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Video Scoring Tip: Music Licensing - Part 2

Scoring Series :: August 25, 2016
Video Scoring Tip: Music Licensing - Part 2

In Part 1 I covered the basics of music licensing, giving you some simple but important concepts and definitions which form the foundation for understanding music licensing for video production. If you haven’t read it I suggest you start there before going on to Part 2 as Part 2 will make some references to it.

In this article I am going to focus on different project types and how distribution methods and channels affect music licensing for various types of projects.


Even with the advent of YouTube, Facebook and other options, many still aspire to reach the massive audiences available through TV and it is certainly true that TV can still pay quite well for media creators who are able to be successful at it. TV’s broad reach requires most producers to seek a comprehensive “all in” license for their music, since TV shows are typically sold through professional distribution companies that do not want their options limited.

Tv Music Licensing

The license for a music track in a video is a Synchronization license (see Part 1) typically in the form of a sync right for “International Broadcast”, which is the right to broadcast on TV in any country in the world. This can be done either by the track or packaged for multiple tracks, sometimes for a discount depending in the number of tracks. SmartSound offers this license as a simple upgrade from its Widest License. Note, for a lot of well known music, i.e. music from major record labels, major artists, etc, the Master Use is not typically included with the Synch license. For International TV the Master Use will be quite expensive, for most video projects typically too expensive. This is what makes royalty free music such a good bargain, you are getting both Synch and Master Use for one low fee.

Corporate Use

Business Meetings

Corporate Use has a variety of different facets to it, from Power Point presentations performed in offices to product and service videos intended for customers up to very public sales and meeting events and trade shows. Even though it may appear that the audiences for such use are limited, with the Web, posting a video to a site suddenly causes it to be exposed to a much larger audience, regardless of who sees it in reality. Thus it still makes sense to get proper licenses for all music used in corporate situations. All corporate use, including posting on the Web is included in SmartSound’s comprehensive Extended License, one of the broadest standard licenses available in the industry.

Internet/Web Use: Including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Web TV, Etc.


It can be argued Web distribution, particularly through YouTube, can be as broad as any Television broadcast. However, because the economics of each evolved so differently, the way the music licenses are done require very different approaches. Adding complexity to this is YouTube’s Content Match ID technology and their penchant for driving revenues through monetization of music assets in videos.

Typically, web use, which is also a Synchronization license, is a single broad category covering all or most of these possibilities. The fact that a Web TV show may play to millions of people through the Internet does not necessarily mean it is generating the same revenues for the producer or the same marketplace impact for the music. Therefore the web license, which includes use from everything from “webisodes” to YouTube, Facebook, corporate websites and more, is typically a single reasonable fee. Once again in SmartSound’s case our Extended License includes all these types of uses, including “monetization” on YouTube, for one low fee.

The only aspect of Internet use that is typically differentiated in most licenses is the number of downloads permitted. This is the modern day version of the traditional “replication” licenses wherein the production company got permission to manufacture a certain number of DVDs meant for video distribution and sales. SmartSound’s Extended License includes up to 10,000 downloads of a video project, far more than most basic licenses which are typically between 500 and 2,500. SmartSound’s Widest License offers unlimited downloads or replication. It’s important to note that the vast majority of Internet use is "view-only", meaning you are able to only view the video, not download it. So digital downloading is a specific area of distribution.

Wedding Event Videos

A popular category that, like corporate use, has more limited audiences. And the same issues apply; if someone posts a wedding video on a website such as YouTube and you have the couple’s favorite pop or love song on it, you can count on it being tagged and taken down by YouTube’s Content ID Match technology. Imagine the couple sending out the link just to have everyone show up to find the video not there. For wedding event videos SmartSound’s broad Extended License, covers not only any performance the video may have but any postings on the Internet and other options as well.


Clearly the Internet has changed everything when it comes to using music in videos. The ability to instantly upload a video to a website and have it open to viewing by a potentially unlimited number of people has created an atmosphere were care needs to be taken in the addition of music to a video or movie.

This is compounded by the proliferation of technology designed specifically to seek out and identify copyrighted content. YouTube’s Content Match ID has already been mentioned but there are other third party technologies that content owners are now employing to identify their content on any website in the world. This is done with a variety of technologies including some that don’t leave any trace of their presence as watermarking does. Increasingly, content owners are being vigilant about the unauthorized use of their content on the web and elsewhere.

Royalty Free Music is designed to mitigate this. Even though YouTube’s Content Match ID can make false positives on occasion, Royalty Free Music is still the best and safest way to traverse a media world where content can bounce from one media type to another, instantly. And SmartSound’s Royalty Free Music license offers one of the broadest and most comprehensive music licenses available in the media creative industry.

Coming up in Part 3: The when and why of music cue sheets.

Happy Filmmaking,
Kevin Klingler