Music Licensing Tips for the Documentary Filmmaker

To license music for your documentary film, the first thing you need to know is that there are two rights to every song. There is the person who wrote the song (who owns the publisher rights or sync rights) and the person who recorded it (who owns the master rights). To use a piece of music you must determine who owns the rights and get permission from both entities. Here are some tips for using music in your documentary:

1. Purchase Original Music – The best route is to purchase or commission original music. You can pay a musician or composer for exactly what you want, have an attorney draft a work for hire agreement, and you own it. No licensing fees!

2. Festival Rights – A great strategy for documentaries that have not yet obtained distribution is to seek festival rights. If you are going to take your documentary on the film fest circuit, you can obtain a festival license which is generally the lowest rates for specific limited rights. Festival rights agreements can also include option rights for when your documentary does secure distribution.

3. Streaming Rights – Even if your movie is merely streaming online, you must still obtain a license for any copyrighted music.

4. Royalty free music – Royalty free music is not free music. Royalty free means you do not have to pay a royalty for each use. Instead, you pay one set fee for the music no matter how many times it is used.

5. Music Libraries – Music libraries can be a great option for obtaining music to use in your film. These companies have an established and curated collection of music and sound effects to choose from, they have already obtained the necessary rights, and generally will post an upfront price.


Biz Tips: Mindfulness at Work

Mindfulness and meditation have not only become cultural buzz words, but have been embraced by top executives, celebrities, and even corporate tech giants like Google and Target. Mindfulness mediation has also been scientifically proven to increase memory and awareness, reduce stress, and help with focus and productivity. However, you don’t have to become a yogi or join your local transcendental mediation group to be more mindful. Here are a few tips to incorporate mindfulness at work.

1. Be Present – Consciously pay attention to your surroundings, what’s going on around you and in the workplace.
2. Start your Day with Quiet Time – Before you even get to work, set time aside for yourself. Even if only 10 minutes, take the time to drink your cup of coffee, eat breakfast, etc. without interruption, without looking at your phone.
3. Take a Break – After every few hours on the computer, not only should you rest your eyes, but you should rest your mind. Take 60 seconds, close your eyes, and take deep serene breaths to release tension and get refocused.
4. Exercise – Mediation may not be for you, so exercise your body. Whether walking, running, swimming – do something to engage and keep your body active. Physical activity relieves tension and will help you be more focused and productive at work.
5. Single-Task – We all think that multi-tasking helps us get more done when the opposite is actually true. Focus on and complete one task at a time. You will experience a sense of accomplishment which will in turn help you feel positive!
By Nyanza Shaw


Welcome to Shaw Esquire

Shaw Esquire is a boutique entertainment and business law firm.  We represent individuals and companies in the areas of entertainment, arts, sports, and media industries.   

We also handle transactional matters for small business and corporate clients. 

Ms. Shaw expertly handles all types of entertainment and business
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