How Do I License My Music
This is what I will be addressing in the remainder of this guide.
The reality is that there are many ways of going about landing a licensing deal. The path you take will depend on how much time you can dedicate to seeking out deals and what your goals are. There isnt a right and wrong way, unless your intention is to troll and spam people. That will get you nowhere.
If I were to break it down, I would say there are essentially four ways to license your music. You can:
Lets look at the top three.
So What Is Music Licensing Exactly
Music licensing is a legal agreement by where a composer/author will grant permission for the use of their copyrighted music for various types of commercial projects in exchange for a licensing fee.
If you are the composer/author for that work, then you will earn the sync fee that gets paid out! Its a glorious way for songwriters and composers in the music industry to receive compensation for their original music.
This introductory video from Chris Small is a simple overview of how this confusing world of music licensing actually works.
What Do Socan Licenses Cost
Under Tariff 15A, the annual license fee is $1.23 per square metre plus applicable taxes for the area of your business accessible to the public. The license fee is halved for businesses operating less than six months of the year, but minimum fee of $94.51 may apply.
Under Tariff 15B, the annual fee for telephone hold music is $94.51 for the main line plus $2.09 for each additional line.
SOCAN offers fee calculators on its website to help you approximate how much each of these licenses will cost.
If you purchase a subscription through a music supplier under Tariff 16, the fees will vary depending your contract. Youll have to contact specific music suppliers for more information on the cost and to confirm what kind of usage the license covers.
Note that SOCAN licenses are not based on frequency of use once youve paid the required annual licensing fee, you play as much or as little music as you like and can use any genre of music from the worlds entire repertoire.
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How To Ask For Copyright Permission To Use A Song
Once youve tracked down the copyright holder, you can contact them, usually by writing a letter or email. Refer to this sample letter or follow this guide. The main thing is to identify yourself, the song/original music you want to use, and explain how/where it will be used. Is it not-for-profit? Commercial use? Finally, you can ask them to sign and return the letter by way of agreement, or contact you to negotiate for the music rights.
If you expect your usage/views to be very limited, you may get permission to use the piece for free, but if you expect to profit from or monetize your video, you will likely need to pay the owner a fee.
Are Any Other Licenses Required To Play Music At My Business
In addition to SOCAN licenses, you many need to obtain other licenses from Re:Sound in order to legally play music in your business establishment.
SOCAN represents the rights of composers and music publishers, while Re:Sound represents the rights of artists and record companies . Re:Sound has a similar, although slightly more streamlined, tariff structure for retail, hospitality and similar businesses.
If any of the above SOCAN licenses are applicable to your business, youll likely want to look into Re:Sounds Background Music Tariff . Re:Sound also provides a fee calculator on its site to help you estimate what your annual license will cost.
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Where Can I Go To Get My Music Placed
Thats what were about to get into, and make no mistake about it, there are plenty of companies that can help you get your music into TV, films, games and beyond.
What should be said at the outset is that every company is a little different.
Some require you to sign over exclusive rights to the music you submit, while others do not.
Some will be proactive in finding placement opportunities for you, while others will just maintain a catalog that filmmakers and others can browse and license at their convenience.
Some are opportunity directories. Others have direct access to people who are looking for music they can use in their projects.
There isnt necessarily a right or wrong way. But based on your goals, you should always be mindful of what youre signing up for.
With that, here are 11 of the best and most well-known licensing companies around.
Everything You Need To Know About Music Supervisors
Music supervisors are probably responsible for some of your favourite moments in TV and film. Take the iconic end sequence to The Breakfast Club, who do you think scouted Simple Minds for the soundtrack?
Music doesnt just fall into films or video games it requires masterful track selection and an array of licensing agreements before it appears on your screen.
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How To Creating New Connections To License Your Music
Earlier, when I mentioned that there are many ways to get your music licensed, this is partly what I was referring to.
Music libraries and publishers are great tools to take advantage of because they will do a lot of the work on your behalf. Your main job would be to create and submit music.
But if you want to, and you have the time and energy for it, you can also forge your own connections in the music industry.
