/ Music Copyright License Fees

Music Copyright License Fees

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Manish Jindal

December 5, 2023


0min read

Music Copyright License Fees

In today’s digital age, music is more accessible than ever. Whether you’re a filmmaker, advertiser, or business owner, using music can elevate your project.

However, it’s crucial to understand the importance of obtaining a music copyright license to avoid legal complications and ensure fair compensation to artists.

This article delves into the intricacies of music copyright license fees and provides a roadmap for navigating this often complex terrain.

What is a Music Copyright License?

A music copyright license grants permission to use a copyrighted musical composition in specific ways. There are various types of licenses, each tailored to different uses:

1. Sync License

A Synchronization License allows users to pair pre-existing music with visual media. This type of license is commonly sought by TV commercials, advertising agencies, and film studios.

Whether it’s a poignant scene in a movie or a catchy ad jingle, a sync license ensures the music complements the visual element seamlessly.

2. Mechanical License

Ever wondered how artists’ creations end up on CDs, streaming platforms, or other distribution channels? The Mechanical License makes this possible.

It permits the reproduction and distribution of musical compositions.

If you’re looking to remix a song, add your own lyrics, or make any changes to the original composition, this license is a must-have.

3. Master License

While the Sync License allows you to pair music with visuals, the Master License takes it a step further.

It grants permission to use a pre-recorded version of a song in any audio-visual project.

However, it’s worth noting that this license doesn’t permit re-recording the song.

4. Public Performance License

Imagine attending a concert or walking into a café with music playing in the background.

The Public Performance License makes such experiences possible.

It’s a common license that broadcasters or businesses obtain to play copyrighted music, be it through a jukebox, radio, or live performances.

5. Print Rights License

For those who appreciate the written form of music, the Print Rights License is essential. It pertains to the physical sheet music produced by an artist.

Whether you’re looking to reproduce a song’s sheet music or compile various compositions, this license ensures you’re on the right side of the law.

6. Theatrical License

The world of theatre is vibrant and dynamic. But even here, music plays a pivotal role.

The Theatrical License is a specific permission required whenever a copyrighted musical work is performed on stage.

From Broadway musicals to local theatre productions, this license ensures artists’ works are showcased with due respect and legality.

Key Organisations Offering Online Music Licenses in India

India’s music industry is governed by several prominent organisations that ensure the legal use of music while safeguarding the interests of artists and stakeholders.

Here’s a concise overview:

  1. Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL): PPL is a pivotal entity in India, licensing sound recordings for public performances, broadcasts, and public communication. Representing a vast array of both domestic and international music, PPL ensures that music labels and artists’ rights are protected across various sectors, from digital platforms to live events.
  2. Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS): IPRS is a central body managing public performance and broadcasting rights for musical compositions. Representing composers, songwriters, and music publishers, IPRS licenses copyrighted music to various entities, ensuring creators are fairly rewarded.
  3. The Indian Music Industry (IMI): As the leading trade body for recorded music in India, IMI champions the rights of music companies, from major to independent labels. They collaborate with stakeholders to devise licensing models apt for the digital era, ensuring artists are compensated for their contributions.
  4. Copyright Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers of Music (COSCAP): Specialising in music copyright management, COSCAP represents a broad spectrum of music creators and publishers. They license copyrighted music to diverse users, from digital platforms to event organisers, fostering a transparent music licensing environment in India.

In essence, these organisations play a pivotal role in shaping India’s music licensing landscape, ensuring fairness and legality in the industry.

Factors Influencing Music License Fees

The cost of a music license isn’t a flat rate; it varies based on several factors:

  1. Venue Type: The fees differ depending on where the music is played, be it a restaurant, store, or any other commercial space.
  2. Duration of Play: How long you stream the music in your establishment can influence the cost.
  3. Song Count: The number of different songs you play can also affect the license fee.
  4. Venue Capacity: Larger venues might have to pay a higher fee compared to smaller ones.
  5. Business Nature: The kind of business you run, whether it’s a cafe, retail store, or event space, can determine the license cost.

Music Copyright License Fees Structure

When obtaining a music license from IPRS (Indian Performing Right Society) for streaming a live performance:

  • For Metro or Major cities: The annual fee is Rs. 10,000.
  • For Non-Metro cities: The annual fee is Rs. 5,000.

However, the tariff can vary based on the events hosted at the venue.

For instance, if you’re looking to play music in a store, the minimum royalty fee for public performance is Rs. 2,500 for every 5,000 sq. ft.

On the other hand, if you’re obtaining a music license from ISRA (Indian Singers’ Rights Association):

  • The minimum annual royalty or license fee is Rs. 3,650.

The Cost of Licensing a Well-Known Song: What You Need to Know

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Licensing a popular song for use in various media can be a complex and sometimes expensive endeavor. But how much does it actually cost?

