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Free Guide To Music Licensing + a Giant List of Music Licensing Companies

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1) GUIDE TO MUSIC LICENSING

Well, we live in interesting times. CD sales continue to fall into the abyss, vinyl sales are growing (I know, who'd have thought?), downloaders are having a free-for-all... and musicians everywhere seem to be crying the same thing: "The Music Business is Dead."

It might, therefore, come as a surprise to many that BMI just announced 2009 as their best year to date - with over $905 Million being paid out in royalties to artists, their largest payout ever.

Think about that for a second. Largest ever.

The music business is not dead. Oh no. It's alive and kicking - but only those who position themselves correctly stand a real chance of becoming rich musicians.

The magic word, friends, is licensing. They always did say that was where the money was; and that's where it is now, more than ever.

Licensing is essentially about selling music to other businesses, as opposed to selling it directly to consumers. And that is a thriving industry. You see, businesses tend to play a straighter game than kids, when it comes down to using music. That's because they have money, and have a lot more to lose. So in general, they aren't downloading it illegally. They aren't just messing around on Youtube. They need music unrestricted and clear - and that means bought and paid for.

In other words - when you position yourself to sell music to other businesses - in particular selling them a non-exclusive license that permits them to use a song or recording for a project without limiting your ability to continue to seek other non-exclusive licenses - there is still much money to be made. Businesses still use as much music as they ever did; and not only that, they are the ones moving the money around. Just as an example, take a look at Youlicense's current opportunities page. At the time of writing this article, one song placed on a major TV ad can still land you $20,000-$25,000.

Admit it: When was the last time you saw that kind of dough from CD sales or iTunes? And that's just from one license by one company of one song!

Not only this - but every time music gets played on the radio, in a cafe, on the TV, at an event or over the speakers in a store at the mall, the owner of the copyright is due performance royalties. On a major TV ad, this is most likely going to add up to a chunk of change.

That can mean - you've guessed it - a double payout: But only for the musician who knows the rules of the game and is working their publishing correctly.

Now a lot of musicians don't take the trouble to learn the ins and outs of music publishing and the licensing game. Many are daunted by the paperwork side of things - it looks way too much like the grey world they were trying to escape from - and who can blame them for feeling that way? Paperwork sucks - but think of it this way; you will ultimately be able to spend a lot more time in your world of bright dreams, if you get the essential stuff done properly. Knowing the game is one of the hallmarks of a pro.

Often, the fledgling artist doesn't really know where to start with learning all this stuff - and so, feeling overwhelmed, many simply end up doing nothing about exploiting their catalogue. Either that or they will sign a "bad deal" and end up giving the ranch away. (Note that when it comes to a music catalogue, to "exploit" means to put to work profitably, rather than to oppress.)

They might have brilliant songs - but may not fully appreciate the fact that they don't even have to be the one singing them, in order to get rich. They may not have the connections to get the music placed, and may not even know that there is something they haven't been told about the way the game works!

I can illustrate all this with stories from my own experience. In a nutshell, virtually all the musicians I know who took the trouble to understand licensing and learned how to exploit their catalogues effectively, are rich - or at least comfortable. The ones I know who didn't, and who tried to make a go of it on the back of CD sales and live performance, are too often broke - or are not musicians any more. I'm not making this up, it's absolutely true! I even know examples of members of the same band - one of whom worked to get their catalogue placed in television, and the others didn't. The former now lives in a mansion, and the others - despite being extremely talented - are back to doing crap jobs, their lives of touring adventures just a hazy memory.

Next up: Big companies who license music, don't want to talk to artists. This is critical to comprehend. You need an agent, a licensing representative. Think about it this way: If you were a high profile business or an audio supervisor looking for music, who would you call? A hundred musicians with a dozen songs each? Or a music licensing company representing 20,000 tracks from every conceivable genre, with experts on hand to help you choose, and years of experience in handling the paperwork? The answer is obvious. Almost all the licensing deals get cut by the licensing companies. Look again at the small print on Youlicense's opportunities page: "Please do not contact the company directly." It's crystal clear: You've got to get your music represented. Once again, the key word is exposure and the majority of music licenses come about because someone else placed the music in the hands of a business that was looking for music. Most of the remainder happens because the song is already well known and the licensor requested that song in particular. I love my licensing agents - and I reflect on the fact that 50% of something is a whole lot better than 100% of nothing.

