Music licensing is the main mechanism by which the owners of copyrights for musical works (i.e. artists) are compensated for the use of their work. Licensing agreements give certain rights for the use of musical works, and can also limit usage in other ways. Typically, music is licensed for use in broadcast media including films, radio, TV, commercials, webcasting, podcasting, and theater productions. There are separate licensing agreements for printed music, such as sheet music used in collections.
Music licensing covers any public performance of a work (playing a recording in a place where people are gathered such as a bar, restaurant, or amusement park is also considered a “performance”). Music licenses are the main way that artists earn royalties for the use of their work.
Anyone using a song (not their own) for a project that others will hear, needs a music license to use it. The license grants permission for use from the copyright owner, dictates how the song can be used, and for how long. It’s not as complicated as it might seem at first glance, and it doesn’t have to cost much money up-front for the artist, so if you compose or produce music it’s definitely worth pursuing music licensing deals.
I’ll recommend some things you can do now to prepare to license your work, and suggest some of the most important aspects of music licensing for you to learn about. Knowledge is power, so get ready to educate yourself on the ins and outs of earning money from licensing your music.