Once upon a time trying to licence music by famous artists cost a bundle, the kind of money only affordable for major Hollywood studios or big-budget feature films. Then there were the tie-in OST soundtracks, that were a lucrative cash cow for both studios and record labels.
However, a new marketplace Song Freedom has opened that allows indie filmmakers, videographers, photographers and micro-budget film projects to legally acquire the rights to mainstream and top-40 music from some of the world’s best-loved artists and bands. Music artists such as Bob Dylan, Maroon 5, Marvin Gaye, Imagine Dragons, One Republic, Rob Thomas, American Authors, Lady Gaga and even Frank Sinatra, to name a few.
The music platform began in 2010, where it became the first company to offer pre-cleared sync licenses from labels like UMG, Sony, and WMG; and large publishers like UMPG, Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell, Kobalt, BMG, Disney, Downtown, and Roundhill.
CEO Matt Thompson described the service: “We scoop up the rights to thousands of songs and make it possible for everyday people to use the music without any hassle, and it’s all available with a single click online. Rights owners have been very gracious to try our little experiment, and it’s paying off big-time for everyone.”
Designed as an on-demand service, the marketplace allows creatives to browse through thousands of songs to quickly find the right music for your project. There’s also a range of pre-selected ‘mixtape’ playlists created for events or film genres, narrowing your search to find the right song for your project. It saves you having to wade through thousands of song styles, when what you really want is music for a horror film you’re making, or for a drama, or even a commercial.
Once you’ve found the song you want to use, the cost of licencing will depend on the kind or project you want it for. For example , if you’re a videographer and you want to use Bob Dylan’s song ‘Make You Feel my Love’ the licencing fee would cost US$59.99 for a one-time use in the video.
Another advantage of using the platform is that songwriters are paid directly, meaning more royalties for the artists and their co-songwriters or copyright owners.
Usually, major labels don’t allow pre-cleared licencing deals, but because the SongFreedom is created specifically for indie filmmakers, student films, microbudget projects and videographers, it has smoothed out the friction and helped a vast web of music co-owners agree to licence their songs. The result is “found money” for rightsholders, and great music for indie films.
“If you own or represent music that’s not yet on Songfreedom with all of these icons,” remarks Thompson, “you should really check into it.”
CEO Matt Thompson originally came up with the idea for his music marketplace when a buddy of his was shooting a wedding and found acquiring the rights for music a difficult, unwieldy and expensive process. Not only was it well beyond his budget to pay for licencing, but most record labels didn’t even bother responding to his requests.
Most videographers and indie filmmakers only choices were to either find an unsigned artist and ask to use their music or tarnish the video (and your reputation) by stealing music from other artists and risk being sued for copyrights infringement.
“Videographers’ options were either to use really awful, royalty-free, 1980s keyboard music legally or to use something that sounds good illegally,” explained Thompson.
“For every single usage, you had to get permission from every label, their artist, as well as every publisher and their writers (of which there could be several). Everyone had to agree if the money was right for the use. Instead, we negotiate a set of rights for a nominal fee, as long as the music is used for specified purposes.”
In fact, the licencing terms of Thomson’s music marketplace/platform has become so attractive to use that TV networks and advertising companies have jumped onboard, along with major record labels.
One decades-old company, which makes both mega-hit records and blockbuster films, prefers to license their own songs for video content directly through Songfreedom, rather than deal with its own legal department. Songs licensed by the platform can be found in ads for companies like Nike, Budweiser, Miller-Coors, Disney, and Microsoft, to name a few.
The platform’s popularity has proved that indie filmmakers and videographers are willing to do the right thing—to pay reasonable prices to use music legally.
For more info and to take a look at the available music you can licence, check: www.songfreedom.com