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What you need to know on clearing a song

Oftentimes, artists fail to obtain the necessary clearance from the right parties before releasing a song and this leads to the song being yanked off streaming platforms.

Song clearance can sometimes be tedious, especially as negotiating split sheets and other usage details can be tricky. However, the process often involves receiving permission from the right parties and tidying up all the required paperwork.

Here are the general steps involved in clearing a song.

Determine who owns the rights to the song, including the copyright holders for the composition (lyrics and music) and the sound recording.

The right holders include the songwriters who put together the lyrics and melodies for the composition and the artists and producers who record the song into its final form. Sometimes, both the songwriter and the recording artist are the same person. Other times, multiple songwriters work on a song before the song is recorded by one or more artists and produced by one or more producers. Permission must be obtained from each songwriter, recording artist, and producer.

Discuss and negotiate licensing terms, including the scope of use, duration, territory, and compensation. The terms may vary based on the intended use, such as in a film, TV show, commercial, or other project.

If the song will be publicly performed, ensure that you have the necessary licenses for live performances, radio broadcasts, streaming services, and other public platforms.

If you plan to use the song in visual media like films, TV shows, or commercials, you need a synchronization license. This grants permission to synchronize the song with visual content.

If you plan to reproduce and distribute the song as part of a new recording (e.g., a cover version), you need a mechanical license. Mechanical licenses are typically obtained through the music publisher.

If the song contains samples from other copyrighted works, you must clear those samples separately. This involves identifying the rights holders of the sampled material and obtaining permission to use the material.

It’s important to carefully review and sign contracts with all parties involved, including the music publisher, record label, and any other relevant stakeholders. Ensure that the contract is drawn up and reviewed by an experienced Entertainment and Intellectual Property and Copyright Lawyer.

It’s important to note that the clearance process can be complex, and it’s advisable to seek legal guidance to navigate specific issues related to copyright law.

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