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How to License Your Music

1,000,000 streams on Spotify will get you approximately $3,000 in royalties.

1 MILLION!

Can you even hit that target in a whole year?

I’m not even sure I could make it in TEN years!

Here are 6 different ways you could make $3,000 with music licensing. It might take you a whole year when you’re first starting out but it certainly won’t take you 10 years to get there!

How to license your music income potential

Now doesn’t that seem much more achievable than 1 MILLION streams on Spotify?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to licensing music.

They are many other projects that could use your music PLUS the sales prices above are fairly conservative (you’ll see that with Songtradr’s own pricing tool featured later in this post).

This is WHY you need to look into music licensing.

Now let me show you HOW to license your music.

The first thing I want to tell you is that you don’t need to know every single technical aspect of music licensing to start looking for music licensing opportunities.

In the rest of this post, I will explain the essentials (exclusive versus non-exclusive deals, synch fees versus performance royalties, the role of music libraries, etc.) BUT I want to focus my attention on getting you to actually start DOING something!

Trust me, you’ll learn much more by “doing” music licensing than you will ever learn just reading about it. Even if you feel you’re not “ready” yet, the key is to start!


If you want more guidance on how to license your music, check out this online training program called Get Your Music Licensed.


So here it goes… 

How to License Your Music

Step 1: Get Your Music Ready for Licensing

Pick 3 to 5 Tracks From Your Catalogue

If you’re not sure they’re good enough, try anyway. You’ll soon find out. There’s nothing that kills the musician’s ambitions quite like perfectionism.

Still, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind for successfully licensing music.

  • Songs and/or instrumentals are fine. Explicit lyrics very rarely are.
  • No samples! Apple loops and such are fine. Samples from other artists’ work or copyrighted speeches are not.
  • You should own the rights to the tracks you’re submitting. In case of co-authors, make sure you’re all on the same page and ok to seek out licensing opportunities.
  • Check with your publisher and/or label (if you have one) before you doing anything with your music, including look for licensing opportunities.

Export MP3 and WAV Files

Export high quality MP3s (preferably 320kbps) and WAV files (preferably 24bit, 48kHz).

Note that I wrote “preferably.” Again, if for whatever reason you can’t export your songs in those formats, just pick the next best option available!

For example, an MP3 256kbps or a WAV 16bit, 44kHz).

Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to audio quality:

  • 24 bit > 16 bit
  • 320 kbps > 256 kbps > 128 kbps
  • WAV = AIFF > MP3
  • 48kHz > 44kHz for any music that will be used on video (not in quality but simply because that’s the standard for TV/film)

Input Metadata

Make sure your audio files (MP3s and WAV) have the proper metadata attached to them.

This means that if you double click on the audio file and it starts playing in iTunes or whatever app you use to listen to your music, the following information will appear clearly and accurately:

  • Track name
  • Artist name
  • Album name
  • Genre
  • Recording or release date

If possible, add your email address in the “comments” or “additional information” section.

If you don’t know how to do this, I suggest researching “how to add metadata in iTunes” (or whatever system you’re using) in Youtube.

Audacity is a free tool you might also want to explore.

Create a Catalogue Spreadsheet

Take the time to create a spreadsheet or Word doc to track your catalogue.

Here is what it could look like:

How to license your music Licensing Spreadsheet

Include the name of the song, the description and a bunch of keywords that will come in handy when you upload them onto music libraries. Assign each licensing opportunity it’s own column to keep track of where songs are placed.

For now, all you need is the column with the track titles really but you might want to anticipate and start thinking about descriptions and keywords.

Step 2: Register your songs with a PRO

Always register songs you plan on licensing with a Performance Rights Organisation (PRO).

If you already know what a PRO is and have already registered your songs with yours, move on to step 3!

PROs are the organisations that ensure that you get paid royalties when one of your tunes is performed on radio, TV, etc.

In the US, that could be ASCAP or BMI. In the UK it’s PRS. SACEM is the one in France.

You only need to register with one. PROs around the world collaborate with each other to collect royalties in their territory and coordinate with other PROs to get the composers paid.

There’s no need to be fancy about it. Just register with the PRO of your choice.

Check out this list of PROs to find out the options in your part of the world and how to license your music there.

Step 3: Research Music Libraries

There are many other opportunities in the music licensing world but they require more time, organizational skills and energy.

For now let’s focus on production music libraries.

They have their flaws but are great to start learning how to licensing your music, understanding how much admin work is needed in the background (it’s not all music making heaven if you want to get paid!), and figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t.

So….

What Are Music Libraries?

They are platforms that curate music and make it available to license.

Their role is not to promote your music to venues or potential fans. They don’t really focus on that, it’s not their business.

