How to License Music 101 | Evan Oxhorn | Skillshare

How to License Music 101

Evan Oxhorn, Make Better Music

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9 Lessons (29m) View My Notes
    • 1. How to License Your Music 101 Intro

    • 2. What is Music Licensing?

    • 3. How do you get paid?

    • 4. What Types of Music Are Good for Licensing?

    • 5. What Makes Music Licensing Unique

    • 6. Exclusive vs Non Exclusive Libraries

    • 7. Publishing and Broadcast Royalties

    • 8. Where to License Your Music

    • 9. Questions?


About This Class

Learn the exact steps you need to take to license your music. See how you can go from having a fun hobby to creating tracks that get placed in TV and movies and earn you royalties every quarter!

And if you want to take it to the next level, join the free 5-day music licensing crash course for an even more in-depth look at how to get started.


1. How to License Your Music 101 Intro: Hey, did what's up? My name is Evan, and today I want to teach you how to license your music. This is going to be music licensing one-to-one, I'm assuming door musician that has music that you would like to start licensing, to start profiting from her music. And that's exactly what I'm going to teach you to do. Everything you need to know to launch in music licensing, side hustle. So let's cover, do an overview of what we're going to cover. First, we're gonna talk about what is music license hint, right? You gotta know that. I'm going to talk about how you get paid and move onto what types of music you know what your genres, what styles can you really sell? Poka death metal music. Maybe. Then we're going to talk about what's unique about stock music versus just regular old music. Next, we'll talk about exclusive versus nonexclusive libraries. From there we'll move on to getting polishing royalties and broadcast payments. And finally, I'll talk about my favorite Library and where you should begin your journey. The best license, the best library for beginners. A little bit about me. My name's Evan. I've been making music since third grade, which is about a long time, had a three-ish years on from San Diego originally, but I've lived in DC for the past 20 years, a full time job, but I've also created a bunch of systems that have allowed me to earn a nice amount on the psi by licensing music. And these songs that I've licensed have been featured on Netflix, movies, on TV shows, and award-winning indie film, and even NPR's all things considered. I help musicians grow their passion for music into a profitable and rewarding side hustle by teaching them the skills they need. Turn their home studio in to a lucrative side hustle, turn a hobby into something that really works for you. And my favorite thing is to receive emails and comments from people who are really satisfied and happy with what they've learned and, and just sharing how it helped them. So if you know when this works out for you, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I also want to let you know that I've got a free music licensing challenge. You can visit stock music or click the link to join it. It will be an even more in depth hands-on approach, music licensing. It'll teach everything you need to know on a deeper level. This is what we're going to learn. And this mini course is basically a high-level overview. I'm not going to hide any sausage is just gonna move kind of fast. So sit back, relax and strap in. 2. What is Music Licensing?: First thing I want to talk about is, what is music licensing? I think there's a lot of misconceptions about it. So I really want to get this out of the way. Music licensing as essentially granting a someone the right to synchronize your music with their media production. So somebody wants to make a TV show and they want to line up your music with theirs. Just buying a copy of your CD doesn't give them that right? As the song, right? Omer, you get to choose what your music is matched up with how your music is used. And so when you license your music, EUR granting somebody the right to synchronize it. And this could be on TV or YouTube anywhere. Basically just they're granting them the right to use your music. Not as a listener, but as, as a consumer, as a producer. Licenses are generally sold by libraries. You know, you can think of eBay. They've got music from all sorts of different musicians. They bring it all together and their marketplace. And then buyers can search for their perfect preferred song. And a further section will get into these different concepts a little bit. But on a high level, I want to divide it into three different types of libraries. You've got exclusive libraries, stock music libraries and subscription libraries. So how are they different? Well, this'll sort of First I would say, in descending order of crested prestige, exclusive libraries of the most prestigious, You really need to have professional quality music to get in. And they deal mostly not exclusively with TV and movie, but a lot with those types of end-users. Stock music is much more opening, a much more welcoming to all types of music. And their clients tend to be everybody. They can, everybody from a YouTube or to a podcast or to TV and movies. So it's not like steps of clients on there. It's just less likely. They also tend to be a little less lucrative and charged less. Finally, you have subscription libraries, which does really all different types for quality. I don't recommend these. The way it works is basically a client can pay like $40 a month or something, $30 a month and download unlimited songs by anybody. And instead of earning 8090, even $30, even $15 assignment might be earning one or $2. And so I think both, they're not useful for your time and I think they're bad for the industry and I don't recommend them. But those are the three main types of places you could license your music. And like I said, we'll get into more detail later. One thing to really note is that you can license the same song repeatedly. So what I've found is of the hundreds of songs that are put out there, probably more than half have never sold. And the very best songs will, will be licensed, you know, 1015 times. So it's really cool when you land on a successful song because it's a gift that just keeps on giving year in and year out. Some people can earn a full-time living with music licensing. I think it's really hard to build up a large enough Library to get there without doing it full time. So it's sort of like a catch-22. If you could work on making music for licensing all day, every day, then you can make enough music to have a full time income. But because you have a regular job, it can't do that. But still I've been I've learned probably over $15 thousand in three or four years, maybe four or five years doing this at this point. So there's definitely good money you can make on the side for, for doing your hobby, which is making music. So yeah, that's the basics of music licensing. 