Music Licensing Resources


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How to license your music

There are two principle ways of seeking music synch licensing opportunities. The first is a passive approach through music libraries. For a percentage (usually 50% - 70%) they will make your music available to the public and be responsible for all licensing efforts. Some libraries allow you to set your own price, but most of the better ones don’t. Some composers take the approach of placing their music on multiple non-exclusive libraries. This can work if you have a high volume (1,000s) of tracks that have good potential for use with motion pictures. Synch agents are similar to music libraries though they usually don’t have a public music search feature.

The second approach is active, in which you actively seek placements yourself with people who are looking for music. A LicenseQuote store is perfect for this approach as you can very easily send links to tracks, albums, playlists, customized playlists, etc. for review. Clients can also search the store whenever they want, and if you have your store set up for automated licensing, even license tracks from you while you sleep! To succeed with the active approach, it is recommended to have a clear marketing strategy involving things such as cold-calling, cold-emailing, social media campaigns, email newsletters, trade show stands, industry mixers, etc. for success.

Music supervisors

Music supervisors are usually employed by a film production company, TV studio, etc. to find appropriate music, license the rights for it’s use and make sure all usages are accurately logged onto a cue sheet. Music supervisors are problem solvers, and they need to find the right music quickly. They have large personal music libraries that they are familiar with, and if they have something to hand that will do the job they will use it. They are however always looking for fresh new sounds, and that’s where opportunity lies.

IMDB Pro lists music supervisors in the film credits. If you work in a particular musical style, you could find movies that have used that style and then see who the music supervisor was. You can also track projects that supervisors are working on and pitch specifically for that project.

Music Business Registry has an excellent resource for contact details for music supervisors called ‘Film & Television Music Guide’. This is available for a fee as a pdf download, or via a montlly subscription.

Ad Agencies

A trend in the last few years had been for ad agencies to choose the music before the ad gets to post-production. Because budgets are lower, they are licensing more music ‘off-the-shelf’, whereas before it would have been specially composed. So there are good licensing opportunities in advertising. Agencies vary massively in size and the type of work they do, from several TV campaigns a month to a handful of internet marketing campaigns a year. The rates are as varied too, but if you ask them, they’ll often tell you what the budget is. It’s a good idea to work out a strategy for keeping ‘front-of-mind’ with the ad creatives so that when they need music, they think of you. Very often they will want a playlist the same day, so a quick response time is what’s needed. That said, it can often take them weeks to get back to you, so you’ll need to be patient!

Ad Forum is an excellent resource listing over 24,000 agencies.

Post Production and Production Companies

An audio equivalent of these two types of companies are a) where the recording is done (production company) and b) where the mixing is done (post-production). That said, as in audio production, there is plenty of crossover. You should also note many companies have specialist areas. For example, a production company which exclusively makes African wildlife documentaries or a post-production house which specializes in healthcare commercials. There are good opportunities in both of these areas, and if you have a large catalog, you may be able to sell a blanket license giving them unlimited use of your tracks on a long term basis, for a fixed fee.

Good resources include KFTV and Production Hub

Games Companies

Games companies vary greatly in size, from small companies making free mobile games to large Triple-A companies making games with budgets larger than Hollywood movies. Synch rates vary accordingly depending on the platform and number of downloads/users/sales.

Good resources include and Gama Sutra

Background Music Services

Background music services provide music for shopping malls, restaurants, and other retail outlets. These services provide content curating expertise suitable for every venue vertical, and the legal clearances necessary to play music in various establishments.

Terms of background music services agreements involve giving non-exclusive rights to a set catalog for an ongoing period (starting with an initial 1–2 year term with automatic renewals unless the artist or label decides to opt out).

Revenue from background music services is incremental, though the payout can be greater than royalties generated by interactive streaming music services. Both master owner and publishing administrators receive royalties.

While royalty rates vary based on each service's offering, most background music services will pay out based on a gross revenue royalty pool, after costs. From that royalty pool, payouts will be determined by the number of uses of a particular artist or catalog divided by the total number of songs used within the royalty period.

Background music services include: Mood Media Gray V

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