April 27, 2019 DCCI Team

What You Need to Know About Licensing Your Music

The U.S. music industry recognizes three (3) types of licenses: (1) Mechanical, (2) Synchronization, and (3) Public Performances.

U.S. copyright law gives exclusive rights to “work” (property). Exclusive rights means that a person has sole ownership over work. In other words, a person with exclusive rights is the sole owner over the work and no other person has any interest in the property. An owner’s exclusive rights include: public performances, distribution, reproductions, and derivative works (ie. single remix), to name a few. 

To legally use work exclusive to the owner, a license must be secured. The U.S. music industry recognizes (3) types of licenses: (1) mechanical, (2) synchronization, and (3) public performances.

Mechanical Licenses

A mechanical license grants permission to create  audio – only copies of work produced.

How it works: The recreation of original music into a remixed version requires that a person secure a mechanical license before sharing the single remix on any digital platform. Additionally, a license must also be secured with the record label for use of the sound recording. Essentially, there are two licenses (two separate copyrights) that must be obtained – one (1) for sound recording and one (1) for lyrics and composition. 

Synchronization Licenses

Synchronization licenses grant permission to use work in a synchronized (timed) manner alongside visuals.

How it works: ‘Work” used in a video game requires that a synchronization license is secured since a video game would likely include a visual element. In this instance, two (2) separate licenses must be secured: one (1) a license secured with the record label for use of the sound recording and two (2) a license for the use of lyrics and composition.

Public Performances

A public performance license gives permission to publicly perform work via streaming platforms, restaurants, radio, live performances, etc. Here, the venue or station must purchase the license.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. This should only be used for educational purposes.

To learn how our Culture & Creative Industries Division can assists with publishing and licensing contact  +1 (615) 496 – 7716 or email info@dcconsultintl.com.





DC Consult International is a business consulting firm specializing in mediation and negotiations, business advisory, emerging markets, and myriads of other consulting services.

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