Los Senderos Studio
Music Licensing (Part 2)
 Issue 98 November 2017 

Words from the Glossary

This month we continue the discussion on music licensing with Part 2. As before, nothing in this article should be considered to be legal advice. If you have questions, consult your attorney.

This month's terms: performance rights, performance rights organization, BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, master rights, master recording, synchronization license, music clearance, needle drop. (Note: Click on the term to view its definition in the glossary.)

Music Licensing (Part 2)

Performance Rights Organizations

Performance rights are the rights granted by publishers or performance rights organizations for the public performance of a song. A public performance can be either live or recorded music. A performance rights organization (PRO) is a group that protects the rights of artists and publishers and collects and distributes royalties to its members. In the US there are three PROs: Broadcast Music International (BMI), the American Society of Composer, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), and the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC).

Currently there is some controversy about the collection of performance rights fees. On one side are the artists who say they should be fairly compensated for use of their works. On the other side are artists who say that the fees are too high, especially for smaller venues, which is causing some venues to shut down and some restaurants to no longer offer live music, making it harder for some artists to find gigs.

Another form of licensing is master rights (also called recording rights, reproduction rights, or master recording license). This is the rights granted by someone, typically a record company or producer, to make copies of a master recording. Master rights only apply to the recording, not to the musical composition.

Sheet Music
Sheet Music

As we stated last month, a mechanical license does not apply to movies and television. If you want to use music on a soundtrack of a film or television show you need a synchronization license (called a sync license for short). The process of obtaining the necessary permissions to use a specific song in a motion picture or television show is called music clearance (or rights clearing). To obtain a sync license, you must contact the publisher or songwriter, but there is no set royalty rate for a sync license. It is all negotiable between you and the songwriter or publisher. You can negotiate to pay a one time up-front fee, pay a royalty, or both, at whatever rate agreed upon between you and the publisher.

A print license grants you the right to reproduce lyrics or sheet music for a musical work. Print licenses are administered by the publisher of the song, the songwriter, or sometimes both. Print licenses are required for sheet music, sheet music books, and lyrics posted on websites.

A theatrical license is permission to perform a live theatrical production of a song or an entire live stage musical. A license is required for any public performance, including elementary, middle, and high school productions, community theater, off-Broadway, and Broadway productions.

“Blue Eyes In Georgia” was a song written written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan. When the Four Seasons recorded it early in 1974, they changed the name to “My Eyes Adored You.” When Motown decided not release it, Franki Valli bought the recording for $4,000 and pitched it to Capitol and Atlantic Records, but neither wanted it. Finally, Valli succeeded in getting the record released by Private Stock Records, but they insisted that only Franki Valli's name be on the label. The single was released in the US in November 1974 reached No. 1 in March 1975.


The gramophone was patented in 1887 by German immigrant Emile Berliner. The Gramophone was originally a trade name of the Gramophone Company for a record player that was the first to use flat disks. These disks were the first sound recordings that could be mass-produced by creating master recordings from which molds were made, allowing hundreds of disks to be pressed from each mold. For awhile gramophone became the generic term for disk players while the term phonograph was used only for machines using cylinders. Later, the term gramophone came into prominent usage in the UK for all record players while in the US the term phonograph became the prominent term. Gramophone evolved into the nickname for the US music awards. The Grammy Awards trophy features a golden replica of a gramophone.

The song “Summertime Blues” written by Eddie Cochran hit the US Top 40 Charts in three different decades: by Eddie Cochran (No. 8) in the 50s, by Blue Cheer (No. 14) in the 60s, and by The Who (No. 27) in the 70s. Then in 1994, it hit No. 1 on the Country Charts by Alan Jackson.

Los Senderos Studio, LLC

A Recording Studio in the Hill Country.

8409 N US Highway 281 ★ Blanco, TX 78606-5024
Phone: 512-565-0446 ★ Email: Larry@LosSenderosStudio.com

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