Evan M. Greenspan, Inc.    overview      do it yourself      let us guide you      let us do it
Music Clearance
-Do It Yourself

Below is a copy of our "do it yourself" clearance guidelines. You are welcome to use the resources section on our site to locate the publisher of the songs; the information for the record label should appear on the CD from which you are taking the music.

To play a song in any medium, you will need synchronization rights from the publisher of the song. If you want to use a particular recording of a song, you will also need master rights from the record label who released the recording.

You must always contact the publisher for any song use. Here's how:

  1. Look at the label copy for the song and get the names of the songwriters. You can also frequently get songwriter information at the All Music Guide (www.allmusic.com) or CDNow (www.cdnow.com).

  2. With the songwriters noted, take the EMG research link to ASCAP and/or BMI and enter the song title. You may find that there are many songs with the same title, but using the writers will help you zero in on your title. If the song is not found at ASCAP, try BMI next, or vice versa.

  3. ASCAP and BMI will provide information on the publisher owning the song. Copy the address information for the publisher.

  4. Prepare a brief letter or fax (1 to 1 ½ pages maximum) to the publisher - be sure to say Independent Film Request or Low Budget Film at the top of the letter. Reference the title of the song and songwriters, then the name of your production. Tell them briefly about the production how the song fits in, as well as:

    1. The timing or duration of the song;
    2. The visuals accompanying the song;
    3. Where your production will be seen and for how long (1-time, 1 year, etc)
    4. The titles of other songs you plan to use, particularly if you have already gotten permission.
    5. If you have no budget for clearance, say so in your letter. However, publishers will often give priority to requests that offer a token fee ($25.00 to $100.00 per song) because it shows respect for the value of the copyright.
    6. Provide the publisher with an address, phone fax or e-mail so they can reply quickly.
    7. Remember, student requests will only be considered as such if they remain in the realm of the school, or school-related exhibitions. Productions for sale are NOT student films.
    8. Fax or mail your request to the publisher. Wait at least 10 days before following up.

To contact the record label:

  1. Find the name and address of the record company on a copy of the CD or recording you plan to use. If you don't have a copy, try to find the recording on www.cdnow.com www.amg.com, or at your local record store. Most record stores keep a copy of Phonolog, which lists all records in release and has addresses of most current record labels.

  2. Prepare a brief letter similar to the publisher letter above.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Music belongs to the publishers and labels and they have no obligation to give you permission, or even respond to your request (although most do).

  2. If someone doesn't respond, it doesn't mean you've been given permission

  3. In most cases, you cannot change a song's lyrics for use in production without permission. In other words, you can't clear the melody and substitute your own words with the publisher's OK.

  4. Permissions take time (especially those being sought for free). Be sure you allow at least a few weeks for copyright owners to respond.

  5. Finally, only the owners of the music copyrights you are seeking can grant you a license. Receipt of this reply does not in any way constitute a clearance or agreement by our firm to represent you in getting rights for this music use.

Good Luck!

For more information check out our resources section.