Digital Licensing Administrator

  • Digital Licensing Administrator

The digital music revolution hit the marketplace and confounded some record labels and music publishers who were unprepared to deal with the resulting legal questions of copyright and ownership. Since then, music makers have pushed hard (often in court) to receive proper payment for their work that’s distributed through digital media, and music companies rely on a staff of licensing professionals to accurately determine rights, royalties, and usage.


In the royalties department of a record label, music publisher, performing right organization, or other music company, the digital licensing administrator supports the efforts of the larger staff. He or she is primarily concerned with researching and processing license requests for compositions to be reproduced or distributed through the digital medium; this may include permanent digital downloads, limited downloads, interactive streaming, webcasting, online subscription services, and ringtones. Most often, a mechanical license will suffice for digital reproduction, but certain forms of usage may also require a master license or synchronization license.

The administrator may be fielding requests for licenses or submitting requests, depending on the nature of the individual’s employer. It is this person’s responsibility to research pertinent information about the composition, including all copyright holders and artist agreements. He or she will confirm the splits (percentage of royalties owed to each copyright holder), publisher credits, and payee information, and compile that information in the company’s database. The digital licensing administrator is also tasked with calculating royalty rates based on the song and project information. Additional responsibilities include continual tracking of upcoming song releases across the industry, auditing the licensing database for accuracy, and monitoring the usage of licenses issued or obtained.

Skills & Education

A college degree in music business, mass communications, or another related field is required. Employers looking to fill this position prefer a candidate who is highly proficient in standard PC or Mac software and a master of spreadsheets. A digital licensing administrator must also be capable of performing diligent research and efficiently assimilating the information. Courses in copyright law and communication law are highly beneficial, and are offered at most universities as a part of undergraduate studies. Strong math, communication, and problem-solving skills are not just desirable but necessary in this career.

What to Expect

As a member of the royalties department, the digital licensing administrator will often work closely with on-staff mechanical licensing administrators, royalty administrators, and clearance administrators. He or she will also act as a liaison to other industry professionals in music publishing and at record labels, PROs, and online music distribution companies. This is an entry-level position for an individual with the appropriate education, but it does require knowledge of the music industry; therefore, an internship in the royalties department or other segment of a music company is highly encouraged before you seek full-time employment. The digital licensing administrator answers to the supervisor and manager of the division, and is supervised by the director of the royalty department.


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