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Archival Storytelling: A Filmmaker's Guide to Finding, Using, and Licensing Third-Party Visuals and Music by Kenn Rabin, Sheila Curran Bernard

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CHAPTER 17

Licensing Music

Licensing music (“clearing music rights”) can be one of the most frustrating, difficult, and expensive tasks a filmmaker faces when dealing with third-party materials. Because of this, growing numbers of independent filmmakers, especially those working in documentary, are forgoing the use of prerecorded music entirely, relying in whole or in part on hired composers even when their films are about the past. This is a disturbing trend, one that as filmmakers, educators, and audience members, we need to resist. Music is part of our lives, culture, and history. Which music best tells the story a filmmaker wants to tell should be a creative decision, not necessarily a logistical or financial one.

With that said, what does ...

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