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Session musicians must be cleared for the new use of music

For all new uses of commercial music, such as sync for advertising, use in film and tv, use of recording in backing tracks or live performance, session musicians must be cleared for this new use.

If, alternately, you are looking for rates for making new recordings please refer to the Recording and Broadcasting rates.

Contact our Licensing team

Email us or call 020 7582 5566 ask to speak to someone about ‘Licensing’.

Licensing session musicians

Definition of session musicians

For the purposes of licensing we refer to Session Musicians as those who are non-featured artists - that is those who are not contracted to a record company or part of a producer’s agreement.

MU mandate to act on behalf of its members

The MU has a mandate from its members to act on their behalf to license and collect monies for distribution.

At the Musicians’ Union we refer to this as Licensing.

Rights and consent (for business executives and legal teams)

Session musicians recording commercial audio for release do so on the basis of the MU / BPI agreement. 

This agreement has been in existence since the 1960’s and limits consent of session musician’s performance on those recordings to that of exploitation of the commercial release only (worldwide in perpetuity), excluding the right to sync and backing track usage. This requires further consent and clearance from the Musicians’ Union.

MU/BPI Agreement, Section 12, ‘Grant of Rights’, is the appropriate section which outlines grants and consent and the MU’s rights.

The MU has a wealth of archive data and signed consent forms going back many decades.

General process to clear music for sync

  1. Producer wishing to include new use of commercial audio has to clear Master Recording Rights (the physical recording and rights contained therein), Publishing (use of a copyright work) and clearance of Session Musicians.
  2. Owner of recording negotiates a fee for use (often done on Most Favour Nations (MFN) basis whereby the fee for Master Rights and Publishing are equal).
  3. Clearance of Session Musicians by the licensee. On most Master Rights agreements there is a section which makes clear Union or Guild Fees are excluded and need to be cleared before licence is legally effective.

This latter section (3) is process by the Musicians’ Union.  We have a dedicated team for licencing who can be contacted at licensing@themu.org

Sync rates 

Film

Fees for new use of Commercial Audio in Film are based on the current MU/PACT agreement, Combined Use fees. These are scaled according to how many session musicians there are on a track. To get a quote please complete the form, or contact us separately via email.

For Orchestral or Symphonic UK recordings (more than 60 players), especially Classical works, we have a separate Rate. 

  • £8k per three minutes
  • Extra minutes as required £500.00 per minute or part

New Use Rates are exclusive of 15% admin fee and VAT.

Film (low budget movies)

Fees for new use of Commercial Audio in Low Budget Film are based on the current MU/PACT agreement, Scale 4 Combined Use fees (Annex 4).
In order to qualify a films budget has to be less than £20m. We require proof of budget (top line summary or similar) .  To get a quote please complete the form below, or contact us separately on the email below.

Orchestral Rate Card not available for Low Budget rates.

New Use Rates are exclusive of 15% admin fee and VAT.

Advertising and branding

Advertising

Fees for new use of Commercial Audio in Advertising are based on the current MU/IPA agreement.  Standard rates are Worldwide but for a limited term of 3 years. Choice of media or combinations with additional add-ons (trade stands, online, in-store screens etc). 

New Use Rates are exclusive of 10% admin fee and VAT.

Branding

Fees for new use of Commercial Audio in Branding are based on the current MU/IPA agreement.  Standard rates are Worldwide for Perpetuity for this use. Fees are based on number of musicians on the track.

New Use Rates are exclusive of 10% admin fee and VAT.

Television

Featured use

Examples are (not exhaustive):

  • Use of background music in feature length dramas
  • Where a recording is used repeatedly as a motif of theme for a recurring character and/or location
  • The use of the whole, or substantively the whole, of a track for an extended scene or montage
  • There is dramatic interaction with the music such as humming along, making reference to the lyrics
  • Choreographed sequences
  • Music essential to narrative in a drama
  • Non-PACT Companies (outside of Dubbing agreement as background)

Fees for new use of Commercial Audio in Television are based on the current MU/PACT agreement, Combined Use fees. These are scaled according to how many session musicians there are on a track.  To get a quote please complete the form below, or contact us separately on the email below.

For Orchestral / Symphonic UK recordings (more than 60 players), especially Classical works, we have a separate Rate. 

  • £6k per three minutes
  • Extra minutes as required £500.00 per minute or part

Commercial music as signature tune

By negotiation with the MU.

Background use – “Dubbing”

Fees for Background use of Commercial Audio in UK Television Productions (known as “Dubbing”), are detailed in the MU/PACT agreement, Annex.

Background use examples:

  • Where music is played by a mechanical device (ie juke box playing in a scene)
  • Actuality programmes (ie use of commercial music as a backdrop)

The BBC, ITV and Sky have blanket agreements for Background use.  Contact MU for further information.

New Use Rates are exclusive of 15% admin fee and VAT.

Backing track use

Fees for new use of Commercial Audio or Stems from released Commercial Audio as Backing Tracks are based on the MU usage fees according to size of venue, audience, number of performers, number of session musicians on the recording/stems. Please complete the form below for a quote.

For the avoidance of doubt, it is the Promoters responsibility to obtain a licence to clear session musicians on recordings unless the commissioning record label has already cleared this in advance.

Get a quote

Our service level

When dealing with prospective, new or existing clients, we are committed to the following.

  • Act promptly. We endeavour to ensure that you can always reach someone in your Regional Office or MU HQ when you want to speak to us in person. If you call us and we cannot immediately pick up, we will try our best to respond within 24 hours. If you email us (or if we are unable to provide a full response during a telephone call) we aim to respond within 48 hours of receiving your query. When a member of staff is absent or on holiday, we will ensure it is clear who is covering their work (usually via a voicemail message or out of office response). We aim to acknowledge receipt of letters within 2 working days of receiving them.
  • Respect your privacy and personal data. We take your privacy and the business of handling your personal data very seriously.
  • Act in a professional, courteous and helpful manner
  • Provide you with clear, appropriate and accurate information and advice

Feedback and complaints

The MU is committed to providing its clients with first-class service. We therefore welcome your feedback (positive or negative) about the service we provide.

If you would like to give positive feedback, you can do this via any MU member of staff by phone, email or letter. We would be delighted to hear about any particularly good service you’ve received from a team or individual. If we receive positive feedback about a member of staff, we will always share this with them as it is important that our colleagues know they’ve been appreciated for going the extra mile.

We appreciate that occasionally we may not meet your expectations and if you would like to make a complaint, please follow this procedure in order to ensure we can address your concerns effectively:

  1. In the first instance email licensing@themu.org with your concerns. If this does not result in a positive outcome, then follow proceed to Step 2.
  2. If you are not satisfied with the response received please email rb@themu.org

The National Organiser Recording and Broadcasting with then deal with the outstanding query as a matter of urgency.