The focus of music libraries is to make your tracks available for licensing to potential customers like ad agencies, YouTubers, videographers, indie filmmakers, music supervisors on TV shows (a LOT of reality TV shows out there! :p ), etc.

Here’s an example so you can see how libraries are being used:

An indie filmmaker is looking for a really cool tune for her new western. She can’t really afford to hire someone like Ennio Morricone so she checks out if her favorite music library has anything in a similar vein.

She’s happy because she finds a really nice, low key tune that will fit her project perfectly.

She giddily adds that tune to her cart, pays her license and gets a link to download the audio files.

When someone licenses a song, they are paying for the right to use that song in their project.

How Do YOU Get Paid?

  1. Sync Fees – A “synchronisation fee” is paid to the music library upfront. Depending on the terms of the license agreement you signed with the library, you’ll get a percentage of that sync fee (the standard is a 50/50 split, some libraries give you 60% or 70% like Audiosparx).
  2. Performance Royalties – If the video that used your music is played on TV (whether it’s terrestrial, cable or online), you receive performance royalties calculated based on the number of plays. That’s where your PRO comes in. They’re in charge of collecting the royalties for you.
  3. Ad revenue – If your music is used in a YouTube video, you could receive a share of the ad revenue. However, this side of the business gets tricky because you need your music to be part of the YouTube’s ContentID program. That can create a whole host of problems for music libraries you work with. If you’re just starting out, don’t worry about this type of revenue just yet.

How Much Can You Expect to Make Licensing Music?

These are the figures from the Songtradr pricing tool I was telling you about:

how to license your music Music Licensing Deals

If you’re a little geek who likes playing with figures like me, you can go ahead and register to Songtradr for free and have some fun with their pricing tool!

As you can see, the music licensing fees vary a lot depending on the project the tune will be used in.

For example:

A big budget film wants to use your song. They had loads of money to pay the cast, film on location and put together a huge promotional tour. It’s only fair that those who contribute to the soundtrack get their share of the pie.

A teacher would love to use your song in a video she made to tell her classroom about the importance of being polite. If you’ve made your song available for free to non-profit projects, she won’t have to pay a dime. However, if she decides to upload her video on Youtube and starts making money from advertising, you should earn your share of performance royalties.

When you’re just starting out, you should experiment and reach out to as many varied music licensing opportunities as possible.

In time, you’ll learn what you enjoy working on and what is a good fit for you.

For example, I tried to make happy commercial music for a while because advertising pays well. After a while, I realized it didn’t make much sense for me to focus on this because a) I didn’t enjoy it and b) it’s not my style, others are much better at it and I’m much better writing epic orchestral tunes.

How Do You Know Which Music Libraries Are The Right Fit?

Well, you don’t right from the get go.

It’s important that you research the music libraries you’re thinking of submitting to.

Why?

Because different libraries offer different things:

  • Opportunities (TV, video games, wedding videos)
  • Licensing deals (exclusive, non-exclusive)
  • Genres of music (happy pop, trailer music, children’s music)

Here are a few examples that are all different that will hopefully give you a better idea of what I’m talking about 😀

  1. Audiosparx.com (a fairly big player that will give you a good idea of all the admin that comes with licensing, i.e. writing a description for your song, finding the right keywords to increase its chance of appearing in the search results, etc.)
  2. Jinglepunks.com (big player, lucrative but selective)
  3. Premiumbeat.com (“race to the bottom” type of library in the sense that they really sell their catalogue for cheap… they’re popular BUT they want exclusivity for your songs)
  4. Railroadtrax.com (small boutique library, competent & super friendly; standard 50/50 non-exclusive deal)

How Do You Research Music Libraries?

Take a couple of hours to identify 6-8 production music libraries, visit their website and do your research.

That means:

  • Analyze the music they already have. Is your music is an obvious fit? Is there’s a gap in their catalogue you might be able to fill?
  • Find out how to submit music to them (you’ll usually find the information on the FAQ or contact pages).
  • Find out if they sign tracks on exclusive or non-exclusive music licensing deals. If it’s obvious from their website that they’ll want exclusivity of the songs they accept, I would skip it. Unless you’re already experienced in music licensing and know the risks and rewards of exclusive deals.

While you’re doing your research, there are a couple of things I want you do to:

  1. Write down on a piece of paper the name of the music libraries that you want to send your music to; and
  2. Create a “Music libraries” folder in your browser’s favourites and add the submissions/FAQ page of every library you’ve selected.

IMPORTANT

If you’re just starting out with music licensing, I suggest you stick with non-exclusive deals.

Why?

