Licensing Music


I’m trying to get the rights to a particular classical music song that I want to synch with a short film.

The problem is, while many labels offer versions of the song, none of them seem to own the master rights to the recordings.

Does anyone know how to find out who owns the master rights of a recording?



Tracking down master rights can be a bitch I hear, since there’s no standard “the composer has it”, “the producer has it” or “the label has it”.

It’s different from song to song.

What I have heard - and I haven’t been through the process myself - is that you just have to play Sherlock Holmes and call all the leads you have.

Did you call the label? What did they say? What other companies and persons can you relate to the recording, and can you get a hold of them?

Good luck!

  • Jonas


I contacted every label. All they could tell me is that they didn’t have the master rights. It’s strange, because at least one of them could license a different song from the same composer.

I also contacted a third-party company that secures rights. But it’s expensive and there’s no guarantee they’ll succeed.

Thank you for your help.


Hi Colin:

Two thoughts leapt to mind:

  1. Obvious, but one never knows: if the composition’s original arrangement is public domain (or a work commissioned by a whatchamacallit?), allow for hiring musicians. The media licensing companies I’ve encountered through were sliding scale – one charge for a festival entry, and if it got picked up, a different flat rate, no surprises. Working with a rights owner directly could mean getting money FROM them instead of paying for the rights to advertize their music, so I hope that’s the case for you. Or, being able to print your own record could be a trouve if you caught the eye of the small group of folks who buy every major soundtrack album, so either way, what you’re doing sounds cool.

  2. Google answers. For $2-$200, you can get your money’s worth without non-guarantees. You pay when you get a decent answerThere are also similar expert sites that may include folks in this niche.


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