On Demand

Introduction to Music Clearances


Created on January 10, 2017




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

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