When you sign a song to an exclusive deal, the library you sign the deal with is the only one authorised to license that song. That means if they forget about you or don’t care (which can definitely happen!), you won’t be making any licensing money from that song.

There may come a time when you’re more familiar with the licensing ecosystem when you might want to research and test out exclusive deals but for now, I highly recommend forgetting about them.

Step 4: Submit, Submit, Submit

There’s not much to explain here.

Just PLEASE make sure you follow the submission guidelines detailed on each music library’s website. They took the time to write them, you should take the time to read and follow them.

That means if they ask for a minimum of 4 tracks and you only have 3, wait until you have another tune to offer. If they ask for streaming links of individual tracks, don’t send them attachments or links to a playlist.

I know, I know, that’s just common sense. And yet, scores of musicians don’t put in the time or effort to actually follow the simple guidelines of music libraries. Don’t be that person.

Try to keep these few things in mind:

  • Don’t let the production quality of your tracks stop you (within reason of course: don’t go sending obviously flawed mixes). What I mean is don’t procrastinate with the excuse of being a perfectionist 😉 If you’re not sure, send them anyway.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have a professional looking email address. A gmail address has never stopped anyone from doing business!
  • NO, your music doesn’t need to be on Spotify, Pandora, etc. to be considered for music licensing opportunities.

Basically stop making excuses and working under silly assumptions like you need a website, a strong social media presence, an album, a big catalogue, an agent, a professional mastering engineer, etc.

You don’t need ANY of those things to get your music licensed. They might help but you don’t need them.

Focus on the music and you’ll be fine. You’ll build those other things up over time. 

Conclusion – How to License Your Music

Now you have a super simple roadmap that will get you started in no time.

You can easily do it by committing to work on it for 1 hour every day over 7 days.

If you want more to learn how to license your music with more comprehensive licensing guidance, check out our online training program called Get Your Music Licensed.

The class is part of the online music business training offered at New Artist Model.

If you are interested in promoting your music, check out the Music Business Accelerator program (MBA).

Joyce Kettering is a songwriter, composer, music licensing expert, and teacher of the Get Your Music Licensed! program. The music licensing methods she teaches has allowed her to quit her day job at a Fortune 500 company and be successful on licensing alone. 

Make Money from Music Licensing

A lot of musicians see music licensing as this big, super-intimidating goal.

Maybe you feel like you need to have a publisher before you can start. Or perhaps it seems like you need to have a catalog of at least 50 songs before you can even think about submitting anything to licensing opportunities. Or you may even think that you need to hit a certain level of popularity before your music will be “in demand” enough to get licensed.

Let me tell you right off the bat that those are all just excuses that hold you back.

You only need 3 things to start licensing your music successfully:

  1. The music
  2. A strategy
  3. Persistence

That’s it! In the music licensing industry, you’re going to get a whole lot further if you START.

So start prepping the tracks you already have, start researching music libraries and other placement opportunities, and start actually submitting.

To help you get that initial momentum going, we’re going to go through each of those three things one by one. Use this as a checklist for yourself to start moving towards your licensing goals.

1. The Music – Preparing Your Music and Your Catalog for Licensing

When it comes to your musical approach to licensing, you have two options (note that these are not mutually exclusive).

Write a LOT of Music

The more music you have to sell, the more earning potential you have. Seems pretty obvious, right?

The big question is: how do you become a prolific composer?

My tip is simple: embrace imperfection and work under the assumption that quality will come through quantity.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that if you challenge yourself to write songs faster than ever before, you’ll come up with some crappy tunes and some great tunes.

One exercse that has worked wonders for me is working with an artificial deadline.

Here’s how it works. Set a 30 minute timer for yourself and write a new song with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It doesn’t have to be a long song or even a very good song. The only rule is that when the timer goes off, you stop what you’re doing and bounce the MP3.

The goal is not to finish the track in 30 minutes. The goal is to create SOMETHING, whatever that is, in 30 minutes.

This exercise ensures that you always have a lot of raw material to work with. By forcing yourself to just write you’ll stumble upon a lot more ideas. Some may not be that great, but some will be gems that you can come back to and refine.

THIS is how I manage to write dozens of songs in a year.

Write in a Niche

Another approach to building out a licensing catalog is to write in a particular niche.

There are many advantages to writing in a niche:

  • It’s easier to brand yourself and your music
  • You know the market better
  • You can position yourself as the go-to person for that genre of music

Now of course, the less crowded the niche is, the more this applies.

The thinking is that if you just jump on the latest trend, you’ll be part of the cattle herd. It will be your song in a sea of thousands. But if you focus in on a particular (less crowded) genre or sub-genre, you’ll be able to shine. 

I think this is a little easier to illustrate with an example:

Let’s say you love reggae and it’s something you’re really good at writing.

