View Full Version : Soundtrack rights

08-15-2014, 03:02 PM
Have any of you tried to get permission to use a song/compilation to use as a soundtrack for your animations? I know it depends on who owns the publishing rights to the music, but not sure if it would be a "go jump in a lake" situation with the record label or the artist themselves or (probably) both. Any ideas out there? Thanks :)

08-15-2014, 05:03 PM
Originally wanted to use Cinema Paradiso by Ennio Morricone, because it fit really well, but knowing that it would probably take far too long to wind the path to get in touch, if possible at all, because the final edit had to be sent to London in time for WorldCon opening ceremonies to unveil this year's Hugo Awards that we made, my SO put a post on Facebook lamenting about the issue and a musician popped up, offering her art to complement ours for a screen credit. We listened, chose a piece, she sent a 36MB WAV, so that I wouldn't be working from an already compressed source, and Bob's our Uncle. Sometimes, solutions are right around the corner in unexpected places.
Here's what we did with it:


Aaaaannnnnnd, to stay on topic for this forum, LightWave was used extensively in the creation of these glass sculptures.

The design was fully modeled and the sculpture movie was rendered in it.
We used displacement to create the Lunar surface from which glass casting molds were produced.
When each one came out of the kiln, the bore in the center, through which the bolt to hold the rocket passes, would be different. So, I measured and created individual on-demand STL files that fit each one, some tapered, and printed the bushing inserts. Then the rocket could be bolted on and not contact the glass.

Once all 30 were done, I had to then produce the above video to allow everyone to know who produced them and to unveil them, as the design is embargoed until that night. It's a tip of the iceberg visual look at our operation and what we do.

Was going to record narration but ran out of time. That's where the music rights entered the picture, not to make a pun.

08-15-2014, 05:49 PM
I'm actually in the process of putting together a web series with Lihgtwave and was in the same boat looking for music - I found Audio Jungle as one of the cheapest and highest quality music providers out there:


08-15-2014, 06:01 PM
Music is subject to compulsory licensing in the US... Any piece of recorded (non-dramatic) music cannot be refused licensing to a third party, though ofc the owner can charge whatever they like for that licence. If however, you wish to make your own recording of an existing composition (a cover version), then likewise, you can obtain a compulsory licence, but the fee for that is dictated by law, no the copyright owner of the composition.

08-15-2014, 06:31 PM
According to that which I have found (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/copyright-compulsory-license.html) on Nolo's legal site, the use intended by the OP may be in a grey area. They give an example:

The compulsory license only applies to phonorecords distributed to the public. Therefore, it cannot be used to record a song for use on a television show’s soundtrack. In that case, permission must be obtained from the copyright owner.

08-15-2014, 07:32 PM
i write my own music - problem solved :)


08-15-2014, 08:08 PM
We used SonicFirePro multitrack albums that are easily customized. For those of us who can't write music, this is a perfect alternative.

08-15-2014, 08:40 PM
As part of a screen writing class we were to track down the rights owner for a piece and get the pricing. Usually not all the tough. In one phone call I was given a pricing list. All pretty easy as long as you know who the owner is. You'll just find that some are user friendly and some are real Richards.

08-15-2014, 09:32 PM
I tend to fire up the keyboard and record some piece I know is old enough to have gone pd. I've also fired up some drum beat and just keyed in a few highlights here and there to match the animation. If you don't play at all, you could probably just key some classical piece into a music composition piece of software

08-15-2014, 09:43 PM
I could easily write my own soundtrack, but I have 2 tracks already in mind composed by others for projects. I will just have to track down the record labels I guess 'cause I doubt the composers would have time to read every request for a response.

Thanks for all the feedback! :)

The other thing I was thinking about was sometimes I see reviews of movies (like the infamous Phantom Menace ones) and wonder how you can show copyrighted video like that and not be in trouble somehow. I think I remember hearing somewhere that as long as a "clip" is less than a certain amount of time you can put them in a sequence. Does that ring a bell with anybody?

08-16-2014, 01:01 AM
I encountered the problem years ago as I wanted to create a short non-commercial movie about the Battle of Tannenberg, and I wanted to use some of Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky score.
Allthough the music is now in the public domain, I still had to licence the right to use one specific recording from a disc company or another. I tried with several, only one responded and proposed me a fee that had to be renewed annually, I believe, which was not possible for a hobbyist non-commercial movie.
I ended up with creating my own musics from royalty-free loops in soundtrack and garage band.
This said, there is also the option (when using musics from the public domain) to generate a midi file from partition in a software like Finale, and play it with virtual instruments. That won't be as cool as a real orchestra, of course, but it may be money saving in the long run.

