Guest post by Evan Zwisler
Revenue streams for musicians are drastically changing. No longer do musicians make the bulk of their income from selling their music. While live shows, streaming, and merch sales help offset lost profits, musicians are being forced to be more and more creative when it comes to how they make money.
Music licensing has always been a solid way for bands and musicians to make money, and with sites like Taxi.com or Songtradr it’s never been easier to connect musicians to people looking to licence music. Here are some of the most common types of music licensing:
1. TV shows
TV shows always need tons of music. Many productions partner with a music licensing company that will look through their own catalogue of music and send songs that they think will go well with certain scenes.
Music licensing companies are looking for music that is emotionally engaging and consistent across its mood, tone, lyrical themes, and production. The songs should paint a picture for the listener.
While most music licensing companies will help you negotiate a fee per song, online services will often just take a flat percentage of whatever the company pays you.
Licensing your music for movies works much in the same way as licensing your music for TV shows. It’s important to note that you need to make sure that you both have the sync rights and the master rights.
It’s pretty obvious that music plays a big part in advertising. Whether it’s the US Post Office licensing Steve Miller’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle,’ or Rag & Bone licensing Brooklyn indie darlings Sharkmuffin, ads need music.
The best way to be prepared for working with advertisers is to have all your assets ready to go at a moments notice. This means full resolution (WAV/AIF) versions of all your songs online. Full resolution versions are needed for the broadcast mix. You’ll also need instrumentals for all your songs. Also be sure to have your song splits/co-writers/co-publishers clearly defined and ready to send out if a request comes in.
4. Sonic Branding
Sonic Branding is the use of music or sound to help reinforce brand recognition and enhance consumer experience. While an ad campaign might only need one song for its ads, sonic branding encompases a lot more.
You’ll need to be able to incorporate a brand’s values into music and sound. Sonic Branders are often given a list of values or descriptors and then have to come up with musical tags, like the music that plays when you open Windows or Apple, atmospheric background music, and even jingles like the McDonalds song.
A lot of famous musicians work with songwriters to help produce some of their biggest hits. Licensing your music to other performers is one of the most common ways people licence their music. Working with a record company or being hired by a performer directly is a great way to make some money while also getting your music out there.
As podcasts grow in popularity, production quality will only go up. This means more and more podcasts will need bumper music, theme songs, and music to “ride out on.”
Podcasters need to get a direct licence to use a piece of music. This is good news for musicians because it means that you’ll be able to more easily monetize your music. The DIY nature of podcasts also means that there isn’t seven layers of managers, bookers, talent buyers, etc., for you to get past, so just email your favorite podcasts and see if they like your music!
Evan Zwisler is a NYC-based musician who is most notably known for his work with The Values as a songwriter and guitarist, and is an active member of the Brooklyn music scene.
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