In the grand scheme of things, there really aren’t that many people specialized in reggae. And that means the music production libraries are not flooded with reggae music.

If someone types in “reggae” in a music library, you’ll be towards the top! If someone asks a small boutique library for reggae available exclusive, the staff will get in touch with you and ask if you can write something for them.

Of course, there are less licensing opportunities for reggae tracks than there are for EDM or happy quirky corporate tunes, BUT (and this is important) you’ll get a look-in almost every single time there IS a reggae opportunity.

2. Creating Your Music Licensing Strategy

Now that you have the music and know you can write quality new tunes whenever you want, it’s time to put together a strategy.

Musicians don’t always like this part. They think there’s something immoral about “selling out.”

But here’s the simple truth: music is your career, your job, and your business. If you don’t want to make money with your music, stop reading this and go get a job.

If you DO want to make money from music, you need to realize that you’re not the only one. Especially with music licensing, it’s bit of a competition.

Now I don’t want you to freak out. It’s a competition with the potential for a LOT of winners. The demand for great music is SO high today that there’s room for lots of musicians to be very successful.

Here’s a few general tips to help you stay focused, motivated, and ahead of the curve:

  • If you enjoy what you do, your music will be better for it and you’ll have more energy to stay persistent longer (that means DON’T write in a genre you hate just because you think there’s more financial opportunity. That’s how you burn out.)
  • If you strategize and focus on the activities that will yield the highest results (whether that’s exposure or financial gain), you’ll have more energy to stay persistent longer. This will take some time to figure out, but over time you’ll start to realize what your big winners are. Focus on  what works and cut everything else out.

Understand Your Strengths – SWOT Analysis

In order to strategize, you need to know yourself and your music.

Let’s start with a SWOT analysis! The acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

The exercise is simple:

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses as a music composer and business person (because your music is your business).
  2. Identify opportunities for your music and what threatens to derail your progress in the licensing industry.

Here are a few questions that may help you analyze your strengths and weaknesses and identify threats and opportunities:

  1. What’s my production profile? Can I record a lot of music at little cost or am I limited in the number of tracks I can put out every year?
  2. Is my music catalogue very specific and niche or could I benefit from focusing on a sub-genre for a little while?
  3. Am I good under pressure? Do I like working with really tight deadlines?
  4. Will the last minute cancelation of a project frustrate me?
  5. Am I more productive working alone or with a team?
  6. Who in my network can help me? This is SO often underestimated (by yours truly as well!). Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m not suggesting you ask everyone for money all the time but reminding people you’re trying to make a living as a musician and you can help with this and that goes a long way! That’s also how you start getting referrals and more gigs coming in!
  7. Is this strategy going to bring enough money in (in the long term, you can’t expect immediate results)? For example, if you’re a beatmaker competing with $1 beats, you’re in trouble. You’ll burn out in no time.
    Think about how you could sell ONE beat for $20 and you can focus on getting 1 customer instead of 20, 5 customers instead of 100.

You need to be as honest as you possibly can when you answer these questions. There’s no point in the exercise if you’re not!

3. Persistence

Music licensing is a looooooong game and you’ll sometimes be spending months without anything major happening.

You still need to keep going when you’re in that hole.

That’s why you need to take the time to put together a strategy that makes sense for YOU. Then you can trust the process when you’re going through a period that’s not bringing you a lot of obvious results.

If you choose a path that’s not well aligned with your personality and strengths, it’s going to be extra tough to make it.

Follow a Path That Makes Sense for YOU

You don’t enjoy writing happy quirky corporate tunes? Don’t spend 6 months trying to close deals with Apple and Ikea.

You can’t stand classical music? Don’t set out to make orchestral trailer music because you’ve heard it’s lucrative.

I know it sounds obvious, but you couldn’t guess how many musicians nail them down to goals they HATE because they haven’t taken the time to really think about what they want and enjoy doing.

Set and Track Your Music Licensing Goals 

The only way to persevere is to set goals that you can reach. And here’s the key – set goals around things you actually control

So as an artist trying to get your music licensed, you shouldn’t be aiming to get 4 placements in the next 6 months.

It’s not that it’s impossible for you to get 4 placements in that timeframe. It’s that you can’t CONTROL if you do or not.

Here are a few examples of goals that could work:

  • Each year I will to record and release X number of tracks.
  • I want to have X tracks ready for licensing (complete with alternative versions, keywords and attention-grabbing description) by a certain date.
  • I plan to submit to X number of music libraries
  • By next month, I will have contacted X amount of film students / rappers / videographers / fill-in-the-blank (Note you’re not aiming for a number of projects to work on. You’re targeting a number of potential customers you can reach out to to get a project)
  • I’ll attend X amount of TV / film networking events you attend.

