Music FAQ


Music is a key part of cinema and the importance of having the right music cannot be overstated. It many ways music is often what holds films together and makes it all work! A score can unlock emotion, and elevate the entire film. 

You have some choices when it comes to music/ scoring your short:

  • Record your own music
  • Use music from our music partner - West One Music Group
  • Use music from a subscription service
  • Use Tracks from paid or free production music sites
  • Get permission from people you know to use their music
  • Have no music, for example, No Country for Old Men

If you're wondering why you can't just use music from your Spotify library then read the Copyright and Legal FAQ.

Our music partner - West One Music Group

This year we are lucky to have our music partner back for the competition. West One Music Group are allowing teams to use their extensive catalogue for their 48Hour films over the duration of the shoot weekend. You'll be sent a login prior to the shoot weekend to give you access to download tracks for your film. You can find out more information by downloading the FAQ and info sheet about using the West One Music Group catalogue.
Log-in details:


  • Username: 48hours2022
  • Password: 48hours2022

West One Music Group + 48Hours FAQ

West One Music Group + 48Hours Info

Original Music

In the case of the 48Hours, the best solution is to get volunteer musicians to write, perform and record an original score over the weekend. Not only is it easier in terms of copyright consideration - it's much more in the spirit of making the entire short within the 48Hours.

An original soundtrack can breath new life into a movie, making it feel alive and stand out against those using stock production libraries. Instead of editing your film to fit existing music, a composer can craft an original bespoke score that is reacting authentically to the emotions and rhythms in your film. You might not know any musicians, but 48 Hours can be the perfect opportunity to reach out and connect. 48Hours is a fantastic opportunity for emerging composers to practice their craft, and to meet filmmakers. 

In this case, they will need to sign a release giving you and 48Hours the right to use and edit the music they make, to synchronise it with your short, and to broadcast and distribute you that short in all formats (e.g film, DVD, YouTube etc.) in all territories (countries/places/planets) for all time (so your film can still be shown legally 5, 10 or 20 years from now). This can be a non-exclusive licence, which means if they want to use that music for other projects they can - but the other parts are really not negotiable, if it the film can't be played with the same music 5 years down the track because you didn't secure the legal rights in the first place it kinda sucks for everyone involved.

Composers and musicians can be found in many places, through music courses at polytechs or universites, or on social media in groups such as the New Zealand Musicians Networking Group. You could also connect with the Screen Music & Sound Guild of New Zealand, they have a lot of contacts and may be able to point you towards keen, emerging composers.

Subscription Music

Increasingly people are using subscription sites for music. This is where you pay an annual fee and can select from a collection of music. The license agreements on these sites varies and it is best to check with them to make sure that your subscription covers your use in a 48Hours film.

Music Loops

There are many computer programs out there that use looped musical tracks to allow you to generate new songs or music by mixing together the loops e.g. Garageband. It is important when using looped music that you ensure that all the loops you use are royalty-free (i.e you don't need to pay to use them) and also allows you to use them for commercial means.

Other websites offer various types of 'royalty free' loops. You must be careful when downloading 'royalty free' loops because often the sites have provisos, either stating that the loops are only royalty-free if used for non-profit or personal projects (which isn't suitable for the 48Hours), or at the least, they require some sort of mention in the credits for their use. So you should always read the terms and conditions and abide by them.

Production Music

Production Music is music specifically made for inclusion in film, television or internet production. Production music will often come from a library and there is a charge for using production music. However, it is designed to be easier to get the rights to use than other published music so you won't need to negotiate on a case by case basis for your tracks. There is a pre-arranged rate to use the track (broken into how many lots of 30 seconds you use, and where and what you are using the music for).

Recorded Music and Songs

Prerecorded music and songs, the sort that you hear on the radio or buy online, will not have a flat rate included for its use and you will negotiate with the respective copyright owners over permission to use any part of that song

Published (or commercial) music requires two clearances, one from the songwriters (usually looked after by a music publisher) and the other for the sound recording (through a record label). It is a time consuming and expensive exercise, but your film cannot be screened or broadcast without those permissions.

Recording covers of original songs

Recording a new version of an existing song will not excuse your from copyright obligations to the original songwriter, even if they never performed the song themselves. As such the costs aren't necessarily all that different from using other popular recorded music and songs. You would need permission to re-record the song from the original songwriter/s and it is likely that they have contractual obligations to a publisher or record company. Again, this is generally totally unsuitable for use in a 48Hour film due to the potentially time consuming and expensive nature.

Recording Classical/really old music

Songs which are a couple of hundred years old are generally ok to perform and record - but just because a song is really old doesn't mean you can use any old recording of it. Each individual recording has its own copyright, so you are going to have to record a whole new version of the song - or find a copy of the song that was recorded no later than the early 1900's and is definitely in the Public Domain.