If you are in the US or the


If you are in the US or the UK, then you approach the big copyright controlling companies – PRS/PPL in the UK. They will licence the track for you. It won’t necessarily be affordable. Like all rights in music, images, text etc, the fee depends on exposure. Quantity of people seeing/hearing it and the medium. In the UK we do have some schemes that cover music on CD/DVD that simplify it. In short, it isn’t going to be free. The exception would be if the rights holders assign you permission to use it. This does happen for projects they might support from time to time. It’s their products and they can do whatever they like with it. Be aware that they might do it officially, and you might need to pay the costs of drawing up a contract, even for a freebie, while some might tell you to just use it. If you ask for that in writing, they say no. Welcome to the whacky world of rights control! I wanted to use a very short clip from a well know piece of music. The amount due would have been £50. Drawing up a contract would cost £75, so they said just don’t tell us. I didn’t, just keeping the date and time of the conversation and the persons name. Probably dodgy in court, but I risked it. There’s a lovely tale of somebody from the UK rights agent going on holiday abroad and seeing an advert for a well known musical their company have the right to, they queried it. Turned out it was being put on by a friend of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mother – and she said he wouldn’t mind! Might be apocryphal but a good tale!

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