Music Publishing and Licensing Blog

Audio watermarking for music promotion and file sharing security

Note: Click here to listen along to the voiceover of this article.

Hi, this is Michael Borges here to present a unique approach for the solution of rampant, unauthorized music file sharing. My proposed solution is simple, free and/or very affordable for you as an artist, songwriter, band or record label to implement with your existing audio editing software. This solution not only protects your MP3 preview files, but also benefits from fans sharing your song links, while turning any potential file sharing into an advantage rather than a liability.

My solution proposes the use of short audio watermarking messages to be mixed with music preview files in MP3, or similar formats, for streaming and downloading from websites.

Obvious and unobvious reasons for audio watermarking

There are several obvious, and unobvious, advantages and benefits as I’ll point out in the rest of this presentation.

First, lets briefly review the current problem.
When music is streamed for previewing from your website player, the files can be down loaded, recorded, and shared. In the process of copying, re-encoding and file sharing, the file names and related ID tags will be changed, or more commonly, stripped out and lost. Therefore, mixing short recorded messages of the song’s title, your artist name and domain name with the music, is extremely useful for fans and listeners to identify the song and its source.

The recorded messages are repeated about each 30 to 60 seconds, as preferred, through the entire length of the song. The first message, for example, could provide the song title and your artist or composer name.

Then, about 30 to 60 seconds later, your official website domain name is announced. These two brief messages repeat in alternating rotation, with the last (optional) message at the end of song used to invite fans and interested buyers to visit your site for retail downloads or commercial licensing.

Multi-purpose results

The results with this approach are actually multi-purpose.

Your prospective fans and buyers can audition the entire song, instead of only short 29 seconds clips, while you can be confident that people discovering and liking (or loving) your music, can easily identify your songs by title, your artist name and find your website for download purchases.

Use your song to advertise and promote your music

This makes it possible to use your songs to advertise and promote your artist and domain brand names, thereby adding tremendous marketing value because fans can “feel good”, about freely copying and sharing their favorite discoveries via your preview files.

Finally, before fans or commercial licensing buyers download the ad-free master files, they can be watermarked with a unique publisher and buyer ID, for additional security and tracking purposes. Such service is now being provided by Activated Content with their fast and affordable watermarking service.

Now depending on your music business and service objectives, your master files can be delivered in high-quality MP3 or non-lossy format, such as Wave, or AIF files. Since this can be done on-demand at time of sales delivery to your buyers, it also saves the costs of conventional CD production, packaging, bar coding, and related storage, shipping and handling costs.

Watermarking your master files for final delivery

Having calculated the costs, it is actually less expensive to produce and deliver the watermarked files in digital format compared to the costs of manufacturing and delivering in physical format such as vinyl, tapes or CDs. But the primary advantage is the application of on-demand watermarking, which is not possible to apply on pre-packaged physical goods, on a unique, per end-user basis.

As is already understood and increasingly recognized, physical forms of music content delivery leaves the doors wide open for unprotected file duplication and sharing, leaving virtually no means for copyright accountability or related end-user tracking.

Summary of audio watermarking solution

All these inherent disadvantages can be overcome by switching to the suggested approach of using audible voiceover ad messages to protect your digital preview files, and then, watermarking the master files with unique IDs at time of sale and delivery to the end-users.

Thank you for your time and interest in the presentation of this solution for today’s rampant file sharing phenomena. Please also listen to some of the music preview samples to experience how the advertising messages can be used in various real-life applications.

Watermarked song preview samples

Killer by Steve Plunkett at
Lavendar Dreams CD by Steven Cravis at
Fields Of Gold – cover by Steven Cravis at
Money Money by Latin Pulse at
Slow It Down by Richard Keller Jr. at
What Is Love by Mistimarr Music at

Please visit the next article on this subject: Recording and mixing your audio watermarked MP3 Preview files.


  1. Really nice and different technique for online music promotions, but i think internet radio, social networking sites are also helpful in online music promotion….

  2. Thanks for your positive comments! Of course this audio watermarking is only one of several techniques to promote and protect MP3 music Preview files. And as you suggest, radio and social networking also play important roles, so I’m sure you’ll also be recommending those services via your Musician’s Atlas. Here’s a link to preview some demos of different ‘Admarks” (watermarked) preview styles that can be used:

  3. Dacey says:

    Audio watermarking solution is a good method for protecting MP3 files and it is also used for downloading and streaming websites.

  4. Steve Scheberle says:

    I have all rights to my recorded music. Using the watermarking on my website is where this digital watermarking is of use? And in sale, is the watermarking used? I wanted to ensure this use, as I understood from the article. I own my record Label and Management.

    Thank You For Your Time,

  5. Hi Steve,
    To answer your questions:
    1. You can use audio watermarking to protect and promote any/all of your MP3 Preview files. This works best from your own website, music player or store which gives you such control. Would also be great if CD Baby and other retailers like iTunes would support this, and though they currently don’t, maybe some day they will. Meanwhile it’s best to be proactive and manage this from your own website, player or licensing store, such as LicenseQuote offers.

    2. After you’ve sold or licensed a song, you can optionally use a different kind of watermark which “stamps” the delivery of your master file with your publisher and buyer identity. This is a logical, effective option, but not aboslutely necessary for every kind of situation. You can read this article for more details: Delivery Of Watermarked Master Files

    If you have other questions or comments, please use our contact form to get in touch, thanks!