Needledrop refers to the licensing of a pre-existing recording, typically a commercial track or popular song, for use in a visual media context such as a movie, TV show, advertisement, or video game. The term originates from the action of dropping the needle on a vinyl record to play music.
Each needledrop requires two licenses: a synchronization (sync) license from the owner of the song’s composition (usually a music publisher), and a master license from the owner of the specific recording of the song (usually a record label).
The concept of a needledrop implies that each instance of a song’s use – each time the ‘needle is dropped’ on the record – in a project constitutes a separate use, which may incur a separate fee. This means if a song is played multiple times within a film or an episode of a series, each play may be considered a separate needledrop and might require additional licensing fees.
The cost for each needledrop can vary based on factors such as the popularity of the song, the length of the song clip used, the prominence of the placement, and the nature of the project (e.g., big-budget movie vs. independent film).
For more information, you can read about Music Licensing on Wikipedia.