June 18, 2024

Licensing Rights for Music for Your TV Show (Free Template)

Chris Cullari
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Television Music Rights License Template
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Licensed music – or “needle drops” – can elevate TV scenes from entertaining to eternal. Think Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” in Miami Vice or Kate Bush’s “Running up That Hill” in Stranger Things. Unfortunately, licensing rights for music are complicated and often difficult to navigate.

That’s why Wrapbook has put together a FREE template to help you land the perfect music for your television show!

Download our free TV music rights license template

Our easy-to-use template is designed to help anyone cut through the complex paperwork that results from licensing rights for music.

While this template can help when it comes time to put pen to paper, it’s still important to understand the process of how to get licensing rights for music.

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Television Music Rights License Template

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Know exactly what you want to use & how you’re using it

Before diving into the world of licensing rights for music, it's crucial to have a clear vision of the type of music you want to incorporate into your TV project and how you plan on using it.

Ask yourself some key questions:

  • Do you plan to use the entire song or just a portion of it?
  • Are you considering the original recording or a cover version?
  • How long do you intend to use the song in your show?
  • In what regions or territories will your show be broadcast?

The details of your licensing agreement will be shaped by the answers to these questions. For instance, a long-term license for the life of the show will probably cost more than a license that allows for a single broadcast of the song.

By defining these answers upfront, you'll streamline the process of licensing rights for music and avoid potential complications down the line.

Find the copyright owner

Once you've identified the songs you wish to include in your TV show (and how you’d like to include them) the next step is to determine the copyright owner. Music publishers are often the primary point of contact, but the copyright owner could also be the songwriter, composer, or recording artist.

The most direct way to track down the copyright owner is to contact Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. These organizations act as an intermediary between copyright holders and parties (such as yourself) who wish to use copyrighted works publicly.

They also provide valuable resources and databases to help you track down the rights holders of the music you're interested in using. If these organizations come up short, you might try contacting the artist through publicly available emails or social media channels. 

Get the right permissions

With the copyright owner identified, the next step in licensing rights for music is to obtain the necessary permissions to use the music in your TV project. This typically involves acquiring two types of licenses:

Synchronization license

This license grants you the right to synchronize the music with visual media, such as TV shows. It doesn’t matter whether you plan to use the song once in the life of the show or whether you’re planning on using it in each episode as the song that plays during the credits, you need a sync license.

Securing this license usually requires working directly with the music publisher associated with the musical composition to secure this license.

Master use license

The master use license allows you to use a specific recording of the song in your TV project. For instance, if you want to use “All Along the Watchtower,” you need to know if you want Bob Dylan’s version or Jimi Hendrix’s version.

This license is typically provided by the record label associated with the recording you intend to use.

Negotiate terms, conditions, and fees

This is one of the most important steps in licensing rights for music; where lawyers get involved and terms are set in stone. While there’s no rule that says you can’t negotiate these terms yourself, it’s wise to have an entertainment lawyer represent you or at least look over the contracts before they are signed.

Licensing Music Rights for Your TV Project - Wrapbook - Signing Contract
Negotiating terms is just one step involved in how to get licensing rights for music. Staying on top of the contracts is another.

As you engage in the licensing process, be prepared for you or your lawyer to negotiate around the terms, conditions, and fees associated with each kind of license. 

These aspects can vary significantly depending on factors such as how many times the music will be used, the length of your show's distribution, and the regions where it will air. This is why it’s important to clarify your vision for how the music will be used before seeking a license! You need to make sure you cover your bases in negotiations.

Keep in mind that different fee structures may apply, including one-time license fees, ongoing royalties, or a combination of both. Make sure to discuss these details with the copyright owner to ensure a mutually beneficial agreement and no surprises down the road.

Keep up with your licensing contracts

You might think that your job is done once the deals are done and you've secured licensing rights for the music in your TV show – but it isn’t. Once you’ve acquired both the master and sync rights, you still have to make sure that you are always operating in compliance with your licensing contracts.

If your show gets picked up for additional seasons or distributed in new regions, don't let your licensing contracts become obsolete or expire. Stay vigilant in monitoring the status of your agreements and make sure to address any necessary updates or renewals promptly.

One reason that popular television shows sometimes don’t make the jump to new forms of media is because their licensing rights for music have either expired or were never negotiated properly in the first place. 

Wrapping up

Armed with this knowledge and our free TV music rights licensing template, your journey to license music for your TV show just got a little bit easier. 

If you’d like to know more about how to license other material – such as film clips – we’ve got you covered! And for more information on how Wrapbook can help you navigate rights management, check out our guide to IP and reversion rights.

Free Resource

Television Music Rights License Template

Download Now
Last Updated 
June 18, 2024


At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Chris Cullari

Chris Cullari is a writer/director based out of Los Angeles. His most recent film, THE AVIARY, is available for streaming on Paramount Plus and Showtime. You can find him tweeting about monsters, pro-wrestling, and horror movies.

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