View Full Version : General Questions for using music


SquaretheJon
03-11-2009, 09:51 PM
Hey,

If you wanted to make a short and wanted to use a few songs that you know b/c it would fit perfectly in it, how do you "get permission" or, how are you able to use it? I know there is a lot of copyright stuff, but I don't understand it. Could someone explain to me how to use music? Do I need permission from the artist? Or what?

Thanks.

Zensteve
03-11-2009, 11:29 PM
Absolutely, you need permission.

Even the free stuff available from many Creative Commons websites has some kind of obligation to follow through on - usually a note in the credits, at the minimum.

If you're looking to use "real" known bands, you'll probably need to go through ASCAP or BMI (and pay the appropriate fees). That's assuming the song is even available, for starters. Just 'cos you might be real-life pals with Steven Tyler, doesn't mean he can just give you permission to use any Aerosmith song you want. They can be restricted by labels, or various contracts.

It's much easier to get permission to use songs from bands found on MySpace, or similar sites. A few e-mails back & forth, and a quick talk about money issues (heck, if it's none just be upfront about it), and get them to sign a release for you. You'll need that release, if you ever submit to a festival that plays by the rules, or look to get your flick picked up by anyone.

All that's going to cost you is less than a buck in postage, and you can sleep easy at night. :cool:

As far as music in the public domain - the music itself might be, but a given recording of it might not be. For example, music written by Mozart is in the public domain. The actual recording of "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" performed by the ZenSteve Piano Company would not be; and won't be, for another 70+ years. However, you could record your own performance of the same public-domain music, and it would be yours.

Other options include hitting up the forums here (heck, there's even a composer who just posted right above this thread, on main page) looking for musicians trying to gather some work-experience. Or CraigsList.org. You can find all kinds of musicians willing to work for whatever, in exchange for building their resume. You'd still need to get a signed release from them, of course.

When you contact potential musicians/composers, just make sure you are upfront about money, if any. Get that out of the way first, or you'll ending wasting everyone's time (including your own).

duder23
03-12-2009, 04:09 AM
hey where can i find a release form for music??

Simpulse
03-12-2009, 05:01 AM
I'm a music technology lecturer/teacher and would relish the opportunity to work on an interesting project and as I'm trying to establish myself... I'd be willing to work on the "right project" for a screen credit - no charge and no strings attached.

I've also made a couple of low budget films in the past and created my own soundtrack/score/audio post production for them. It's really the way I see my career going now.

Usually I'd imagine people would have some kind of portfolio of work to play... I'm working on getting one online at the minute. But give me a go anyway... it will cost you nothing and there's nothing saying I can work on something as a trial, you don't even have to use what I produce!! If you don't like it... I can add it to my portfolio... everyone wins!

Cheers.

(Forgot to add) I'd say I specialise in Orchestral/Electronic music (I reckon I'm better at the darker sounding stuff too!) but any style isn't really a problem. I've also got experience in audio post production (sound effects/audio treatment/overdubs) as it's something I do frequently in my day job!

M1chae1
03-12-2009, 08:51 AM
Am I correct in saying that you can use copyrighted music as long as you don't intend to sell your movie? If I'm not mistaken, I've had several film buddies use songs for festival shorts...no biggie.

If you want to sell, distribute, or make a dime off of your production, then you'll have to go through all the hoops and proper channels which ZenSteve illuminated.

Thanks.

Alcove Audio
03-18-2009, 12:46 PM
Am I correct in saying that you can use copyrighted music as long as you don't intend to sell your movie? If I'm not mistaken, I've had several film buddies use songs for festival shorts...no biggie.

If you want to sell, distribute, or make a dime off of your production, then you'll have to go through all the hoops and proper channels which ZenSteve illuminated.

There are a myriad of grey areas regarding "Festival Usage". The best idea is not to use the music. Some artists will give a great deal of latitude, others will sue you down to your underwear even if two bars the song is accidentally captured by the production sound from a passing car (yes, it's happened!).

Another thing to keep in mind is that if the film acquires distribution you will have to negotiate the use of the song(s) in question, and some songs will cost you five or six figures up front plus points.

To top it all off, there are thousands of great songs out there and the artist/band is almost always willing to let their song be used in a film in an effort to broaden their audience. Hey, you're out there trying to get your big break; support those struggling musicians out there.

hey where can i find a release form for music??

http://www.filmcontracts.net/contracts/form.php?id=1118

directorik
03-18-2009, 01:16 PM
Am I correct in saying that you can use copyrighted music as long as you don't intend to sell your movie? If I'm not mistaken, I've had several film buddies use songs for festival shorts...no biggie.

Did they get a "Festival License" or did they just get lucky?

I ask because the right to copy isn't contingent on money or
sales or profit, it's simply the right to copy (use). Many festivals
don't really care and don't enforce copyright and many short
films use copyrighted music without permission and, as you put
it, no biggie.

As Alcove said, "festival rights" can be a curse. If your short wins
some awards or even just gets accepted into several festivals you
cannot do anything else with the movie. You can't (legally) post
it on line, sell it into a DVD collection of shorts or distribute it
anywhere.

People do get away with this all the time. But it's still not legal. And
in my opinion, it's unethical for one artist to use the work of another
without permission.