Filmmaking / Directing : Do you need to license music to use in your film production? by David C. Hëvvitt

David C. Hëvvitt

Do you need to license music to use in your film production?

If you're new to licensing music for your film productions, then you need to read my blog on this here: Best wishes, David

Amanda Toney

Great post, David!

David C. Hëvvitt

Thanks Shannon! The scoring side of film making is for many still quite a grey area. As a professional scoring company AFX Industrial (film scores) are by necessity a member of some of the largest licensing organisations in the world. It's great to share this knowledge with film makers, as so many films are pulled from festivals and TV broadcast opportunities because of their illegal music usage. The bottom line is, if you don't have a license or permission to use the music that you have put on your film then eventually the MCPS, BMI or ASCAP will either demand the music be stripped from your film or demand you pay for it! Of course AFX Industrial (film scores) can deal with all of the paperwork involved in licensing. Any questions? I'd be happy to answer them, please visit my contact page here: Best wishes, David.

Don Gallacher

Good post David, but just one caveat. In my 27 years as a music supervisor, I have seen many writer/publisher contracts, in fact the majority, where the copyright is vested in the publisher, and it is an exclusive deal. The writer may well go out and license his or her own music but the publisher will still be looking for their share. You may have been writing from a score composer's POV. Many general publishing deals with a writer who has ambitions to write film music have a 'get out' clause, mostly because in the past many film productions (especially bigger budget ones) demand the publishing rights.

David C. Hëvvitt

Thanks Don, the IDEA of exclusivity has been eroded over the years and although I of course see publishing from a composer's POV, I also run AFX Industrial (film scores) as a business and so get to see publishing from a business POV. My company will generate a contract that clearly states that the score is licensed but not sold to company X for use in film Y. Although the wording is only slightly different the legal and business ramifications are weighty. AFX Industrial (film scores) generally steer clear of the idea of exclusivity especially as the idea of exclusivity can never truly be applied to public domain pieces in which we deal a lot. The ultimate antithesis of exclusive publishing is the proliferation of sub-publishers being employed by the exclusives. This totally breaks down the idea of exclusivity, as 'exclusive' publisher X can now sell score Y though sub publishers ABC and D. When you add to that the FACT the public domain pieces can NEVER really be exclusive to anyone (BACH's Air on a G String for instance) then it's clear the idea of exclusivity is just an illusion. You either choose to buy into it or not. Of course if Sony offered us $1 million for the 'exclusive' rights to score X then just because exclusivity doesn't fit into AFX's business paradigm, it doesn't mean that paradigm can't be bought! Being offered a very large sum of money is such a gamer changer for most companies that it hardly needs to be discussed and, if a clause of exclusivity accompanies the transfer of funds … So be it. Best wishes, David AFX Industrial (fim scores)

Don Gallacher

Hi David. But not every composer is signed up or will sign up to AFX. Perhaps they should. Good luck with your busies.

Lesa Babb

Howdy David-- Yes, your analogy works quite well. Thanks for sharing, and best wishes for continued success!

David C. Hëvvitt

Thanks Lesa! What are you currently working on? Anything exciting that we can help you with?

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