3. How do you get paid?: How do you get paid? Well, the first thing I wanna talk about is this term, royalty-free, or maybe even copyright-free music. There are a few places out there were music is just given away, or even some of these sites might build themselves as royalty free, but that's a myth. As a copyright holder, unless you are implicitly choosing given music away, you are entitled to royalties. So the first royalty is that sink fee we talked about, right? People, when they pay to purchase a license for the right to use your music in any way. That's a royalty you receive. And you can think of it as not FRAND royalty. They're paying you the upfront for the right to use your music with their song. So every time somebody purchases that license, you get paid the royalty, paid the fee. That's sort of how a royalty is different from a just regular sale. Like I could sell you this pan, but then I wouldn't have the pen anymore. You'd have to pan. And so I wouldn't be paying good perceiving a royalty. I just be receiving a payment for the pan. Or, you know, Let's say I am a masseuse. Well, you would pay me, I give you a massage. I would have provided a service in exchange for your money, but with a royalty, What it is is on granting you the right to use something in exchange for your money. But I still retain the right to grant other people the rights to purchase it. So I think these are going to be the most common types of royalties you'll see with music, stock music licensing. Every library is gonna be a little different about how frequently they'll pay you out and the thresholds. They have. Some, you know, every time you have more than X amount of dollars in your account, you can take it out. Others pay out every month on the 15th or whatever. Some might only pay quarterly. But sink fees for the first part. The second part is publishing royalties. If your music is broadcast and we get into this a bit more further down the line. But basically the way it works is as the composer, you have not only a right to get paid to choose how your music is used, which is the sync CPI. But also if your music is then publicly performed, for example, broadcast on TV, you also are entitled to a public performance royalty. And these can really add up one of my, I guess my most successful song in terms of broadcasting on TV, army over like $2 thousand from these publishing royalties. And these do not come from the library, and they also don't come from the client. These instead come from the network that's broadcasting the show. So if nb, if somebody was making a TV show and they purchased a song or mine, they only pay a $100 to purchase that song. That's it. Then they sell their TV show to NBC. And ABC has the broadcast licenses. And so they are going to pay the broadcast licensing fee to my performing rights organization, which is BMI. And then BMI will cut me a check. Also, we talked about exclusive libraries a little bit, we'll get into them more. But often if you join a music library and submit songs that are accepted, they'll pay a consideration fate or sometimes it's called a buyout fee. Basically they're buying the rights to your song and exclusive rights. So that means you can't license them on other sites. But that can be, you know, it can be a few $100 per song. It can be as little as 50, but or maybe even higher than that. So that's how you get paid for licensing your music. 4. What Types of Music Are Good for Licensing?: What types of music are good for music licensing? Well, there's both vocal and non-vocal music licensing. Tons of music for both. There's a huge market for both. Whatever you do, try and do it well, especially vocal stuff, I think there's very little market for bad vocals. There's still, it is in market for bad instrumentals or even mediocre instrumentals. But vocals really has to be a high-quality. And if you really wanna get a sense of what this type of music is, I'd recommend watching some reality TV, sit down for an afternoon, turn on bravo or something, or HGTV, and take a notepad and literally write down, every time a new song comes on and write down like three or four words to describe that music. Now, is it upbeat as it sad? Is it poppy? What instruments are feature? Does it a lot of Ukulele. In any event, just about any genre works for music licensing. It's just all going to depend on the client because there's a million different clients, right? How many different TV shows now with cable and that flex and stuff are there? I recently saw a show that does old-fashioned repairs like of Antiques. And then you've got fashion shows, you've got history shows, you've got war shows, you've got shows that take place in ancient China. There's and sci-fi shows him in any genre can work and plenty that just take place in modern day. Hip Hop has always popular, rock is always popular. And also the more modern and music sounds, there's certainly a tons of opportunity for vintage music. But because the style music is always evolving, there's not as much competition if you're able to be on the bleeding edge. But I think you really have to understand that music and work though. That's not most of what I do. I mostly do kind of traditional rock and hip hop stuff. There's also a genre of music called corporate music, which is almost like, you know, kind of generic stock music. Happy, upbeat, maybe some storms and claps, ukulele. I don't like it. I