The music licensing options and questions have been significantly revamped, since I started to get quite a bit of feedback as I got into it and everyone had great ideas for improvements.
Here's a rundown of the changes: it's a long list, so be forewarned!
First, the licensing categories have all been clarified and consolidated down to:
|What kind of music license? |
1. Film: sync license
2. Single units: wedding video, small quantity for-profit
3. Video: CDROM, VHS, DVD, and for-sale production.
4. Slide show or Powerpoint.
5. TV ad or radio ad (or radio production)
6. Audio projects
7. Internet web site, Flash
8. Podcasts & vblogs
9. Non-Commercial: schools and Creative Commons
10. TV show: sync license
11. Video game and software
12. Sampling: remixes, covers & derivative works
13. Music compilation: CD, DVD and computer audio
14. Public Space: restaurants, trade shows & retail spaces
15. Telephone music on hold
16. Custom bid: other projects and special situations
Each license category explains itself -- previously only the title of the license was given, leading people to wonder "is this the right license for what I'm doing?". For example, for film, it now says:
|This license is for any video or film project which will be shown in theaters. If your project will not appear in theaters, a "video" or "single units" license is what you need.|
a new slide show or powerpoint license was added, described as:
|This license is for adding music to a slide show presentation or a powerpoint document, or a similar kind of computer-based presentation. The finished product must not be available for sale: if you would like to place music on a product for sale, you need a video/cdrom license.|
I wanted to get rid of the "corporate" license, because none of us really had any idea what it precisely meant: it is more a type of distribution on another project (a corporate video, or a powerpoint presentation at an annual meeting, for example) that its own type of media. That's why I added the slides/powerpoint license. This also meant a new question needed to be added to the video license:
internal use only
available to the public
I've often wondered if people are apprehensive about licensing music from us, because we've got a counterculture/revolutionary message (the "we are not evil" thing). After all, when you buy a license, all you're buying is a legal document that keeps you from getting sued.
To try to address this concern, every page now explains exactly what rights you're getting, in more traditional language (mechanical, publishing and synchronization rights) as well as putting our not-evil philosophy into practical terms, and explaining about rights clearances. This is the paragraph under the slide show/powerpoint license:
|This license will grant you syncronization and mechanical rights, to place the licensed song in your presentation. You may give away or sell your work, as you see fit. We will not ask to see your work or exercise any artistic control over the use of the music in your work. We don't think it's right for musicians to dictate what a film-maker's vision should be, and we hope you'll honor the flexibility we give you by giving us your business.
We see to it that the music has had the appropriate legal rights pre-cleared, and the music license you will receive contains a provision indemnifying you of legal liability in that regard. We have licensed our music to hundreds of projects, including global megacompanies such as the Regal Entertainment Group and Hitachi. You can rest assured that buying a license from us will get you in the clear, and we're happy to physically sign a purchased music license so that you have a hard copy as proof.
Each of these paragraphs is tailored to the kind of license being viewed. For example, the film license contains extra text speaking to film-makers:
| If your film does not yet have worldwide distribution, you can purchase the smallest territory license you need, and come back at a later date, to obtain a wider territory music license. Many films have started with the $44 film festival license, and after getting picked up for distribution, purchased a worldwide territory music license (as well as optional DVD and music compilation rights) at our standard published rates.
If you need a "step license" that shows the increasing price of a music license at increasingly wider distributions, just create several license agreements for different territories using our forms (each contract ID will be named CM######), and we will honor those price quotes as a step license when/if you come back to us later. You can then use those price quotes with confidence in your proposals to film distributors.
Teresa told me that a lot of the calls she gets are from people with no money who see our prices as too high and want a special deal. We weren't previously accommodating that scenario for one simple reason: I had created all the scenarios and prices by looking at our licensing competitor's price sheets, and none of them were offering low cost home-use and starving-artist licenses. Of course, those competitors don't have automated web-based licensing, so there's no reason for us to not offer these.
