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How to License Your Music – 4 Steps to Get Started

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.

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, we’ll be hosting a free webinar on Wednesday, October 11th at 1PM EST. Joyce Kettering will be sharing her best music licensing tips that she’s personally used to successfully get her music licensed time and time again.

Click here to sign up for the live webinar OR sign up to get the recorded replay.


So here it goes… 

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.

  • 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.

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 care about 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?

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.

 

What else can you do to get your music licensed?

Join the free licensing webinar I’m hosting with Dave Kusek on Wednesday, October 11th at 1PM EST. I’ll be sharing even more music licensing tips that will help you boost your licensing career and start building up more momentum and unlocking more licensing opportunities.

Click here to register for the live webinar OR click here to get the recorded replay. All free.

Joyce Kettering (creativeandproductive.com) 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. 

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How to License Your Music for Film and TV – FREE WEBINAR

Want to learn how to license your music? Need connections with Music Publishers?

If so, join Aaron Davison of How to License Your Music and I in a free webinar Thursday, June 23 at 1PM EST – Or Signup to Get the recorded Replay.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE FREE WEBINAR

how to license your music for tv, film and video games

We’ll be showing you how to get connections with key music publishers and how to prepare your music to DRAMATICALLY INCREASE your chances of getting licensed.

  • LEARN how to license your music.
  • DISCOVER what music publishers look for in songs they license.
  • Learn how to get licensing OPPORTUNITIES sent straight to your inbox.
  • Get easy TRICKS to make your songs more licensable.
  • Find out about the 90 Day Music Licensing Challenge.

Get Licensed: Contacting Music Supervisors

 

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.

Contacting Music Supervisors

Licensing music for film and TV is not a mass email business. In fact, 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.

What to Include in Your Email?

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.

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. Doing your research and being prepared will really make you stand out from the crowd.

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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Get instant access to the most comprehensive and up-to-date music business contact database…Plus interactive tools to handle the booking & marketing chores that waste your time and hold you back.

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Self Publishing on YouTube

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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 – 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. Other beauty YouTubers, like Michelle Phan, will seek out indie musicians, use their music as a backing track to their tutorials, and link to their channels in the description box.

So, how do you approach YouTubers? 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.

 

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Everything You Need to Know About Copyright

musiccopyright3

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. If you want to learn about royalties, publishing, and licenses, be sure to check out the full article. It’s a really good resource for serious musicians.

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.

If you want to learn more about copyright and publishing check out the New Artist Model online course. Sign up for our mailing list and get access to 10 free lessons.

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Full Steam Ahead

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1crjCq1

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1crjCq1

As the music industry moves forward, revenue streams are expanding into territories we would never have imagined. The live show can now be streamed over the internet, music fans can listen to any song they want with streaming services like Spotify, lifestyle companies like Red Bull and Converse are getting into the record label business, and new publishing opportunities are popping up everyday.

One industry that just keeps growing is the gaming industry, and its presenting more and more opportunities for musicians. Rock Band and Guitar Hero really started the ball going for customizable game music, and since then, many platforms have been integrating in their own streaming or local music players. This definitely presents a great way forward for music. Integration with Spotify could mean more paying customers, and in-game purchases could evolve to include music packages. I really think this segment of the music industry is wide open for innovation.

Last week, Steam announced the beta of Steam Music. Check out the article below from Billboard for more information.

Steam, which passed its tenth birthday last year, operates as both an online marketplace and a media hub for video game players worldwide, keeping their game libraries in a central location and storing game information and their purchases in the cloud. Similar to iTunes with music, Steam makes money the same way, taking a 30% cut of purchases. That structure keeps Steam’s marketplace a click away and Valve’s brand ever-present. While most video games are too complex to be played without having their files stored on a local device, Steam users are able to install the client on a new computer and bring their software with them, along with save game files and similar information. As of last October, Valve put the number of Steam accounts at over 65 million.

As it stands now, Steam Music simply allows its users to listen to tracks from their local digital libraries while simultaneously playing video games — as long as they are in “Big Picture Mode,” a user interface designed to mimic the living room-based functionality of the Xbox and PlayStation’s operating systems. But what if the service integrated a streaming service like Spotify? The result could be a boon for that streaming service as well as music rightsholders; recent revenue gains in Norway’s music industry have been directly attributable to streaming services’ pervasive scale in that country, accounting for 65.3% of recorded music revenues and driving industry-wide growth.

