The Legal Process for Music Licensing

Don’t Get Scammed!

While I was sorting through our canceled 2006 checks looking for income tax deductions, I came across a check to Periodic Billing Services Inc. My wife wrote it out way back in January 06 for $36.99 thinking it was to pay for 36 issues of Videomaker magazine.

Apparently you folks never received any payment from this outfit, as we were billed by Videomaker a couple months back and we mailed off another check. How many other subscribers have been taken by this outfit?

Frank Grimaldi


Big SIGH here! Yes, we’re aware of many outfits like this, and every time we learn of a new one, we go through great measures to rectify the problem. But they just start up with a different name. A lot of people subscribe to several different mags, and many mags send multiple reminders offering better prices if you renew early, and it gets confusing. You never know which is legit or even if you’ve paid for a subscription already.

We think, like you, that many of our readers might not know of the Subscriber Alert message that we post every issue [see page 79 in this issue for that alert] and yes, this Periodic Billing Service is on that list. So sorry to bear bad news! To other readers, we must warn you to please stay alert, and please inform us when you have had contact from a false agency.
– The Editors

BMI Music Video Correction

I recently enjoyed the article Making Music Videos featured in your March 2007 issue. The story provides a lot of good details. Any video producer would learn from it. As pleased as I was to see the BMI website incorporated in the story, we do not grant the kind of license the author said we do. BMI grants the performance right for the public transmission of music.

Any time a piece of music by one of our writers or publishers is broadcast over the media (radio, TV, cable, the Internet) or used in a public place, we see to it that they are paid for that use. Producers need a synchronization license, as you pointed out, obtained directly from the publisher of a piece of music, not BMI.

I hope you will bring up this correction to your readers. Keep up the good work and best of luck to all those video producers who plan to use music in their productions.

Robbin Ahrold

VP, BMI Corporate Relations

We apologize to BMI for the misinformation, and we regret any inconvenience this may have caused. As we’ve stated in the past, the copyright issue is a complicated one. Read on for more help in achieving your music goals.

– The Editors

Music Licensing

I’m the CEO of Rumblefish, a sonic branding and music licensing agency ( Thank you for helping educate your readers in regards to the legal process and potential consequences in regards to the professional use of music. The biggest challenge in our business (sonic branding and music licensing) is education.ASCAP, BMI & SESAC ( in fact do license a massive amount of music in the US, but they only provide a very specific type of license – a small performance license which is in fact NOT what your readers require .They need a synchronization license (as you correctly stated in the article) but they need to get it from a different source. In many cases, it is several sources and they’ll need a license for both the Composition (usually owned and/or administered by a publisher) and the Sound Recording (usually owned and/or administered by a record label).

Typical license fees for different types of synch uses can be found in our rate calculator online ( and they vary based on scope. Producers have to acquire separate licenses from both the label and publisher of the song, outlining specific usage terms such as territory, term, media, etc.

If the producer is making a video for anyone other than a band/label (usually the case, right?), then they’ll need to acquire a synch license as I outlined above. It is NOT the video producer’s responsibility to license a song for a client (band or label) that is using a video that contains intellectual property that the client owns to promote themselves. Thanks for helping to educate your readers, the video producers of the world. We appreciate the nod to the music creators that we represent day in and day out.

Paul Anthony

CEO, Rumblefish

TWIT Correction

In the March 07 issue, you mention that an example among other Vidcasts is TWIT (This Week in Tech). As any regular listener of this podcast knows, Leo Laporte does NOT do a weekly vidcast of TWIT. This is part of an agreement he has with Kevin Rose to not videocast This Week in Tech. He does appear from time to time on MacBreak, a vidcast from fellow TWIT cast member Alex Lindsay. But TWIT itself has never really been a Vidcast.

M. Garrett

Los Angeles, CA

Side Bar

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