Music licensing for games

Music clearance for game developers and gamemusic producers.  Music consulting, music legal advice  and music contracts.

Copyrights, publishing rights, master rights.

Master Use & Sync License


performance rightsPerformance Rights

Public performance rights are the reason behind songwriters and publishers joining together to form performance rights organizations such as Ascap, PRS, Gema, Buma and Sacem. These PRO's can act as a licensing clearinghouse for game developers, representing the owners of the publishing rights in licensing matters and monitor compliance to legal arrangements made.   

Often, performance rights organizations offer an individual license for a particular audiovisual production such as a game. This license covers the public performance rights in case of digital distribution, download or online game (streamed gameplay combined with streamed music). As an exception to this rule, the USA and Canada do not legally recognize music in a streamed or downloaded game as an act of public performance. European countries on the other hand do recognize an online or dowloadable game containing music as a public performance of this music thus, depending on the type of music used, a license is needed when distributing in these parts of the world.

Furthermore, in the USA, Ascap, BMI and Sesac do not grant licenses for dramatic (''grand'') works - the owners of the publishing rights have to be contacted directly to obtain the appropriate license. This means agreement about the terms must be made in negotiations.

The aforementioned differences can make interterritorial music clearance a complex process.

Of course, a venue or store doing promotional game play would need a PRO license for displaying and performing the accompanying music. This however doesn't affect the game studio: it is the responsablility of the venue itself. The PRO will collect the performance rights royalties and pay them directly to the songwriter and his publisher (instead of the publisher receiving sync royalties and mechenical license royalties directly from the source, and paying the songwriters share to the songwriter afterwards).

It is important not to confuse public performance rights on the underlying musical work with the actual musical performance by musicians or the band on the master (the sound recording). Remember the legal distinction between publishing rights and master recording rights.

For more information about our services and rates email


Legal news, views, updates and headlines: