There are several types of licenses in the music industry, each with its own characteristics and permissions for use.
The synchronization license, which you need whenever you combine music and moving image
The master license, which is similar to the above, but assigns the rights to the original recording of the music track to the licensee
The public performance license, which is the one that allows the use of a music track to be publicly broadcast in concerts, radio, television, etc.
The reproduction license or mechanical license, which is the one that enables its user to reproduce and distribute a music track in any support for a determined public
The printing license, which entitles you to print, write, arrange or sell the score of a song, but not to record or play it.
Each of these licenses must be acquired with different personalities and companies because each one belongs to a different entity.
This makes things very difficult because you will have to negotiate with each person or society to obtain permission to get the license you need.
In addition, its cost is usually considered high, and the process tends to be quite long and cumbersome.
As you can see, all this about acquiring music licenses can be very confusing and you need to have the right information to save yourself problems (and time).
Therefore, we have created a guide for beginners in case you want to clear all those doubts you have about it.
However, in that guide, you will not find one of the most widely used licenses, especially in the United States.
In fact, it is a license that gives you access to a large number of famous songs and whose management is much easier than finding and contacting the owners of each license and each song you want to play.
This license is called Blanket License Music and in this article, we will see in-depth what it is, how we can acquire it, and its more economical alternatives.
What is a Blanket License Music?
In the musical industry, a general license is a license in which the user is given general permission to play, perform, reproduce or use any song from a particular song catalog.
As we have already advanced in the introduction, in most cases, requiring the granting of individual licenses for each song and for each user that would be given to that song is a long, complicated, and quite cumbersome process.
This license is mainly used to avoid all those problems.
This way, you have access to a large music library where you can use any song for any use -for general use, as its name suggests-.
Who is usually granted a General Music License -Blanket License-?
General licenses are usually granted to platforms or businesses where the amount and variety of music songs they need are considerable.
That is, they are provided to venues that host public performances of music.
Therefore, they are usually granted to nightclubs, as well as to television or radio stations, among the most popular ones.
Who issues the Blanket License Music?
Such licenses are usually issued and offered by the copyright societies that manage the rights of the artists. The most important ones are:
Once the artists decide to delegate to one of these copyright societies the management of the rights of their songs, these societies issue the corresponding licenses.
However, there are also some artists who decide to keep their own rights or delegate them to platforms other than copyright societies.
The truth is that these are few cases, but if you wanted to obtain a general license for the songs of one of these artists, then you would have to negotiate it directly with him or with the platform that managed his rights.
How do I get a Blanket License Music?
Before getting into the process of acquiring a Blanket License Music, you need to know a little about how copyright societies and their licensing work.
How do copyright societies work?
When a song is created, there are several people involved in it. Mainly two: the composer and the editor. That is the one who composes the song and the one who edits it.
Each of them is independent of the other, however, both keep 50% of the rights of that song.
In order to manage these rights, they usually join a copyright society, which issues the licenses that each user needs for that song, in exchange for an amount of money.
However, when registering with one of these copyright societies, there is a significant difference between composers and editors.
While the composer can only join one copyright society
Editors must be members of all copyright organizations in the territory representing the composers
In other words, if a composer in the United States joins the BMI author’s society, BMI then exclusively manages all the songs of that composer.
However, the publisher of those songs may claim 50% of the rights to those songs from the copyright society with which the composer has joined, regardless of which society it is.
To help you understand it better, we’ll give you another example.
Imagine that an editor has a composer affiliated with the ASCAP copyright society and another composer affiliated with the BMI copyright society.
In that case, the editor must be affiliated to both societies so that the societies can manage the music catalogs that the editor has in common with those composers.
If instead of one affiliated composer in each society, the editor had 30 affiliated composers in each society, it would still need to be affiliated with both ASCAP and BMI.
The only difference would be that, instead of both societies representing the catalog of a single composer associated with that editor, they would represent the catalog of the 30 composers that the editor has associated with each society.
Having clarified this, let’s look at how to acquire the general license.
What if I want only the general license for an artist’s songs?
When we say that societies of authors represent a music catalog, we not only mean that these societies have the music library of all the composers and publishers affiliated to it, but we also mean that they have the exclusive rights to each of these songs.
And this is what allows them to issue the different music licenses, among them the general music license, in exchange for a fee that will serve to charge for the management of the rights and to pay the composers and publishers their proportional share.
To understand the process of issuing this license, we will give an example.
Let’s say a radio station wants to play on its programs all the songs that belong to ASCAP-affiliated editors and composers.
In that case, through a general license issued by this copyright society, the radio station will be able to use all the music represented by ASCAP.
However, in acquiring this general license, the radio station must comply with the rules established by the copyright society for the proper use of the music.
In addition, it will only give you the right to use all of ASCAP’s music for the duration of the general license, which is typically broadcast for a limited time (one month, one quarter, one year, etc.).