don't make it. Some people make it and make a ton of money from it. Certainly where there's a lot of interest from clients. But it's also very saturated. And on a lot of libraries that actually don't accept, they're very unlikely to accept corporate music unless it's really, really cream of the crop. Whereas other genres which they have less of, they're willing to be more flexible. So if you can make excellent corporate music and you enjoy making it, maybe that's for you. But I would recommend, first of all, making music but you enjoy, because you never know which song is going to be a hit and which one isn't. And if you're making an only for profit, you're probably going to miss out on something. Another thing that works really well for stock music, for music licensing in general is hybrid music, which is genres that maybe don't exist in. More traditional. Like as a listener, you would never buy a CD for a band like dot. But it actually works very well for licensing. So you know, you could think of rap rock is hybrid music that actually people listened to. But still that type of vibe and energy where you've got, you know, a modern sound mixed with rock. Or you listen to like cinematic, like trailer music where it's like classical mixed with EDM drops. Or I often joke about pocus death metal. But I am sure somewhere out there there is a market for that because, I mean, who knows what's going on in Poland, right? There's probably some hardcore shows. Whatever you do though, you should try and file the unique style conventions of stock music, which I'm really genre based, but more a way of approaching stock music, which was what we'll talk about next. But I just want to say again, basically, anything goes, but make sure you do it well. And especially if you're doing vocal music, you have to do it very well. That the vocal part needs to be well. It needs to be good. And make music that you enjoy. 5. What Makes Music Licensing Unique: So what makes music for licensing unique? Well, like I said, any genre is fine. But what you need to have is make a few tweaks to your music so that it fits in with the vibe of music licensing and is more usable by clients. So the first thing is that it has to be constantly evolving. That way. You know, it helps tell the story that a TV show might need. You know, if it's just staying still and very repetitive, that's going to be less likely than a song that goes somewhere. Which is why it's really important for you to sit down and watch some TV and actually take notes. And notice that songs are always building up or breaking down, or how a couple of transitions real quit when they're used in those contexts. And another thing to consider is that there should be fewer lead elements. You're leads to be less busy. And also from a choice of sounds, the senses you might choose, and a mixing perspective. They should be less present in the mix. Because you have to imagine that often there's going to be a voiceover with this type of music. Now if your music is included on TV show, The narrator might be speaking over or a commercial or something like that. And so you don't want your mix both from an arrangement perspective and from a mixing perspective to conflict with where our human voice might be. I've already talked about how Joe is have that sense of forward motion and your track. And I also want to load it with transitional elements, risers, reverse symbols, drum fills, things like that. That really helps signal that something is about to change. So that when they're editing the your song into their shots. If they wanna go like, you know, if it's like a reality show, like she said what? And then it cuts to the other person. You know, it's like digital, traditional. And on a hits on the next beat, right as it cuts. So you need to have these things that very subtly but are baked deep into your song that give editors Lots to work with. Transitional elements basically on an, on an unrelated note. But very important is that you can't have tempo changes. Because often, if you really pay attention to TV, you could almost cut it to a metronome. And if your song is speeding up and slowing down, it's just gonna make it much more difficult for the editors. And that's going to make it more difficult for you to license your song. Finally, I would also say that, generally speaking, the sections of your song reverse the chorus, et cetera, should be clear and distinct. Like you should know that you're in a different part. And this is sort of, I mean the transitional elements help. But in terms of arrangement, volume chord structure, people on general looking to buy loops. They're looking to buy something to help them tell their own story, and that's where you come in. So if you apply these tips, your music will start to sound livestock music. It doesn't matter what genre it is, just as long as you bake this into rock, or into EDM, or into hip hop or into wrapper, OK, whatever. 6. Exclusive vs Non Exclusive Libraries: Next, let's talk about exclusive versus nonexclusive libraries. We've touched on this a bit, but I want to dig a little deeper. So exclusive libraries are professional grade. That's when your music needs to sound like an ounce of their clients are. These people work directly with TV networks and film studios. And they expect the music that is submitted to them to be totally comparable to anything you'd hear on TV. It can be really hard to get into libraries, these exclusive libraries, because first of all, you have to have really good music. But second, while they each have their own unique needs, right? If this library already has 8 thousand Hip Hop tracks and you have a very good hip hop track. They might not need you lay, they might already have those bases covered. So why would they spend an upfront fee to purchase your songs when they've got that covered. I'm going at the same time, maybe they want to be the go-to place for hip hop. And so maybe they will have, you know, maybe they will want the song because they want to have all the best Hip Hop and be known as a place to go when you need to grab hip hop. And my point is merely that having a good song isn't enough with these exclusive libraries. That