Proper music selection and proper music clearance for radio commercials is an important step in the radio advertising process. Whether you are a radio station, an ad agency, a voice-over talent, or an independent production company it is imperative that you do a good job choosing the right music for your spot, as well as getting the proper music clearance for your project. Royalty free music libraries are a great place to start, as they have many different styles of music that can be previewed online.
Choosing the right song is typically the easy part. As you sit down to create your radio commercial, ask yourself the following question: “what is the mood that I need to support with my choice of music?” For example, if you are creating a public service announcement designed to tug at the heartstrings, your music choice should be emotional, mild, and slightly dramatic. On the other hand, if you are trying to sell the latest and greatest fitness equipment, you probably would want to steer the music toward some high energy, workout music. Ultimately, the music and the copy need to support each other. A radio commercial with well selected music can bring a far greater return than one that is put together without a lot of thought given to the production music.
For most people, proper music clearance is a bit more complicated than selecting your music. For example, if a radio commercial is read as a “live spot” on the air, the station can use almost any music in the background that is covered by their ASCAP or BMI licenses. The key here is that the music is not repeated consistently, or used so frequently as to be construed as theme music for that particular radio commercial.
On the contrary, most radio commercials are produced once for multiple broadcasts. Regardless of who is producing the radio commercial or where it is being produced, proper music clearance is a vital step in staying on the right side of the law. When you synchronize a piece of music with your commercial, you will need to get music clearance from the owners or representatives of that musical work (the music publisher) and of the owners of the master recordings (sometimes the publisher, sometimes the record label, sometimes the artist, etc.). Royalty free music libraries are a great place to start because they can typically grant full music clearance on both the musical work (copyright) and master recordings.
If you are hiring someone to create your radio commercial for you, the responsibility for the music clearance typically falls on the radio station, ad agency, or production company who actually creating the spot for you. It is always a good policy to discuss music clearance with them to make sure everyone is on the same page.