As I have mentioned in my introduction and in a previous post, I create music and get it licensed for use on TV shows. It can be a lucrative hobby or profession depending on how you approach it. I try to work the business from both angles. Because I have a day job I am not pressured to churn out tunes to get paid therefore, I’m able to move at a slower pace than a full-time musician. However, because I understand the importance of having your paperwork in order and can appreciate the efficiency of a well run business, I try to operate as professionally as possible. This includes doing research and taking the time out to learn how things work in this industry. Taking this approach is what gives me the advantage in the industry. In this post, and future posts I hope to drop a few gems of wisdom for getting your music out there.
I‘ve been a ‘beat maker’ or ‘producer’ way before I sold or licensed my first beat. For almost as long as I’ve been a DJ I’ve been experimenting with various pieces of equipment with the goal of making my own music. I started out with a Tascam 4 track cassette deck and a Gemini sampler, then gradually progressed up to gear like the MPC 2000XL. All of this time I was making beats and getting people to rap on them, but we could never gain any traction or see any real results from our hours of hard work in the studio. At this point, even though I was spending full time working hours in the studio I was still just doing the music thing as a hobby. There was no professionalism about what we were doing. We were using professional grade equipment and software but we were still on the amateur level. Something was missing or holding us back from reaching the next level.
It wasn’t until I was selected to attend the Red Bull Music Labs here in Atlanta that I found the missing link. Paul Anthony, the owner of Rumblefish, was a guest speaker at the music lab and he introduced me to music licensing. His speech on becoming working-class musicians really struck a chord with me. Until this time I had only sold one beat to an ad agency and that was done through the help of a friend of a friend. I didn’t have any direct contacts or connections in the industry. Rumblefish would eventually become that contact for me. Rumblefish is a company that licenses music made by independent artist such as myself to music coordinators for TV shows, movies, commercials, and other uses. At first I was slow to gather my beats. It was a chore for me to organize them and fill out the paperwork, but gradually I got it all together. This for some reason seems to be the biggest hurdle for the hobbyist producers that I meet. Every time I try to teach someone about getting music licensed we always hit a brick wall when it comes time to gather, organize, catalog, and mail off beats. These same beat makers that claim to have hundreds of songs can’t come up with a CD of 10 songs to send to the licensing companies. They always say they have to sort through their beats and then I don’t hear from them again for another year or so. The sad part is once you get past this stage everything else is much easier. Rumblefish handles the rest of the process for you. They shop the beats and make the deals. They also make sure to handle your Performance Rights Organization credits as well.
There are other companies out there like Rumblefish such as Pump Audio, Jungle Punks, and Splother. They all operate similarly with slight changes in the payouts and the results. So far I’ve found Rumblefish and Pump Audio to be the most effective when it comes to music licensing. I highly recommend signing up with as many of these companies as possible. You can even send them the same songs. It‘s like having multiple agents out there shopping your material. You can’t lose!
The best part about licensing your music is the residual royalties that keep coming years after you initially license the beat. Sure you get scheduled payouts from the music licensing companies for the initial sale, but you also get recurring royalties from your Performance Rights Organization. I’m registered with BMI, so I get quarterly payments from BMI for music that was licensed way back in 2007 even today in 2012. These TV shows get broadcast and rebroadcast all over the world all the while earning you money for the performance of your material. Once I realized how this part of the system worked I became even more motivated to create and send out new material.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more things you can do with those same tracks that you licensed to generate more money from your work. I’ll be going further in depth on these topics which include getting your music on internet radio and getting into films. Until the next post, please check out www.musiclicensingstore.com, and www.pumpaudio.com . Gather your beats and songs. Organize your music and start sending out your tunes. There’s money to be made in the music industry and it isn’t coming from selling CDs.
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