Earning More Money From Your Licensing Through Public Performance Royalties
If you’re lucky enough to get a song placed on TV, then you are also going to be entitled to earn public performance royalties! These backend royalties are collected by your Performing Rights Organization – I used BMI and would recommend it! These performance royalties can be one of the biggest possible perks of song licensing, because if your song gets licensed for the right show, you could be earning serious bank.
In order to get paid for these performances, you need to be sure that you register each song with your PRO. Then, when your song is broadcast as part of a TV show, the production company files a “cue sheet” with your PRO. Every TV station pays a license fee to the PRO, and depending on how frequently your song is played, you earn a pro-rated share of those fees.
Sometimes it’s only a few dollars per broadcast, but it can really add up. Backend royalties have boosted my music licensing earnings by thousands of dollars through broadcasting music I licensed through Pond 5. And the best news is that every time that TV show is rebroadcast or streamed, you get paid. It’s one of the ways the music licensing can really create passive income for you!
Benefits And Drawbacks To Licensing Your Music
Before we go into the how of licensing your music, lets explore the benefits and drawbacks.
If you are an indie musician, licensing your music can gain your songs increased exposure. Most artists of every ilk have heard the phrase, People die of exposure, which is a play on words implying that you cant pay your bills on exposure alone.
Although, if youre receiving a healthy paycheck for licensing your music and getting exposure in a hit movie, TV series, or even on social media, music licensing becomes a win-win proposition.
The other benefit is fairly obvious: Money. Youll have to spend some time negotiating the agreement, then follow up to ensure that your music is only being used in the contexts you permitted. But apart from these steps, licensing your music represents passive income. You can create a song once and license it multiple times for additional income.
The drawbacks to licensing your music are relatively small. You cant control the quality of the media where your music is being heard, so you can wind up with your song on a flop of a streaming series. Hopefully, that wont reflect poorly on you as the artist.
Musical artists can earn generous income on each of their songs through licensing agreements. It takes some time to build relationships with licensing agencies who can help you sell sync licenses, but the investment could pay off for years.
Licensing Your Music Through A Pro For Royalties
Before you license your music, make sure your song and lyrics are copyrighted. Once thats done, you can create a collection of your music as high-quality MP3s or WAV files. The higher the resolution, the better, especially today, when brands are looking to deliver the highest quality audio and video in all their productions.
Youll want to include metadata, including the name of the song, your name, the album name, the genre, and the recording or release date. Finally, create a spreadsheet of all the songs you have available for licensing, including a brief description and keywords that will help people find your song.
Then, search the web for music libraries and upload your collection in as many places as you can.
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My Music Licensing Background
Up until a few years ago, I didnt have a clue how to get my music licensed. I had some vague notion along the lines of:
Through a lot of hard work, I figured out how to license my music! Since then, I’ve earned over $10,000, had placements on TV and Netflix, and just feel damn good about myself. That’s why I think music licensing is one of the best side jobs for musicians.
So lets break out the steps of the process and build you a quick road map to get you started with stock music licensing side hustle, because learning how to license my music is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What’s The Best Option If You’re Just Starting Out
When first getting started with music licensing, a combination of options 2 and 3 is ideal.
Iâll explain why in a minute but first, let me tell you why I wouldnât focus on option 1 and sign a publishing deal right from the start.
First of all, youâd need as much time researching publishers as youâd need researching music libraries, might as well stay in control of your catalogue then!
Secondly, publishers usually wonât want to sign you until youâve proven youâre financially viable. Publishers who want to sign you before youâve had any success are not always good newsâ¦. Whatever their sales pitch, itâs more likely that theyâre taking a punt on your music and trying to beef up their roster to look more impressive and professional. That doesnât mean they canât work for you. It just means that thereâs no guarantee that they can make you any money and signing your catalogue over to them on an exclusive basis is probably not a great idea.
If youâre a more experienced and seasoned musician who has seen it all in the music industry, then thatâs a different story! You can probably smell a nasty scam from far away. In that case, if you find a publisher that seems like the right fit for you, it could be a great deal that saves you a lot of time and effort.
With that in mind, letâs get back to options 2 and 3â¦.
Both are pretty cool ways to make money from your music!
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While Most New Productions Are Presently At A Standstill The Broader Production Of Visual Media Including Film Television Commercials And Video Games Continues To Explode For Artists Stuck In Isolation This Could Be The Perfect Time To Set Up A Sync Licensing Machine
Unsurprisingly, streaming platforms like Netflix have exploded in popularity during lockdowns. But this story was growing before everyone was trapped inside. And as the reach of on-demand platforms and the internet continues to expand, so too has the demand for soundtracks, theme songs, adverts, and other forms of sync music.
