If you’re thrown into the world of music licensing, whether by choice or circumstance, it may seem like you’re biting off way more than you can chew. Keeping up with the legal jargon, fragments that make up a song, and the multiple parties entitled to rights and money for a song is a daunting endeavor. Take comfort in that you’re not alone!

Here, we will cover several basic topics and ideas, breaking music licensing down into easily digestible pieces to keep us all sharp, smart, and sync savvy. So, let’s dig in!

What is a Master and what are Master Rights?

The first concept to understand when it comes to music licensing, is that a song is a whole made up of two parts, Master and Publishing. A Master Recording (often referred to as a “master”) is the original sound recording of a song. Subsequently, Master Rights are the rights to ownership of the sound recording of a song.

Who owns the Master Rights?

The owner of the master rights is usually whoever finances the recording. Typically, this is the record label, unless you’re dealing with an unsigned artist. In this case the artist owns the master rights.

What is a Master Use License and why is it important?

A Master Use License is the legal agreement granting permission to use the specific sound recording of a song. In order for a sound recording to be used in a media project, such as films, TV shows, commercials, wedding videos, video games, podcasts, etc., a master use license and a sync license must be obtained from the appropriate rights holder(s). The master use license provides details on the scope of how the song will be used (including the right to play or perform the music publicly), compensation, and other terms.

How can Songtradr help?

Often there are several parties that share ownership of a piece of music and who must approve the use of the masters. This usually means a long, drawn out and expensive negotiation process. Songtradr makes it easy to connect with all the songs owners from one place. All parties receive alerts when an offer is made and can then approve how the song will be used and for how much the copyright will be licensed or sold outright. Once the transaction is complete, the appropriate payout is distributed to each owner, making the music licensing process quick and easy for both sellers and buyers.

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3 Comments

Yannick Vez · March 11, 2019 at 3:24 pm

1-Some of my cowriters, don’t speak english, Is there a way for them to give me the power to grant the permision for the music to be placed without having to clear with them everytime? is it necessary you think to have that sort of document,
synch license (I own 50%) and master use license(which i own 100% i think)

2- Does the music producer owns part of the masters? I sing in the album and paid for the whole thing…

Thank you,

Yannick Vez · March 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm

you are nonexclusive right? does that mean you are going to retitle my song if i work with you?

Donald Terry · July 18, 2019 at 11:44 am

How do you find out who owns the copyrights to a master recording and how do you register the recordings of tapes and digitized masters?

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