Sync Music A to Z: X is for X Rated

X ratedContinuing my exploration of the sync music landscape I’ve reach ‘X’ in the alphabet. In this post I look at one of the friction points that could result in a music rights owner refusing to license their track: X-Rated content.

Almost all music rights owners are sensitive about the visual content into which their music might be sync’d. In many cases the rights owners need the specific consent of their artists or songwriters prior to granting clearance – but even if they don’t, they’ll probably not want to upset the creators (or estates) of the works they represent.

X Rated Content May Offend Licence Owners

There have been strict rules governing the content of broadcast advertising for many years, and more recently for online campaigns. However, just because the regulatory bodies approve a script (which typically happens before production) don’t assume that the music rights owner will too.

It’s worth remembering that any scenes of a sexual, blasphemous or violent nature, however mild, may offend the artist or songwriter of the music track you wish to license and so their consent may be denied. You need to disclose the script in full detail. Failure to do so may result in legal claims once the campaign goes live if what’s seen on screen doesn’t match what the script or storyboard suggested.

Remember too that local tastes vary. What’s acceptable to UK sensibilities might not be acceptable from a US perspective (with regard to sexual or blasphemous content) though the reverse may be true for scenes of gun-related violence.

If you would like to discuss the above content in more detail or any other aspect of sync licensing, please get in touch. Contact me on +44 (0)20 3137 0324 or email

Music Rights Without Fights seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the music licensing landscape for brand marketers. Published earlier this year I’ve been delighted by the feedback received for this book with many readers reporting that it’s become a ‘well-thumbed’ companion for them when negotiating music rights. Find out more by visiting the website or clicking on the link below.