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Understanding Music Licensing for Brands & Corporations

Incorporating music into your brand's marketing efforts can elevate your brand identiy, enhance consumer experiences and, ultimately, contribute to the growth of your business. However, using music in commercial contexts requires careful attention to licensing, and this can often catch even the most established corporations out. With that said, use this guide to learn how brands can use music legally and effectively in marketing by understanding different types of music licenses, compliance, and ethical considerations.

People working together on a computer

What Is Music Licensing?

Music licensing grants permission to use a piece of music for a specific purpose. This agreement is typically between the music's copyright holder (such as an artist or publisher) and the party seeking to use the music (in this case, your brand). Licensing ensures that artists are fairly compensated for the use of their work.

Types of Music Licenses

  • Synchronization (Sync) License: using a piece of music in combination with visual media (e.g., in a TV commercial).

  • Mechanical License: the right to reproduce and distribute a song in physical or digital formats (e.g., CDs, streaming services).

  • Public Performance License: playing music in public spaces or broadcast (e.g., stores, events, radio). Usually issued by performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC - read our blog on what these are, and how they can help you, here.

  • Master Use License: the right to use a specific recorded version of a song.

Why Is Music Licensing Important for Brands?

Obtaining a music license carries a multitude of legal & ethical benefits for brands. In terms of compliance, unauthorized use of music can lead to lawsuits, fines, and damage to your brand's reputation. Proper licensing ensures that your brand complies with copyright laws and, ultimately, does not have to face legal issues such as copyright strikes or lawsuits.

Morally speaking, licensing music supports the music industry by compensating artists and creators, fostering a sustainable environment for music production. Using licensed music also aligns your brand with professionalism and respect for intellectual property, enhancing trust and credibility with your audience and customer base.

Licensing Commercial Music

As established, before licensing any song - commercial or not - it’s important to determine the needs of the piece of content, as well as your brand holistically. So, identify how you intend to use the music (e.g., in an ad, on a website, at an event), and move forward accordingly.

Unfortunately, licensing commercial music is a little more difficult (and expensive) than working with a licensable track. First, ascertain who owns the rights to the music you want to use. This may involve contacting the publisher, PROs, or the record label. Next, discuss usage rights, duration, and fees.

It is of paramount importance to ensure you have a clear agreement that covers all aspects of your intended use, and it would even be beneficial to obtain a written license agreement which specifies the terms of use, payment, and any other restrictions which may prove to be integral down the road.

Licensing Royalty-Free Music

Royalty-free music essentially means "cleared tracks that can be used without paying ongoing royalties". Often available through music libraries, these for a one-time fee or subscription.

However, obtaining a great royalty-free song before editing it to effectively fit your content can be timely & uninspiring. That’s why, at MatchTune, we developed Studio Lite, a tool which uses AI to analyze your video before finding a handful of perfect royalty-free songs for it. If this wasn’t enough, however, Studio Lite's AI also intelligently rescales the track to match your video’s key cuts & duration - whether it’s a 10 second TikTok clip, or a 4 minute YouTube Vlog.

Studio Lite is available as a standalone app, or as an integrated plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro. You can learn more about the app here.


Understanding and securing the proper music licenses is crucial for brands looking to use music in their marketing and promotional efforts. By navigating the complexities of music licensing effectively, your brand can harness the power of music while maintaining continual legal compliance and ethical integrity.

Ultimately, as the online world grows more and more saturated, a well-informed approach ensures that your musical choices resonate positively with your audience and the industry.


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