Now, a number of use cases have much lower budget options. For example, the Video/DVD license goes down to "under $100 or no budget" and stars at $19, music on hold for a home office starts at $24 for a year, and a no-budget film starts at $25.
To further gain the confidence of licensees, I've added call-out endorsement/quotes for some of our license types, where I could get a quote from someone successful in exactly that field. For example, for a movie, this quote now appears at the bottom of the page:
| "As a film producer, it's an absolute pain in the butt to license quality music and your company makes it so painless and easy, I really appreciate that. I will continue to purchase music from you for use in my films and I feel sure that my success will be in part to your company and the music you produce."
- Unsolicited endorsement from Quito Washington, award winning film maker and author of "DV Filmmaking Explained"
an "audio projects" license type has been added, described as:
This license is for music in audio projects, such as books on tape, motivational tapes, audio guides for art exhibits, commercial podcasts. If your audio project will be publicly broadcast, you should get a "radio production" license instead.
On the "internet" license, I've always asked how many impressions the page is projected to have. This never worked well, since most time when people are licensing music for a web page, it's for a new page or site, and they have no idea how many hits it will get. Worse, if it exceeds what they bought, it's very unlikely they'll come back to us and send us money for an upgraded license. Our competitors ask for this estimate, which is why I had it, but it just doesn't work in the real world.
Now, the internet license asks for the budget of the project or web site, which is a much better indicator of how important this is, and is how film licensing works.
I've removed the "movie trailer" license -- I can't imagine anyone licensing our music for a trailer where the music wasn't also used in the film itself, and the film license allows use in trailers. Again, this is something our competition offers, but we've never sold one and I doubt we ever would, so it's removed to make things simpler.
The film license now includes the concept of "distribution" so that internal-only videos are a much less expensive license. This also makes explicit the idea of videos distributed on the Internet with the "external (such as on web sites or for sale)" choice.
It was our policy that if someone made a song with more than one sample in it, we'd still just charge them the one-sample fee. This is now explicitly stated on the "sampling / remix" license:
|This license permits you to use any number of audio samples from a song to create a new song of your own. You can also make remixes, mash-ups or other derivative works. If you use several samples from us in one song, you will only be charged the single-sample price.|
Similarly, it was our policy that compilations that used more than 10 songs on a CD would simply pay the 10 song price. This is now explicit on the "music compilation" license. This license also now lets you license several songs (or an entire CD) at once, where previously it was limited to one song, and Teresa needed to get involved for multiple song licenses:
|License Music for Music compilation (CD, tape or vinyl)
This license allows you to redistribute and resell CDs, DVDs or other media containing the entire song or an entire album. For example, this can be used to make a rebranded CD for sale in your store or through traditional CD distribution, or a promotional giveaway with your company's information on it.
People have always asked what the relationship was between our public space license and ASCAP/BMI. Previously, I was avoiding a direct confrontation with these entities, but BMI challenged us over our Internet radio stations (we won) and PRS in the UK went after us for a performance-royalty free license to a major home-improvement store chain that was using our music (we won again). So, I feel confident now in licensing music with a performance-fee waiver, and this is made explicit in the public space license:
|License Music for Public Space (ie: Restaurant, Trade Shows Art Gallery)
This license allows you to play an album of our music in a public space. An ASCAP/BMI fee waiver is granted with this license so that you do not have to pay any fees to them if you are playing our music in the USA. This right is well established in USA case law by the "consent decree" under which ASCAP and BMI operate. We can supply non-USA jurisdictions with performance-royalty-free music (about half our music is in this category): email us if you need this.
Note that this does mean that a musician licensed in this way wouldn't collect ASCAP/BMI fees from this licensor's playing of the music, but that should be more than offset by the fact that they get 1/2 the fee we charge, which would be way more than a musician would see out of the ASCAP/BMI machine.
and the "custom bid" item is new, and much friendly in inviting a dialog for those cases where the automated system doesn't work.