The main reason wedding filmmakers don’t just throw your favourite track onto your wedding film is copyright law, there are other reasons though, and I’ll discuss them later. Musicians and music labels own the rights to your favourite songs and to use their music without paying for the privilege (some musicians won’t even let you use their song no matter what price you offer) is stealing. If you do decide to use copyrighted material without asking you could wind up being sued.
According to biteable.com the cost to license a song could be between $100 for a small independent artist and thousands of dollars for a track from an artist on a major label. For example, it cost NBC $500,000 for the 1965 Rolling Stones hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” when Conan O’Brien used the song for a few seconds to introduce Adam Sandler as revenge for being replaced by Jay Leno after only holding the position as host for only seven months. Ouch!
OK, let’s say you have the means and you desperately want a certain song for your film. First, you need to find out who owns the rights to that piece of music and get in contact with them directly. Now, there are always at least two owners of a piece of music and you’ll need everyones permission to move forward. There is the artist or artists who wrote the song and the record label who own that particular recording of the song. Once you’ve found everyone’s contact information using sites like https://www.prsformusic.com and https://www.ppluk.com/Contact-Us/ you can send them all letters asking for permission to use the track in your wedding film.
Again, biteable has come to the rescue with a great sample letter template and guide you can use to go through this process.
All of the work that goes into actually licensing a song, even before you find out how much it will cost you to do so is a bit much. I recommend that couples simply let their wedding filmmaker do their thing and find a piece of licensed music that suits you and your day. Filmmakers have large paid libraries they can access like Musicbed, Artlist, Soundstripe, and many more that give them the ability to purchase music directly from independent artists and even some artists on major labels.
The reality is it can be a serious headache trying to get permission to license certain songs and extremely cost prohibitive as well. The kicker is that the song you want to license probably won’t even work very well in your film. Filmmakers spend a lot of time combing through the above mentioned libraries for hours on end searching for the perfect song for your wedding film. It’s an arduous process of checking and rechecking to make sure everything is just right. I implore you to trust in the skills your filmmaker has honed over the years and just let them find the right song for your film. You’ll be happier for it, believe me.