Dear Rich: I want to use the melody (we will do the lyrics) of the 1977 Elvis Costello song Watching the Detectives in a promotional video. It is for a medical device company. Term is 9 months (this year). Do I need a sync license? Who is this sent to? (Costello is within the Universal Music Publishing Group). Wow, the Dear Rich Staff loves that song. Using it to promote medical devices is really thinking outside the box -- like way outside.
Right, you had a question ... Yes, you need a sync license and you would need permission to modify the lyrics. You should speak with the publisher -- yes, it's Universal Music Publishing. Contact them at 2440 Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90064 (310) 235-4700. If you run into a problem -- the typical one being that nobody takes your calls -- you may need to hire a clearance expert. You can read more about that stuff in our book. If you create your own version of the song and don't imitate the singing style of Elvis Costello -- imitating artists in ads leads to problems -- you will only need the permission of the publisher (or administrator).