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More than two centuries have passed since the phrase “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” was coined by Benjamin Franklin.
All things considered, it might be time to make an addendum to this list: namely, music licensing.
Anytime copyrighted songs are involved, getting permission from copyright owners is a non-negotiable step in your production process.
But even if you know why and how to secure one type of license, you might not know why and how to secure another.
For instance, you might have years of experience working with master use licenses and sync licenses but have little to no experience with theatrical licenses.
Music licensing isn’t only needed in filmmaking, videography, and podcasts. It’s also needed in the moments we least expect.
Like when we’re sitting in a crowded baseball stadium watching an athlete step out of the dugout and practice their swing. Or when the collegiate team we’re rooting for walks onto or leaves the football field.
In these moments, music licensing is the last thing on our minds — even though this process is what makes broadcasting music before, during, and after the game possible in the first place.
Many articles cover what it means to license music for film and video. But there’s much less discourse on what it means to license music for sports games and other public performances.
To fill this gap, we’re sharing a resource that simplifies the process of licensing royalty-free sports music for any public event or game. We also break down why Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) are important to this process.
One of the pitfalls of the music licensing process is that it’s not always feasible from a cost or deadline perspective for creators.
Licensing a single song could involve weeks of negotiations with several copyright owners. If all goes well and there aren’t too many hiccups along the way, you might still find that your use of a song is more limited than you planned.
Though music licensing is beneficial and necessary, it’s easy to get bogged down by complications that arise along the way.
Despite what many of us might have assumed at one point or another, the process is never as simple as downloading sports music on your phone and broadcasting it over the speakers.
But with a service like Soundstripe, you avoid all of the complex negotiations and red tape that come part and parcel with traditional music licensing.
You can use Soundstripe’s filter functions to narrow your song search to a particular mood, genre, or energy. You can sift through staff-curated playlists that group similar tracks together in one place.
And once you find the music you want to license, you can complete this part of the process with a few clicks.
To help kickstart your search for royalty-free sports music, here are 10 tracks that we consider major contenders for any walk up or adrenaline-filled moment:
So you’ve found the song you want to license through Soundstripe. Now what?
Anytime that you plan on using music for public performance purposes, there’s an added step that you need to take — which is, to get approved for a public performance license by a Performance Rights Organization (PRO).
This step is required courtesy of US copyright law and for good reason. It’s an added measure to ensure that the sound recording or live performance is legally permitted and that the copyright owners have a say in how their music is used.
But what exactly constitutes a public performance?
Well, let’s say you’re shopping in a retail store or queuing up the next song on a jukebox. Public performance licenses are just as necessary in these moments as they are in concerts.
As surprising as it might seem, a PRO has to grant this type of license before music can be legally played in any public place, event, or medium (i.e., radio).
PROs mainly deal out licenses to radio stations, venues, institutions, and businesses through annual contracts.
For example, BMI — one of the most well-known PROs — offers one-tier and two-tier licensing options for colleges and universities that need music for sports events. These licenses have to be renewed each contract year.
If you are renting out a venue for an event, it’s likely that the venue will already have a contract like this in place. But, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and confirm that you’re cleared to play the music you licensed.
Below, we’re providing a rundown of two of the PROs you’re most likely to come across.
This resource provides an overview of everything you need to know about BMI music licenses for professional sports teams.
BMI (also known as Broadcast Music, Inc.) is a nonprofit organization that works with over 900,000 songwriters to build a repertoire of music that can be publicly used with a license.
In the context of sports background music, a BMI license covers live performances on game day and any recorded songs that are played before, during, and after the event.
ASCAP or American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers is considered the second-largest PRO to date that operates as a nonprofit.
This organization works with more than 600,000 songwriters, all of whom pay a $50 fee to become an affiliate.
ASCAP’s Sports and Competitive Event license covers live and recorded musical performances so long as the licensee reports all of the sports events to the organization.
Though it takes an extra step to license music through Performance Rights Organizations like BMI and ASCAP, you can rest-assured that your use of the music is protected now and in the future.
PROs protect the interests of everyone involved — from the songwriters who produce the music to the officials broadcasting the music at a public event.
By abiding by copyright laws, you’ll be able to continue licensing sports background music and sharing it with audiences for years to come.