Music Licensing for Advertising – Music Production

If you are a client seeking music licensing for an advertising campaign, here is what you need to know. There are two main elements to consider when purchasing rights for advertising purposes. Within each of these elements are two entities involved in the ownership of a song.

Song Copyright

Includes the publishing company and the songwriter. This is basically the lyrics and music on paper.

Recording Copyright:

This is the sound recording, which includes the recording artist who performed the song and the record company who recorded it.

Most of the clients we deal with are only interested in obtaining the song copyright. It is by far the most economical way to go.  Getting permission for the artist and sound recording is more difficult and very costly.

Even if an artist owns their own song rights, they may be more willing to grant permission for use of the song if it is recorded by an unknown artist. However, cost is the biggest reason why advertisers will not even pursue the option of using the original song recording for their radio or television campaign.

This is where our music production services come in handy.  After obtaining permission for use of the song, we can produce it using our own singers and musicians. It’s a common and legal practice.  As long as you pay for the rights to use the written song, you’re good to go.

Obtaining Permission for Use of a Song

To use a song for commercial purposes, you must get permission from those who own the copyright. As mentioned, this is the normally the song writer and/or publishing company than owns or manages the rights for the owner.  Costs for use of the song are based on a few variables.

Cost factors include:

  • The medium in which the song will be used (i.e. radio, television, internet).
  • Length and portion of the song used (i.e. how many seconds or minutes of a verse or chorus).
  • How many weeks, months or years the song will be broadcast on air.
  • Market size, such size of the potential listening audience.

The publishing company is a good place to start to find out whether or not a song is available for use. They may own all the song rights, or at least they will own a portion or be the one that can facilitate the legal agreement on behalf of the song writer.

If you wish to proceed with obtaining rights for use of the actual recording (with permission from the artist and record company), you won’t need our services to record the song. We can still assist you in obtaining those rights.  

Using Songs Without Securing Copyright

There are a few myths among advertisers regarding the use of songs in a commercial.  Some people think if you only use a few seconds of a song you’re not liable.  Or they believe if you change the key of a song or rewrite the lyrics, you’ll be ok.  The fact is, if you are using the same melody of the song for commercial purposes, it’s copyright infringement.  If you are substantially changing the song but it remains obvious that it’s the same song, it’s plagiarism.

Even if you use a company like ours to re-produce the song, you still need to secure the rights to the written music.  Some will knowingly use a song if they are in a small market where an artist or song writer won’t hear it.  It’s a big risk and not worth a lawsuit that could cost the advertiser tens of thousands of dollars.

This article does not pretain to song parodies.  There is provision within copyright law for anyone to use a song and change the lyrics for the purposes of doing a parody, such as on a morning radio show. This law does not apply to radio or television commercials.

Song Re-Production

SpotWorks has done multiple song reproductions for advertising purposes.  We can help you get the publishing rights for a song to use legally in your commercial or jingle.  Once secure, we can produce the song to sound as close as possible to the original.

Here is a montage of the songs we have produced for clients.

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