08-16-2014, 05:46 AM
the use intended by the OP may be in a grey area.

Sorry, you're right... its only compellable (in the case of an existing recording) if you're publishing a music recording.

08-20-2014, 08:31 AM
In general it is very cost prohibitive to try and license recorded music from an established record company.

Copyright is broken into two parts basically.

First a written work has publishing rights and songwriting (or composition) rights. They are separate and usually owned by more than one party. Often the record company owns some or all of the publishing rights. Sometimes a separate publishing company. The composer or songwriter originally owns all of the rights to a work. That person then enters into an agreement with a publishing company and gives up some rights in exchange for something. In most cases this is because the record company is also the publisher and publishing rights can be sold off for royalty advances or even as a part of the recording deal.

Once a work is recorded there is a new license that emerges for the recorded work which is separate from both the writing and publishing rights.

So usually you will have to negotiate with the writer who usually maintains some control and say over who can re-record or use the original work, the publisher, and finally the record company (sometimes the same). If you are going to re-record then you will have to deal with the writer and the publisher.

This is why there is a thriving business to buy royalty free music.

Unless you have a lot of cash and a legal team, it is better to just get royalty free music.

08-20-2014, 09:15 AM
Wow, thanks Surrealist ! That's a lot of helpful info. :) I'm sure others will benefit from this thread as well.

08-20-2014, 09:15 AM
How about classical pieces?

I reckon that after 70 years from the authors death or something, the copyright considers forfit? but then I ask myself about using the different recordings done by different orchestras and how that is released, In such case there must be copyrighted
recordings from the orchestra wich you just cant grab freely I guess?
Unless you have bought a classical record and use that, that must be valid to use or?
strauss for example? strauss died 1949 ..so that means only a couple of years before Also sprach Zarathustra can be used widely by anyone?

Some differencies between countries and I am not sure about the Copyright Term Extension Act, and how the balance is between publication of the music piece and/or the death of the artist.


08-20-2014, 07:00 PM
For classical music you have to make sure the work is still in the public domain. Some classical music has reverted such as Straviskly's right of spring.


Here is a good link:


And yes, again, anything recorded is under the separate copyright of the recording itself. If you record a public domain piece you too can then own a separate right for the recording that no one can copy without permission.

If the work is not in the public domain and it exists in a score you also have to deal with whoever owns the rights to that particular arrangement of written music. There may be some cases where the score itself is considered original work based on a public domain work, such as a creative arrangement etc.

So to proceed in this area for professional work you have to make sure you have yourself covered fully. Or just go with royalty free. This is why most people do that unless they have a large budget to deal with all of the legal fees, licensing fees and so on.

08-21-2014, 01:54 AM
If you want to use some classical music which is in the public domain, and not to licence a specific recording (see my first post here : http://forums.newtek.com/showthread.php?143032-Soundtrack-rights&p=1394863&viewfull=1#post1394863), the best is IMHO to use a software able to read a music sheet or a royalty-free midi file (there are plenty for classical music on the web) and get it read and played by a music program like Finale Print Music, Aria player or Garage Band. You may want to add specific orchestral instruments VST or audio units like the ones made by Garritan. I think that Instant Orchestra (http://www.garritan.com/products/instant-orchestra/) is certainly the way to go (179$) as it includes both the instruments and the aria standalone player.

Shawn Farrell
08-31-2014, 10:34 PM
Please don't hate me for self promoting but if you get to know an take advantage of some of the better Royalty-Free Music Producers you may find something completely suitaable for what you want, my clients ask me for custom tracks alot and I try to meet their needs plus I have over 170 finished tracks in a wide variety of styles and with the first 100 tracks in SoundTraxx Volume I being free, the nest 50 in SoundTraxx Volume II being only $10.00 and I do requests how can you loose? (well, I guess if I suck you loose!)

Check out www.soundtraxxmusic.com ! -Shawn Lee Farrell, Producer SoundTraxx Music Library & CFONNewTek!



09-01-2014, 03:26 PM
Nothing wrong with an appropriate plug to answer a possible need. Might have thought better about the "in your face" aspect, however, with the huge graphic posted in-line. Less is more.