Master License in Music Law

If you are a musician, composer, producer, or anyone who creates or uses music in your projects, you may have heard of the term “master license”. But what exactly is a master license and why is it important for music law?

A master license is a type of license that grants permission to use a specific recording of a song in a different medium, such as a film, TV show, video game, or advertisement. A master license is different from a synchronization license, which grants permission to use the underlying composition of a song, regardless of the recording. A master license is also different from a mechanical license, which grants permission to reproduce and distribute a song in a physical or digital format.

A master license is usually obtained from the owner of the sound recording, which is often the record label or the artist themselves. The owner of the sound recording has the exclusive right to authorize or deny the use of their recording in any other medium, according to the U.S. Copyright Act.

The terms and fees of a master license depend on various factors, such as the popularity of the song, the duration and frequency of its use, the type and size of the project, and the intended audience. A master license can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the negotiation between the parties.

A master license is essential for anyone who wants to use an existing recording of a song in their project. Without a master license, you may face legal consequences, such as lawsuits, injunctions, damages, or penalties. A master license also protects your rights as a creator and ensures that you receive fair compensation for your work.

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