Music Licensing


Authored by Scott Sellwood


Course Code: OMBUS-496

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 4

Level 4

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Music licensing powers everything from digital download stores, to live performance, to music across mixed media. Through licensing, artists have made $10K on Twitter in one night, transformed albums into mobile applications, reached more than 100 million listeners every day, and worked to collect every dime owed to them. Music Licensing sheds light on the nuts-and-bolts behind music monetization and how music licensing is the touchpoint to generating revenue for artists, songwriters, labels, and music publishers. This course is designed for people who own or manage music copyrights, master recordings or underlying compositions and who wish to exploit those copyrights for financial gain. 

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You will obtain a conceptual understanding of basic licensing terms, opportunities, and strategies and apply that knowledge to monetizing your own creative intellectual property (IP). You will also learn important background details about rights licensing history, in addition to how to navigate complex industry statutes and apply practical business techniques.

Music Licensing will include a mix of several real-life examples and hypothetical situations, in-depth explanations, and review of agreements, alongside a wide array of exclusive video interviews with music supervisors, licensing society speakers, and experts in the publishing world. Successfully completing the course will enable you to monetize your creative IP across various music licensing uses, whether you are a songwriter, artist, record label, or publisher. You will know how to register your works with relevant performing rights organizations, understand the differences between master/publishing revenue streams, identify opportunities to create new avenues for placement, and use online resources to introduce your music to potential placement agents. You will also be able to create a summary licensing plan capable of acting as a business plan for your licensing efforts.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify current opportunities and how to create new avenues for placement of your own music
  • Register your works with relevant performing rights organizations to ensure income streams
  • Understand the differences between master and publishing revenue streams related to performance, mechanical rights, synchronization, and alternative revenue streams
  • Understand the complexities between US and international rights clearance and what barriers they place for songwriters and artists in collecting on distributed works.
  • Design a distribution strategy (domestic and international) to distribute music via multiple channels (including iTunes, online radio stations, etc.)
  • Use online resources to introduce your music to music supervisors, ad creatives, and video game producers
  • Identify royalties to be collected and how you can collect them directly or via third parties
  • Prepare a summary licensing plan
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Lesson 1: Licensing Basics

  • No Such Thing as a Sell Out? Moby's Play
  • A Tale of Two Copyrights
  • Know Your Rights
  • Basic License Language
  • Assignment 1: Licenses

Lesson 2: Mechanical Rights

  • What Is Mechanical Licensing?
  • Statutory Royalty Rage
  • Day-to-Day Mechanical Licensing Operations
  • Paying Royalties and Accounting
  • The Future: Music in the Cloud and Mechanical Licensing
  • A Cover Song: The Market Potential
  • Assignment 2: Mechanical License Scenarios

Lesson 3: Performance Rights and How They Generate Revenue

  • The Importance of Performance
  • How It Started in the United States
  • How Does Performance Licensing Work?
  • How Are Performance Royalties Calculated and Distributed?
  • Royalty Maximization Strategies
  • Addressing the Playing Field and Your Catalogue
  • Direct Licensing: Wave of the Future?
  • Assignment 3: Register Your Work

Lesson 4: Synchronization Licensing ("Sync, Part 1")

  • What Is Synchronization Licensing?
  • The Key Players in Sync
  • The Process
  • Mixed Media: Differences between TV, Film, and Advertising Uses
  • Sync Licenses and Key Terms
  • Methods of Representation in Placing Your Music
  • Library Music
  • Assignment 4: Profile a Key Player in Sync Licensing

Lesson 5: Alternative Revenue Streams via Placement ("Sync, Part 2")

  • Opportunities Available "Off the Grid"
  • Indirect (Delayed) Revenue vs. Direct (Immediate) Revenue
  • You Tube = Radio + MTV
  • Video and Channel Monetization/Partnerships
  • Content
  • ID Monetization
  • Assignment 5: Alternative Revenue Streams

Lesson 6: Creating Opportunities ("Sync, Part 3")

  • Basic Ways of Creating Opportunities
  • Placement Industry Trade Secrets
  • Going DIY
  • Maximizing Financial Return
  • Assignment 6: Choose an Advertisement

Lesson 7: Distribution 2.0

  • Brief Overview of Distribution 1.0
  • What Are the New Distribution Outlets?
  • What Are the Royalty Rates?
  • What Developments in Distribution 1.0?
  • What Do Record Labels Do to Justify Their Share?
  • Assignment 7: Evaluate Performance of Current Distribution Channels

Lesson 8: Sampling and Mash-Ups

  • What Is Sampling?
  • Compare/Contrast the "Sampling" Spectrum
  • Overview of a Sample Clearance
  • The Flip-Side of the Coin
  • Assignment 8: Research Appropriate Rights Holders

