Licensing & Sync

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A “How To” Guide for Licensing Visual Media

“What Do I Need To Know?”

Pictures and Sound have been married together for nearly 100 years. In the Venn Diagram of Visual Media production, where Your Project meets Master Recordings and Intellectual Property, they intersect at LICENSING. If you are a Canadian production company looking to use a master under the Warner Music Group umbrella, you are at the right place.

“I love that song, let’s put it in the show!”

You have a great scene and you’re trying to help the audience better relate to one of your characters and you need a song. What do you need to know in order to put that song into your production? Well, the first thing to know is that there are two aspects to every song use; the master owner (i.e. Record Label) and the copyright owner (i.e. Publisher.) You will need a license from both sides. You will need to contact all the music publishers that have a share in the ownership of a song as well as the owner of the recording. You may also be required to pay union new use fees to the AFM (American Federation of Musicians) and SAG-AFTRA if applicable.

“So, who do you represent?”

Warner Music Canada controls the recordings for labels including Atlantic Recordings, Warner Records, Nonesuch, Elektra, Asylum, Rhino and all subsidiaries and affiliates. There are also several labels that we distribute, for which we likely have rights to so if there’s ever a question, it’s best to reach out to verify ownership.

“Got it. And how do I find the Publishers?”

There are many online resources to research Publishing ownership and contact information. The best ones in Canada would be SOCAN, BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. For songs that are affiliated with Warner Chappell Music, please go to: www.warnerchappell.com

“What can I expect the cost to be?”

There is no typical estimate that can be given for any project as it varies according to the song requested, type of use, duration of use, etc. All the information requested on the form impacts the cost for the use of a song. Please fill out the following form and we will get back to you within 24 to 48 hours to advise on next steps.  

Additional Information:

“Will I need to pay union fees through AFM or SAG-AFTRA for the use of the Master?”
All songs recorded in the US will be subject to union fees. The process is different depending on the amount quoted for the master use for your project. If the master use fee is under $7500USD, Warner Music Canada will issue a quote on behalf of AFM and SAG-AFTRA. (Feel free to request a quote from us before confirming the use of the song.) If the fee for the master license is over $7500USD or is an advertisement, we will redirect you to AFM and SAG-AFTRA who will be able to issue a quote for your use directly.
“I’ve heard of “MFN” but what does it mean?
MFN stands for most favoured nations. A most favoured nation clause is a contract provision in which a seller (or licensor) agrees to give the buyer (or licensee) the best terms it makes available to any other buyer (or licensee). It is a term we use to ensure that all parties (master owners and/or publishers) are treated equally in the same license. The fee for the master use will need to match the fee paid for the 100% of the publishing. If the publisher ends up charging more than the master owner, you must increase the fee for the master so they are equal amounts on both sides.

Licensing Request Form:

State the name of the artist performing the song.
State the title of the song you would like to license.
State the name of the production.
Please include a brief synopsis of the project. You may send as an attachment if this is easier.
Synopsis Attachment (optional)
State the name of the person or entity that is seeking to license the song. ***Please advise if Licensee is NOT in Canada***.
State the name of the Director.
State the name of the main cast members.
State where you would like the rights to use music in your project. If your project will only screen in a particular city or at a particular festival, explain that here. If you would like to secure rights to show the project anywhere in the world, simply write world. Similarly, if your project will screen at theaters all over Canada but nowhere outside the country, write Canada.
State how long you would like to license the song for your project. Licenses for film festivals are generally issued for a term of one (1) year. Rights to use a song in perpetuity allow the licensee to use the song in the project forever.
Describe the media you plan on using to show your project – some examples include film festivals, TV, video, radio, Internet. If you are producing videos or DVDs, please list the number of copies you plan to produce. If your media is going to be shown at a trade show or other such gathering, how many attendees will be present during the showing.
Describe the scene in which you would like to use the song you are requesting. Please be as specific as possible. If you need more space, please feel free to attach further documentation explaining the details of the use.
Is the song being sung by one of your characters? Is it playing without any voiceover? That is likely a featured use. If, however, a song is playing in the background at low volume with narration over the top, that is likely a background use. You may also specify if the song is being used over Opening or Closing Credits.
State the length of the music use in your project. If you are requesting multiple uses, state the length of each separately. For example, if you would like to use a 17 second clip of the song in the middle of your project and a 1 minute clip later on in the project, you would state the following – 0:17, 1:00.
Please advise if you have a distribution deal in place and with whom.
State the date your project will be released or first aired. If you do not know the exact date, please estimate to the best of your ability. Month (or Season) and Year should suffice.
Let us know the date you need approval by.
If you would like the option to purchase additional rights in the future, explain that here. For example, some producers license songs for a term of 1 year with an option to extend that term for an additional 6 months. Right before the term of the original license expires, the producer may exercise the option and receive rights for an additional 6 months at a fee that was already negotiated at the time of the original license. This saves the producer the time of having to renegotiate rights in order to continue using a song in a project.
State whether or not you’ve secured the publishing rights; and if so, please indicate the fee that was approved by them.
Please indicate the overall budget for the production.
State the fee you would like to offer in order to obtain the rights you are seeking. (NOTE: Our quotes are normally issued in USD). *Gratis or free approval is granted only in very rare circumstances – virtually ALL music uses require a fee of some sort. If you are unsure, please leave blank.

Contact Info:

Please include name, company name, address, email, phone number.
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