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Philosophers may say that there are no original ideas, but Musicians believe otherwise, and they even hire Lawyers to back them up. When a song is recorded, the Songwriter and the Publisher own that music and it can’t be played without a fee. When a Director or Producer of a television show or movie wants to use recorded music, they ask you — the Music Clearance Agent — to obtain permission.
At the beginning of the project, you’re given a copy of the script as a Music Clearance Agent and a list of the songs the Director and Producer want to play. That list details when the songs will start and how long they’ll play.
Using that list and your computer, as the Music Clearance Agent, you determine who wrote the songs and who owns the rights to them. You then write letters to the owners, detailing what you’d like to use the music for and how long you want to have the right to play it. At the end of the letter, you ask how much the owner must be paid for the rights.
Once you’ve determined that all of the songs can be legally used and how much it will cost to use them, you talk with the Director and Producer. They may deem certain songs to be too expensive, and they provide alternatives. Once they approve the expenses, though, you take the list to the Accountant so checks can be drawn up.
Formal contracts must be sent with those checks, and you write those documents. Before the scene is shown, you make sure the other party has signed the contract and returned it to you.