Licensing Your Music In a Global Market

One of the most mysterious problems in multiplying your income as a musician is meeting the right people, specifically people who can help get your physical product to a global market. While digital technology has helped to level the playing field for independent worldwide distribution, the impact and value of global CD distribution can not be understated. How is this done? As you know, majors have the power and money to leverage their product just about anywhere. Independent artists, however, are able to reach their global audience via licensing agreements.

Music Licensing Defined:

Master Licensing: An arrangement where the artist agrees to let a distributor both manufacture and distribute copies of her recorded product, for a set period of time, in a set region for a predetermined fee. Usually, the area covered by the license is a country or, in places such as the USA, a group of states (region in the USA) and is usually exclusive (meaning you can not license your music to multiple licensees in the same region at the same time). The duration of the license can be a year or several years—it’s subject to negotiation. Generally, licensees manufacture and sell as many CDs as they wish during this time, within the geographical confines of the agreement. You may negotiate for a limited number of CDs, but bear in mind you stand almost no chance of auditing sales. It’s in one’s best interest to weigh this when determining your fee.

Sync Licensing: An arrangement where the artist agrees to let a film or television production company use the artist’s music in conjunction with moving pictures. An accomplished friend of mine once explained that he made more revenue from a single sync license on a single that wasn’t even a hit than he made from all the remixes he did for major labels in one year. That was a wake-up call, to be sure. Some of the resources below address sync licensing.

Licensing Resources:

Midem: Got to the next closest Midem international conference and shake hands directly with the worlds leading licensees and publishers. Such a trip may not be a financial viability for many people, but it is where many of the biggest global players come to hang out together. Just come fully prepared with your catalog of releases in hand and make a professional impression on your contacts. Labels may find these conferences to be more useful than individual artists might, but who knows. If you can afford to travel, see what Midem can do for you.

Bandit Newsletter: While certainly not the only direct clearing house for global licensing, Bandit is arguably one of the most aggressive and most honest. Best of all, there’s no middle man! You get direct access to all the A&Rs and executives listed in this resource. There is no one in the middle deciding whether you pass or fail. It’s all up to you putting your best foot forward. At a fair rate, this company offers a periodical list of opportunities for global licensing but also provides powerful leads from record companies, high-level artist managers, distributors, etc., all looking for new artists. From what I’ve seen, there’s something for nearly everyone involved in the creative process, including songwriters. For a FREE sample copy of their newsletter, please click on their name link.

TAXI: This company reviews artists’ materials, evaluates them, then presents the artist to businesses if TAXI feels the content is good enough and conforms to what such clients are looking for. If you’ve got the extra cash, I would recommend working with TAXI in order to cover all your bases. BUT, being the rebel indies we are at, our favorite advice is doing it yourself (you know the old saying, I hope). To help you identify some licensing resources, here are a few links.

Suggest another resource! We’ll review it and include it if we feel it adds value.


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