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Getting your music licensed in The New Music Industry

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Getting your music licensed in “The New Music Industry”

The “New Music Industry” has arrived and is constantly emerging and bringing with it new opportunity. The digital revolution has seen the most amazing turn around for the music industry and particularly for independent artists and labels. There is so much happening with music today it is almost overwhelming and hard to keep up. The Music Industry really has swung around finally, creating a much fairer landscape for independent artists to achieve success and have rewarding careers – without being at the mercy of major record companies and major publishers. Digital music distribution (Itunes, Bandcamp etc) means that any artist can make their music easily accessible to fans and market directly to them. There is a regular stream of interesting new music start ups creating brilliant new ways to discover, promote, sell and license music.

The music licensing segment of the music industry is developing fast and becoming a more important area of the industry and an artists’ career. It has become a critical alternative revenue stream for artists, labels and publishers. It provides direct revenue from licensing fees and also from royalties derived from some sync placements. It creates exposure for artists and results in more sales of their music. Many artists today earn more money from getting their music licensed than they do from touring and from actual sales of their music. One good sync placement on a popular TV show, in a film or on an advertising commercial, has now become a career making factor for artists and many artists have been discovered through a sync placement and gone on to have big careers.

YouTube has become a great ally to the music licensing industry and has created an incredible new platform for music licensing opportunities. The huge amount of content and the simple accessibility of YouTube makes it a true and effective tool for advertising and web based advertising is a real growth area for music licensing.

Music branding is another new and rapidly growing area – where brands will use the power of music and an association with an artist to create awareness and an affinity between a product and their target audience. Music branding has seen lifestyle brands, in a way, becoming the new record labels. Music branding strategies aren’t just limited to tour sponsorships and licensing songs for TV commercials anymore. Now brands are beginning to offer to artists services that were once strictly the role of record companies. Global brands Red Bull and Mountain Dew have created record labels with credibility and are working with respected indie buzz bands. Other global brands such as Coke, Target, Levi’s, Converse, American Express, Mercedes Benz, Dr. Martens, Nike and Bacardi, are all creating music alliances with indie artists through creative music branding strategies. Music branding deals with artists are now common and I think that any stigma attached to artists working with a brand is long gone. Recent associations such as Beyonce with Pepsi and Lana Del Rey with Jaguar have been massive alliances worth millions to the artists.

A band’s decision to do business with a beverage company or a fashion label, or car manufacturer is now no different from their decision to sign with a record label or a publisher. With money and resources, brands now have the ability to break and establish artists to a new and broader fan base. In many ways the deals offered by brands to artists are fairer and more favourable than deals offered by traditional record labels.

The big challenge for artists who want to make money from licensing their music is the need to be more diligent and more industry savvy. There is a lot to know with music licensing and there are some basic mistakes a lot of artists make and lose licensing opportunities because of them.

Artists need to be easily contactable. You should have your email address prominently displayed on your websites and Facebook page and check your email often. Music licensing happens fast and artists should reply instantly to any music licensing request. You also need to have instrumental versions of tracks – versions with no vocals are so important to have for sync licensing opportunities. It is also important to get the instrumental versions mastered.

Contacting music supervisors directly is not as effective as working with music licensing companies. Music Supervisors are very busy people and receive thousands of submissions. Supervisors generally have relationships with music licensing companies and will be used to dealing with them. Music Licensing companies also present a lot more opportunity and work with dozens of music supervisors. It is very time consuming to approach music supervisors and there are hundreds of them. Working with music licensing companies is much more effective and much simpler and faster.

Music licensing is a rapidly developing and growing area of the music industry, and with global revenue from sync licensing close to $3billion annually – it is an area that will continue to reward artists if they take the right approach. A good general understanding of the way music licensing works will make the process smooth and more lucrative.

Article by Winston Giles – The Music Licensing Directory

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