Select Page

How to protect yourself from backlash during the music licensing process

One of my good friends in NYC, a photo journalist by trade who works for a major network ran into a music licensing headache. She’s one of the best in the business when it comes to photo journalism. But recently she told me about a horrific story involving Esquire Magazine and copyright infringement on a video she produced.

While making the video for Esquire Magazine she purchased a music license from Vimeo to spice up the video and give it the right flair. But the story turned vicious when she received several nasty, antagonizing emails from copyright lawyers.

She licensed the music from Vimeo fair and square. However, upon receiving the antagonizing emails she realized she had missed some “tiny print” details. Those details prohibited use of the music for commercial purposes.

You can watch the video here:

Copyright Laywers

This article is not about the process of music licensing or how copyright lawyers go about their business. Licenses vary from agency to agency and copyright lawyers do their due diligence to protect the intellectual property of writers and artists.

Nevertheless, copyright lawyers mean business. You wouldn’t dare think about cheating on your taxes. So, with love, I urge you to not play around when it comes to copyright law when licensing music either.

Lesson Learned

My friend did not lose any credibility from this hassle of a case. But she did lose several thousands of dollars as a penalty for the legal claim. She is still one of the best in the business, but she learned a valuable lesson. Either read all the fine print in any licensing agreements or don’t license music.

One of my baseball coaches once told me, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.” I love that perspective and that’s why I’m passing this on to you. Music licensing can be intimidating and downright scary. The truth is the business side of music is just like any other in that protocol provides structure and continuity.

Read the fine print

You can learn from my friend’s example by thoroughly reviewing contractual agreements before licensing music for your content. Can it be a pain? Yes. That’s why copyright lawyers exist. Is it less of a pain than several months facing legal threats and fines? Absolutely!

Make sure you research any legal documents with your lawyer before handing any money over to licensing companies. Better yet get your music from a trusted source like OC Music CO where the licensing process is both simple and straightforward.

Some licensing companies will offer licenses with strings attached such as:

  • “your music license is valid only if you maintain your monthly membership fee
  • “you still have to pay royalty fees on top of the music licensing fee
  • “this music license is only valid for personal use not commercial use
  • …or my personal favorite “this music license is only valid for 5000 impressions

These little word tricks when spelled out in legal jargon can, has, and will continue to trip up the novice music licensee. Go ahead and test your luck if you must. But be prepared to face a repercussive muck of fines, penalties, and court hearings like my friend had to endure.

Music licensing made easy

I know how confusing and frustrating the music licensing process can be. But it doesn’t have to be. Music licensing platforms like OC Music CO are steadfast to maintain transparency through the process. The terms are straightforward and simple. Submit a one-time fee (commensurate to industry standards) to use the song in your project. That’s it. No recurring membership fees. No hidden fees. No royalties to track and pay. The song is yours to use in your project throughout the Universe for all time. Cut and dry.

Spend more time creating and less time fighting copyright claims.

Do you have any helpful morsels you’d like to share with content creators on music licensing? Please leave your comments below. Thank you!

Here’s to keeping the creative process fun!

About the Author:

Eric O’Connell is the founder and CEO of OC Music CO a major production music licensing platform. With his twin brother and co-founder Steve, they believe that small things can lead to big changes. And what better way than through the power of 8 simple notes? They create music that unites the divided, influences the unreachable, and creates massive powerful change. Today the twins are recognized internationally as a vital agent in the music industry with their team of 29 hand-selected world-class production music composers.

Check out the world-class production music at OC Music CO:

And Follow OC Music CO on Facebook:

World-class production music | Music licensing | Philanthropist