For those just tuning in to this opportunity, sync licenses refer to the deals struck by content creators with artists and songwriters where songs are featured in visual media. Whether a track is played during a pivotal scene or the end credits, a sync deal makes the placement happen. These deals are negotiated directly, which typically means money up front at a mutually agreed upon price.
Importantly, artists get more out of sync than upfront payments. A long list of songs have become hits after carefully planned sync deals, though music supervisors are generally responsible for assuring a tracks suitability for the content and the scene at hand. But that often translates into a solid fit for a ready demographic, which means that up-and-coming musicians and established stars alike have a chance to enjoy the fruits of sync.
But if nabbing sync deal after sync deal was easy, everyone would be doing it. As it is, sync-seeking musicians must take success-minded steps to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons. To help them do so, Digital Music News and Songtradr have published several guides and tutorials.
Option : Building Relationships Yourself
Youâre in complete control and decide who you want to work with.
You also get to keep all the money .
On top of that itâs highly gratifying when you pull it off and relationships you build that way tend to be stronger and more rewarding .
Itâs a LOT of work, takes a lot of time and youâre going to fail a lot.
As an indie musician, youâre probably used to all that but still, itâs something to consider. Maybe youâre not in a place right now where you can take a lot of rejection.
How to get started?
Stay focused. If you write in different genres, focus on one to get started.
Study the market. Go on YouTube, do research on TV shows, video games, films, fashion shows, retail stores, any place that features music in public. Figure out where your genre of music is already being used.
Start small. Sure, you can go ahead and try to get an internship with Hans Zimmer, Iâd never discourage you from trying! But be prepared for a lot of rejection. By starting small, youâre giving yourself a chance to experiment and make mistakes without big consequences.
Slow and steady beats fast and erratic pretty much every time. If youâre going to build long-lasting relationships in the industry, you need to show that youâre reliable. Music supervisors, filmmakers, they need to be able to count on you and trust youâll deliver. Slow and steady ensures you donât burn out.
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How To Submit Music For Tv & Film
Getting your music featured in a TV show, movie or even a video game can not only help your music reach the ears of new fans, but also generate a substantial amount of cash, so it’s well worth looking into sync licensing.
Before we get into the HOW, let me very quickly explain WHAT music sync licensing is and WHY you need to strongly consider licensing your music for synchronization.
If you already know you want to license your music and why – feel free to skip ahead!
Musicbed Licenses Music For Film
Musicbed is another platform filmmakers turn to so they can find quality music for their project.
And, their content is high-quality. No wonder theyve attracted so many well-known brands like Samsung, Netflix and Amazon.
As such, the barriers to entry are kind of high. Your music better be good.
Additionally, they only accept submissions on a bi-annual basis. Youd better be on top of it if the opportunity presents itself.
So, Musicbed is a great place to go to if youre a professional songwriter or producer. It may not be the best place for small independent artists to try to find licensing deals.
Its clear that Musicbed takes pride in everything they do. Their site reflects it and so does their catalog. Getting to work with them would be a significant accomplishment.
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Best Music Licensing Companies That Can Get Your Music Placed Final Thoughts
Signing up with a licensing company does not guarantee success by any means.
Success is dependent on hard work and your ability and willingness to give music supervisors what theyre looking for.
So, if youre serious about placements, think of it as a full-time job making and submitting your music.
If youd just like a bit of mailbox money, then maybe you could upload your music to a music library and leave it at that. You might get a placement. You might not.
Regardless, its an opportunity worth exploring, even if the competition is significant.
P.S. Remember though, none of what you’ve learned will matter if you don’t know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free 5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career’ ebook emailed directly to you!
Research Their Current Artists
Whats the quality of the licensing companys current artist catalog? Is it on par with the music your making? Or is your music on par with theirs?
Also, remember that if you get accepted to a music library, your music will be associated with all of those other artists. So youll have to be comfortable with your tunes sitting next to all the other musicians tunes.
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A Better Way To Find Radio
If youve read any of what Ive just written, or even worse, tried to license music firsthand, you know the current processes just dont work for creators.
We get it. Soundstripe was founded by three professional musicians, so we know the challenges of licensing music as an artist and finding good music as a creator.
