cost of using a famous song with famous band on stage

How Much To Use A Copyrighted Song? (Real Costs Included)

Using copyrighted music or famous musical works in your content can be expensive, but did you ever wonder how expensive?

As a general rule, you can license original music from independent artists for less than $200, but if the music you are licensing is famous, costs can vary dramatically depending on your usage and the number of interested parties involved in the song.

In this article I will cover:

  • What information do I need to licence a song?
  • How much does it cost to licence a song?
  • How long does it take to licence a famous song?

What Information Do I Need To Licence A Song?

Once you have picked the song you would like to licence, and have established who owns the copyright, it is time to approach the record label, publisher or whoever you identified as the copyright holders to ask for permission to use the music.

To learn how to license a famous song and where to search for the copyright holders, I have covered this in greater detail in this article, How To License A Famous Song? (Step by step instructions)”

Once you identify who owns the copyright (be it a music publisher or record label or both), they will typically ask you to fill out a form with the following information:

  • The music you want.
  • The names of the composers of the music.
  • The name of the recording artist.
  • Your brand (if you have one).
  • Your company details.
  • The media where the music will feature, i.e. list all site URLs where the video content will appear, such as social media or a website.
  • The type of media where the music will feature, for example, TV, radio, cinema, internet, etc.
  • The purpose of your production.
  • How you will use the music in your production.
  • The duration of music you want to use (i.e. 30 seconds / full song etc)
  • What territory your content will be used in, for example, just the UK, or the world.
  • How long you need the music licence for, typically called the music licence term.
  • Details of the music use or scene description so the publisher can get a better understanding of how you will be using the music.
  • Sometimes music publishers will ask for a synopsis of your project to better understand how you will be using the music.

As you can see from this list, there is an extensive amount of detail that is gathered when licensing famous music from publishers.

How Much Does It Cost To Licence A Song?

Below is a list of real world costs to license famous music, given a specific usage.

It is important to point out that everyone’s project is different and is individually quoted based on their specific music usage, so these figures are purely for information and interest.

For example, just because I was quoted £3500 to license a particular song for a charity promotional video, that does not mean you will also have to pay that amount. You might be quoted higher or lower based on the details of your specific content.

Name Of Song & ComposerMedia Usage TypeLength Of Music UsedMusic License Cost Quoted
“The Scientist”
Coldplay
Charity Promotional VideoFull Song£3,500
Somewhere”
Luqui, Juan Cruz
Advert – Worldwide Campaign60 Seconds£24,000
Free Dancin”
Durbet, Thierry Gabriel Henri
Thierry Mieg, Laurent Marie
Advert – Social Media Campaign60 Seconds£2,170
“Aerial”
Barlow, Jonathan David
Podcast – Single Episode30 Seconds£130
“Hell On High Heels”
Dunlap, Jamie
Nickoley, Scott Matthew
Online Production – Single EpisodeFull Song£680
“Stay”
Macklin, Benjamin
Film FestivalFull Song£130
“Stay”
Macklin, Benjamin
Feature Film [600k Budget]Full Song£369
“Hell Opens Its Mouth”
Kniceley, Kyle J
Corporate VideoFull Song£128
Good Bye, I Love You So
Loriot, Nathalie
Hedin, Franck Francois Louis Bernard
Feature Film [£1m Budget]Full Song£729
A Night In Java”
David, Thierry Christian Luc
Video Game LoopFull Song£950
“Love By Night”
Arvay, Pierre Joseph
Audio-Visual GameFull Song£1700
“Heat Lightening
Where The Sun Beats”

David, Thierry Christian Luc
Berose, Dominique Joseph
Audio Only App – Looped30 Seconds£165
“Give Me A Reason To Stay”
Wolfe, Jim
Corporate Video90 Seconds£310

How Long Does It Take To Licence A Famous Song?

Licensing famous music can be a long and painful process depending on the music publisher or record label you are dealing with. There is also no guarantee that they will grant you permission.

There is a reason that simple and fast to license royalty free music has soared in recent years, and that is because licensing music through a royalty free music library (such as my site) is instant, simple and fast.

With major music publishers dealing with very famous music, some music publishers will get back to you straight away with a quotation or follow-up questions, whereas other publishers can take weeks to respond or process your request.

Recently, after three months of chasing a major record label for a quotation for a famous song, I just gave up and had to choose a different song as they were just taking too long to get a quotation to me.

I don’t know of any other industry that could take three months to provide a quotation and survive, but the music industry is still a very wealthy business when we move into the realm of famous music.

In summary, if you are eager to license a particular famous song and get an official quotation for a music license, ensure you give yourself plenty of time to clear the music rights and let the music publisher know if you are working to a tight deadline.

If you have the budget, it may be worth seeking help to license music through a professional music clearance licensing company or individual.

These are companies that provide the service of clearing music licenses on your behalf, for a fee. In return, they will deal with the record labels and publishers and will ensure you get the correct music licensing for your project and hopefully, for the best price.

If music licensing goes wrong, it can be devastating for a project. One short piece of music incorrectly licensed can see a full production stopped and stuck in litigation. If in doubt, always seek professional advice when licensing music.

Finally, after all your work trying to get a famous song cleared for use, there is no guarantee that you will ever get your final approval. It is possible when dealing with bigger music publishers or famous artists that they just say “no”.

If you are seeking permission to use a very famous song in your content, be prepared to have lots of patience and consider consulting with a legal professional in the music business.

Final Thoughts

How much it will cost you to use a famous song in your content will greatly depend on your production needs.

Licensing famous music can be a very tricky and long process that takes some skill and patience. If you are a novice but have the patience, I recommend you see a professional music clearance expert who can help.

As well as knowing what to do and having the network to speak to the right people, music clearance professionals may also get you a better deal and cheaper music licensing costs, as they have the experience to negotiate.

Nothing is guaranteed, and if you get the right music permissions and succeeded in licensing a famous song for your content, take a moment to celebrate and congratulate yourself, as it is a complex process.

Happy producing!

Content Disclaimer: This blog is intended as a guide only for educational and informational purposes. It is not legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters.