On Demand Audio

Introduction to Music Clearances

(757 reviews)

Produced on January 10, 2017

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$ 59 Intellectual Property, Arts & Entertainment, and Copyright In Stock
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Course Information

Time 1h
Difficulty Beginner

Course Description

Music clearances refers to securing licenses to use pre-existing songs and music recordings for various projects. The term music clearances does not pertain to creating new music (e.g., hiring a musician or a composer to create original music.)

Securing the rights to use pre-existing music, such as an Elvis Presley song, for an entertainment project such as a feature movie, ad campaign or documentary can be a daunting task for the uninitiated. This is due in part to the fact that the standard business practices for securing rights to use music vary from project to project. For instance, the standard practices pertaining to licensing a song for a feature movie is completely different than licensing the same song for musical theatre.  

This program explains the standard practices applying to a wide variety of entertainment projects including:

  • Feature Films

  • Television programs

  • Documentaries

  • Musical Theatre

  • Ad Campaigns

  • Museums & Galleries

  • Internet projects including clearing music for:

  • VOD Services

  • Music Based Apps

  • Kickstarter and other Crowd Sourcing Campaign

  • Digital Sheet Music

In this program, attorney Steven Gordon focuses not only on the basic legal and business practices applying to each of these projects, but also on how to create a realistic music budget and/or re-calibrate how much music they can afford. 

Learning Objectives: 
  1. Identify the differences between licensing “songs” as opposed to “masters,” and when it is necessary to secure rights from record labels and when it is not
  2. Understand why producers of programs for PBS do not need to clear music at all
  3. Recognize the basic range of costs a producer will incur in clearing music
  4. Grasp how Youtube’s “Content ID” system works and whether it is legally necessary to clear music for YouTube
  5. Discuss how much it will cost your client to secure a blanket license from the major labels

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Steve Gordon

Steve Gordon Law

STEVE GORDON is an entertainment attorney with over 25 years of experience, including ten years as Director of Business Affairs/Video for Sony Music. His current and recent clients include emerging and major record label artists; managers; music and television producers; entertainment companies such Time Life Films, Shout Factory and Soul Train Holdings; and cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. He also represents television, film and web based producers and production companies.

Other areas of his practice include serving as an expert witness; counseling producers of and participants in reality TV shows; registering trademarks and copyrights; and supervising copyright infringement and contract litigation.

Steve also operates a music clearance service for producers and distributors of feature films, documentaries, ad campaigns, musical theatre, concert programs, audio compilations, and music based apps and websites.

Steve is the author of The Future of the Music Business (Hal Leonard 4th ed. 2015). The book provides a legal and business roadmap to artists, entrepreneurs and music industry professionals for success in today's music business. Steve updates the book at www.futureofthemusicbusiness.com. His new book, The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter and Producer Should Know, will be published by Hal Leonard this spring but is available for pre-order now at https://www.backwingstore.com/products/the-11-contracts-that-every-artist-songwriter-and-producer-should-know.

Also an educator, Steve frequently lectures on entertainment law and music business issues, and is the recipient of two Fulbright scholarships. As a Fulbright scholar he taught courses on music business and law at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, and Tel Aviv University in Israel.

His CLE video for Lawline, "Thicke v. Gaye: Will the Jury's Decision Have a Chilling Impact on Creativity?" won the "Best Program" award at the most recent ACLEA (the Association for Continuing Legal Education) conference.

Steve is a graduate of New York University School of Law.


Leticia P.

Excellent basic information!

Vincent E.


Scott E.

I have listened to many Lawline seminars and this presenter was arguably the best I have heard to date. Really interesting and appropriate for me with 32 years of legal experience and none in the music business!

Ann C.

Thank lawline. I needed to learn about rights clearances at the last minute and this was helpful.

Albert S.

Solid presentation.

gerard m.

Clear presentation knowledgeable speaker great command of subject matter

Michael M.

Excellent program. Informative and well presented.

Victoria P.

Very clear presentation. Super useful examples and advice on business terms.

Ford P.


Kevin H.

Best program so far in this year's round of CLE programs.

Russell J.

Very useful content and knowledgeable speaker.

Misty D.

I do not practice in this area of law, but really enjoyed this presentation.


Very interesting and detailed

Kiman L.

Excellent pragmatic advice.

Beth Florence D.

Best Lawline class I have viewed. Thank you for excellent, meaty presentation.

Cestjon M.

Great program!

Valentina S.

Very informative program from my point of view.

Kyle W.

Nice summary of the subject matter. The presenter obviously has a great amount of experience in the area.

Peter V.

Liked the examples with $...helps when advising clients what they may be getting into.

Paige C.

Great, specific examples!

Alan B.

One of the absolute best programs I've seen on LawLine in many years of watching. Knowledgeable, easy to follow, great presentation. Please do an update or part 2 next year.

Justin W.

I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation.

Kelly W.

The teacher seemed knowledgeable.

Rick M.

Very knowledgeable presenter!

Rachel G.

I used to be in the media production business.Mr Gordon's presentation was very thorough & interesting.

Alicia T.

I appreciated him sharing the various ranges of standard fees involved in clearing music

James J.

Great program on the nuts-and-bolts and standard license fees for music clearance

Randy B.

The was a very good overview and covered more aspects of the industry than expected. Good work.

Phyllis C.

Overall approach and apecifics, esp. fee schedules, was very helpful.

Kevin G.

Speaker was knowledgeable about rates for various kinds of clearances. I do wish there was more info on the law itself, and less time hawking the speaker's books.

George N.

Excellent overview in a short period of time. Very knowledgeable. I would highlyrecommend.

Lisa K.

Very practical information. Much appreciated.

Richard L.


Justin L.

Great program!

Frank E.

Very informative introductory program with good specifics

Hans K.

Very experienced presenter.

Rodrick W.

i highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in this area. The practical information on the costs of the various clearances was invaluable. It is so greatly appreciated by all prospective practitioners in this area. Thank you!

Bernard D.

I really appreciated the information about the business models and standard payment terms that were shared

Victoria I.

Very Informative!

Denielle P.

Very clear and practical discussion.

Pamela C.

Excellent presenter; really useful information.

Linda R.

Appreciated the specific numbers.

William B. C.

Very good

Geoffrey K.

The speaker is extremely knowledgeable and experienced in his field. He provided the type of information which you probably wouldn't get in a class in law school.

Jay M.

Best practical program on int. prop. I've watched on lawline. Highly recommend.

Quietta B.


Elizabeth B.

thanks- I learned a lot-it was very informative to hear the going rates for different uses of copyrighted music

Scott C.

Please ask him to do more programs - this was great.

Walter T.


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