What Is Music Licensing?

Music licensing is a lesser-known but still important part of the larger music industry; it involves processes for collecting copyrights for songs and other works created recording artists. Several companies in the music licensing industry manage collective licensing for a community of musicians and groups in a particular country or region. These businesses or other entities that use music in a public setting pay royalties to these companies in the form of licenses.

The entire process of collecting licenses for musical works can be extremely difficult because so many businesses do not understand music and song licensing. To secure payments from business owners, large music licensing companies frequently hire a large number of freelancers or contract workers. Businesses that do not consider their use of music to be licensable may be exempt from paying music licensing fees. This necessitates a great deal more legwork and general communication between music licensing companies and business community members.

Frequently, a top-level business or enterprise will enter into an agreement with a music or song licensing company. For example, a corporation’s headquarters office might agree to pay for a blanket music license that allows all recorded or performed copyrighted music to be used throughout a chain of hotels or restaurants. In some cases, the independent business owner may be required to pay a separate licensing fee.

Businesses that do not protect their public use of copyrighted music risk facing a variety of lawsuits. Playing recorded music in public, as well as other uses such as karaoke or live acts, are examples of music that may require licensing. All of these can result in hefty fines in theory, but enforcement in most countries is so lax that the majority of business owners are unaware of the need for music licensing.

Music and song licensing laws apply to recorded music that is played in public in some cases. Most business owners claim that top-level fees are the responsibility of their media providers in these situations. Music distributed in a country or region a large cable television or internet provider, for example, is generally considered to be a case where the provider handles top-level licensing requirements.

Those interested in learning more about the music or song licensing industries can speak with industry professionals, as well as recording artists and others with practical experience in the field. Despite the fact that music licensing is an important part of the music industry, it isn’t something that most music fans are aware of. Licensing music is a contract between artists and groups, record labels, specific licensing companies, and businesses or other formal enterprises such as churches, community centers, or non-profit organizations that takes place largely in private.