Various artists

This week has been a bit of a learning experience for me, so I thought I'd share my findings with you. As mentioned in a previous post by Hannah she's been working flat out on a new University film with our chosen agency Spectrecom. We received the first edit of this last week and are both very excited by how it's all looking. Early on, we decided that using a music track would really improve the overall quality and production values and here's where my input came in. I had some suggestions on the use of music and thought we easily secure usage rights through one of my connections. How naive I was...

I won't mention here the track we're hoping to get clearance to use (in case we don't get it!) but thought I'd go through our process of securing a music synchronization licence.

To licence a commercial track, you have to licence two separate parts:

1. a copyright in the actual sound recording (to use that exact rendition of it)
2. a separate copyright in the musical and lyrical composition (if you were wanting to do a cover version this would be all you need)

It seems the process is completely unregulated, so the record company can set the price for these at whatever they choose (anything from free, to tens of thousands of pounds) depending on usage.

So firstly, I got in contact with the band, who put me in contact with their management. They said we could have the rights to use the actual sound recording and were happy to match whatever price we agreed with the record label. So far so good...

None shall pass!
However, the record label was a lot more complicated. After being passed around about twenty different contacts we eventually got in touch with the relevant person and are in the process of some lengthy negotiations on price and usage.

The good thing is we're clear on our budget and the usage we want (the length of the licence, screenings at open days, embedding on our website and Facebook page and hosting on our YouTube channel). The latter of these is the sticking point as YouTube is a notoriously difficult thing to regulate and publishers know this.

What this also shows is that artists have very little or no control over where their music is used. They also have no control over how much they would like to charge for it! I guess this is something you sign away once the record label signs you and pays to produce your album.

At the moment we're waiting to hear if they're happy with our latest offer - we really hope they are as we'd love to use the track. Watch this space for a future post from Hannah with the full video (if we get the rights to embed it on blogs!)
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