Introducing WAMU’s Capital Soundtrack Project (with a little help from the IP Clinic)

If you listen to WAMU 88.5 FM, the leading NPR affiliate in the Washington, DC, area and a department of American University, you might have heard Ally Schweitzer this morning describing an exciting new initiative: WAMU has officially launched its Capital Soundtrack Project. The Project supports the DC community’s music scene; it promotes and benefits local, DC metro-based musicians by featuring their music in between broadcasted news segments and shows. The Project changes the sound of the Station to reflect the tastes and influences of the DMV, and also shows appreciation to the rich wealth of local music the DC area offers.

In the weeks leading up to its unveiling, Alexandra Wilson and Yasaman Zahedi, student attorneys at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, had the opportunity to work with WAMU to pave the way for this project. The Clinic helped the Station put together a music licensing agreement so that local musicians can connect with the community, as well as share their songs on the air. WAMU’s goal was to have a licensing agreement that does not intimidate local artists, and is easily understood. Long, wordy licensing agreements filled with legalese can be discourage local artists, and can hamper beneficial relationships, so we tried to keep the agreement as simple and clear as possible.

We also wanted to create an agreement that encompasses and covers all of the Station’s intended uses for the songs. WAMU does not just broadcast programming over local signals; it also distributes programming to other NPR affiliate stations, like the nationally syndicated “Diane Rehm Show.” The Station also podcasts several of its shows, streams its content over the Internet, and provides its content on the NPR One app.

Through this representation, Alex and Yasee learned the importance of understanding the client’s interest in order to draft a licensing agreement that best represents their needs. They drafted a simple agreement that is easy to understand, at the same time providing WAMU the rights it needs to showcase the sound of the DMV.


About Brandon Butler

Practitioner-in-Residence at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic.
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