artist for purposes other than listening pleasure or educational purposes. In most cases, the copyright owner expects you to pay royalties. However, eateries and hospitals are not required to get permits to play music.

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