From personal experience, and I’m sure it’s the same with you, efforts bring results.

Every time I’ve thrown myself wholeheartedly at something, I’ve made progress.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Don’t set yourself up to fail.

By all means, stretch your comfort zone. You’ll grow and make progress.

But don’t aim too high too fast! That’s the easiest route to burnout!

If you don’t really like networking, don’t spend 1 grand on a large live event. Instead, start online in a small Facebook group.

If you’ve never scored music to video before, don’t try to convince a short-film director featured at Sundance to hire you, get in touch with film school students first.

I’m not saying you should not aim high. If you can and you know you’ll follow through, congratulations, you’re exceptional! Keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂

For the more neurotic reader out there: yes, of course, aim high BUT if after a few weeks you notice you keep putting off the same thing over and over again…. Dial it back a bit 🙂

By all means, if you have the energy and endurance, sprint out of the starting blocks!

Just know that there’s nothing wrong with slow and steady progress to finish the race.

Joyce Kettering is a songwriter, composer, music licensing expert, and teacher of the Get Your Music Licensed! program. The music licensing methods she teaches has allowed her to quit her day job at a Fortune 500 company and be successful on licensing alone. 

 

 

Photo credit: Kris Kesiak http://bit.ly/1oUdYvY

Photo credit: Kris Kesiak http://bit.ly/1oUdYvY

There has been a lot of buzz about music licensing in the music industry in recent years, and with good reason! Compared to other revenue streams, like streaming, licensing can have potentially big payouts for indie musicians. It’s also a pretty confusing aspect of the music industry. Just how exactly do songs get on those TV shows? The conductors behind these licenses are music supervisors.

What is a Music Supervisor?

Music supervisors oversee the music-related aspects of TV, films, and video games. It’s actually a much trickier job than you may think. They are in charge of interpreting the producer’s vision (which can be rather abstract), finding the right track, and negotiating the contract with the artists. Of course, there are MILLIONS of songs out there, so finding the right one is no easy task. On top of that, licensing for use in visual mediums is a juggling act, with as many as eight separate deals depending on how many parties are involved (songwriter, recording artist, record label, publishing company, etc.) and how the song will be used.

Despite the potential money involved, licensing is actually a pretty impartial industry in terms of the artists chosen. Music supervisors aren’t usually concerned with your career level. There are lots of instances where completely independent bands have gotten huge placements. Their priority is getting the right song, not plugging big-time artists. In fact, you only need 3 things to get started licensing your music for film and TV.


If you want more guidance on how to license your music, check out this online training program called Get Your Music Licensed.

OR

You can get started for free with this ebook: Everything You Need to Know About Licensing & Publishing Your Music. Click here to download the ebook for free.


Contacting Music Supervisors

Licensing music for film and TV is not a mass email business. That’s a good way to get blocked. It’s about taking the time to research and pin-pointing very specific opportunities. The first step is defining your musical style. What genre does your music best fit in? What mood do your songs tend to portray? Is your music reminiscent of songs from other bands or artists? Next, you’ll want to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the music used in commercials, movies, TV shows, and video games. Take note of any titles in which you think your music would work.

So how do you even know who to contact? The music supervisor is always listed in the credits and you can always find a name and email online with a little research. Luckily, there are also great tools like Musician’s Atlas that have already done the work for you, giving easy access to names and contact information. Email is your best bet, though it wouldn’t hurt following them on Twitter as well. You might get some insights as to what they’re looking for.

Keep it Brief

When emailing music supervisors, be as short and to the point as possible. They are busy people and the less time they have to spend digging for information, the better. Ultimately, you really want them to be able to tell exactly how your music sounds from just the subject line. Listing a few key description terms like genre and mood is a great idea. If you can pinpoint a well-known band your music sounds like, include that too. For example, your subject line could be “Uplifting, rock track, sounds like Foo Fighters.” Just from that short description it’s pretty easy to figure out what the track sounds like and, in turn, what placements it might fit best.

Music Submission Guidelines

It’s best to provide a link to a place where the supervisor can listen to the track instead of attaching an mp3. There’s a couple options here. You could provide a link to a hidden page on your website, which is pretty easy to do with all the website creation tools and services out there. You could also provide a link to an online press kit that is separate from your website. On this page, the supervisor should be able to listen to the track and download a WAV file. You should also include the instrumental version of the track. More times than not, lyrics interfere with the dialog, so an instrumental version of your song is a must!

Do NOT include all your songs, or even a full album on this page. Instead, do your research, know what the supervisor is working on, look at the music they’ve used in the past, and send them 1 song (3 songs tops) you think fits best. You’ll stand out from the crowd if you do your research and be prepared and professional.

