We often hear that there is a massive difference between production music and commercial music. But is there really? We’ve taken a closer look at the case.
The definition is simple. Production music is composed and produced specifically for synchronization. Synchronization means that the user of the music is pairing the music with video or similar visual content. Commercial music, on the other hand, is created to cater to the general music consumer. People like you, me and pretty much everyone that listens to music, which I think covers most of the people living on the planet. In marketing terms production music is B2B (business to business) while commercial music is B2C (business to consumers).
Sceptics have tried to debunk history and generally accepted facts for decades. Did the Americans really land on the moon? Is Earth really round? Is the quality of production music always lower than commercial music?
The answer is of course no (at least to the latter question).
Some production music is not great quality. However, the same can be said about commercial music. Depending heavily on the mood, preferences, age and grumpiness of the consumer, a lot of commercial music is actually considered to be quite poorly constructed. Production music can even turn commercial. Trailer music is a great example of production music that has gone commercial due to consumer interest.
The time spent on licensing commercial music is vastly different than licensing production music. Usually there are two different rights holders for the same commercial song, each with different requirements. However, some smaller indie record labels such as No Angel Records, Riptide and Artillery usually own both rights for their music. This makes it easier for them to clear the song in no time, but they still have droit moral to consider. Droit moral allows the original artist of the song to shut down the licensing process due to personal issues with the media placement.
There’s none of that in production music. This music is represented by the same company or person, which makes the process much easier. Plus, there’s zero droit moral.
There’s actually not a big difference between the copyright on commercial music and production music. They’re both copyright protected and split into publisher rights and master rights. The repercussion is also similar to commercial music when production music is used illegally. The penalty might be slightly different, but the legal details in the case are the same. This means that you should treat every song like it was commercial. Don’t use it for more projects than agreed upon and always pay attention to the details in the licensing agreement.