Music Industry Cracking Down on Wedding VideographersFriday, December 16, 2011
This article on the music industry cracking down on wedding videographers for using unlicensed songs reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago. This friend is an executive for a major music distribution company. We discussed licensing, royalties and so forth and he told me how his company and their major competitor both catch businesses using their music without licenses.
The sales people for the distribution companies are paid on commission. To find new business, they spend hours searching the web for websites, videos and photo slideshows that use their music. They also pose as secret shoppers and will sit in a bar, have a drink and listen to the songs playing (if you own a retail store, this is important: you can't just play any CD or iPod mix you want without a license because it is no longer just for personal use). If the businesses don't have a license to play their music, the sales people will offer to sell them one. If the business refuses to buy a license, they then get sued or fined.
I don't know the current rates, but at the time, a license with the two largest distribution companies ran about $900 per year. It's a relatively low price and a cost of business that should be built into your pricing. It's also much cheaper than the fines for using unlicensed music or a lawsuit.
I once asked a videographer which companies they had licensed with and their reply was that they don't license music because their company was so small that they would never get caught. This is a false assumption that many wedding videographers and photographers make. Because the sales people for the music companies are paid on commission, they are motivated to find businesses using their songs and the size of your business has nothing to do with it.
Another thing to consider: if it's important to you that people respect your copyrights as a videographer or photographer, then it should be important to you to honor the copyrights of musicians.