What to do?

First things first - get your material together. Get your existing music catalogue organized. Create and keep a database of all your songs - even the unfinished ones - and track down the master recordings, hard drives, scores, etc. If there are good ones that are unfinished, finish them up! Include notes of copyright ownership and of what deals have been done with each of the songs. Make instrumental versions of vocal tracks, assemble complete discs, etc. Make backups. The more good material you have out there, the more revenue opportunities there are.

Second - did you register your copyrights? Best to register an album's worth of music at a time as one "work". Forms and further info: http://www.copyright.gov/forms

Third - did you register with ASCAP, BMI or another performing rights organization? These collect your performance royalties - and these organizations are on your side, believe me. If you ever needed true allies in the music biz, the performing rights organizations (PRO's) would be them. Here's why: They get paid when you get paid. They take a really small slice for chasing down and collecting your royalties - and you wouldn't believe some of the obscure royalties that they have collected for me! It's a warm fuzzy feeling to know that you just got paid because your track was played on an aeroplane flying over a country you've never visited. But the best part? Checks in the mail. Attention! Checks in the mail! Auto-pilot income from work you finished ages ago! So make sure you register all your tracks that have been released - and make sure you do it right.

When you get that first royalty check in the mail, it's an amazing feeling. All of a sudden it's like being one of the little kids in the playground and having this six foot six big brother who's got your back and just handed you your lunch money that the bully took from you. Plus interest. There's a full list of PROs towards the end of this page.

Next - learn and fully understand the way publishing works. Yes, it's some paperwork. Yes, it's some study. Yes, it will be completely confusing and bewildering at first and you will be tempted to think "screw this". But persist. Look on the bright side; there are much worse things - like divorce paperwork (that I pray you will never have to face). Anyway the good news is that once you understand the publishing, royalties and copyright stuff, and understand how the "game" really works, it all starts to fall into place. It's a shame composers and songwriters don't get taught this stuff. The golden rule - hang on to control of your publishing. You will need to talk to your music business attorney about all this, ultimately - but there are some other good guides out there. Check the "homework" section at the foot of this page.

There's also some industry jargon that needs to be understood. If you are cutting licensing deals, you'll need to understand the meaning of terms such as "in perpetuity", "territory", "master use right", "synchronization right". The best simple guide to these terms I have discovered can be found here. Also, Audiosocket has a glossary of licensing terms in their "licensing resources" section. A good licensing agent will handle the most complex paperwork - but you (and/or your attorney) need to know enough about these terms to be able to talk to them.

Finally, seek to get your music into the hands of a good music licensing company - or even several - who can then add it to their catalogues and shop it to their contacts i.e. the people who buy music. Once again, it's a meritocracy with the best tracks and songs generally picking up the best revenue. Cream still does float, believe me. And sometimes, it will be through a label or licensing agent that you stand the best chance of getting the ear of a music licensing company. But remember this: All over the world, companies that have money are looking for good music. If you are going to score, you need to be on the field.

One last note - what style should your music be? The answer is simple: It doesn't matter. If your music is being fitted to picture, all that's needed is for it to fit the scene. Famous example: According to legend, when the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" was being made, Kubrick was struggling to find the right music to go with the orbit sequence. Apparently the studio took delivery of a new tape machine and as it happened, the demo tape that came in the machine was Strauss's Blue Danube waltz. It was completely different from what had been imagined, but on playing the tape against the visuals of the pirouetting spacecraft Kubrick had an "it's perfect!" moment... and the rest is history.

Below is a giant list of music licensing companies for you to peruse. Write some hits, know the game - and then put your intellectual property out there to bat for you and make you a rich musician!

