Music and Movies

by Sarah Romeo

Nothing sets the mood quite like music. Your film’s soundtrack can make or break the tone of your story, but acquiring the actual songs can be a daunting task. Read on for the ‘need to know’ in buying your movie’s tunes!

What Licences Do I Need?

If you have some tracks in mind for your film, the first step is to contact the music’s publisher—most singers and songwriters have little control over their own music, but their publishers will own almost all the rights. The best way to find out a publisher’s information is to look up the song you want on a site like Amazon, find the record label name, and find the appropriate contact information on the record label’s website.

Once in talks with the publisher, you’ll find out the different licenses you need to acquire. These licenses have different names depending on who you’re dealing with and where you’re making the deal.

Purchasing music rights in the UK or the US, you’ll usually need two licenses:

1) Publishing License - This one is from the publishers, or whoever holds the copyright to a pre-recorded composition. It gives you the right to synchronize a piece of music with your visual image. Some companies also refer to this is as a Synchronization License.

2) Recording License - by the person or persons who OWNS THE RECORDING. In many cases, actually frequently, this is a record label or recording major such as Sony, Warners, Universal, EMI, etc. To approach the Composer would be quite wrong unless the recording was an indy that the Composer had made themselves. However, for most commercially available music, it is a record label or recording company major that you are dealing with.

Some companies also refer to this as a Master Use License.



  1. This is a terrific article and has a lot to offer. Thanks you Sarah, thank you Charlie Burroughs and thank you Raindance

  2. 你怎麼能經過一片海,而忘記它的藍?.........................