Whenever you hear background music playing at a mall or restaurant, chances are it’s being used under some kind of licensing agreement unless they meet certain criteria. Yes, even businesses using satellite radios to play music are subject to this. If they aren’t doing this and don’t meet certain qualifications, then they run the risk of getting sued if they get caught doing so. Something which can easily happen in the age of social media. Although there are many types of payment plans and complicated factors to consider, one of the most popular methods of licensing is the blanket license. Rather than pay a fee each time a particular song is used (aka royalty), those with a blanket license pay set fee to a performance rights organization to use their collection/library of music. Similarly, producers of advertisements, television shows and movies can avoid paying fees if they use royalty free production music, usually by purchasing an expensive CD or access to a digital library. Although sometimes public domain material and Creative Commons music can be used without having to pay a royalty, this does not mean all royalty free material fits into those categories. Especially not the music in this article. It’s also a good idea to get permission in writing from the artist!
So why use royalty free music if your haunt is of the home or charity variety? If paid admission or donations involved, some might try arguing your event is actually for profit. On top of the extra protection royalty free music can give you, many of the artists who make their work available that way are willing to give you free publicity! Although the type of material discussed in this article does not require any royalties for use in your haunted attraction after the initial purchase, its royalty free nature does NOT apply to use on the radio, television shows, movies, YouTube videos, etc. I have divided the artists into three categories based on their policies for royalty free use. The order of my listing them is based solely on the order I learned about their policies for each category. In EVERY case, you HAVE to purchase the music in order to qualify. Do not hesitate to contact the artist if you have any other questions about using their work:
Registration and Web Display Required:
Nox Arcana – If your haunted attraction is a registered charity business, they will let you use their music in this way as long as you email them and credit Nox Arcana on your website’s sponsors section. If you are not a charity, please contact them to see what low cost or trade options are available. I understand everything is done on a case-by-case basis in order to insure maximum fairness for all.
Music For Haunts – Home haunts, charity haunts and for-profit haunted attractions which see 10,000 or lower patrons can use his work royalty free by providing credit on your website (including a link to his website) and emailing him about how you plan on using his work in your haunt so he knows how to best publicize your haunted attraction online for free. All other businesses should contact him to discuss his reasonable licensing rates.
Registration and Public Display Required:
Midnight Syndicate – You must register with them for each year you use their work. In return, they will send you a poster to display at your haunt and will also provide publicity for you on their website. Displaying the poster is NOT optional.
Jerry Vayne – You must register with him every year you use his work. You also have to print out and display a poster from his website.
Verse 13 – You must submit registration through his website for each year you use his work. You also need to print out and display a poster from his website in order to qualify.
Prelude to a Nightmare – All you need to do is provide public credit at your haunt and contact him so he can publicize your haunt for free online.
Sam Haynes – To use his work royalty free, send him an email with “Register” in the subject line and provide a link to your website (along with details about your haunted attraction). You also need to print out and display a poster from his website.
Dulcet Jones – Please email him for details about using his work.
Grave Tone Productions – Registration via email is not required, but they do appreciate it when people do it. They also appreciate it when your provide public credit for their work. They appreciate it so much they will even help promote your haunt online for free if you do it!
Michael Hedstrom – If you buy the album, you can use it royalty free in your haunted attraction. While he does appreciate getting email about the matter, there is no obligation.
Gore Galore – Purchasing any of their “Sounds of Gore” effects albums and/or Rusty Knife haunt soundtracks allow you to use their work royalty free. Although they offer albums from many other artists in their web store, the royalty free license ONLY applies to the two previously mentioned lines of albums.
Even if the artist whose work you are using does not require you providing any credit, I highly recommend that you do so anyway. After all, they are letting you use their music to get publicity for their work and publicity is meaningless if none of your customers knows who provided the music. If possible, really put some extra effort into your public display of credit at your haunt. Having credit written on the lid of an open coffin would look great, as would having a sign held by a “Monster Mud” creation. Be sure to factor in removable signs into the designs of such props if you want to use different artists each year. The Monster Page of Halloween Project Links should have all the information you need.
I’m sure there are more artists out there who let haunters use their work royalty free and will definitely keep searching for them. Please feel free to send any leads you may have my way.
Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion. Nobody here is a lawyer and all legal matters discussed above are done so in the simplest, bare bones way. Consult a lawyer whenever possible. This is merely a collection of policy details from artists and not an endorsement.