Lesson 9: Licensing Internationally, Part 1

  • Outside of US Licensing
  • US Society
  • E.U. Societies
  • US, Canada, and Mexico
  • Review a Global Map Outlining Societies
  • Assignment 9: Identify a Plan for Getting Rights

Lesson 10: Licensing Internationally, Part 2

  • Issues from Territory-by-Territory Licensing
  • Industry Issues
  • Direct and Worldwide Licensing
  • Are You Collecting All of Your Royalties?
  • Assignment 10: Create Royalty Collection Strategy

Lesson 11: The Challenges of Music Licensing

  • Platforms and Brands
  • Licensing in the Real World
  • When Should Rights Owners Be Flexible?
  • Publishers vs. Labels
  • Identifying New Licensing Opportunities
  • Assignment 11: Pick an Area of Licensing

Lesson 12: Complete Your Licensing Plan

  • Know Your Rights
  • Performance Royalties
  • Sync Opportunities
  • Appropriate Distribution Partner/Platform * Identify Potential Partners
  • Assignment 12: Prepare a License Plan


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music Business Trends and Strategies or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.


  • No textbooks required

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Scott Sellwood


Scott Sellwood was the senior vice president and senior counsel at RightsFlow, a leading licensing and royalty service provider, recently acquired by Google. He oversaw RightsFlow's business and legal affairs with a focus on developing clients' licensing strategies related to the exploitation of music content. He's worked with clients at every level, including online music services such as YouTube and Rhapsody, digital distributor partners CD Baby, INgrooves, and The Orchard, and record labels such as X5 Music Group and Next Plateau Entertainment for their streaming, karaoke, background music, digital jukebox, synchronization, UGC, and new media needs. Sellwood is a frequent speaker at conferences and universities on topics ranging from publishing and rights management to copyright monetization. He currently works as the strategic partner development manager at YouTube, and formerly served as co-chair of the American Association of Independent Music Licensing and Publishing Committee. Sellwood is not only a proven music business executive, attorney, and strategist, but also an accomplished artist and member of the bands Drunken Barn Dance and critically acclaimed Saturday Looks Good to Me.

Dr. E. Michael Harrington


Dr. E. Michael Harrington is a professor in music copyright and intellectual property matters. He has lectured at many law schools, organizations, and music conferences throughout North America, including Harvard Law, George Washington University Law, Hollywood Bar Association, Texas Bar, Minnesota Bar, Houston Law Center, Brooklyn Law, BC Law, Loyola Law, NYU, McGill, Eastman, Emory, the Experience Music Project, Future of Music Coalition, Pop Montreal, and others. Michael has worked as a consultant and expert witness in hundreds of music copyright matters, including efforts to return "We Shall Overcome" and "This Land Is Your Land" to the public domain, and has worked with director Steven Spielberg, producer Mark Burnett, the Chicks, Steve Perry, Busta Rhymes, Samsung, Keith Urban, HBO, T-Pain, T. I., Snoop Dogg, Collin Raye, Tupac Shakur, Lady Gaga, George Clinton, Mariah Carey, and others. He sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Popular Culture, advisory board of the Future of Music Coalition and the Creators Freedom Project, and is a member of Leadership Music. Michael has been interviewed by the New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg Law, Wall Street Journal, Time, Huffington Post, Billboard, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Money Magazine, Investor's Business Daily, People Magazine, Life Magazine, and Washington Post, in addition to BRAVO, PBS, ABC News, NBC's "Today Show," the Biography Channel, NPR, CBC and others. Harrington has bicycled twice from Los Angeles to Nashville and once from Florence, Oregon to Nashville (3,400 miles).

Luiz Augusto Buff De Souza E Silva


Luiz Augusto Buff de Souza e Silva is a Brazilian lawyer, with a masters degree in Entertainment, Media and Intellectual Property Law from UCLA School of Law, and a degree in Music Business and Management from Berklee College of Music. Luiz developed experience in the music industry both as a musician, and also working at companies such as Warner Bros. Studios, Ted Kurland Associates, Soundtrack Group, and consulting firm Digital Cowboys. Luiz was a Research Collaborator in the development of the Music Business Finance course and also co-wrote the article "Budgeting for Crowdfunding Rewards" with prof. Peter Alhadeff, published in the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA) Journal.

Roger Pao


Roger Pao, JD, is an attorney and educator with extensive experience in online education and an interest in dynamic, innovative pedagogies. He is currently Assistant Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the New England College of Business and Finance. A graduate of Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, and Duke University, summa cum laude, he has served as a subject matter expert for and taught a variety of online undergraduate and graduate-level law and business courses. While a law student, he served as President of the Arts and Literature Law Society (ALLS) at Harvard Law School.


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