In recent weeks, we’ve given a bit of advice on the very basics of music publishing and how artists can get started looking for publishers and securing a solid future for their work. An adjunct part of publishing is licensing. Licensing is a great way to get a few things accomplished by using material you’ve already recorded. What are these things? Should you consider it? Let’s find out!
What is Licensing?
Simply put, licensing legally authorizes the use or performance of your music. When you license your songs, you are giving permission for the licensee to use those songs in accordance with what they agreed to and subsequently, paid your publishing company for. As the artist, you are then paid in accordance to the terms agreed upon by you and your publisher.
Is Licensing for Everyone?
Many artists wonder why they should consider licensing. While it’s certainly a personal choice, there are many benefits to be had by allowing your music to be used in
various places. The first thing to consider is the exposure that can be gained for your music. Your fans will always support you, buy your music, and pay to see your perform live, but the world is so much bigger than your existing fan base. Licensing provides you with the chance to have your music heard by film and television audiences, viewers of televised sporting events or spectators at live sporting events, in bars and restaurants, and many outlets that you wouldn’t be able to access on your own.
Generate More Outlets for Your Music
Think for just a moment about how many artists have been virtually unknown until a song appeared in a television commercial or an episode of a popular TV series. Consider how many artists have seen a significant rise in sales of their entire catalog after licensing one track to a successful film soundtrack. Can you remember being at a sporting event and not hearing Queen’s “We Will Rock You?” All of the above are examples of music licensing at work.
Generate More Revenue Too!
It is also worth thinking of the additional revenue streams that licensing can provide. While all artists consider earnings from record and merchandise sales, as well as monies earned touring, many don’t realize the revenue that licensing music can generate. While the amounts paid will vary based on the type of license being granted, as well as the specifics of each contract, it is certain that you will be paid upfront to license your music. This doesn’t take into account any royalty payments you may also be entitled to; again, depending on the type of license you’re dealing with and the specifics of your contract. Having additional money coming in will not only allow further stability for your livelihood, it can also be the difference between working a ‘day job’, or being a full-time, professional musician. Another source of income may also allow more time to work on writing, performing, and recording new material.
Trust Us, You’re Not Selling-Out
Of course, there are artists (and fans) who feel that any kind of licensing equates to ‘selling out’ and will lead to a loss of credibility. It should be remembered that there are many, many types of licensing. To assume that agreeing to any licensing means your music will end up in an advertisement for a some obnoxious toy, a political candidate whose ethos you object to entirely, or a product you just simply do not like is a slight (yet common) misconception. Something as simple as having your music on a jukebox or playing as background music in a hotel lounge requires proper licensing.
Take into account what your objectives are for your music and your career. What audience have you already attracted? What audience would you like to attract but you aren’t quite sure how to do it? What are the long-term goals for your career? If licensing, in any capacity, may aid in some of these things, it may be worth your time to look into. The decision will ultimately come down to each individual artist and what works out for them both professionally and creatively. Remember that there is often a balance that can be attained and it is possible to have your song playing on a popular television drama and still maintain a sense of creative integrity. Do some research, ask around, and discuss your options with your manager and/or any advisers you may have. Always keep your options open and carefully look into what opportunities are available to you. You may find a solution that suits your needs perfectly and allows you reach more fans than ever before.