The truth is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect:

  1. Varied Costs: Licensing fees for songs can vary significantly. While an independent artist might charge between $50 to $150, licensing a hit song from a top-tier artist can easily run into thousands of dollars.
  2. Revenue Sharing: Some record companies might include a revenue-sharing clause in their licensing contracts. For instance, if a popular song featured in your film generates a million dollars in revenue and the contract stipulates a 1% share, you’d owe an additional $10,000 on top of the initial licensing fee.
  3. Per-Second Charges: Some licensing agreements charge by the second. If a song’s rate is $500 per second and you use a 10-second clip for an advertisement, that’s a $5,000 fee.
  4. Factors Influencing Cost: The final cost can depend on various factors, including the medium of use (e.g., film, advertisement, streaming), the duration of the song used, and the specific terms negotiated with the record company.
  5. Negotiation is Key: It’s essential to remember that licensing fees are negotiable. Different publishers and record labels have different rates, and there’s often room for discussion.
  6. High Costs Can Be Daunting: The potential high costs of licensing popular songs drive many to seek more affordable alternatives.

Understanding Music Licensing Fees: Who Foots the Bill?

Music licensing is a crucial aspect of the music industry, ensuring that artists, composers, and publishers are compensated for the use of their creations.

But when it comes to paying these licensing fees, who is actually responsible?

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Broadcasters and Online Platforms: Radio stations, TV channels, and online platforms like Spotify and YouTube typically handle the responsibility of obtaining music licenses. These entities issue music licenses to ensure every audio song or piece of audiovisual content they broadcast or stream is legally covered.
  2. Business Entities and Public Spaces: Whether it’s a retail store, a cafe, or any other business unit, the management is tasked with ensuring they have the appropriate categories of music license. This is especially true if they use music to enhance the ambiance or for events music usage. The music, whether it’s digital content or traditional tracks, contributes to the customer experience and potentially boosts business.
  3. Social Media and Digital Content Creators: Individuals posting copyrighted music or audiovisual content on platforms like Facebook or Instagram need to ensure they have the necessary licenses. While online platforms do monitor for unlicensed music, the primary responsibility lies with the content creator.
  4. Filmmakers and Producers: Those in the realm of creating films, advertisements, or any form of audiovisual content must ensure they have the right licenses for the music they integrate. This often involves liaising with copyright owners or their representatives to secure the rights.
  5. Royalty-Free Music Platforms: Platforms offering royalty-free music typically handle the licensing aspect. They issue licenses to music users, ensuring that when their music is used, whether in digital content or traditional formats, the rights owners are compensated.
  6. Events and Large Gatherings: For events or gatherings where music is a focal point, the organising entity, whether a business entity or an individual, must ensure they have a radio broadcasting license or the equivalent, especially if they’re broadcasting live.

In essence, whether you’re a broadcaster, a business entity, or a content creator, understanding the nuances of licensed music and ensuring compliance is crucial.

It not only safeguards against potential legal pitfalls but also ensures that rights owners, the true creators, are fairly compensated for their work.


Music copyright license fees play a pivotal role in the fair distribution of music, especially in today’s digital age.

Whether for commercial purposes, audiovisual projects, or simple deployment of music on digital music streaming platforms, understanding the nuances of each music license category is crucial.

From single song licenses that focus on the duration of music to licenses for pre-recorded music for broader commercial use, the landscape is vast.

Organisations that issue music licenses ensure that term rights are respected, especially when music transitions from traditional to digital forms or is integrated into an audio-visual form.

As the music industry evolves, so does the importance of understanding the intricacies of licensing, ensuring creators are compensated and music is rightfully distributed.


How much is a song licensing fee?

The cost of a song licensing fee can vary widely based on several factors, including the popularity of the song, the intended use, and the licensing terms.

While independent artists might charge between $50 to $150, licensing a famous song from top artists can run into several thousand dollars.

How to obtain a music license?

To obtain a music license, you need to identify the copyright owner or the agency representing them. Once identified, you can approach them with a request detailing your intended use.

They will then provide you with terms and conditions, and upon agreement, you’ll be granted the license, often in exchange for a fee.

What is the process for obtaining permission to use a song?

Permission to use a song is typically granted through a music license.

You’ll need to contact the copyright owner or their representative, explain your intended use, and if they agree, they’ll provide you with a license, often for a fee. Always ensure you have written documentation of the permission.

What do you man by music licensing fees?

Music licensing fees are charges that individuals or entities pay to legally use copyrighted music for various purposes, such as in commercials, movies, or public performances. These fees ensure that artists and copyright owners are compensated for the use of their work.

What is the cost of licensing a familiar song?

Licensing a familiar or famous song can be expensive. While songs from independent artists might cost between $50 to $150, famous tracks can cost several thousand dollars.

Some licensing agreements might also include a percentage of revenue earned through the licensed music.

Factors influencing the cost include the song’s popularity, duration of use, and the platform on which it’s used.

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