Following Up

Do not send them hundreds of emails if you don’t hear back. They are people too, and like most people, they tend to block spam. Remember, just because they don’t have a place for your song now doesn’t mean a spot won’t come up in the future. If it’s the right song, it doesn’t matter if it’s a few years old. Supervisors have also been known to share tracks. If they are sent something that’s perfect for another supervisor’s project, they’ll forward it.

Stay Connected!

Above all, licensing for TV, film, and games is all about forging a relationship. Approach supervisors professionally, treat them like real people, and, if you score a licensing deal, keep the connection alive. Thank them for the placement, keep up on their new projects, and send them tracks if you see an opportunity in the future. Remember, a connection with one music supervisor could open the door to a huge web of networking.

 

MusiciansAtlas_music-supervisor

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self publishing your music on YouTube

Everyone knows how important the YouTube platform is for indie musicians. It’s a great way to get your music out to fans, grow your fanbase, and provide your fans with great content from music videos to vlogs. There are plenty of musicians out there who have become successful mainly because of their YouTube channel, with Karmin and Pomplamoose being two of the most successful examples. They grew their audience by targeting young teens with covers of popular songs. Other musicians, like Alex Day, have based their career entirely on recorded music sales and a YouTube channel featuring music videos and hilarious vlogs.

However, there is another aspect of YouTube that is vastly underutilized by the musician community on the platform – self publishing. You don’t need a publisher to get your music placed in YouTube videos. You just need to be proactive with social media and reach out to YouTubers you think would be interested in using your music with their creative content.

There is a huge community of amateur and professional video makers on YouTube with topics ranging from beauty and fashion to gaming to health and fitness. There is also a big surge of professionalism among these YouTubers and many of the more popular channels act as full-time jobs for their creators. As a result, many YouTubers are investing in better cameras and lenses to make their channels more professional and entertaining for their viewers.

Many are also looking to music to differentiate themselves from the masses of other channels on the platform. As you probably know, YouTube has a tough copyright policy and videos illegally featuring copyrighted material can be taken down. As a result, many YouTubers seek out free music they can use without violating copyright. There are plenty of royalty-free music tracks out there, but many sound generic and repetitive. Another popular option is to find remixes or original tracks by amateur and indie musicians and get direct permission to use the music – usually in exchange for a link back to the musician’s website or soundcloud page or a shout out in the video.

So why try to get your music in YouTube videos if you won’t get paid? It’s another form of marketing and a great way to reach a potentially huge subscriber base in a really authentic way. Think about how you find new music. More times than not you get recommendations from your friends or another trusted source, not a big flashy advertisement.

YouTubers are tastemakers. People subscribe to their channels and watch their videos because they trust their opinions. When they recommend a product or brand their viewers will be more inclined to try it out, and the same is true with music. When YouTubers feature really great music in their videos, either by mentioning the band or by syncing the music with their videos, tons of their subscribers will go listen to more or even buy the album.

Let’s take a look at a few examples. Day[9], whose real name is Sean Plott, is an ex-pro-gamer, a game commentator, and a host of an online daily Starcraft show, the Day[9] Daily. While he doesn’t sync music in his videos, he often chats with the audience telling them what bands he’s been listening to lately. During one of his videos he mentioned a Blue Sky Black Death song and as a result, the comment section on that song’s YouTube video was inundated with people saying “Day[9] sent me!” A lot of new Blue Sky Black Death fans were made that day because of Sean Plott.

There is an enormous fashion and beauty community on YouTube and some, like Jenn Im of Clothesencounters, are getting really creative with the music they sync with their videos. Instead of using repetitive royalty-free tracks they seek out remixes on Soundcloud, get permission from the artists, and edit their fashion videos to really fit with the track.

So, how do you approach YouTubers for self publishing? First you need to do your research. Know what kind of videos they upload, their personality and style, and what kind of music they have used in the past. Gaming YouTubers may have completely different musical tastes from the beauty gurus. Next, figure out which track would be best-suited for their purposes and contact them directly. You can do this through Twitter, a YouTube message, or an email. Most YouTubers list their email addresses in the “About” tab. Make sure you keep their audience in mind. Try to target YouTubers whose subscriber base shares traits with your fanbase. The key here is to start small and work your way up. You won’t get much traffic coming to your site from the smaller YouTubers, but it’s just one step on the ladder.NAM_FINAL-horizontal-dk.png

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. We’re offering access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up for our mailing list.

 

music copyright

Your copyrights are your business! So it makes sense to take the time to understand how it all works. Unfortunately, “copyright” and “law” tend to have pretty scary connotations. Just hearing the words is often enough to make our heads hurt.