Our mission is simple: Keep creators creating. The entire reason Soundstripe exists is to give you simple and affordable access to quality music.
Why You Should License Your Own Music
The bottom line answer: yes. If you want to make compensation of any kind off your work, it will need to be licensed. We all know how the digital age has shifted the music industry with easier access and a higher rate of piracy. Luckily, most high-traffic streaming sites have made it hard to avoid copyright policies, YouTubes Content ID included.
But that means if your music isnt licensed, that anyone can use your music without your permission and without you making any money. So how do you license your music? Whats the best way to go about it? Copyright laws are complicated, extensive, and constantly changing. But weve outlined the basics you need to know so you can protect your work and start making money off of it.
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Difference Between Copyright And Music Licenses
- Copyright will allow you to get all the rights to that work. In other words, the song will become your full property, as well as all subsequent benefits derived from it.
- The license will allow you to use the song in other projects of your own such as YouTube videos, commercials, movies, radio programs or spots, video games, or mobile applications, among others.
In the first case, it is necessary to carry out a series of steps, such as:
- Determine whether the song is copyrighted or in the public domain.
- Identify and contact the copyright owner or artist.
- Negotiate the price of the song rights.
- Transfer the rights.
In this article, you will be able to know in-depth each one of those steps.
However, the aim of this article is more towards the second option: to obtain the licenses of famous songs.
To do this, we must differentiate between the different kinds of music licenses that exist.
How Does Stock Music Licensing Work
Here is a big picture overview of the way music licensing works. You upload a song that you’ve created to a music licensing website. You then describe your song and add additional keywords the potential clients can use to find the song.
Then clients from around the world, ranging from TV sound editors to YouTubers to pod casters to video game designers, search the website. They may be looking for something like “energetic EDM upbeat” or “nu-metal mariachi tango.” Basically, sync licensing websites work a lot like eBay!
If the client decides to purchase your music, these websites provide them a sync license for your music. Basically, the website receives an upfront fee from the client for the right to use your music in their project. The website takes a commission of this fee, typically between 40-60%, and then you get the remainder.
If you’re lucky and track you licensed gets placed on TV, you may also be entitled to backend performance royalties, which can total thousands of dollars!
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Professionally Record Your Music
If you want to license your music for TV and film you need a great recording of a great song. When submitting to music supervisors, youll be competing against some of the biggest names in the business.
Although theres a small market for lo-fi indie recordings, the market for commercial, professionally produced productions is much bigger.
If you want your music licensed with any production big or small, you have to invest time and money into the recording process.
You may have heard it said that that the more songs you have, the better. Theres some truth in this, a large catalog of songs can help your chances of getting synched. However, they all have to be a quality production if you want to be taken seriously by music supervisors.
Thankfully, there are places out there that offer commercial-grade recordings at an affordable rate.
Our sister site, Sundown Sessions Studio, connects songwriters with award-winning engineers and sessions musicians from around the world. The professional edge it gives you is invaluable and the cost is low enough to be made back in your first couple of sync placements.
Types Of Music Licensing
- Master license the right to use the recording of a piece of music or song
- Sync license the right to use a piece of music or song in a film production. This requires permission from both the master and publishing copyright owners
- Publishing license the right to perform or record a piece of music or song
- Performance license the right to perform music in public
- Mechanical license the right to reproduce and sell a recording of a piece of music or song
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What Is A License Exactly
A license is a limited granting of certain rights for someone else to use something you ownâin this case, a song.
The vast, vast majority of licenses are limited and are ânon-exclusive.â That means you can license the same song to a different thing, often simultaneously. So, when considering licensing your music to someone else, what should you consider?
A license can be broken down into 6 essential points, all of which are technically negotiable:
Media: What types of different outlets will be allowed to broadcast this thing? TV? Movie theaters? Film festivals only? The internet? All media now known or hereafter devised? Generally, TV shows will ask for âall media, excluding theatrical.â With studio films, it will likely be âall media, including in-context promos and trailers,â meaning they can use the clip of the film featuring your song in the advertising without paying more. Again, thatâs typical. What you want to watch out for is âout-of-contextâ requests, meaning they could use your song over other scenes in a trailer. Itâs a completely different use, so itâs okay to strike that. With indie movies, they might try for all media, but if they donât have distribution for their film secured, try to limit their use of your song to, say, film festivals only. Ads are broadcast in all types of outlets and media types, so make sure that if the license includes advertisements, youâre clear on exactly where the ad will broadcast .