The good news is you maintain considerably more control of your music if you go this route. You can choose who you want to work with, and you can keep all the money instead of automatically giving up 50%.
At times, this can be a more gratifying path to take because you put in the hard work to make your dreams a reality. No one else did it for you. The downside is that this can be a lot of work, and more than likely youre going to be rejected quite a bit. Youll need to persevere in the face of opposition.
An important question is which is more entrepreneurial? Leveraging someone elses connections and splitting the profits, or doing it all yourself and keeping all the money?
Arguably, both paths are quite entrepreneurial. It comes back to how much time and effort you can commit to the process.
If youre interested in making your own connections, then its important to recognize that youre going to be spending a lot of time in research. Youre going to want to expose yourself to a lot of media, whether its movies, TV shows, video games or anywhere music is used .
Soundstripe Offer Unlimited Licenses Of Music
Soundstripe works a lot like Artlist in that they offer unlimited music subscriptions to their clients.
So, anyone looking for loads of quality music they can use in their productions is sure to love what Soundstripe has to offer.
Although they arent currently accepting applications from artists, they will be in the future.
So, if youre shopping around for a platform where you can submit your music, its worth keeping an eye on Soundstripe.
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Music Licensing Is A Numbers Game
At the end of the day, music licensing is really a numbers game.
You need to have the right song at the right place for the right buyer. The more songs you write, the better your odds.
Id estimate that I probably get one sale a month for every 30 files I upload. This includes the main songs and the 5 or 6 alternate versions you make.
After commission, I make $10-20 per sale. So the more songs you can make the better.
Heres how the math tends to work out for me. If you make one song a week, youll probably end up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 files a month, and then one sale.
The next month you add another 30 new songs, while the old songs are out there still selling for you. For example, I just got the first sale of a song I recorded a few years ago.
Music licensing isnt a get rich quick scheme, but it does keep on building. If you love making music, its a great way to earn extra money.
How To Write Your Song For Music Licensing
When you’re writing music for licensing, it’s always important to be true to yourself. Don’t try to overthink things in an attempt to license your music. Just add these simple rules to what you already do, and you’ll be sure to be licensing your music in no time!
One principle underlies both of these rules. The most important thing is that you quickly capture, and then maintain, a potential client’s attention. It’s been said that these days you only have 7 seconds to get someone’s attention. This means that any song you write for licensing needs to have a clear attention-grabbing intro that clearly foreshadows where the song is going.
Successful stock music for licensing tends to have two traits:
When it comes to maintaining a consistent tone, it’s important not to get too clever. For example, “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles is one of the most brilliant songs ever recorded, but the massive changes in tone make it totally inappropriate for music licensing.
Why is having a major change in your song bad for music licensing?
Because you want a potential client to know exactly what type of music they’re listening to from the moment they hit play! If its a dramatic classical piece, it should remain a dramatic classical piece.
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Music Licensing And Copyright
The music industry doesnt make it easy to license songs. Song ownership is often fragmented among a number of parties, and licensing agreements are complex and expensive.
Well cover this in-depth later, but suffice it to say the music industry has not kept pace with the creative industry. Spending an entire month and $5,000 to license one song isnt good for your mental health or the future of your project especially if youre creating content on a weekly basis.
And its not like you can just skip this part and ignore copyright law. Well, technically you could but it would be a bad idea.
In 2014, Youtube launched its Content ID algorithm, which automatically scans for copyrighted music and alerts the copyright holder. At that point, the copyright holder can have your video removed at any time.
YouTube works on a strike system, and each time they have to warn you, you get a strike. You know where this is going: three strikes and youre out. YouTube disintegrates your channel, just like Thanos.
But thats not all. Other bad things could happen.
Theres a bizarre scenario where the copyright holder of the song you used could start monetizing ads on your videos for themselves sort of like a retroactive licensing fee.
Or you could get sued like makeup artist and YouTube creator Michelle Phan. Phan ran a channel with over 8 million subscribers, and during her rise to fame she continually used copyrighted music without permission.