But there are strong indications that Spotify could eventually arrive on Steam. Martin Benjamins, one of two people behind the website SteamDB, a website — unaffiliated with Valve or Steam — dedicated solely to investigating the underlying code of Steam and its attendant programs, found something interesting inside Steam’s guts. “Valve has already done quite a bit of work on Spotify integration in the Steam client, and appear to be using… Spotify’s official API for [placing] Spotify functionality into third party applications.” If you need a translation: Steam is already testing integration with Spotify into Steam Music. Benjamins says that it appears as if Spotify Premium users would be able to utilize the feature.” It’s important to note that, while such digital sleuthing is a worthwhile exercise, unreleased or unactivated code doesn’t mean that a feature will see the light of day.

Valve declined to comment on upcoming or requested features, and Spotify did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

Steam Music’s beta page does state that “we see an opportunity to broaden Steam as an entertainment platform, which includes music alongside games and other forms of media.” The company has taken significant steps to this end recently, developing SteamOS which allows users to all but replace their gaming consoles with a home-built computer intended to be always connected to the living room television, as well as Steam Machines, a prefab console intended to serve the same purpose.

Neither Xbox or the Playstation have a Spotify app available on their platforms, each preferring to push its own products — Sony’s paid Music Unlimited and Microsoft’s Xbox Music., which, like Spotify, offers a free and paid tiers.

As far as their plans to sell music, the company says, alluringly, on its site that “Steam currently offers a number of game soundtracks for sale. Your feedback will help guide where we take things next.” It’s also emblematic of a company well-respected by its customers, largely on how closely it listens to user feedback.

A quick glance at the Steam users online at the time of this writing showed 6.5 million — about 500,000 more than currently pay for a Spotify subscription. If 10% of Steam’s 65 million-strong user base subscribed to Spotify as a result of a trial or bundle deal, it would raise Spotify’s paid subscriber base by over 100%. Playing with games may just mean serious business for music.”

What do you think? Do video games present a huge opportunity for the music industry?

 

We discuss music placement in video games in the New Artist Model online course, but you can also get access to some free lessons by signing up for the mailing list

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright

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.

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. If they cannot offer you enough money, think about what else they could offer you that could help grow your fan base. In many cases this can be far more valuable than any money you can get. This is especially true when you are early in your career.

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.


Make money licensing your music. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list for more free lessons.

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Advice From Music Manager Emily White

The role of the manager has arguably grown over the past decade. Record labels are no longer investing as much money into artist development, and as a result, that task is falling to the musicians themselves and their managers. A good manager can help you navigate the music business, find your voice and your niche, connect with your fans, make connections with industry professionals, and generally make things run more smoothly.

Unfortunately, an amazing manager is not always in the cards financially for musicians starting out, so here’s some great advice from manager Emily White. Emily is a super manager and Co-Founder at Whitesmith Entertainment, which is a full-service talent management firm based in Los Angeles and New York, spanning the music, comedy, film, TV, and sports industries. This interview originally ran on Hypebot. To see the full interview, visit hypebot.com.

What was it like starting out for you? Did you always know that you wanted to this from the beginning? If not what was the happy accident or moment of clarity that got you where you are today?

Emily White: I absolutely set out to do what I do. I studied music and business in college. I went to a school called Northeastern University in Boston. I know they’re quite a few music business programs out there now. But when I was in school in the early 2000s, there was kind of like 3 to 5 that I really narrowed in on. Doing a lot of internships while I was in school really paved the way for my career. I did about 8 internships as an undergrad all over the industry; in Boston, New York, and London. Probably most significantly I started working with the Dresden Dolls when I was in school because they were an up and coming Boston band that I was a fan of. I started as their intern, and merch girl. Then tour manager and day-to-day manager and eventually became their manager. The day that I was supposed to walk in the commencement ceremony, I was at Coachella starting a 3 continent tour with [Dresden] Dolls and Nine Inch Nails. Around that time I also worked out a deal with Madison House who became the bands management company and I tour managed the band for a couple of years from age 20 to 23. When I wasn’t on tour I worked at Madison House. So Madison House is really where I learned my management skills and I was really lucky to work for Mike Luba and Kevin Morris, who are really wonderful music loving people. Whether they realize it or not, they really built businesses around the artists, and that was always their strategy, kind of not relying on outside partners. Madison House had an in-house label, and publicists and travel agency and merch company and PR firm and all these things. So that was the kind of mindset I came from, and I definitely apply those tactics on just about everything I’ve done since.

Vincent: How have you found that technology and the internet has improved music business for you personally? How about everybody else? Also, what is your favorite digital resource?

