Music is an important element to many of our favorite films. Every independent film project should take some time to ask themselves what they are going to do about the music department and the acquiring of licenses for their film. Obtaining proper licenses for popular prerecorded material can be very expensive. Consider this when developing out your music budget.

Hiring a Composer

The key terms of a contract between a film producer and a composer are:

(i) whether the composer will be responsible for recording as well as writing the music;
(ii) the fee payable to the composer;
(iii) the time schedule for the delivery of the music;
(iv) the composer’s credit;
(v) how a composer would be compensated if there is a soundtrack album; and importantly
(vi) the permitted use and ownership of the music itself.

Acquiring Music Licenses

Acquiring music for your next film project requires you to obtain two separate licenses. A sync license and a master license.

Hollywood Songwriters’ partners with music supervisors to assist with the clearance of songs for independent film projects. If you are interested in working alongside Hollywood Songwriters on your next music project, filmmakers should consider their music budget and contact Hollywood Songwriters for music supervision services or to negotiate a music license that works for both parties.

A Sync License and a Master License

  • You must obtain the Sync License from the publisher and songwriters.
  • You must obtain the Master License from the record label.

How will the music be used?

The first question a music publishing usually asks when being approached for song licensing is “how will the song be used”. Have this answer fully prepared to the best of your knowledge before contacting the music publishing company.

Interested in obtaining a sync license with Hollywood Songwriters? Please submit a synopsis of the film along with the film’s budget.

Where will your film be screened at?

Obtaining Film Festival Rights

For film festival rights, most songs can be cleared at around $500 per side ($500 for the publishers, $500 for the master). If you don’t have enough money in your budget to pay for all the rights up front, you can clear only the film festival rights and add an option to get all media rights up to two years later.