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What you need to know about music licensing

By Michael Romlochan

If you've ever seen a film or show in which a character has a birthday, you may have noticed that much of the time, characters sing a different tune instead of the famous "Happy Birthday To You" song. I'm sure some of you know why - to avoid royalties for using the song. HOWEVER, What you probably didn't know is that in 2008, the royalties for "Happy Birthday To You" still amounted to about $2 million dollars. That's pretty good for a song that's nearly a century old!
 
Now more than ever, music licensing is increasingly popular in other forms of media. Movies, shows, commercials and video games have all used the work of both mainstream and independent artists to convey the right tone for the content they present. In doing so, artists are able to reach out to fans in ways they never could within the music industry. Old listeners are often pleasantly surprised to hear a familiar song in a different medium, while new listeners are introduced to what could be a new favorite artist.
 
So the question remains: How can you get that song to be YOURS? That journey begins with licensing your music. Find a licensing agency for your music to negotiate the terms of royalties if your music is licensed by another party. Depending on how much control you'd like or what the agency provides, you can include restrictions on the type of content you'd like your music used in. There is also the possibility of licensing your own music, but as is the case for many songs, several artists may take credit for its conception, which makes negotiating these royalties on your own more difficult.

 

 
 
Once your music is licensed, you can begin making contact with potential licensees. Larger licensing agencies can aid you in this search, but those who would like more control of their music may also like to look on their own as well. Different forms of media are willing to pay different ranges of money for a song that fits their content, commercials being the most profitable. This makes sense, as there are more commercials being produced than any other media.

The benefits of licensing can be long lasting. Independent artists can increase their chances of being signed to record labels if there is proof of value in their music, and other licensees may find interest in using it as well. It may not be a "get rich quick scheme," but it is certainly an avenue worth traveling for aspiring artists who want to gain the recognition they deserve.
 
(Mike Ramlochan works with Last Drop Mastering in San Francisco, CA. For info about rates and previous clients, please visit www.lastdropmastering.com )
 
For more information on music licensing, check out the following links:
 
http://www.ascap.com/music-career/articles-advice/music-money/money-commercials.aspx
 
http://www.musicbizacademy.com/articles/gman_money.htm

http://zirconmusic.com/tutorials/text/how-to-make-money-from-music-licensing/
 
http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2011/04/advice-getting-your-music-into-video-games-.html


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Michael Romlochan of Last Drop Mastering in San Francisco.
Last Drop is an online facility with clients around the world - most recently American idol star Jennifer Fuentes Hayward, Ex Cobra Starship member Elisa Schwartz, and #1 itunes Reggae star Stick Figure.

www.lastdropmastering.com (website)
www.lastdropmastering.com/clients (clients)
www.lastdropmastering.com/upload.html (free sample song link)
Youtube promo video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u2kzW_CHY4&feature=player_embedded
Related Keywords:music licensing, music mastering, audio mastering, last drop mastering

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