Emily: Technology and the music business has extremely benefited me both personally as I fan and absolutely professionally because it really allowed artists to be able to make world class recordings from their bedroom, and also eliminated the gatekeepers of distribution. So for 40 or 50 bucks an artist can distribute their music worldwide on TuneCore, and be on every iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify, and Rdio, and Rhapsody store and platform in the world. What it did is it leveled the playing field for artists, which is awesome, because they didn’t have to sit around and wait for someone to pay for a recording studio and then manufacture plastic CDs, and get their music out to everyone. So for me it’s been very exciting. I’ve always really understood the internet and technology. I love Rdio, Spotify and all the streaming platforms because this is what I wanted to happen when Napster existed. I remember being a teenager in the 90s and in my head I was like ‘I’d pay $15, $20, $25’ [for a streaming music service]. I thought I’d pay $50 a month for the service. So it only took the music industry 15 years to get it together, and offer a legal, viable alternative to Napster, but I think that’s really cool. However, there are obviously plenty of people that made a lot of money back in the day, and they’re not all necessarily evil… that are griping that their income has gone down. That’s something that really hit home for me at MIDEM one year. Because where I see nothing but opportunity in the new music business, and my young bands who are making money, and any sort of income are really excited because they are making a living playing music, they don’t have anything to compare it to. If you are the heirs of famous songwriters, and have multiple homes to keep up. Suddenly those revenue streams do go down. I know that sounds ridiculous, but if you are a person, that’s your experience. That’s your perspective. I know for a lot of people their incomes have changed, but ultimately I think technology has just been great for the music business. Like I said it is made in a level playing field for artists, which means hopefully the best art really wins. I think it’s also weeded out industry people that weren’t in it for the right reasons.

Vincent: When artists are just starting out, do you happen to have a best strategy for getting content, be-it songs, videos, or memes to blogs and social mavens? So in other words what are your methods for forming relationships with these people to break the “stone wall” of silence and to get them to actually react to you?

Emily: I love starting from scratch, because when that’s the case I’m not cleaning up messes and you can just be really organized from day one. So we start with the fans. A lot of times you can ask artists to add email addresses of their friends and family members. I looked after a 6-piece band once. When they all did that, there were 700 people on their email list from the get-go. So that’s pretty powerful. I’m kind of a spaz who likes to know everything that’s going on. I’m really aware of pretty much every email address that is added. What we do is start building out, just a Google spreadsheet called Fancy Friends, and in that we put tastemakers and industry people and things like that. You can also grab those email addresses and see those people based on who is tweeting at, or about the artist through their Google alerts, because if they are blogger. When we get our first piece of press, even if it’s just a local piece of press, it’s so easy to look at that article and grab that journalist’s email address. So the artists/me can contact them directly in the future. If you’re not able to, or don’t want to hire a publicist. You kind of build out your own roller deck and make it really targeted. Which can also be the case if, maybe you did just come up with a video or something, I mean a video is kind of a big deal, but you just have something simple that you want to spread the word on. It might not be like an album, or a big campaign or whatever, that way you have a list of 3, 4, and 500. Hopefully 1,000 tastemaker type of people that you’ve built up over years. So those are the kinds of tools we do from day one, whether it’s a new artist or someone established we’ve taken on.

Vincent: When you’re talking about bands/songwriters relying on the getting the publishing, do you have recommendations for songwriters who are just getting going, trying to get their songs… or that might already have great songs recorded, but want to get them to the music supervisors, so that they actually hear the music when their ears are bleeding?

Emily: Sure. I’m about to write an article on this because I’m very methodical about it. I think when you’re first starting out, don’t be afraid to work with kind of like a re-titling company like Music Dealers or Jingle Punks. I’ve had a lot of success with those companies in early days. Sometimes industry people just gasp at how big a cut those companies take on top of the fact that they are re-titling. But it can be a really good foot in the door. What you need to remember is that even though they’re taking a 50% commission, I can see it in backend in royalties and hundreds of thousands of dollars through the artist’s PRO. You know when a proper sync is landed. I’ve also had every publisher in the industry calling me after that happens. So I don’t think an artist should really be above that, even though it’s not the best deal out of the gate. The real key there is finding humans at those companies. So not just being their system, not being annoying obviously, but really having a relationship with your rep. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the cities where they have offices, maybe playing parties at their offices and showcases. And even writing and recording when they have specific briefs come in. So that’s a great way to start to establish an initial relationship for yourself. At the same time I would definitely send your music, if you really think it’s ready to go and it’s the best it will ever be, send it to a Terror Bird music and Zync and Lip-Sync. Those companies are really great, because they are so selective. They totally know what they’re doing. They also don’t take any ownership. So that’s really nice. So if they’ll take your music on, that’s awesome.

If you could ask a successful manager one thing, what would it be? Share in the comment section below.

Get Your Music Licensed

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!