I've spoken to some lovely people from a number of publishers, and master rights holders trying to learn more about the music biz and how it affects film. EMI sent me a great frequently asked questions page and I thought I'd include it here for everyone elses benefit (It is Australian oriented slightly)
MASTER USE LICENCE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Who is EMI Music Licensing in Australia?
A: EMI Music Licensing is the central licensing division in Australia for all the labels within EMI Recorded Music, which includes:
Capitol Records, Parlophone, Angel, Blue Note, Positiva, EMI Classics, Virgin, Source, Mute, Innocent and Hut.
We also license repertoire locally on behalf of labels including Spunk!, Domino, Stop Start, and Soulmate Records.
Q: I don't understand what a MASTER RECORDING is versus a COMPOSITION
A: When licensing a piece of music for a visual project, rights need to be secured from two separate entities. You must gain a licence from the RECORD COMPANY who controls the rights to the MASTER (or the actual recording), as well as the MUSIC PUBLISHER who controls the COMPOSITION (or the underlying rights in the song).
Q: Who should I contact first to secure my licences?
A: The Music Publisher
Q: Why should my first call be to the music publisher?
A: Because a recording cannot be licensed without the underlying song rights being approved, whereas a song can be licensed without a specific master recording.
Q: How do I find out who the music publisher is?
A: Check the CD booklet and\or call the performing rights society below. Please note that there may be multiple music publishers for each song. If this is the case each publisher needs to be contacted for a license.
AMCOS (Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society)
Telephone: 02 9935 7900
Q: How do I contact the music publishers?
A: AMCOS can provide contact details.
Q: How long will it take to get my master use license?
A: Please allow at least 2 weeks for clearance, with some masters requiring much longer to gain approvals. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration as follows:
• Is the repertoire owner based in Australia or internationally?
• Does EMI Music Australia need to secure management and/or artist approval for use of the track?
• How many requests is EMI Music Licensing handling at the time?
Q: Can I speed up the licensing process?
A: You cannot speed it up, but you can avoid slowing it down by making sure you have given us all the relevant information we require at the outset.
Q: What is that information?
A: Please fill all the required fields on the Licence Application form.
Thank you so much for the info EMI, it helps clarify and aids understanding (This is something they should have covered in my uni degree all those years ago, but didn't)