Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does the licensing process work?

    Once you complete and submit our UMG sound recording license request form, your request will be processed by our team and directed to the applicable team member to further assist. You may then be contacted about rights and fees for your specific use. Once we’ve obtained all necessary consents and the recording use has been approved, we will issue a license and invoice for signature and payment. Please note, payment may be required before a license can be issued.

  • Explanation of Terms

    Media Rights – Medium in which a project will be exploited (e.g. TV, Film, Internet, Live Stage, etc.).

    Term – Length of time you intend to distribute your project (e.g. 1 year, 5 years, perpetuity). Please note that the term requested will have a direct impact on the license fee quoted. Arrangements can be made for a short initial term with additional terms negotiated as options, thus saving up-front costs.

    Territory – The territory within which you intend to distribute your project (e.g. limited to a specific city/state, United States, United States and Canada, Worldwide). For all internet uses, the territory is Worldwide. Please note that the territory requested will have a direct impact on the license fee quoted. Arrangements can be made for limited media up front with additional media negotiated as options, thus saving up-front costs (e.g. initial license would only cover film festivals, with additional separate options for distribution in television and home video).

    All In vs. Per Side – “All In” means the budget for the sound recording AND publishing (composition) combined while “Per Side” refers to your budget for each side of the recording (sound recording and publishing).

  • What is the difference between sound recording and publishing?

    A sound recording refers to a specific recorded performance of a song, and this is the piece that we control. Publishing, on the other hand, relates to the underlying composition (music and lyrics). In order to utilize a sound recording in your project, you must license both the sound recording and the publishing rights so it is important that you determine all of the copyright holders.

    There is no need to obtain a sound recording license if you are creating your own recording of the song, but you must obtain a license from the owners of the copyright to the song on behalf of the songwriters from the applicable publisher. This is also the case if you plan to use the printed lyrics of a song in your project.

    If you are looking to use a music video and/or album artwork, you may inquire about licensing these works through us.

    If you need information about a publishing clearance, or to determine which publisher administers a specific song, visit or

  • How can I find information about rights holders of a sound recording?

    You may conduct preliminary rights research using the song credits on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music. Locate the ℗ symbol which notes the owner of the sound recording copyright. You may also search for label information on Discogs ( You can confirm this information with us when you seek a license.

  • What does Most Favored Nations (MFN) mean?

    Each recording has two sides: the sound recording and the publishing (the composition). We represent the sound recording and often approve all terms and fees on a most favored nations (MFN) basis with publishing. This means that whichever side (sound recording or publishing) quotes a higher amount determines the fee for both sides. So if we (the recording) quote $1,000, but publishing quotes you $3,000, then you will have to pay the recording side $3,000 and the publishing $3,000, for a total of $6,000.

  • Is it possible to request rights for gratis (free) depending on the use?

    Licensing rights cannot generally be granted for gratis (free) use. It is likely that each request will minimally incur a nominal administrative fee, and additional union fees may apply.

    In special circumstances, a license and fee may not be required but this will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

  • What are union fees?

    SAG/AFTRA and AFM fees apply when licensing the majority of recordings in the US. These fees exist to compensate the musicians and vocalists for their work when their recordings are “re-used” in other mediums. Our office doesn’t handle union fees, but for specific new-use/re-use fee information you can contact SAG/AFTRA ( and/or the AFM (

    Quotes issued by UMG do not include any third-party payments for which you are responsible as a result of your use of the sound recording, including but not limited to SAG/AFTRA, AFM or other union obligations and requirements.

    If you require any additional information, please address the following emails:

  • What is a step deal?

    For some independent and documentary films we offer step deals, which function much like a payment plan. It works by starting with a lower initial fee, then additional step payments are made based on the film achieving certain gross income increments. If these gross income increments are not reached, then no further payments are due.

  • What is the turnaround time for a license request?

    While we do our best to process license requests as quickly as possible, we do receive a very high volume of requests and yours will be processed in the order in which it is received. Please allow up to two weeks to receive a response from our team. If at that time you have not heard back, feel free to follow up with us at We thank you for your patience!