Licensing Music for Films

In the case of unsigned artists, music licensing into film, TV, commercials and video games, serves as their viable source for exposure and income. Depending on the film’s scope, an unsigned artist is entitled to these revenues or benefits:

• Master Use Licensing Fee – This applies to artists who just signed a record deal with any company for the film’s soundtrack. The electronic music duo Daft Punk, for example, received their master use licensing fee after signing with Walt Disney Records for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy film, “Tron”.

• Performance Royalty Fee – A “back-end” fee given for every broadcast of the music that is strictly monitored by the artist and copyright owners. The royalty fee is paid immediately to the artist, whether signed or unsigned yet protected by the copyright decree in his/her assigned place.

A lot of artists prefer to waive the master use and synch fees. For them, this is the most crucial way of attracting music supervisors to procure their music for the film. In turn, this is also their way of getting more exposure. If the motion picture is a huge blockbuster hit and the songs were successfully used in length, the royalty fee will cost more than $2,000.

According to Donald Passman’s best-selling book, “All You Need To Know About The Music Business”, the synch licensing fees in procuring music for film varies, depending on its significance in the film. In the book, Passman mentioned specific fee ranges in licensing music for the film:

• More popular music for the film is worth $25,000 – $30,000.
• A song that is used as a theme for a motion picture is worth $50,000 – $80,000.

For a lot of independent artists today, music licensing into film, TV, commercials and video games is their only option to make a name in the industry. Music placement serves as a “career booster” for indie musicians. That is when it comes to credibility, visibility and getting paid. According to music supervisor Lindsay Fellows of fantasy & adventure movies “Journey to the Center of The Earth” and “Bridge to Terabithia”, and “The Avengers”, the secret of many artists’ foray from indie to contemporary stemmed from getting the right labels and format. Indie musicians use low-resolution MP3s and other minimalist formats in procuring their music for a movie.