Music Industry Advice: Licensing for a Living

Music Industry Advice: Licensing for a Living


In addition to Licensing Fees and Performance Royalties, song placements in union projects/productions may generate additional income. There are many artists and musicians owed money––sometimes tens of thousands of dollars––who sadly fail to contact the organizations that are holding money that is due them. Could you or someone you know be one of them? Here’s what you need to know:

Music Industry Advice: Licensing for a Living Dennis DreithAMERICAN FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS (
AFM is the largest musician’s union in the world, with almost 100,000 members in the United States and Canada.

SAG-AFTRA brings together two unions: Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. It represents approximately 160,000 members, including actors, dancers, DJs, recording artists, singers, voiceover artists and other media professionals.

Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund (

The organization’s Executive Director Dennis Dreith explains, ”We are a non-profit organization whose purpose is to collect and distribute royalties from foreign territories as well as those royalties established by statute under U.S. Copyright Law.”

Dreith points out, “The Fund distributes royalties for non-featured musicians and vocalists in three main areas: (1) Sound Recordings; (2) Audio-Visual productions exhibited in select foreign markets; and (3) Symphonic Opera and Ballet musicians and vocalists. This money is distributed without regard to union membership, except for certain foreign territories, which do require membership.

A large part of The Fund’s work involves finding artists who have moved on. It is also one of the more rewarding aspects, as Dreith relates, “Not long ago, we found an artist living in his car and gave him a check for $97,000. That was a real life-changer.”

Music Industry Advice: Licensing for a Living Kim Roberts HedgepethFILM MUSICIANS SECONDARY MARKETS FUND (
FMSMF’s Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgepeth explains, “Our mission is to track, collect, process and distribute residual payments from secondary markets, including the motion picture and television industries as well as the new media Internet marketplace. We collect these payments for musicians, composers, conductors, arrangers and orchestrators under specific conditions.”

Additionally, Hedgepeth relates, “If a sound recording is licensed in a film or TV production (as it is with placements) players on that recording may be entitled to residuals.”

Finally, Hedgepeth notes that FMSMF also attempts to track down missing artists. “We’re trying to get the word out because we have un- claimed checks. If anyone believes they may be entitled to payment, they should check our website.”

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