How to use a song in my film?

HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

During summer I’m going to be filming my second medium-length film and I wanted the opening credits to play to the song “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO. I’ve been reading articles about how to get permission to use songs but they all confuse me because they talk about multiple liscnes and I need to contact the record label and something about reading liners or something...

Could anyone tell me what I need to do to get permission to use this song in my film and how to do it? I know I have to contact certain people and negotiate a price but how do I start? I can find the song on BMI but not ASCAP.

Also I know the likelyhood of getting to use a song like this one is low so does anyone know any less popular songs that sound similar to this one? Something with this sort of feel to it (positive, good best, fairly light instruments, etc.).


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,326 Ambassador
    edited February 2019

    Mr. Blue Sky is licensed via BMG

    You'll need to contact them with details of your film and how you intend to distribute. Assuming YouTube you'll want to send information about your channel subscription and views as that can affect pricing. If you intend on Film Festival submission you'll need to tell them that. 

    Honestly  it's probably out of your price range. 

    As far as sound-alike royalty free music, can't think of anything offhand.

    FYI for future reference, best way to start this process is with the Google search ">song title< license holder." generally you might have to go through ASCAP or BMI, but if you find the direct license holder (BMG in this case), either they can directly help you, or they should be able to directly refer you to another entity's (ASCAP/BMI) direct office.

    Be aware licensing the music won't stop YouTube algorithms/bots from filing copyright strikes. If you license keep all corrospondence handy and all receipts easy to find. I'm dealing with a copyright strike right now on two videos. One for music I licensed, one for music I created. It's funny having to go through CDBaby to clear material I wrote, recorded and performed,  but there you go  

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @Triem23 The BMG website confuses me. Do I just send them an email and the link you gave saying I want to use the song Mr. Blue Sky and they'll redirect me? I what do I have to do?

  • PalaconoPalacono Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,444 Enthusiast

    @Triem23 the YouTube system is broken. You can claim copyright on an entire channel and get all the revenue. When the owner complains and provides information that proves it's his/her original content YouTube send the docs to the person claiming the channel and ask "Is this true?" Scammer says "No", keeps revenue, YouTube says "Nothing we can do, we don't arbitrate copyright claims".  Gets worse and you can lose entire channel if you escalate and 'lose' against the scammer again. Few recent videos on YouTube show system is seriously messed up.

    @HeySiri are many other people involved with your project and relying on you to get good grades on the final result? I ask because you sound like you (and they) might need a backup plan.

  • tddavistddavis Moderator, Website User Posts: 4,204 Moderator
    edited February 2019

    @HeySiri If I may ask, what about the particular song is important to your video?  If it's because it's an old standard and easily recognizable, then not much can be done, but if it's the style/melody of the tune then may I suggest that it would be far cheaper than licensing said old standard to commission, say Eric Matyas who has a thread here for music, and give him an example of tempo/melody you want to use and have him compose something just for you. 

    I did that for my grandson's rainbow song and he did an excellent and quick job for a really reasonable price.  All I did was send him a Youtube link to a version out there that I couldn't use and words that I wanted it to follow for the beats and he took it and turned out something completely original and very full sounding.  Of course, my project was only about a minute and a half long.

    And he also has tons of songs already listed on his pages for use with credit or a small donation if you don't want to do credits.  There are many styles and he may done something similar already.  His Positive Upbeat selections may work for you:

    I kind of liked the first one Careless Summer for a similar sound albeit less strings than ELO :)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,326 Ambassador

    @Palacono well, YouTube has pretty much always been a criminal enterprise. ;) 

  • HeySiriHeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out

    @Palacono a grade? Uh...

    This isn’t a school project. This is just for fun but I’m dedicated to the project.

    @tddavis there are two reasons for this particular song. One, the movie is actually a sequel to the one in making right now (will be filming second one in summer—just getting a head start). The first one is very dark. The second one is supposed to be a lot happier and funny, so the song sets the tone for the whole film. And its a classic, but I can’t find royalty free or even any songs like mr blue Sky that have the right beat and feel to match the movie.

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