New Issues In Television Music Licensing

The Phone Call from the TV Producer


For the use, we’ll need a price quote to use your song in the episode for the following media:

1.         A five-year free television license

2.         An option for internet streaming

3.         An option for a life-of-copyright free television license

4.         An option for downloads

5.         An option for all television rights for life of copyright

6.         An option for all media rights excluding theatrical

7.         An option for a home video buy-out including mobile phones

8.         An option for theatrical use outside the United States

9.         An option to use the song in promos for the series



In a world of ever-expanding media options, distribution platforms, marketing plans, divergent audience viewing patterns, advertiser preferences, current and expectant markets, new technology distribution methods (known or which will be developed in the future), monetization of ancillary profits, etc., licensing music for television has taken on a new level of complexity and intricacy.

It’s an area of new concepts, new demands to respond quickly, new types of structures, new relationships and new types of considerations.  Because of its value with respect to not only present and future income but also exposure, television licensing is an area that you have to know the current state of affairs and deal accordingly.  If you don’t or are not able to, success will be hard to achieve.



Many network series (especially the successful ones that have been on the air for years) have fairly simple licensing schemes (e.g., “all media from the onset”, “all television with a home video buyout option”, “all television and home video combined license,”).


All Television Media With Home Video Options

A number of producers will ask for an “all television” or “all forms of television” synchronization license, usually for the life of copyright of the composition being used.  Pursuant to the terms of such a license, the producer is able to distribute the program via any television medium without having to resecure permission from the music publisher. In most of those licenses the producer has the right to extend rights to home video via an option for an additional fee.

All Television and Home Video

Some successful series use an all television and home video combined license without any option language which pays for all rights when the agreement is signed.

All Media Licenses Excluding Theatrical

Some studios are requesting “all media” licenses, excluding theatrical, for certain programming—a license that includes, television, home video, the Internet, mobile phone use, and any other media over which television shows can be distributed.  Such licenses include all TV transmissions such as free, pay, cable, satellite, subscription, hotel/motel to any type of monitor or receiver; all digital or broadband transmissions including streaming and downloading rights; all audiovisual devices (linear formats) such as DVDs, cassettes and other digital media; all other non-theatrical uses (including common carriers); and “in context” trailers, ads or promotions.