While today’s music industry climate maybe more favorable to an independent approach, artists need to be more diligent and look for alternative and innovative ways to succeed. With music piracy rampant on the internet, artists more than ever must take advantage of opportunity to profit from their music.
One rapidly developing area of the music industry is music licensing. So, what is music licensing? Music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted material. Music licensing is intended to ensure that the owners of copyrights on musical works are compensated for certain uses of their work.
It turns out that music licensing is happening every day, all around us. When you listen to music on the radio, that music is licensed. When you hear music in a commercial or on a sitcom, that music is licensed. And that music you here playing during the credits of your favorite movie? You guessed it, that music is licensed.
Music licensing, if done right, can be an extremely profitable endeavor. Global revenue from sync licensing is said to be close to 3 billion annually. As profitable as this niche industry can be, it is important to point out, that in the past few years this industry has become crowded and complex as many artists and labels are trying to get their music licensed.
So how can you cash in?
Although this area of the music industry is abundant with opportunity artists need to realize that they are effectively running a business. Only with a good understanding and knowledge of the way music licensing works, will artists see lucrative results and be able to explore new ways to take advantage of it. Before you venture into this exciting corner of the music industry, it is crucial that you understand some of the basic things to remember if you’re going to be successful.
Does your music sound good? If it sounds like you recorded it in your bedroom at home, no one is going to give you the time of day. Your music should be highly produced with quality instruments. Keep in mind, licensing professionals will generally listen to the first 10 seconds of your song and if it doesn’t sound good right off the bat, they ditch it. Keep in mind that music that gets licensed for medium and large tier opportunities hits mainstream audiences. So it should be well produced, well mixed, and well mastered. Give your music an honest assessment, if it’s not up to par, fix it.
Make sure all songwriters involved with your songs are registered in a PRO (performing rights organization) and that your songs themselves are registered. If your songs gets picked up by a commercial that airs on TV worldwide, you will be earning substantial performance royalties from your PRO. So set yourself up for some big money. If your aren’t familiar with the lingo and structure of the publishing world, do your career a favor and educate yourself.
You will at all times want to know who owns the rights to your music. Licensing professionals need to know who the owners of your song are because those music supervisors need to gain approval from all owners of a given song in order to use that song in their given project.
They want to know and will ask:
Who owns the master / sound recordings?
Who owns the underlying composition / publishing?
Have this information with you at all times.
Next you will want to make sure you have both instrumental and clean versions of all songs you submit for sync opportunities. As many as 50% of all syncs are the instrumental versions of the track. By not having an instrumental version of your track, you are potentially missing out on half the opportunities for landing a sync.
It is also important to have clean versions of all your tracks. Many networks will not broadcast songs with expletives, and artists who don’t have a mastered clean version of their track often lose out on syncs because there are expletives in their songs.
Finally, be easy to reach. A lot of artists lose licensing opportunities because they make one major mistake: They are unable to be contacted or are unresponsive when contacted. Be sure that your info (name, writer, contact info) is embedded in every file of your song that you send out. Make sure it is easy to find on your website and social media pages. Check and update those frequently. And for the love of god, if someone contacts you, make sure you respond as quickly as possible.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what it takes to succeed in the music licensing world, you are ready to become a “musicpreneur” and profit from your music in ways you didn’t think possible.