2) MUSIC LICENSING COMPANIES - MUSIC LIBRARY COMPANIES - PUBLISHING CONTACTS

- sorted alphabetically - last updated Feb 2010

56 Red Music Publishing - A Los Angeles based music publishing company. "We can help you get exposure and better yet paid for your creative work by placing your original songs in movies, television series, and advertisements as well as getting them covered by other performers. We specialize in working with songwriters that have recorded master demos of their songs and are looking to gain exposure of their work. This means we take your studio quality master demo recordings and get them placed. There are no upfront fees."
8Fold Music - a non-exclusive artist representation company pitching all genres of music for film/TV/multimedia licensing.
APM Music - Music library of over 265,000 tracks. Member of the Production Music Association.
AudioMicro - Royalty Free Music for use in creative audio-visual projects including YouTube, TV, Film, Websites, PowerPoint, Animations, All Media.
Audio Motion Music - music supervision services. Has a database of independent music.
Audiosocket - company licensing music of all styles to film, television, advertising and more. Actively seeking submissions.
BeatPick - "Showcasing 306 Talented Artists. 5000++ Selected Music Tracks For Film, TV, Advertising And Any Other Use."
Boosey & Hawkes - specialists in classical and jazz, with library of over 100,000 production music tracks in all genres. Also sells sheet music, CDs.
Broadjam - Indie Music, Music Licensing, Free Music Promotion, Download Free Music - Streaming Music
Bug Music "Bug Music has become a world-leader in the music publishing industry. Established in 1975, Bug Music combines highly personalized service with the most advanced technology in order to maximize copyright protection and collection efforts for its clients." Offices in LA, NYC, Nashville, Atlanta, London, Munich.
Complete Music Limited - Publisher founded in 1984 that represents many successful independent writers and record labels.
CopyCat Music Licensing, LLC - CopyCat Music Licensing, LLC provides music licensing services for music publishers, composers and songwriters, representing them to music supervisors, film, video, television and multi-media and more.
CuePop - Production Music & Sound Effects Library.
The Decibel Collective - Production music library.
Deep Emotions - Publisher based in India: "Signs local songwriters and make their songs active in the local and international markets; administers local film and record catalogues on behalf of their owners; collects the mechanical rights in India for foreign rights owners and help them license their products in India; act as a single-window clearance house for music licensing (ad agencies, film and record producers, TV channels, ringtones, etc.)"
Dittybase - Search, Audition, Download and License Independent Artists, Indie Labels and Production Music Libraries online.
EMI Music Publishing - 1.3 million song catalogue!
Film Music Network - "Get your music into film and television".
Firstcom - Music library, subsidiary of Universal.
Stock Music at Foto Search - Foto Search allows users to search for thousands of royalty-free stock music tracks. You can also find royalty-free images, clipart pictures, illustrations, stock video clips, maps, and more.
Hip Son Music - music publishing, music production and record company based in Boston USA. Vocal and instrumental music catalog, licensing to movies, documentaries and TV shows. Focus on electronic and pop music.
Hook Line and Sync - licensing services connecting artists with film and television.
Killer Tracks - music library; Universal subsidiary.
Konsonant - Music licensing, blanket licenses, subscriptions, custom scoring, music supervision, music editing and music searches.
Kobalt Music Group - "Kobalt is a leading independent music publisher offering unparalleled online global administration of copyrights, pipeline advances and creative services to songwriters and publishers."
Labelsound - "We specialise in providing music from independent labels and artists for use in media projects. Ambient, World, Jazz, Music for Adverts, Classical, Chillout, House, Funk, Rock and more...."
Licensemusic.com - audio / video content provider with catalogue of 200,000 recordings.
License Music Now - "License Music Now provides professional music clearances, song licensing, and music supervision services for all types of media projects."
Lisn Music - Music licensing for the film, television, advertising, game and app industries. Also offering music consultancy, supervision and bespoke composition and sound design services. Based in Greater Manchester, UK.
LoveCat Music - Independent music publisher & record label also licensing to TV, film, game industry, etc. Seeking submissions of original titles.
Magnatune - Provides both licensing and mp3 downloads. You've got to love a company whose motto is "We are not evil".
Mastersource - Music Catalogue, "vocal and instrumental songs for film, TV, advertising, or any other multimedia application."
Matchless Music Licensing Library - licensing original music by underground artists and indie bands.
