Here you will find a clear and complete guide to Blanket Music Licenses. What is a blanket music license? Who needs one? How do you get one? Are there any alternatives? And more.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Artist / Composer – the person who writes, composes and releases a song
Producer / Editor – the person who edits the final work before it is released
Performance Rights Organisation (PRO) – a society responsible for collection and distribution of rights generated by musical works of Artists/Composers registered with them.
Musical work – a song or piece of music
Catalogue – collection of musical works by various artists
TYPES OF LICENSES
Public Performance License
What is a Blanket Music License?
Also known as a ‘General License”, a Blanket Music License is a general license issued by a Performance Rights Organisation (PRO) which permits the holder to play or perform all registered musical works by any Artist represented by that PRO. All musical works by all Artists represented by a specific PRO are usually simply referred to as that PRO’s ‘Catalog’ or ‘Catalogue’. So acquiring a Blanket Music License means that you can make general use of the whole, or a specifically negotiated part, of that PRO’s catalogue.
The process for acquiring a license for the use of an individual song can be timely and expensive. A blanket music license is designed to give the holder access to a wide catalogue of songs for general use thus, avoiding the need to undertake this process individually for different songs.
Who needs a Blanket Music License?
Blanket Music Licenses are normally requested by businesses with considerable requirements in terms of the number of songs and variety of styles of music. Therefore, they are generally issued to nightclubs, TV networks and radio stations. In-Store Music, In-store Radio and Background Music services for businesses and retail spaces will also often work under a Blanket Music License agreement.
A PRO will normally enter into a Blanket Music License agreement with these entities for use of their entire catalogue, or a limited part of it, for a previously agreed-upon rate. As mentioned above, a nightclub, TV network or radio station would use this general license instead of having to obtain an individual license for each individual song and each specific use of the song.
Who issues a Blanket Music License?
The respective PRO for each country is responsible for issuing blanket music licenses for the catalogues they represent. Once an artist has registered to a PRO, the management of the rights of their songs, and the issuing of the corresponding licenses, are the responsibility of the PRO.
The most significant PROs are:
|USA – ASCAP, BMI & SESAC
|France – SACEM
|Canada – SOCAN
|UK – PRS & PPL
|Australia – APRA & AMCOS
|Latin America – ACEMLA
|Spain – SGAE
|Germany – GEMA
How do Performance Rights Organisations (PROs) work?
A Performance Rights Organisation’s main function is to collect and distribute performance royalties or copyrights, which are earned when a musical work is ‘publicly performed’, on behalf of artists. This may include a song playing in a business, on a television or radio station or a live performance.
There are usually a few people involved in the creation of a song however the two main collaborators are the composer/artist and the editor/producer. Both of these people are independent of each other any usually keep 50% of the rights to the musical work.
Each of these people will normally be registered with a PRO in order to help them manage and collect the rights of all their musical works. While a composer is only allowed to be registered with one PRO, an editor may be registered with various or all local PROs. This is because, in order to collect their 50% for the musical work, they need to be registered with the same PRO as the composer, and they may have edited songs for various composers who are members of different PROs. Editors must be a member of all PROs that represent the Composers for whom they have edited musical works.
Some composers and/or producers choose not to register with any PRO and negotiate their own agreements in order to offer their music ‘royalty’ or ‘copyright’ free. Others also offer direct licences for parts of their catalogue which they have ‘opted-out’ for collection by PROs where a direct license agreement with the use is present. PROs are not able to collect payments for rights management of this music and therefore it can be offered more economically to the end-user. This is how we work at Free Music Projects with both our music for videos and in-store music service.
How much does a Blanket Music License Cost?
A Blanket Music License is normally issued and paid for on a yearly basis for a flat yearly fee which allows the holder to use all musical works in the PROs catalogue, without limit, for 12 months.
Getting a Blanket Music License
Before getting into the details, let’s go over a few important questions to consider before requesting a blanket music license.
What if I only want a Blanket License for one Artist’s songs?
