Video Game Music Licensing

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Video Game Music Licensing

A Brief Introduction About the Video Game Music Licensing

Video game music licensing is essential when it involves licensing music for games gives legal permission to use copyrighted music. Licensing music also confirms that the owners of copyrights receive royalty payments for the use of their work.

Licensing music for video games and additional types of visual media needs two licenses which include: A Synchronization License (Sync) & a Master Use License

Who Takes the Video Game Music Licensing?

This is an agreement made between the owner of the copyrighted music (copyright holder) and the licensee who wants to use the music.

Purpose of the Video Game Music Licensing

Video game music licensing serves as a major source of revenue for independent artists. It is also an effective way of gaining exposure and reach new fans. It requires both licenses i.e. A Synchronization License (Sync) and a Master Use License as every recorded song ideally has two copyrights:

  • Master sound recording: This includes original studio recording. A record label generally owns the rights of the master recording.
  • Musical composition: This primarily includes music arrangement, melody, and any lyrics. The composer or their music publisher generally owns the rights towards the musical composition

Contents of the Video Game Music Licensing

The agreement must include:

  • Your name and address
  • The copyrights’ holder name as well as address
  • Whether the usage is exclusive or not
  • The territory covered
  • The time covered
  • The name of the song concerned
  • A description of all permitted usage of the song
  • Who owns the right to the song and how the credit should be handled?
  • The payment and royalties
  • Signature and relevant dates

How to Draft the Video Game Music Licensing?

While drafting, you must consider a few of the following points;

Exclusive usage of the song would be much more expensive, so think twice before asking for it.

The artist must retain all right to the song and be credited properly where needed. If you want to own the song’s copyright, be ready to pay for it.

Describe all allowed use for the song. Do you wish to allocate it as part of the game soundtrack? Would you use it to promote the game or in the trailer? Would you use it in a free demo? Would it be modified in any way?

In case the copyright holder accepts your terms, your agreement is done. You could both sign the contract and send a copy to each other. However, while you submit music for video games, you should consider that some artists can try to negotiate an onetime fee in place of a royalty rate. Some would want upfront payment or a bigger cut of the profits, and some may simply want to change the word used or add more protection for them.

Video game music licensing has become one of the smartest ways for independent musicians towards earning money. It is also one of the fastest rising opportunities for emerging artists to make money and get discovered. You could receive licensing revenue through preliminary fees and performance royalties while also gaining valuable exposure.

Benefits & Drawbacks of the Video Game Music Licensing

Some benefits of this licensing include:

  • Video game music licensing could be a major source of revenue for independent artists. It is also an effective way of gaining exposure and reach new fans.
  • Getting your music positioned in video games brings new attention to music that was out for a while. A license could give your older music fresh attention and new royalty payments.
  • This license creates opportunities for artists to earn passive income through continued royalties or usage fees. Passive income is revenue obtained regularly. It needs minimal to no effort by the recipient to maintain.
  • This license benefits lesser-known artists overlooked by mainstream followers on music streaming sites. Those platforms emphasis on popular trends, traffic volume, and engagement. Furthermore, those seeking music for visual media are less concerned about whether an artist is renowned or has a million streams. Their only concern is whether the music works for the audiovisual project.
  • Demand for music in movies, tv shows, commercials, video games, trailers, and additional types of visual media is at an all-time high. This means more prospects to make money with your music.

Some drawbacks of this licensing include:

Firstly, the copyright in songs, as well as the copyright in recordings, differ. Thus if you are using recordings of songs, you shall need to license two sets of rights, which include the song rights and the recording rights.

Also, the copyrights could be co-owned, and song copyrights normally are. If you want to use a song, you are required to get permission separately from each co-owner, any one of which could say no.

Moreover, if you sync a track into a game and then make that game available through an online network, in copyright terms, you are both ‘copying’ as well as ‘communicating’ the music. This is vital because, on the song’s side, copying and communicating are often licensed individually. Also, copyrights may be owned by different individuals or firms in different countries, and rules vary around the world.

[ Alos Read: Video Licensing Agreement ]

What Happens in Case of Violation?

Music is protected through copyright law(1), which gives exclusive rights to copyright owners to perform or play their songs. If anyone plays music without permission, they are violating the copyright, and copyright law permits the owner to recover damages per violation if a court decides the breach was willful.

It is important that a Video Game Music Licensing is used before going into sync licensing. Also, you must know how the licensing business works and how much a song is worth it. This is made between the owner of the copyrighted music (copyright holder) as well as the licensee who wants to place the music.