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Understanding Music licensing

Sep 042017

 

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   Artists who are serious about their craft know that other then believing in yourself you have to invest. Whether its the time you spend recording and writing songs. Its an investment nonetheless just as the energy you put into anything of importance to you. The same can be said when buying beats online. Since buying beats is an important part of your craft you'll want to make sure that you're getting the best value for your hard earned money. So for today's post I’ll be going over music licensing for beginners.

 

1-What is a “lease”- Generally any beat that you pay a producer or beat maker to use his or her beats non exclusively is considered a lease. A commonly used term that you'll see online when your looking to buy beats. Some producers will even use different names for their licensing services. The different names that are used will determine your limitations with their beats. Other factors that will determine the limitation of your license. Two factors that will have an impact on your licensing limitations will be the price and the producer. While most standard leases are priced anywhere from $25-$30 dollars its not uncommon to see higher priced leases that are $100-$200 dollars offering less limitations.

 

2-Royalty free- There are usually no royalties when leasing beats online. Depending on what the intentions of the licensee purchasing the beat are. In most cases beats being bought by artist online for use on their mix tapes or E P’s won't be required to pay royalties as long as long as they stay within the guidelines of the producer/artist agreement. Some producers will allow commercial use of their beats that may include radio and TV use by artist. These are limitations you as an artist should look for in your producer artist agreements.


3-Contracts- When you buy you beats whether in person or online its always good to have an agreement as to what your rights and limitations are once you've purchased your beats. Most producers who are serious about their craft will include some sort of an agreement letting you know what your limitations are with their beats. To avoid any misunderstandings and legal headaches its always a good idea to ask the producer questions that you may have if you don't see a license that fits your needs.

4-Exclusive Rights- This license is the most expensive because the producer is giving up the right to resell the beat to other artist and allowing you to use it exclusively on your projects. Depending on the producer you may be required to pay royalties. Now this is common practice amongst artist and producers in the music business. A percentage of royalties generated from the song that the producer's beat helped you create gets their share of those royalties. The price can be anywhere from$300-$1000 dollars and up. This will also depend on the producer's experience. Some producers will even allow artist to make them offers to help accommodate artist who are on a budget.

Understanding Exclusive Rights.

Jun 022017

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   Exclusive rights is where a producer grants an artist or company full usage rights and in some cases full ownership to a beat for a certain amount money. This process usually involves a written agreement of terms that both parties are set to follow. Depending on the conditions of the agreement if the artist or company is purchasing usage rights or ownership to a beat the producer will often request in the contract that they receive a percentage of royalties. This is referred to as a royalty retention agreement. The producer who made the beat will want their fair share of publishing in the event the song they helped produced becomes a big success. The price for exclusive rights can range anywhere from $250-$3000 and up depending on the producer. If the beat your buying has a royalty retention clause in the contract. Then you might be able to negotiate a lower price depending on the producer. Exclusive rights with full ownership will be more money because your buying the producer out of their rights to the beat.

Purchasing exclusive rights are expensive because the producer is giving you the rights to use a beat exclusively. Once the beat is sold the producer will no longer hold the right to sell or re-lease the beat to anyone else. If they had already leased the beat to other artist prior to you purchasing it this won't matter because leases have limitations and an expiration. Your rights with the beat will have no limitations and allow you the opportunity to land song placements in TV and film. You'll have the freedom to do whatever you like with the beat except resell the rights. Most producers will state this in their agreements with you. Aside from owning the beat you'll receive track outs also known as stem files to beat session. Stem files are the kick, snare, 808's, stings, piano etc of the beat. This is extremely important to have as it will allow you to have more control over the quality of your recordings. With the stem files you'll be able to bring them to a mix engineer so that your songs can be professionally mixed. No matter the price you're paying for exclusive rights to a beat you should receive the stem files.

Whether your exclusive rights agreement will have a royalty retention clause will depend on the producer and their overall experience. A producer who is just starting out might not charge as much for exclusive rights nor include an agreement along with their stem files. Purchasing exclusive rights without a written agreement is something you'll want to avoid doing. Especially if you plan on making money with the beat you're using in your song. If you want to prove you have full rights to using the beat. This will affect any future song placement opportunity's if you don't have a written agreement that proves you have rights to use the beat. Both producers and artist profit off of royalties from the songs they've created. So a royalty retention clause is nothing to be afraid of or avoid when purchasing exclusive rights.