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Using Music Legally in a Slideshow

Today’s guest post comes from Daniel McCarthy from The Music Bed. He shares some great information about using music legally in a slideshow.

I paid $.99 for it, that means I am good right? Well, the short answer is, no. But since most of us creatives aren’t 100% black and white, here are a few reasons we believe it is good to make sure you are using licensed music in your slideshows.

1. The Law: The number one and obvious reason you need to be using royalty free, or pre-cleared music in your slideshows is that it is illegal not too. As a company that licenses music, this is probably our least favorite topic… Why you ask? Because we are creatives as well (75% of the people on staff with us are videographers and photographers), and we think contracts and the law is ugly and not fun. But it is the truth, it really is illegal… and it really can get you in trouble. Our primary position isn’t and never will be about scaring people in to doing right based off of the law, but we do have to talk about it occasionally.

A few things that aren’t explained very well when it comes to the law, (and we are not lawyers, so don’t hold us to this junk) but we try to make it easy to understand:

1. When you are using a song in a slideshow, you need to have a master & synch license.

2. When you download a song on iTunes, you are purchasing the right to listen to the song, not to use it in a commercial or even personal way outside of the scope of just listening to it.

3. There are typically multiple owners of a song. Usually there are multiple writers, and even multiple labels involved when it comes to the recordings & compositions. To use a song you must obtain permission from all of the owners. That is where The Music Bed comes in, we have preselected music that we feel is relevant to our industry, and pre cleared all of the music so that you can make one click, and be fully licensed and in the clear.

Enough of the boring stuff.

2: Supporting The Artist: AND THIS is our favorite topic. Bottom line: the main way artists make money is through touring (product and ticket sales) and licensing. Most of the artists on our site don’t have massive record deals, big fat houses, or gold teeth 🙂 Most of them are actually just like us photographers: Creating art, and hoping that someone buys it (or hires us to create it). When someone hires us as photographers they are saying, “I have seen your portfolio, I love your work, I like your pricing, and I would like for you to create that art for me.” By licensing a song from a musician, we are communicating that we respect them as an artist, and support them in doing what they love.

Daniel McCarthy, The Music Bed.




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