This article from Digital Music News pretty much lays out everything you need to know about your copyrights, publishing, royalties, and licenses in a way that’s easy to understand. Here’s the copyright segment of the article.

I know it’s not the most exciting topic out there, but understanding your rights (and more importantly how you can monetize them) will unlock a lot of income opportunities for you in music. After you finish this article, check out this free ebook to learn how to take those rights and score awesome licensing deals.

We’re also hosting a free licensing webinar covering a surefire way to license your music. You’ll learn how to get your music on music libraries and how to make connections directly with music supervisors. Click here to register for free and choose the date and time that works best for you.

Copyright

As a musician you are a creator.  Whether you’re a composer, lyricist or performing artist, you create works.  These works automatically become copyrighted once they are documented; for example through recording or writing.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property.  The creator becomes the copyright owner.  If there are multiple creators, this right is automatically split equally.  Writers are free to deviate from this equal share through mutual agreement.

The duration of this copyright is generally until 70 years after the death of the last surviving author. It differs in some countries.

Copyright ownership rights give control over who can reproduce, distribute, perform publicly, display and create derivatives of a work. These ownership rights can be fully transferred and assigned to others.  Others can also be granted licenses to use your music, typically in exchange for a payment. These payments are called royalties.

There are two types of musical copyright;

Musical Composition Copyright:

A musical composition is a piece of music, in part or in whole.  The authors are typically the composer (writer of music) and the lyricist (writer of text, in case of lyrics). These authors are the owners of the musical composition copyright.  Typically in equal share, as both the composer and lyricist of a track get assigned 50% of the composition’s copyright, unless they agreed on a different split. This can be done when one party contributed more than the other.

The creators have the exclusive right to determine who can produce copies of their song, for example to create records.  This right can be granted to others by giving out a mechanical license, which is done in exchange for a monetary payment (mechanical royalties).

Whenever a record label or performing artist wants to record a song that they do not own, they have to get a mechanical license from the people that do. Always.

All decisions regarding the composition can only be made when agreed upon by all copyright owners.  As mentioned before, the ownership and control of copyright can be transferred to others.  Generally, songwriters get a specialized third party, namely a publisher, to control and manage their songs.  In exchange, they get a cut of the royalty streams which they help generate with the repertoire.

Writer-publisher splits tend to range between 50%-50% and 70%-30%, depending on the clout of the artist and sometimes even on the relevant country’s regulations.

Sound Recording Copyright:

A sound recording is the actual final recording of a song, a fixation of sound.  It often goes by the name of ‘master’ from the old ‘master tape’ expression.  The authors are the performing artist and record producer, who in essence are therefore the owners.  Producers typically get a small share of the master rights (up to 12.5%). However, recordings are typically made in assignment of record labels, whom have negotiated deals with both the artist and producer in which they transfer ownership of their copyright to the label in exchange for royalty payments.

Also, it’s increasingly more common and easy for performing artists to record independently.  In these cases, the master ownership belongs to just them, or them together with the producer.

Royalty payments to performing artists are called artist royalties.  Royalty payments to producers are called producer royalties.

Now that you know about the two different types of musical copyright, it is important that you grasp the difference between the ‘writers’ of a track and the owners of the actual ‘master recording’.  The composition, made by the writers, is typically represented by a publisher.  The sound recording, made by the performing artist and producer, is typically represented by a label.

To learn more about publishers, royalty calculations, and licenses, check out the full article over on Digital Music News.

leveraging copyright

Your copyrights are your business. They are your assets and your products, so it makes sense to take some time to understand them. You don’t need to be on the same level as a big-shot entertainment attorney, but it helps to have a general understanding of copyright law.

There are two kinds of copyright: composition and sound recording. Copyright is created when a musical idea is put into tangible form. So when you write that song down (composition) or record it (sound recording) you own the rights!  All those rights are exclusive, meaning you, and only you can leverage your song.

So how does all this translate into actually making money? Other people and companies have to get your permission and usually pay you to perform any of the actions protected by copyright. Think of copyright like property – intellectual property. If you owned a large apartment building other people would have to get your permission to live in one of the apartments. They would sign a contract and money would most likely change hands. It’s the same principle for music. A record label or distributor pays you to be able to make copies of your song and distribute it to online and retail stores. A radio station pays you (through a PRO) to perform your song over the radio. A company pays you to sync your music to their promotional videos or advertisements.

One thing a lot of musicians miss is the fact that copyrights are power. You own the copyrights, so you have the power. Think about it, without your copyrights would labels or publishers have anything to sell? Many more musicians have been realizing this and figuring out how to leverage their copyrights.