If you have a very specific situation, perhaps you only need to general use of one artist’s songs. In this case, a blanket music licence for the PROs entire catalogue is unnecessary and expensive.
It is best that you confirm which PRO the artists is registered with, and contact them to negotiate the terms and cost of a blanket music license to allow you to use all the musical works by that artists only.
What if I only need the License for one song?
Then you do not need a blanket music license. You need to do the same as above but negotiate a license for the particular musical work you want to use and the specific use of the song (public performance, synchronisation etc.)
Can I avoid PROs and get a Blanket Music License elsewhere?
Yes, you can!
Most of the commercial hit songs will be under the management of PROs. However, if you are willing to consider the use of high-quality musical works by lesser known or independent artists, you can avoid the high price tag and hassle of dealing with PROs.
There are artists who are not registered with any PROs and offer their music directly to the end-user. These platforms offer royalty-free or direct license music. While the songs are not well-known to the public, if you choose a good platform to work with, the production value does not lack, quality vocals and instrumentals are present as well as a diverse range of genres. This option also offers great value in terms of quality-quantity-cost ratio.
A google search of Royalty-Free Music providers should yield some useful results, however, we would recommend you visit Free Music Projects.
Cheaper, more straightforward, alternatives to traditional Blanket Music Licenses
We have done our best here to explain how traditional Blanket Music Licensing works above. However, if you’re still a little confused there are some good alternatives available. Phew!
Blanket Music Licenses for In-Store Music Service Providers with Free Music Projects
If you are a business that offers In-Store Music services, In-Store Radio, In-Store Media or other forms of background music services for businesses you probably use a blanket music license from you music catalogue provider. Free Music Projects offers an extensive music catalogue across many genres of music recorded and produced by independent global artists. A blanket music license from Free Music Projects includes use of the entire catalogue of music across all genres at a fraction of the cost of a general music license from a Performance Rights Organisation.
Please contact Free Music Projects to for more information on costs, inclusions and pricing models and a demo sample of the catalogue. Or complete the contact enquiry form here.
In-Store Music / In-Store Radio / Background Music Direct to Businesses with Free Music Projects
If you’re looking for music to sound your business, whether it be a bar, restaurant, dental clinic or even a hotel or retail store, this is a great option. Platforms such as Free Music Projects offer unlimited access to non-stop music streaming channels in various genres. The music is curated for different atmospheres and business types and is offered at a fraction of the cost of a blanket music license issued by a PRO.
Platforms such as Free Music Projects allow you access to a large catalogue of music in many genres, which won’t not leave wanting more at all when compared to the commercial music managed by PROs (neither in quality nor in price).
All-Inclusive Music Licensing for Audiovisual Projects with Free Music Projects
As mentioned above, sometimes there may be circumstances where you only want to use one or two songs, for example in an audio-visual project such as a YouTube Video or a marketing video. In this case, we would suggest sourcing an individual license for each songs and each specific use.
Again, this process with a PRO such as BMI or ASCAP can be lengthy, frustrating and expensive. A platform such as Free Music Projects that also offers high-quality royalty-free music by independent artists for audio-visual projects might be a better alternative. If you’d like to explore the library of individual songs for synchronisation and other use visit: www.freemusicprojects.com
In conclusion, Blanket Music Licensing is a great option if your business is required to sound a large range of music as part of your basic operations.
Blanket Music Licensing through PROs however, unless you are a nightclub, radio station or commercial TV station, might not be the best option for your business. You must be ready for a long negotiation process as well as a large cost, depending on the uses and terms you manage to negotiate.
If you are a business outside of those mentioned above, you probably still need access to a variety or musical works and therefore do need to legally obtain licensing, however you can opt for a simpler and more economical solution.
The alternatives to PRO Blanket Music Licensing we have outlined above are therefore the most effective options for you. The In-Store Music / In-Store Radio / Background Music for Businesses option outlined above offers the same solution however, costs from as little as 45 euros annually.
We hope this guide was able to help you. You should now know if you do in fact need a traditional blanket music license or can save time and money by opting for a high-quality, all-inclusive, alternative.