How To

Music Licensing: How does it work and How do we do it?

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Licensing is a great way for artists, songwriters & composers to monetise their music. The term music licensing refers to another party securing the publishing rights (the song and the lyric) alone, or together with the  master rights (the audio recording of the song) for your song, to be synchronised to a media output.

If an existing sound recording of the song is to be used, both the publishing and master rights should be cleared. This is why sometimes licensing might take time as in most cases these copyrights are owned by two separate entities i.e. a publisher and a record label. This could create a delay which could then affect the deal.

If the song will be re-recorded or covered, only the publishing rights need clearance.

Blanket License

Collection societies such as ASCAP/BMI in the US, PRS and PPL in the UK and many more offer blanket licenses for the public performance of songs. They then collect data from their customers about the performed songs and distribute royalties to registered songwriters, performers, music publishers and record labels. Therefore to be able to collect the royalties you’re due from such uses of your work, you should register with your local collection society.

However there are uses of songs which aren’t covered by these blanket licenses.


Theme song, opening titles, end titles, the music playing on the jukebox in the bar scene… all the songs you hear in a film have been licensed and paid for in order to get there. Having your song synchronised to a film, would also boost the exposure for its release, which then could mean further monetisation.

The same applies to TV shows and adverts, however it is important to keep in mind that if you’re an artist you would have to consider if you want to be associated with certain brands or not, as it can affect your image and your fans perception of you.


The games industry is a large growth area of the entertainment industry. With new games being constantly developed by both recognised companies and indie games developers, there is a constant need for music to go on games. This means that your music is probably suitable for quite a few of those new projects. Keep an eye out for future game releases and independent game developers, as at some point they will definitely need some music for their game.

How do we do it?

It is important to do your research, in order to find the best suited placement for your songs. Be sure your song would match the selected game, TV show, Ad or Film.

Always maintain a professional correspondence, be polite and keep a good relationship with the licensee. You never know when a further opportunity might come up, and then the good first impression you have made could pay off.

A variety of synchronisation project opportunities become available through Music Gateway, for use in Games, TV and Film, so make sure your profile is fully updated with your music, ready to pitch with the relevant songs.

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