Licensing is an obvious option, and there are surprisingly a lot of opportunities out there for indie musicians to make money licensing their music. In fact, there’s just 4 easy steps you need to take to START licensing your music.

Music publishing can be a tricky area to navigate when it comes to payment, especially when you’re just starting out. Many companies don’t have a budget for music and rely on small indie bands to license their songs for free. In these cases, don’t cave in or restrict yourself to just monetary payment. Think about what non-monetary things they can offer you in exchange for your music. Does the company run a blog? If so they could write up a quick feature or interview with links back to your site and social media channels. When done correctly, the publicity could be just as valuable as a check!

The Happen Ins are an Austin-based rock band that were featured in a catalog from the clothing company Free People and a corresponding video in July 2011. In this case, Free People had to get permission to sync the Happen Ins music to their video. Free People is a fairly well known clothing line, so the band most likely got some monetary payment, but we’ll focus on the non-monetary publicity, as it is something most companies can offer even the smallest bands. Members of The Happen Ins were in the catalog, were the feature of many blog posts surrounding the catalog release, and played at the catalog release party. In order to grow their fan base, the Happen Ins offered a free download to Free People’s customers.

If you want to make the most of your copyrights, the key is to find business partners that have a similar image or audience to yours or one you want to reach. In this case, Free People, their customers, and the Happen Ins have a vintage rock and roll vibe. Think about your image, personality, and music when you go out looking for publishing deals. But if you have a solid licensing strategy in place, you can make a decent amount of money licensing your music, even as an indie musician or band.


Want more music licensing tips? We’re hosting a free webinar that will take you through a surefire way to license your music. Everything we’re going to cover is tried and tested by our own Joyce Kettering, who has used everything she teaches to make a full time living licensing her music. Click here to register for free and choose the date and time that works best for you.


Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Skip Time Management
  3. You Don’t Have a Team
  4. You’re Not Out There Networking
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

The New Artist Model online course teaches you specifics of copyright law and creative publishing in detail. By the end of the 8-week course you will fully understand what copyrights you have and can create, what you can do with them, how you get paid, and how to effectively pursue music publishing and licensing.

 

Many musicians dream of their songs appearing on TV or in a film. Just wanting your music on TV isn’t enough! The chance that someone will come out of the blue and hand you money to use your song is very slim. You need to be out there promoting your own music and networking with people involved in the film and TV industries. Start small and work your way up from there! It will be hard to score a place on a hit TV show if you’ve never licensed any of your music before.

Sarah Sharp is one songwriter who has gotten a strong understanding of the publishing industry. Her songs have appeared in ads for Chanel, Dell, Macy’s, and ABC’s “Revenge.” In this article that originally appeared on Hypebot, she shares 7 tips she’s learned about getting licensed.

1. Go to film festivals. Make friends with filmmakers at every level of production & success.

I particularly get excited when I meet editors. Editors will often choose from their personal music library for temp music in their rough edits and often, everyone becomes accustomed to the temp music & it stays. Take a genuine interest in what people are trying to write or get made and help each other on the way up.

I have read my friends’ scripts and given feedback and made them mix tapes of indie artists years before the film finally gets made. The 1st film I music supervised was a Jason Lee, Crispin Glover film called “Drop Dead Sexy”. I probably earned $1/hr by the time it was all said and done for the time I put in, but one of my songs ended up in the film and I have made several thousand dollars in royalties from that one placement. BIG PICTURE.

2. Get a final mix of your entire album with no vocal.

There are a lot of places where the instrumental version of your song can be used. Also, it’s often helpful to be able to comp together both versions around the dialogue. This promo for ABC TV’s “Revenge” used our Kaliyo song “Deep Girl.” It barely resembles the full song, but they made great use of it by weaving both the instrumental and vocal version in and around the voice over.

3. Don’t be a pain in the ass and get out of your own way.

Sometimes people get a little whiff of success and they get so caught up in the idea of what could be or worrying about not “getting screwed”, that they blow the whole thing. If someone wants to use your song and you have never placed anything before, just say “YES & THANK YOU.” Reply immediately. Be the easiest, most reliable person to work with on the planet. Have a lawyer read your contract and then just say yes. A really smart and as yet still accessible/affordable music lawyer is Amy Mitchell. Tell her I sent you.

4. If you have a great cover version of a really well-known song, try to get it to the publisher of that song.

Often their hands are tied because they own the song, but the record label owns the really famous master. Some publishers would love to know about a fantastic version of their song that they can actually clear.

To see the other 3 tips, check out the full article on Hypebot.

Have you ever had your music licensed for TV or film? What are some things you’ve learned from your experiences? Share your own tips and thoughts in the comment section below!