Get “Creative” With Your Film Score

Music can be an essential part of film’s emotional connection to its audience. As an independent filmmaker, you may not be thinking about that aspect of your film until you are in post-production. Although you will have this budgeted in pre-production, you may not have accounted for all the costs involved in licensing music. There’s a great article at that explains some of these details:

Properly securing the rights to popular songs is expensive. To use any song, you need to obtain two different licenses: The Master License and the Synchronization (Sync) License. The Sync license grants permission to use a song’s composition (all the lyrics and the composed music)–this is often owned by the performer/composer. The Master license is giving permission to use a particular recording of that song in your movie–often the recording label/company owns this.” [excerpt from MicroFilmmaker Magazine – “Tips & Tricks – Music & Score”]

This even includes the “Happy Birthday” song. If you have a scene in your film that has the characters singing “Happy Birthday” at a party, you’ll need to pay the copyright owners for that license.

Independent artists – be it filmmakers or musicians – have similar goals and obstacles that can form a symbiotic relationship of sorts. There are many resources out there that can help you get quality music for your film from indie artists as yourself.

MySpace is a great place to find, sample and contact indie musicians that want exposure for their music. The Foureyedmonsters directors (who I’ve blogged about before – 1, 2) have utilized MySpace for their film and podcasts.

Some established composers want to “give back” to the indie community from which they came from. Moby – the techno composer/DJ/activist, is now allowing independent and non-profit filmmakers to use his music in non-commercial projects. He’s made about 60 songs available. “If you want to use it in a commercial film or short,” Moby declares on his website Moby Gratis. “Then you can apply for an easy license, with any money that’s generated being given to the humane society.”

Creative Commons licenses have also emerged as a godsend to indie musicians who want to expose their music to the public without the restrictive copyright laws enforced by the RIAA. Filmmakers can now take advantage of the flexibility of these licenses which invite multiple uses of a musician’s work. Here are some sites with available CC licensed music:

Sound Click this is a music community based website that features both signed and unsigned bands. You can search the site through this link and sort though the different Creative Commons license types that suit you needs.

Free Sound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds focusing only on sound, not songs.

ccMixer is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under Creative Commons licenses.

BeatPick is a pre-cleared music catalogue that can be licensed instantly for commercial and non commercial purposes.

Opsound applies the model of free software (shareware) to music using a Copyleft license developed by Creative Commons.

For more CC license sites, check out these directories:

+ Creative Commons – Featured Audio Sites
+ Ourmedia
+ Common Content
+ Registered Commons
+ Netlabel Catalogue
+ The Internet Archive – Open Source Audio

Music Publishing Related links:

ASCAP FAQ – How To Acquire Music For Films
SOCAN (Canada)
– – Addl’ links

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