How Much Can You Get Paid For Sync Licensing
The answer to this question varies greatly. It depends on a lot of things, including:
- The scope and budget of the project
- The audience reach of the client
- Whether its an exclusive or non-exclusive deal
- If the song will be featured, as opposed to background music
- What middleman you work with, if any
Lets use Musicbed, one of the most well-known music licensing companies, as an example.
They will charge clients $49 to use your song in a wedding video. On the other end of the spectrum, theyll charge clients $499 to use your song in a film that has a budget of $250k to $500k.
In both cases, Musicbed splits those fees with you. This is how most licensing companies operate.
However, license fees can be much less than $49 and much more than $499. Some TV shows can pay between $1,000 and $3,000 per placement.
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Types Of Music Licenses
Music licenses are one of the most important revenue streams for known artists.
Because the songs are copyrighted material,
These written agreements are called licenses, which include the cost of the license and the rights of use that will determine how the music track can be used.
In short, if you are using or are going to use a well-known song for anything that other people will hear, be it a movie, a video or other audiovisual pieces, you will need a music license to use it legally.
There are currently seven types of licenses. Whether you buy one, another, or several of them will depend on the purpose for which you want the song.
First Things First: How Do I Know If I Can License My Music For Syncs
In this piece, Iâm specifically focusing on licensing your music, so that means weâre going to leave composing, works-for-hire, and the nitty gritty of publishing and copyright for another day. This is really about fitting a square peg in a round hole: editing your pre-existing, recorded music to picture.
To start, you need to know what you control.
Every time you write a song and record it, two copyrights are born:
If a TV show wants to put your song in an episode, they need to license BOTH the composition and the master. Even if you own both, they need to license them both separately, and pay you for the rights to each. Soâ¦
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Closing Thoughts On How To License Your Music
So there you have it. Each of these previous steps is very difficult to perfect, but incredibly easy to start.
So you should start on this sooner rather than later. You are not aiming for your first song to be perfect. Youre aiming for your first song to be good enough. And for each song to be a little better than that.
A little better written.
A little better described.
And a little better promoted.
If you really want to learn how to license your music, check out this free course!
If you commit to constant improvement instead of immediate perfection, you will absolutely be selling songs online. And the sooner you start writing, the sooner you start selling songs. And once you start earning income from your licensing your music every month, you’ll see why music licensing is one of the best side jobs for musicians!
If you’re looking for other music side hustles, check out this list of the 9 best music side jobs.
Upload The Song And Tag It With Keywords That Sell
I recommend signing up for an account with Pond 5 for the reasons described in this post. You cant go wrong with them, and you can always join other sites later.
From there, youll want to upload your first song and give it a nice descriptive title. Many music licensing sites will place a high emphasis on the song title for ranking search results. So to have better success licensing your music, be sure to include a keyword or two in your title.
I’ve had a lot of success with a format like this: “Grim Reaper .”
Be sure to write a strong description & use 50 evocative keywords. These keywords are called metadata, and it’s really important to get it right. This step is honestly just as important as creating licensable music, because no one will find your song without a good description, title, and keywords.
For the description of the song, you want to craft a short narrative to let the reader know about the emotion of the song, what it sounds like, how long it lasts, and how it might be used.
For the keyword metadata, youll want to use a solid mix of terms that describe the tone of the song, who it sounds like, what its technical details are, any unusual instruments used, and how it might be used, but not in a narrative way.
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Choose The Proper Format
When submitting your songs to music supervisors for consideration, you dont want to bother them with large downloads or email attachments. Instead export an MP3 of your tracks with a bit rate of between 192/kbps and 256/kbps.
Once youve done this, dont attach the file to your email. Music supervisors dont want their inboxes littered with attachments and doing so is a surefire way to get your email deleted!
Instead, upload the track to a cloud drive like Dropbox, Disco or Box and include a link to the file in your email. Make sure that whatever service you use doesnt require the user to make an account or log in. They should be able to easily listen to and then download the music without jumping through any hoops.
Once a music supervisor decides to license your music, then they will ask for a higher resolution file. Be sure to have a master .wav of your music ready for when this happens in at least 16 bit / 44.1kHz.