Want to know how to license your music? Here are some tips on how to get started…
Create a Catalog Spreadsheet
Take the time to create a spreadsheet to track your catalog.
Include the song title, description, keywords that will come in handy when you upload them onto music libraries. Assign each licensing opportunity its own column to keep track of where songs are placed.
All you need is the column with the track titles, but also think about descriptions and keywords beyond genre tags. MOODS are just one example that a potential licensee might look for.
Register Your Songs with a PRO
Always register songs you plan on licensing with a Performance Rights Organisation (PRO). If you know what a PRO is and have already registered your songs, no need to read this section 😉
PROs are the organisations that ensure you get paid royalties when your music is performed on radio, TV, etc.
In the US, that could be ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. In the UK it’s PRS, and there are others across the globe.
You only need to register with one. PROs around the world collaborate with each other to collect royalties in their territory and coordinate to pay composers.
There’s no need to be fancy about it, simply register with the PRO of your choice.
Know Your Sync Licensing Vocabulary
Recording your song is one thing, knowing how to register it is easy if you know the proper terminology. Here’s a quick run-down of must-know sync licensing terms that is a good place to start:
Any music as it exists as a piece of intellectual property. This is the combination of the melody, progression, lyrics, rhythmic pattern, or any combination of thereof. All songs are compositions but not all compositions are songs.
A recording of a performance of a composition. Traditionally, a label would own it’s artist’s masters. Thus, money made off the masters would go to the label to recoup an artist’s advance.
Covers are basically new masters of existing compositions. When your cover gets played, sold, or synched, both you and the original artist profit off of it. If you have to license your song for a film, TV show, etc., both the composition’s publisher (of the original artist) and the master’s label (or your label) must be cleared.
Think of the sample as the use of a portion of an existing sound recording (aka a master) in the creation of a new sound recording (new master). No matter how you choose to put your own twist on a sample, be sure to first clear the rights. Because a sample is a piece of a recording of a composition, you will need to clear rights with both the master and publisher. If not, you may have a hard time getting sync opportunities from music supervisors.
Our sync licensing advice doesn’t stop there: If you liked our run-down of some must-know terms, check out our full Sync Licensing 101 post. Also, our Music Rookie podcast features an interview with Dan Koplowitz of Friendly Fire Licensing.