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Types of Music Licenses

  1. Synchronization License (Sync License) – This method of licensing refers to music that is going to be paired with some form of visual media. It has a broad range of uses, including TV commercials, studio films, streaming advertisements, personal films, internal communications, and more. 
  2. Mechanical License – A mechanical license is needed for any physical reproduction of an artist’s work. Primarily this refers to the manufacturing of CDs or distribution of music in any tangible form. Artists, aka copyright holders, will have agreements with record labels, distributors, and publishers on the mechanical terms of their music.
  3. Master License – Master licenses are a bit more complex than most others, in that they’re similar to sync licenses but not quite as broad-ranging. A master right is held by the person who owns the recording of a song. The master license gives the user 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 cover or edit a song). 
  4. Public Performance License – While ‘performance’ may be a limiting term, it applies generally to any broadcast of an artist’s work. This includes businesses who play music in their store, jukeboxes, or any other form of public performance — all the way up to concerts. Performing rights organizations (PROs) such as BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP generally manage public performance licenses and issue music royalties to artists on a per-use basis. 
  5. Print Rights License – This license refers to the physical copy of the sheet music that an artist has created. It’s needed when someone prints a sheet music compilation, or any time the sheet music of copyrighted work is reproduced.
  6. Theatrical License – Also a very specific form of written permission, theatrical licenses are very common in the theater industry. The license is required any time a copyrighted work is performed on-stage in front of an audience.
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