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-   -   Testimonial from someone who's actually used copyrighted pop music (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/34362-testimonial-someone-whos-actually-used-copyrighted-pop-music.html)

Matthew Groch November 2nd, 2004 01:14 PM

Testimonial from someone who's actually used copyrighted pop music
Hi all,

I was just wondering if there was anyone out there that's actually gone through the process, from beginning to end, of getting legal permission from one of the big-time music publishers to use their copyrighted music as part of a score in a film project.

If so, I'd love to understand the process and get an idea of the sort of costs involved. Thanks in advance-


Rainer Hoffmann November 4th, 2004 03:58 AM


I really would like to know myself.

Cody Dulock November 4th, 2004 05:09 PM

i would like to know as well

Jeff Donald November 4th, 2004 07:36 PM

I've gone through the process several dozen times, however, nothing very recent (the last year or two.) I would be happy to answer specific questions, but I do not have the time (very busy at school) to write an article on the topic.

Matthew Groch November 4th, 2004 10:47 PM

Hi Jeff-

Ok, great- thanks for offering to answer specific questions. Here's several off the top of my head:

1. Is the process fairly standard? (i.e. cookie-cutter- once you know how to do it and what paperwork to fill out, it's a no-brainer)

2. What's the average licensing cost? What's the least/most you've paid?

3. Does licensing cost typically decrease with the 'age' of the music in question? (i.e. pop songs from 30 yrs ago are cheaper than the latest Britney Spears single)

4. Have you had a request to license music rejected? If so, what were the reasons?

5. Is professional legal assistance necessary? Recommended?

Thanks again!

Jeff Donald November 6th, 2004 01:09 PM

Sorry to take so long in responding.

The process is fairly standard, depending on the expenses you want to pay vs. the amount of time you want to invest. There are lawyers that will handle the majority of the process for you, but it costs, obviously. Costs are extremely variable. I've gotten licenses for free (only once), for under $100 USD (2 or 3 times), but mostly for under $1000 (all except once or twice). The cost will vary with the song, usage, distribution etc. In most cases the I believe the cost of older recordings was less than more current hit recordings. Every recording has a fee, but sometimes it's more than the client is willing to pay. Legal assistance is not usually required, but is a safe business practice, in my opinion. I'm a big believer in attorneys (probably because I've been sued and I've had to sue other parties.) I have no problem spending $100+ to have an IP attorney look over the agreement to purchase rights I'm paying $1000 for.

George Ellis November 8th, 2004 02:16 PM

I do marching band and drum corps video at the moment. For me, the songs are performed by the subject, so I do not need a master license with the performer's label, just sync rights with the composer's label. The cost for sync rights is usually about 15 cents a song per disc. If you use it for a title or end credits, it can be 20 cents. As far as 'standard' goes, each publisher has their own form and most have a backlog.

For 'theater' performances, I have no clue.

You will get sync licenses for a certain volume, I usually get 250 units (edit - referred to as a buyout) and the license will cover 1 to 3 years. If you need it later or need more licenses, you need to do another contract.

You can get a lawyer or get someone who specializes in this to help. I use copycatlicensing.com, but the owner will not be available until Nov. 15th (she just had twins - I need to badger her for pics :) ).

Mike Rehmus November 8th, 2004 08:51 PM

I got permission to use 'Bad Boys' for free following the killing of a local police officer in the line of duty. Inner Circle was very nice about the whole thing and arranged all the permissions for me.

I paid $100 right after 9/11 for the rights to use, 'Proud to be an American,' in another police video.

In both cases, the rights were for use in a video I made for a private showing to the Police Department at an awards dinner and a max of 10 copies for police and city officials.

As you can see, it doesn't cost a ton ($100 is equal to a lot of royalty payments on a per-CD basis) if they don't have an objection to how you are going to use the song.

Daniel Stone November 9th, 2004 09:35 PM

I used Frank Sinatra's "Summerwind" in a commercial. It cost us $235,000 for everything including mechanical rights for one year. We recorded our own version and saved about $50,000.

That was the easy part, though. We had to submit a script and storyboards for consideration to make sure the spot was "worthy".

Christopher C. Murphy November 10th, 2004 06:29 AM

Site avail for listings of songs?
Isn't there a site somewhere that has a listing of songs available cheap? I mean popular songs that most people would know...classics. I'm surprised no one has taken the time to list a ton of songs and what they cost. It's probably different per project, but you can get a general idea.

I'd like to know how much some of the 50's, 60's and 70's tunes are that we hear on classic rock radio. Those usually strike an emotional chord when heard, so I'd like to use them in my productions.

Is there a central resourse for locating easily the direct person in-charge of songs. The answer is probably ASCAP or BMI right?


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