When you are looking to synchronize a song with any visuals there are two separate rights that you need to clear:
Let’s use the song ‘White Christmas’, written by Irving Berlin as an example. Universal Music Publishing control the publishing rights to this song. If you wanted to use the Bing Crosby recording of ‘White Christmas’, as well as approaching Universal Music Publishing, you would also need to clear this with Universal Records who own the master recording. But if you were to use Michael Bublé’s version, then his recording is owned by Warner Records so you would need their permission instead. So the master rights can change with each version of a song while the publishing rights remain at the same companies.
To check who holds publishing rights you can contact Sabam and for master rights you can check online on several streaming platforms like iTunes, Spotify and music database Discogs, most of the time the master owner is indicated on the bottom of the release page. Information may also be inside the CD cover which mention the relevant publishers and the record label. If you think Universal Music is the masterowner, send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All requests will need to be handled by the same local Universal Music office as the contracting party. Our office only handles requests for Belgium and Luxembourg.
Our fees are based on the terms that you request and so our synchronization form will need to be completed before we are able to provide a ballpark quote. It is only once you accept the ballpark quote that we would proceed to clearance.
As a rule of thumb we generally advise to allow a minimum of 2 weeks, although the vast majority of our catalogue can be cleared in a shorter time frame. This is only a guide and request times can vary depending on which song you are looking to use or even the type of request.
The main way to ensure your request isn’t delayed is by providing as much information as possible. If we need to go back and forth to confirm details this may slow the process down. So for films provide for example a Synopsis (in English) or a link to the scene and as much information about how the track will be used. For commercials mood boards, link to edits etc. are helpful. Please keep in mind that we need to contact the right owners for approval and we cannot guarantee feedback in time.
Most Favoured Nations (MFN) ensures parity between the rights holders. If the specified rights holder (co-publisher and/or master) quote higher, then our fee should be raised to equal theirs. You will pay a fee for the use of the publishing (copyright) and a fee for the master.
– Some songs can be more difficult to clear than others so it can also be a good idea to prepare an alternative song in the event that we are unable to secure approval for your request.
– A minimum billing amount will always apply. Also for charity or non-profit projects.
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