Things You Don’t Know About Music Licensing

In lay man terms, music licensing is when an artiste/record label/publisher lease out their property (music) to a third party for commercial use over a certain period of time and in return you receive payment based on agreed contract(s).

Licensed music are used in broadcast media such as Movies, Netflix series, Video games, Podcasts, TV/Radio programs, Advertisement etc.

Now lets dive into the most important forms of music licences and how they are also used.


A master right is usually held by either the artiste who independently owns the music or the record label, that financed the recording of the music.

It gives the third party permission to use a pre- recorded version of a song in a visual or audio project, but does not allow a user to re-record a song for a project (i.e. to do a cover or edit the song). Generally a master license is issued in conjunction with a sync license.


A mechanical license also known as reproduction license grants the rights to reproduce and distribute musical compositions in any physical form. This mostly refers to the reproduction of musical compositions on CD’s, Cassette’s and Vinyl’s.

The copyright holder (artiste) must have an agreement with the record labels, distributors, and publishers on the mechanical terms of their music and are generally paid per-copy.


This type of licensing refers to music that is going to be paired with visual media. This means your sound can be used in commercials, Movies, Video Games, TV Series, Advertisements etc. It is the most common and used type of music license.
Getting your music / sound recording master placed in TV or film can be ground-breaking for emerging artists

  1. Public Performance License

This license is generally applied when there is a general broadcast of an artist’s work in a public space. This includes businesses who play music in their store, radios, TV’s & DJ’s in bars, or any form of public performances, all the way up to concerts.

A public performance license needs to be obtained every time music is reproduced for a public audience. Performing rights organizations (PROs) generally manage public performance licenses and issue music royalties to artists on a per-use basis.

  1. Print License

Print licensing refers to an agreement between a music user and the owner of a copyrighted composition (song). It grants permission to rearrange, print, or display the music notes or lyrics of the song

It’s needed when a person wants to print/publish the lyrics to a copyrighted song on a website or piece of paper. A print license is required no matter how small a portion of the song, the third party wants to use.

  1. Theatrical License

Theatrical licenses, as the name implies, are only used in the theater allowing the licensee (artiste) to perform a song on a stage in front of a live audience. It can be a theatrical play or a musical performance. Theatrical licenses are very common in the theater industry.

If you need a music distribution and licensing manager or marketer, we are here to help you reach your maximum point.

Ben Blay
Ben Blay
As a music publicist, blogger, and distributor, I'm your trusted source for the most up-to-date music news, trends, marketing tips, and exclusive releases. Join me in exploring the dynamic world of music, and stay tuned for daily updates that will keep your musical senses tingling. 🌟🎶★Bookings +233506623757 or +233557647791


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