Mathematically, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is probably about right.
As the intellectual property world gets ever more litigious, creative and advertising agencies are getting musicologist analysis and clearance reports as a part of the process, the last step before launching a campaign.
When you put music to picture, as in an audio campaign, you incur some degree of intellectual property risks. First, there is the chance your music sounds, to somebody, like another work. Observable similarity is common, particularly in popular music. That doesn’t mean you are infringing, but it is a measurable amount of risk, even for specious claims.
Soundalikes introduce their own risks.
In advertising, in particular, often a piece of music is selected or created with another existing work in mind. Maybe it was selected from a production library or otherwise sourced because it reminds the music supervisor of a famous song, or the vibe of a famous song. Other times a composer is asked to write the song with the intention of capturing a bit of an existing song’s vibe, groove, energy, or some element. That doesn’t mean it’s infringing, either. But again, it does incur additional risks.
And when the campaign airs, the more successful the campaign and the greater its reach — both good problems to have — the more it compounds that risk. More ears, more spurious observations and claims.
So, creative and advertising agencies mitigate all of this by getting a forensic musicologist who will analyze the music for originality and susceptibility to an accusation, not merely a warranted one but any accusation, of plagiarism, similarity, and copying that might lead to a claim of infringement.