Music Licensing: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Posted by Aaron Davison on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Under: February 2013

I want to share with you a sort of off the cuff, stream of consciousness perspective on the current state of the music licensing business, as I see it. The good, the bad and the ugly. I've been submitting and pitching music on an essentially daily basis for several years now to music libraries, music publishers and music supervisors. Some of my own music, but most recently mainly music from the artists I represent at Renegade Music Marketing, the marketing company I run. I have learned a lot about the business as a result of running Renegade Music Marketing and pitching the artists I represent, and I'll share a few of the insights I've gained in the hopes that it will help you in your career.

Let's start with the good news first. Music licensing is a HUGE business.  Both ASCAP and BMI reported record payouts to their members the last several years and a big chunk of that revenue is generated from music being licensed.  Since we all know that CD sales have taken a big hit in recent years, it's encouraging to know that there is an aspect of the music industry that is very much alive and vital, at least in terms of money being generated.  Businesses, like TV and Film Production Companies, need music and since they have a limited budget for music and it's illegal to just steal music, they pay for it.  That's good news for people like you and I, since much of the music they buy comes from independent musicians.

Here's the “bad news”. Actually let's not call it bad news. Let's re-frame it and call it "what you need to know".  And since I'm telling you, it's actually good news.  The music licensing business is competitive. There, I said it!  I got an email recently from someone asking if the music licensing business had become "over saturated". My response was that the music business has always been over saturated, at least in terms of there being a surplus of people wanting to create music and get paid for it, relative to consumer demand.

Music licensing is similar, in that there are a lot of musicians interested in licensing their music and there are a finite number of opportunities. Don't misunderstand me, there are a LOT of opportunities. But at any one time they are limited and it' safe to say there are more musicians trying to get there music licensed than there are opportunities.

So... that's the semi bad news. Now for some more good news.  Although I do feel like the music licensing business is over saturated with music in general, I don’t think it’s over saturated with really good, high quality music that is actually ready to be licensed.  There will always be a demand for that.  Every day music is being licensed for multiple opportunities into multiple projects and that will continue to be the case for as long as I can imagine.  The question is will it be your music or someone else’s?

In : February 2013 

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