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Music Licensing for Television

When to get permission

If you broadcast live or recorded music on television, make sure to get permission for any songs you did not write, recordings made by other people, and lyrics you show. You may need a combination of master, synchronization, public performance, and print licenses, depending on how you use the music. Licenses should be secured before the music is used. You do not need to license songs that you wrote yourself or songs that you know are in the public domain.

How to get permission

For synchronization, master, and print licenses, check out our Custom Licensing services or contact us. Alternatively, you can attempt to locate the copyright owners yourself and request permission.

To obtain public performance licensing for television that will broadcasted in the United States, please contact the following performing rights agencies:

ASCAP          1-800-952-7227
BMI               212-220-3000
SESAC           615-320-0055

To obtain public performance licensing for television that will broadcasted outside of the United States, please contact your local performing rights society.

How the royalties are paid

Artists whose music appears on television typically will not need to secure public performance licenses because these are covered by the station. Station operators need to secure public performance licenses. Expect to report your playlists and pay a percentage of your revenues to the three public performance rights agencies in the United States that distribute these royalties to the composers: ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Outside of the United States, please contact your local performing rights society.

Synchronization, master, and print licenses are somewhat complex. You pre-pay royalties upfront based on a custom-negotiated fee. When you hire us, we deliver your request to the copyright holder, negotiate the fee, and present it to you. If you accept, we collect the entire fee from you (which includes the royalties), and then send 100% of the royalties on to the copyright holder. If you need to reorder, a new license is negotiated. You have the option to follow all these steps yourself or hire us for assistance through our Custom Licensing services.

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Relevant music licenses you might need

Mechanical License

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Print License

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Synchronization License

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Public Performance License

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Master License

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Theatrical License

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About CopyrightNotary.com

Copyright Notary helps indie artists, corporations, churches, schools, community groups, and individuals get permission to use copyrighted music for all types of uses. Its Cover Song Licensing service makes it easy to get 100% of the permission required to release a new version of any song in 1-2 business days. Through its Custom Licensing services, Copyright Notary offers music rights clearances for any use, with dedicated, personal assistance from an experienced specialist. Committed to accuracy and transparency, Copyright Notary adds value to the music industry through innovation, education, and efficient rights administration.

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