The price of this license may also vary depending on some factors such as how intensively the radio station uses the music or how many listeners your station has, among the most important factors.
For example, large networks that reach a large number of viewers may pay millions for the acquisition of music blanket licenses, while local stations and small businesses may pay a few hundred dollars for a similar license.
What if the radio station wanted to use music from another copyright society as well?
Can you imagine if you could listen to Shakira on a radio station but couldn’t hear Jennifer Lopez’s songs because her rights belong to another copyright society?
That would be a weird situation, don’t you think?
It would be quite difficult for a radio station to get by using only music from a copyright society.
They would lose the opportunity to play music from other societies, which would put them at a great disadvantage to other radio stations that do that.
To avoid this, what radio stations usually do is acquire general licenses from all the copyright societies that have the songs they want to play.
This way, they can use virtually any song they need to use on their station.
All they have to do is contact each society and negotiate the terms and costs of their general licenses.
What if I want only the general license for an artist’s songs?
In some very specific cases, only the songs of a single artist are needed, so acquiring a general license for the entire catalog represented by an author’s society is unnecessary and too expensive.
In that case, you will have to know which songwriters’ society or platform that the artist is affiliated with and negotiate with them the terms of the general license in order to be able to reproduce all the songs of that author.
What if I only need the license for one song?
So, you don’t need to buy a general license.
You would need a specific license for the specific use you want to make of that song.
If after all you’ve learned about the Blanket Musical License and how to get it through copyright societies you’re still a little confused, don’t worry.
That confusion is most common when dealing with these issues. Because, in many occasions, bureaucracy makes things more complicated and slower than they should be.
Moreover, in matters of music licensing, it is not only complicated to understand and proceed with but also often has a large associated economic cost that, unless you are a business with many resources, not usually compensate for spending.
At Legis Music, we know this feeling perfectly and that is why we always look for ways to simplify your life, musically speaking.
That’s why we are going to present you with two simple platforms that, for a small monthly fee, allow you to access a great music catalog of top-quality songs that has nothing to envy to the music you listen to on the media.
It has more than 300 soundtracks, full of music from well-known artists that you can program for different times of the day and days of the week, and it will allow you to manage your business music remotely from any device.
Their monthly subscription has a fixed price of 26.99 € per month for each location -price just for Spain and other European countries-. Although they are currently offering a 30-day free trial promotion to convince you of its benefits.
And if you want to know more about everything that Soundtrack Your Brand has to offer, don’t miss the opportunity to take a look at our guide of the service.
Cloud Cover Music
Another alternative similar to the previous platform is the one offered by Cloud Cover Music.
This North American company offers its users more than 155 music stations in streaming radio format for businesses and physical stores.
In fact, companies such as BMW, McDonald’s or Domino’s Pizza already enjoy its advantages.
With its monthly subscription, whose cost per location is $16.16 / month, you can get famous music without having to obtain another type of license.
However, your business must be located in the United States or Canada, otherwise, it will not be possible to use their services.
If that is your case, we have good news.
They are offering a 14-day trial at no cost, so you don’t have to take any risks when it comes to sounding your business.
The Blanket License Music is a great idea if you are looking for access to the entire music catalog that some platforms or societies of authors may have.
However, you have already seen that they will be suitable for specific cases of use, including clubs, radio stations, and television channels.
In other words, it will be ideal for businesses where the reproduction of music in a public way is a must.
In that case, you already know that you will have to contact the copyright societies that hold the copyrights of the artists whose songs you want to reproduce.
And if you want to be able to play all the songs without any limitations, perhaps the best thing to do is to get the general licenses from the copyright societies in your country.
However, to obtain full protection through these Blanket Licenses, you must be prepared for long hours of negotiations, as well as to pay a large amount of money, which will depend on the coverage of the medium in which you want to play the music.
Therefore, if you are not among that group of nightclubs, radio or TV channels, perhaps you should consider the idea better and opt for other alternatives.
Today, there are several companies that have seen the need to obtain music licenses legally and economically, through which you can play thousands and thousands of famous songs without having to spend a large amount of money.
Subscribing to their monthly services has a low cost and means access to huge music libraries that you can use for your business without having to worry about bureaucracy or associated legal issues: Soundtrack Your Brand and Cloud Cover Music.
All of them have been able to develop systems that bring together the advantages of a general music license, the simplicity of an online platform and the low cost of a subscription that, in any of the three cases, does not exceed $30 per month.
Although they are similar to each other, each one has its own features that make them different from the others, but all of them have a free trial period that you can try without any commitment.
This way, you win either way:
Either you get convinced and save a lot of money, or you realize that you really do need a Blanket Music license for your business.
Pablo Olóndriz founded Legis Music in 2016 and, since then, has been working non-stop on the online Royalty-Free industry, managing to build a great source of information for people who need amazing background music for their projects and videos.
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