What is Library / Production music?
Library or Production Music is ready to use short pieces of music, specifically for use together with video, film, documentaries, images, web pages and other media productions. This is a far quicker, cheaper and easy way to use music legally, rather than using commercially released music or commissioning a composer to create the music for a project.
It has been around almost since the beginning of publicly screened talkies or talking movies (films with sound) - about 1925.
Can I use someone else's music in my film, documentary, video, media production or on my website legally?
Only if you have licensed the music from the rights owner, publisher or composer and have a very clear legal agreement giving you permission. This can often be an expensive, long and complicated process, hence the huge proliferation of production music libraries, that usually give you immediate "synchronization, mechanical and performance rights" upon purchase.
What does "Synchronization rights" mean?
A synchronisation license is a license to dub or add music to visual media, typically a film or TV show.
What does "Mechanical rights" mean?
A mechanical license is a license to duplicate the track onto another physical media such as a CD or DVD.
*These days the above two licenses are often combined for a one-off or "buy out" fee.
This system is now often referred to as "Royalty Free".
What does "Royalty Free" or "Buy-out" really mean?
There are no clear legal definitions of the above terms, so both parties (seller and purchaser) should always enter into a clear and legally binding agreement that sets out exactly what these terms mean if at all used.
What does "Performance rights" mean?
"Performance rights" means the legal right to publicly broadcast a production that contains a piece of "synchronized" music (see above).
Most libraries require the end-users (licensees) to submit a "Cue Sheet" to the PRO (Performance Royalty Organization)to which the licensor, rights owner, publisher or composer belongs. The Cue Sheet, lists all the details of the production - the title of the music, duration, how it was used (theme, underscore, diagetic/non-diegetic etc.) This is so that the composer / creators and publishers can claim a share of blanket royalties paid by the main big broadcasters to the PROs.
However, there has recently been a huge growth of online sellers of library music, who do not require the purchaser (licensee) of the music to report how they have used the music - the purchase and download of the music gives the synchronization rights and there is no legal requirement to report how or where the music was used. This business model is often referred to as royalty free or buy out.
This means that the creator or composer of the music will never receive any further royalties and for this reason, Amazing World Music does not use this business model, we require all purchasers of our music to report how and where they have used the music.
As a composer / creator of music for film, TV, websites and other media, how can I ensure that I get paid royalties when my music is used?
Most countries around the world have music royalty societies or organizations (PROs) that collect royalties on behalf of their members.
These organizations track usage, receive payments and eventually pass on the payments to their members. Many of the larger organizations are affiliated and will pass on royalty payments they receive in their countries to the other affiliated organizations if they find that music of a member of an affiliated society from another country has been used in a commercially broadcasted production.
So we strongly advise our licensors to register with the PRO's of their country and to register with them any tracks that they have licensed.
What does diegetic / non-diegetic mean and how do these terms affect royalty payments?
Diegetic means sound or music that is actually part of a scene. A good example would be a scene where there is a band playing in the background which the actors are dancing to.
Diegetic music usually collects more royalties than non-diegetic.
Non-diegetic means music or sound that is incidental to the scene. A good example would be soft romantic violins underscoring a romantic love scene and the orchestra would obviously not be present in the room.
MECHANICAL / SYNCHRONIZATION (SYNC) LICENSE (in the UK usually called a "mechanical
license" and in the USA a "sync. license")
Mechanical/Sync : the copying, dubbing or transferring of a piece of music from any media to any media.
A license for "The right to show, play, perform, broadcast, stream or deliver to the public."
When a program maker delivers a production to a broadcaster, it must be accompanied by various bits of documentation, among which will be a Cue Sheet.
This document will list all the scenes using any music, giving details such as the composer's name, track title, duration, scene number etc. The broadcaster then passes on this information to the relevant PRO (Performance Rights Organization) who in turn, pass on a share of the royalties paid by the broadcaster to the composers, copyright owners, publishers and sub-publishers.
BLANKET ROYALTY PAYMENTS:
To simplify the process, large broadcasters in most countries such as the BBC in the UK, pay a yearly blanket payment to various PROs.
Performance Rights Organization. These are organizations who collect and distribute royalties from various sources and distribute them to their members. These members (publishers, composers, arrangers and performers of music) will have already registered their music titles, catalogues etc. with the various PROs.
The PRS or ASCAP / BMI for example, will then pass a share of them on to their members such as Amazing World Music
EXCLUSIVE / NON-EXCLUSIVE LICENSING:
An exclusive licensing contract is when a composer / creator (licensor) of a piece of music "licences" or gives a single and unique right to the user (licensee) to use the music in their production. The licensing agreement will state that the composer / creator (licensor) can not license that specific music again to anyone else. Sometimes it can be for a "term", meaning that the exclusive nature of the agreement is only for a given period, for example a 5 year agreement. After the 5 year period, the rights revert back to the copyright owner and they will be free to enter into a new agreement to license the music.
A non-exclusive licensing contract is when a composer / creator (licensor) of a piece of music "licences" or gives a limited license to the user (licensee) to use the music in their production, but the composer / creator (licensor) is allowed to also license the music to anyone else they wish at any time.
Amazing World Music licenses non-exclusively, which allows the composer / creator (licensor) to also license to other libraries non-exclusively, allowing the licensor to maximise the revenues from a single piece of music.
Once a composer / creator (licensor) has licensed a track non-exclusively, they cannot then enter into an exclusive licensing agreement with anyone for the same piece of music, as this would create a licensing conflict.
In order to reduce any confusion over who will receive the publishing royalties, a system of re-titling is used for the licensed track (see below).
Re-titling is a totally legal and common practice amongst nearly all production music libraries, in order to avoid copyright and royalty collection confusion for a piece of music that has been non-exclusively licensed to more than one library.
There has recently been a lot of discussion and argument over the rights and wrongs of re-titling, but if the same piece of music is to be licensed non-exclusively to many different libraries, then there is no other way to go.
Once a track has been re-titled it is registered with the publishing library's PRO after checking that there is no duplicate registration for the same track and author.