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Score Licensing & Contracts .. can anybody help?


I'm currently working on my first documentary and would like to get all needed contracts settled before going into any distribution meetings.

I will be using an instrumental music piece composed by one friend, and preformed/recorded by another friend.

They are both happy to license this unreleased song to my documentary & me, but I'm not quite sure what contracts I will have to have them both sign.

I believe the composer will have to sign a "Master Use License" & a "Film Synchronization License".

What will the performer/recorder have to sign?

Any help will be greatly appreciated! :yes:
Speaking just from my own experience - and yes we did work with an attorney who specializes in indie films - for combo singers/songwriters who wrote & performed their own work we used a "synchronization and master use license." We had one instance where we licensed the performance of a piece of classical music (Bach); in that case, it was just a "master use license."
As a composer I have dealt with this and had contracts written up a few times, mainly as a composer and performer simultaneously---so it's a little different.

I believe you're pretty close on what you need. With that being said, I still use a lawyer when anything is important, so don't take my advice for anything other than a---very non-legal---opinion. When in doubt get a lawyer.

If I'm understanding the situation correctly, I would think that the performer/recorder would own the master (since they own the master recording) and the composer would have the sync (since they are the songwriter, but don't own the recordings). Each person has a key and you need both to open the door.

Here's an article I found that kind of lays it out. I hope this helps.


I think mlesemann makes a good point with the Bach example. Since the song is now public domain, No sync license would be needed. But the recording is copyrighted, and therefore needs a Master Use license.