Earning money as an independent musician is challenging. Income opportunities vary through streaming, mechanical, performance royalties, performing at concerts and the list goes on.
Another opportunity presented to artists is sync – film and TV music licensing. The great thing about music sync is that it works for you while you can concentrate on the other aspects of your artistic career.
There are some cool websites out there that give your music necessary exposure to sync opportunities. The pricing models of these websites vary: some sites are free at the musician end while others take a percentage or request exclusivity for your music.
As an independent artist being open to these opportunities is not a bad thing.
Below is a comparison of the top music licensing websites, a description of their services, product & costs. These websites have hundreds of thousands of monthly visits – all are business opportunities for you as an independent artist.
Overview: An online marketplace designed to facilitate music licensing for films, TV shows, ads, apps, and other media. Songtradr also facilitate features such as distribution and YouTube monetization
Costs: One time fee which ranges from $0 – $49 + a percentage of the transaction.
Ease of use: As Songtradr offer a variety of services, their interface may seem a little complex – however the process is clear and easy.
Exclusivity: Songtradr does not request exclusivity. Artists can license through other outlets as well.
Overview: An easy to use marketplace that connects any video content creator with music available for licensing. The music is filtered by genre, mood or video theme.
Costs: Free. The musician has no membership costs. There is a curation process – but Artlists’ business model charges the video creator, not the artists. Film creators pay a fixed fee for unlimited use .
Ease of use: Beautiful and easy to use interface.
Exclusivity: Artlist does not request exclusivity. Artists can license through other outlets as well.
Rights: The artist maintains the rights for their music.
Overview: Marketplace that connects video creators with music creators
Costs: 40% of transaction for exclusive licensing, 65% of transaction for non-exclusive licensing
Ease of use: Great interface. Artists need to fill out a short application in order to apply and need to have at least 5 songs on their catalog.
Exclusivity: Music Vine accept both formats. Artist portfolio must have at least 50% of the music in exclusive deals. Non exclusive deals charge a higher fee as mentioned above.
Overview: A marketplace for film makers. Membership differs depending on license type. MusicBed also offer larger scale projects and custom, pre-ordered music.
*Cost, ease of use and exclusivity comparisons was not available due to the fact that they are not accepting submissions at this time. You can fill in a form and they will get back to you when they open submissions for artists.
Overview: Same as the others. Also offers sound effects.
Costs: Free. Musicians have no membership costs.
Ease of use: The interface is simple for video makers. All songs have 3 main tags attached to them. Tracks are submitted and reviewed. Soundstripe contact the musician only once accepted and offer the musician different types of contracts, depending on the level of the track and demand.
Exclusivity: Soundstripe require & request exclusivity. You cannot register songs if you’ve assigned them to a third party. You cannot submit songs if you are signed to a label or have publishing deals elsewhere.
Overview: Probably the biggest website out there for royalty free music. Huge inventory of songs. As of the day this article was written they had 570,800 tracks!
Ease of use: The website is pretty much clumped with everything “Envato Market” offers. Interface is still very old school and not as pleasant as the younger websites above, but you can definitely get around.
Costs: Per license. The “author” (in this case the musician) decides what the price of their piece will be , and then , depending on the type of license, the final price will be calculated. The musician doesn’t take all of the payment made, there are also some taxes and handling fees.
Exclusivity: Artist can choose whether or not they want exclusivity. Exclusivity increases the artists share of the full price.
Overview: A different and interesting one for music creators. Epidemic Sound will do what the other websites do- sell filmmakers a license for using your music, but they pay you up front. Registered musicians must be located in the US or Sweden.
Songs however cannot be registered with a publishing rights organizations (PROs or NROs). The reasoning for this appears on the Epidemic Sound website:
“Our team of experts collaborate with each Music Creator from the first demo to the final mix to make sure each track becomes as great as it can be, while never sacrificing artistic vision. Each Music Creator works closely with a dedicated team of music production experts, packed with songwriters, producers, and engineers who help our creators hone their craft. This team of Music Reviewers provides extensive personalized feedback to help music creators achieve the best version of their music’s original creative intent. Epidemic also provides in-house mastering”
Ease of use– The user interface is obviously focused on acquiring new users therefor the access to the music on Epidemic sound takes about one-two more step for new users to find music. Once you reach the music catalogue its pretty much the same. They have a pretty cool feature called “similar songs” attached to each song which can come in handy for filmmakers.
Costs: Free for musicians + the musicians are paid.. There is an up front fixed rate + a 50/50 split per deal.
Epidemic Sound also offer distribution for the songs accepted.
Exclusivity: Non-exclusive. However they do require your song to be “PRO” free as mentioned.
Curation: Only selected tracks .
Tracks in catalogue: 30,000 tracks
While the dream of having your music featured in the next big Netflix series is tempting -granting exclusivity to sync libraries at the beginning of your career is questioned . Working with a few non-exclusive outlets might be a good way to market your music. Think it over before limiting yourself to exclusive channels – getting your music out there as an aspiring independent musician can be key.