Media Creature Music - "A Los Angeles based Music Publisher for writers and artists and a Master Catalog Administrator for record and catalog companies throughout the World. Media Creature Music is proactive in its approach to song placement in Film, TV, Ads, Games, Compilations, Lifestyle campaigns and Special Markets."
Metisse Music - French music publishing company.
Milk Music - Music licensing, supervision and consultancy to Film, Television and Advertising.
MPL Communications Music Publishing Inc. - Large catalogue of quality music across a wide range of styles.
MultiMediaSound - UK-based library of royalty-free music for film, TV and multimedia.
M.T.L. - Music publisher with "catalogue of music productions, which can be used in the field of cinema, theatre, television, radio, advertisement and multimedia." Based in Italy.
MRI (Music Reports Inc) - Music Licensing, Royalty Accounting, License Administration. California based.
Music Dealers - Non-exclusive music licensing service for artists and businesses.
MusicLoops - Royalty Free Music for Film, TV, Video, DVD and Websites.
MusicState - Supplier of sync music, based in London.
Musync - San Francisco based music licensing, library and music supervision, licensing independent music to film/tv, advertising, video games, multimedia and events.
MuzakID - Muzak provides a subscription music service to business clients in proprietary formats that protect the rights of the artists - and more.
Nightingale Music - music library, licensing and audio creation.
NOMA Music - LA based music licensing company supplying the motion picture and television industries in the USA.
Ocean Park Music Group - "We are the number one (number one, baby!) licensor of independent music in the industry, with exclusive representation of dozens of record labels for film, television, commercial, and all other types of sync licensing."
Opus 1 Production Music Library - Over 100,000 cues w/ online search tool.
Peermusic - Privately owned music publishing company with offices in 28 countries and 300,000 title catalog.
Portal Rights Management - music rights management company based in Turkey.
Premiumbeat.com - Royalty free music Library, production music, stock music, Flash loops. Based in Canada.
PressPlay Media - placement of independent music into Film, TV, Commercials and Games.
Primary Elements - World-Class Indie Royalty-Free Music Licensing.
Pump Audio - non-exclusive licensing deals for independent music. The audio wing of Getty Images.
Quest Worldwide Production Music - UK based production music catalog that licenses audio to worldwide multimedia markets including film, television and radio.
Record Play - Music Consultancy, Licensing, Clearance & Marketing Services. Based in London, UK.
Rock River Music - music supervision and licensing - based in San Francisco.
Rumblefish - "An iTunes for music licensing". Music licensing company accepting submissions from artists.
Renegade Music Marketing - "A new service to market your music to supervisors and publishers working in the TV, film and video game markets." Artists keep publishing, retainer's fee required.
Scorbe - Production music library based in Germany.
Shockwave-Sound.Com - Royalty-Free Music, Stock Music, Sound Effects.
Signature Sound - Music licensing and clearance for TV, film, advertising, and multimedia. Based in New York, USA.
- provides commercial free music to businesses including over 20,000 retail locations. Link includes contact info for artist / label submissions.
Songcatalog - licensing music to film, TV and commercials. Offices in Vancouver and L.A.
Sony Music Licensing - Contact info for the licensing department of Sony Music Entertainment.
Soundtrax Music Services Inc. - A music supervision and licensing company based in Canada.
Sourcemusic - Berlin-based music licensing company.
Sugaroo! - Music licensing company based in California.
Sugartrax - Music licensing and production music company with exclusive catalogue.
Synch Express - Universal subsidiary. "One of the world's greatest song catalogs." TAXI - helping independent artists find record deals, publishing, film & TV placement.
Tele Music - music library / production catalogue based in Paris, London and New York.
The Music Bridge - Music Licensing, clearance, supervision. Based in LA.
Track Licensing - Music licensing company based in London, UK. Quality catalogue, also representing other labels for licensing.
McClure & Trowbridge - Nashville based music publishing / licensing company.
Tuna Music - UK-based independent company for licensing, research, clearance and composition.
United Entertainment and Media Limited - Music Licensing For Advertising, Film/Movie, Trailer, Television, Compilation, Soundtrack, Games, Internet - plus other services.
Universal Music Publishing Group - the biggest music publisher in the world with offices in 41 countries. UMPG is also "the world's largest classical music publisher". Need we say more?
Westwood Entertainment Group - Offers licensing of music and masters to TV, film, cable networks and advertising.
Youlicense - Described as "the eBay of intellectual property - Youlicense connects buyers and sellers of music in a unique way. Artists - take a look at the opportunities page.
Even more here (I will go through this list soon!)

PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) - royalty collection agencies

APRA|AMCOS - The Australasian Performing Right Association / Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society.
ASCAP - The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is a performing rights organization with 370,000 members which collects royalties for composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers.
BMI - "Broadcast Music, Inc. collects license fees on behalf of its songwriters, composers and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed."
CAL - "CAL is an Australian copyright management company whose role is to provide a bridge between creators and users of copyright material."
CISAC - The International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies was founded in 1926. It is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, with headquarters in Paris. The site is available in French, English and Spanish.
HFA - Harry Fox Agency - the foremost mechanical licensing, collection, and distribution agency for music publishers in the U.S.A.
IMRO - "The Irish Music Rights Organisation is the national body administering performing rights in copyright music in Ireland on behalf of its members and on behalf of the members of 67 overseas societies affiliated with it."
ISA - The International Songwriters Association has been representing songwriters, lyric writers, music publishers since 1967.
PRS - Performing Right Society - UK based royalty collection agency. (Now includes the old MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society).
SESAC - The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers "is a performing rights organization, with headquarters in Nashville and offices in New York, Los Angeles and London. Designed to represent songwriters and publishers and their right to be compensated for having their music performed in public."
SOCAN - "SOCAN is the Canadian copyright collective that administers the performing rights of more than 90,000 composer, author and music publisher members by licensing the use of their music in Canada. We collect licence fees on their behalf and distribute royalties to them." The site is available in both French and English.
SODRAC - "SODRAC is a collective management society within the meaning of the Copyright Act. It grants licenses for all reproductions of musical and artworks. SODRAC represents authors, composers, music publishers and creators and co-creators of artistic works." The site is available in both French and English.
TONO- "TONO is Norway's Performing Rights Society. A work of art is protected by law. We issue licences for music users, collect fees from venues and producers, and distribute the money to the right owners." Site available in both Norwegian and English.

CLEARANCE

Clearance - Music rights clearance from EMG, Inc.
Parker Music Group - "Personalized and professional Music Clearance & Licensing service." Based in California, USA.

PUBLISHING

Huge Directory of Music Publishers from Songwriter Universe

HOMEWORK

Get your music placed in film and TV - great educational video from DiscMakers.
Wikipedia on Music Royalties
Kohn On Music Licensing - seen by many as "The Bible of music licensing".
How To License Your Music Into Movies and Television - 50-page PDF guide
Production Music Association - "promoting the interests of composers and publishers in production music."
Music Supervisor Guide – Film, TV, Advertising, Videogames - Music Supervision Directory
ASCAP tips for getting music into film and television - 2002
Wikipedia on Zomba Group of Companies.
The Music Snob's "Tips for Evaluating Music Licensing Opportunities"
"Earning Your Living with Film & TV Placements, Part 1" - from TAXI's Youtube channel.
The Music Snob Article on pumpaudio.com's re-titling of songs. Worth a read.
"Money for Your Music" - The Cold Hard Facts About Music Licensing by The G-Man.
One Stop Music Licensing - example of independent artist with own music library.
Jukebox License Office - Information on the requirements to license public performances of copyrighted music on jukeboxes as required under Federal Copyright Law.

COPYRIGHT

Musicians' Copyright Association
Unites States Copyright Office
Wikipedia on Copyright Law

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The Rich Musician homepage and more articles.

If you know of another licensing contact that would be useful to artists seeking licensing, please let us know and if it's a fit we will get it listed! Also if you find any errors or broken links in this page, we would love to know about it.

© Feb 2010. Some company descriptions are quoted from respective web sites. Stay tuned for updates, it's coming.

Inquiries - alexalcyone [[[[att]]]] gmail.com

Disclaimer / note. At TheRichMusician.com we are not lawyers, or professional business consultants. We're just some folks who've been in the music business for a while and are tired of seeing artists not getting what they are worth, and we want to help musicians out. All materials on therichmusician.com are for general information purposes and should not be seen as professional business or legal advice. No guarantee is made of accuracy, timeliness, suitability etc of these resources and you use them 100% at your own risk. Having said that, we've done our best to make this the most useful info we possibly can and we hope it's of real benefit to you. If you find something you think could be improved, or some out-of-date info; be sure to let us know and we'll look into it.

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