by Jeffrey and Todd Brabec

CSI: Miami
Las Vegas
Married...With Children

"Baba O'Riley"
"Who Are You"
"Won't Get Fooled Again"
"A Little Less Conversation"
"Love and Marriage"

Rather than hire a composer to write a theme song for a new television series, many producers will use a well-known song as the show’s opening and closing theme.

When presented with such a request, a writer or music publisher may take one of a number of different approaches to handle the licensing, the most prevalent being a per-show fee for each series episode. For example, sync payments of from $1,750 to more than $3,500 per episode for a five-year license are not uncommon, with additional fees charged for "bumpers" (the five- to 10-second intros to commercial breaks).

It has also become more common, depending on the series, for a life-of-copyright all television license to be negotiated for use of the song in the series, with the fees ranging from $7,500 to $12,000 per episode.

Each case, however, must be treated on its own merits, recognizing the stature of the song being requested (e.g., current hit, new song, album cut, non-hit song, well-known standard, prior hit in need of new exposure, etc.), the budget for the series, the policies of the production company producing the show, the performance monies that will be earned from ASCAP or BMI, and the possibility of a television series soundtrack album or hit single coming from the program.

In addition to the initial synchronization fee negotiation, all of these agreements provide for an additional fee to be paid when each episode goes to home video.

And many times there is a guarantee that a certain number of series episodes will use the song as the theme (and payment made), even if the series is unsuccessful and the guaranteed number of episodes are not broadcast or even produced.

Most agreements also provide that the song and, if applicable, the master will be available for uses as the theme to the series for a number of seasons into the future via options with fee increases normally provided for each new season.

On-screen credit is also one of the issues negotiated.

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised paperback edition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business" written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).</span>