Memory Valley Music Protects Deathcare from Tribute Video Copyright Chaos

Funeral Industry News Obituaries & Tributes Products & Services October 4, 2022
Memory Valley Music

Memory Valley Music Protects Deathcare from Tribute Video Copyright Chaos

Have you ever heard the adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know?” This is often the case with matters outside your area of professional expertise. For example, deathcare professionals know everything they need to know about providing exceptional service for families experiencing the loss of a loved one. However, no one expects a funeral director to be an expert on music licensing.

Thankfully, Betsy Brumley and her team at Memory Valley Music are here to lend deathcare a much-needed hand in navigating music licenses to avoid potentially devastating legal penalties from using unlicensed music in one of your most popular offerings: Tribute videos.

Offering expertise and education

Brumley is no stranger to the complicated world of music distribution. She and Memory Valley Music co-founder Kevin Bernier are third-generation music publishers, record label executives, music supervisors, and copyright experts. Brumley’s family is one of the most respected within the music industry, having been in the business for 104 years. They own the copyright to several funeral classics, including “Victory in Jesus” and “I’ll Fly Away,” the latter of which has been licensed over 12,000 by a wide variety of recording artists.

Brumley and Bernier created Memory Valley Music to serve as a liaison between music copyright owners and members of the deathcare profession. Brumley is the first to admit that copyright law can be perplexing.

“People in the music industry have a hard time understanding it, so there’s no way on God’s green earth that the deathcare industry could understand it,” Brumley says. “It’s not their job and it’s not their expertise. Their expertise is taking care of families. My expertise is music because I’ve lived it my whole life.”

The services offered by Memory Valley Music supplement the licensing protection offered to deathcare entities by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) and the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association (ICCFA). While the music licenses provided by these organizations protect licensees from several types of copyright infractions, they do not cover infractions stemming from an ever-growing service: Tribute videos. 

The truth about tribute video music

The Copyright Act of 1909 made the use of any music without written permission from the music owner illegal. While that’s a simple statement, the intricacies of licensing are more complex.

“There are several kinds of licenses in the music world,” Brumley explains. “Performance licenses cover music that is performed in public spaces, like festivals, concerts, and elevator music. This includes music playing overhead, live singing or instrumental music at a service, visitation, memorial, wake, or celebration. But for tribute videos and replayed live streamed videos, a different kind of license, called a synchronization license, is required to use that music.”

The NFDA explains the difference on their Music Licensing Offering Questions and Answers page in this way:

The NFDA music license is a “performance” license that allows music to be performed.  In order to record music to a DVD or video, a “synchronization” license is required.  BMI, ASCAP and SESAC [organizations which protect the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for the public performance of their copyrighted work] do not issue synchronization licenses. The only way to obtain a synchronization license is through the producer of each song which is to be recorded. This makes it nearly an impossible task for a funeral home to put multiple songs on a tribute DVD or video.

Memory Valley Music exists to make this “nearly impossible” task of licensing songs not only possible, but easy, as well. Because they own the copyright to thousands of songs and have negotiated licensing agreements with the copyright owners of thousands more, Memory Valley Music can provide funeral homes legal access to their catalog which, when completely populated within the next six to nine months, will offer more than 65,000 songs at an affordable rate.

Memory Valley Music + NFDA/ICCFA licenses = peace of mind

Memory Valley Music synchronization licenses complement the performance licenses offered by NFDA and ICCFA, ensuring that the music you use to create your tribute videos as well as the music you play during live and live streamed events is properly licensed and you, your business, and the families you serve are protected from penalties, fines, and lawsuits.

While tribute videos aren’t new to deathcare, the proliferation of video sharing opportunities on social media and other channels means the tribute videos you create are more likely to be uploaded and posted online, increasing your chances of being penalized for copyright infringement.

“There are artificial intelligence systems on the Internet that do nothing but search for music being shared online on social media,” explains Brumley. “Just this May someone shared a two-and-a-half-hour concert online, and the DJ’s mix included a seven-second snippet of a Billie Eilish song. The AI system was able to detect the song, even though it was only seven seconds.”

When those AI bots identify even a portion of copyrighted music being played without proper licensing, either the video has to be taken down and erased from the Internet forever, advertising has to be added to the broadcast, or the copyright owner will impose a fine, which is currently $300,000 ($150,000 for each of the two copyrights each song holds for the song’s composition and the sound recording), on the funeral home.

None of these scenarios will sit well with a grieving family who just want to share precious memories of their loved one with others online. Proactively purchasing a license for music in Memory Valley Music’s vast catalog will protect you and your families from incurring these penalties.

Protect yourself beginning today

Memory Valley Music recently launched its website,, and its process for creating tribute videos accompanied by legally licensed music. Users simply choose a package, which is priced based on the number of songs you’d like to use in the video, and add personal details and photos that tell the story of a loved one’s life. Memory Valley Music’s system lets you share a link with the family so they can participate in adding content, as well. When you’re done, you’ll get a watermarked version of the video to preview before completing payment. 

After you’ve approved the video, you’ll receive verification of the licenses you’ve purchased for the music and a link to embed the video on your website and send to the family to share with others on social media or via email or text. Anytime someone clicks the link to watch the video on your funeral home’s website, they’re actually linking to where the video resides securely on Memory Valley Music’s private server.

“Having one link to the video containing licensed music that you’ve purchased protects you from copyright infringement,” explains Brumley. “The link can’t be shared on YouTube, and the video can’t be downloaded to be saved on a flash drive or DVD. The license covers one recording of the song, and copying the video would require additional licenses.”

If a song you’d like to use isn’t included in the Memory Valley Music catalog, Brumley and her team will work with the copyright owners to negotiate a license. This process can be time-consuming, so Brumley suggests that you share the most-requested songs with Memory Valley Music so they can get the ball rolling immediately.

Brumley understands that learning about music licensing and the services Memory Valley Music provides might produce more questions than one article can cover, and she looks forward to answering them, either by email, on the website at, or in person at next week’s 2022 NFDA International Convention & Expo. We’ll also share more information in the coming months in Connecting Directors, so stay tuned!