Home » Music & More » Listicles » Music Licensing and its uses

Music Licensing and its uses



The licensed use of copyrighted music is called music licensing. It is important to protect every artist’s right. To license their music in total legality and transparency would mean the royalties collected will be distributed fairly. Licensing your music can be thought of as renting out your songs. Music licenses are the primary way artists can receive royalties for their music, by giving legal authorization to someone who would like to use their work. While you are not selling your music, you are allowing “users” to play your songs in exchange for royalties. Here are the types of music licenses.


Synchronization License

A music synchronization license, also known as a sync license, is a music license granted by the owner or composer of a particular piece of work. The license allows the licensee, or purchaser the right to use the music in a visual piece, such as a movie, video game, or commercial.

Sync License

Mechanical License

A mechanical license is a permission to release a new recording of a song that someone else wrote, in an audio-only format. The most common use of a mechanical license is to record yourself playing a song that someone else wrote or published. This is also known as a cover song.

Master License

Master licenses are a bit more complex than most others, in that they’re similar to sync licenses but not quite as broad-ranging. A master right is held by the person who owns the recording of a song. The master license gives the user permission to use a pre-recorded version of a song in a visual or audio project, but does not allow a user to re-record a song for a project (i.e. to cover or edit a song). Generally, a master license is issued in conjunction with a sync license.

Public Performance License

This license is perhaps the most common form of music license issued today. While ‘performance’ may be a limiting term, it applies generally to any broadcast of an artist’s work. If you perform music in public, or play recorded music in public, such as at a club, restaurant, concert on the radio or streaming on the web you might need to obtain a public performance license.

Public Performance License

Print License

This license refers to the physical copy of the sheet music that an artist has created. It is needed when someone prints a sheet music compilation, or any time the sheet music of copyrighted work is reproduced.

Theatrical License

The license is required any time a copyrighted work is performed on-stage in front of an audience. This is the permission to perform a live theatrical production of a song or perhaps more often, an entire musical show that someone else wrote. Theatrical licenses are very common in the theater industry.

Music licensing is a term, not commonly used in India.

Abhishek Singh

Author: Abhishek Singh

Leave a Reply


Get Music Plus’s top stories, interviews
and gig updates delivered to your inbox.

We won’t spam you. Promise!