Licensing 101

Music licensing involves the production, distribution and sale of music in a variety of forms including the promotion of musical performance.

Here are some basic things to know about music licensing and public performance of copyrighted works:

the right, granted by the copyright holder or his/her agent, for the broadcast, recreation, or performance of a copyrighted work. Types of licensing contracts can include: 1) a flat fee for a defined period of usage, or 2) royalty payments determined by the number of copies of the work sold or the total revenues acquired as a result of its distribution. In addition to a basic fee, most music licensing agreements require additional payments to the copyright owner when the work in which it is included is financially successful above a certain threshold (step deal).
the owner of the licensed work
the person or entity to whom the work is licensed
the public performance of a musical piece, whether live or recorded, performed by the original artist or someone else, whether the performance keeps to the original version or is adapted or changed in some manner. Playing a music CD (or digital file, etc.) in public is “performing” the work.
playing live or recorded works, including radio, TV, streaming, podcasting, etc.