also has to be a good fit for what they're trying to do. Also on, you need to generally have at least four songs ready to go when you pitch to them, they're looking to buy full albums. I think it's just the transaction cost of setting up a contract and doing all of that stuff is just too much for them to be interested in purchasing one song at a time. Instead, when you submit, you submit a fully p At least for four songs and up. The more songs you can submit that are thematically consistent, the more likely you are of getting our attention a and B, even if you submit eight, but they're happy with five, then they'll take it. I'll take those five. And so that just gives you more chances to get their interest. I think about exclusive libraries is kind of in the name. The, if you get a song into an exclusive library, you can't sell that license that song anywhere else. When they give you the upfront fee, basically they're buying the rights to the copyrights to your song and then they get to choose what it does. So if having control of your music is important for you, that might be problematic. But the flip side of that is generally if you sell a license, generally when they license your music, the payouts are gonna be higher because the clients are more prestigious and they know the music is better. You're also going to be receiving those upfront fees that I talked about when they buy the rights Jean music. And because of who their clients are, you're much more likely to get TV placements and movie placements with your music on these libraries. And that in turn, is more likely to lead to back-end royalties. Performance royalties that we talked about a little bit earlier. They will act as a publisher, which means they'll take half of what you get. But it's half the probably wouldn't get or you wouldn't get any of that pie otherwise. So it can be really helpful to work with them. In contrast, non-exclusive libraries are open to a huge variety of music styles and producers. A lot of them aren't looking for one thing or the other. And you can come as you are so to speak, to quote, the up and coming producer has a much better shot basically as they learned their craft in a non-exclusive library. You can upload one song at a time. I meant to say upload, not alarmed. He can upload one side at a time to non-exclusive libraries or more. Everyone's a little different. But what I mean by this is you don't need to wait to have a full epi of similar songs as submitted. When your songs are ready, put them up, start getting opportunities to license them. They do tend to offer lower payments than what you would get from an exclusive library. Most of the time. Although they sometimes have higher tiers of licenses that can be pretty lucrative. Sometimes though the payments can be laughably small. There was one library I worked with for a little while. There was pain like, I don't know, $2 a song or something. I said skewer, you guys haven't taken my songs and going home because I'm not going to it's an insult to me for to be priced that law. And with non-exclusive libraries, most of the licenses don't result in prestigious placements. Remember there used for corporate videos, maybe they're used for film school or YouTube or something like that. So you're not going to be receiving those performance royalties. And also in case it wasn't clear based on the names and what we've already talked about with non-exclusive libraries. You can generally take that music and upload it to lots of non-exclusive libraries. So even though an individual payments might be lower and placements might be more prestigious if you had the same song and for libraries, maybe the total amount of revenue that you could earn would be comparable to an exclusive library. 7. Publishing and Broadcast Royalties: We've already touched on publishing and broadcast a little bit, but I did want to dig into this a little deeper, deeper. When you are intelligent performance royalty, there are two parts that add up to a 100%, although depending for simplicity, we'll say that up to a 100%. So the songwriter is entitled to 50% and the publisher is entitled to 50%. And the publisher basically is going to be your library. If it's an exclusive library. And what they will do is they will handle all the backend work. They will register your songs with their PRO. They'll make sure that cue sheets get filed so you get paid. And they'll just do all sorts of administrative stuff to help the writer shares reserved for you as the writer. If you're with a non-exclusive library though, you are usually entitled to the publisher's share, but you have to do all the publishers work, which is not that difficult to do. Aside from making sure that the cue sheets are filed, which is how you actually get paid. And you really don't have a way to do that with most non-exclusive libraries. But if your song is broadcast on TV, like I said, you can get publishing royalties, which can sometimes be substantial. But in order to do that, you need to join a performing rights organization like BMI and a US or ascap, every nation is going to be a little different. In the US, I recommend BMI and from what I hear from anecdotally from other people that do this, it seems to lead to better results for music licensing was as gap is more for the traditional musician. Then if you're going the nonexclusive route, you actually have to register every song, every track with your PRO, which, you know, it takes two or three minutes per song. Not too bad. But if your song isn't registered, then you're not going to get paid for it. Then if your song is broadcast, the person that actually made the video, made a TV show, somebody there's responsible or somebody had their network is responsible for submitting a list of songs so that BMI actually knows to track it and you get paid. Sometimes these payouts, depending on how long the song was played, how prominently was played in show, what network the show is on, how often that show is repeated. You notice it in syndication and bragged, rebroadcast in our every day like Seinfeld or is it just a one-off special? Your payoffs can be significant to negligible, but there are serious money on the backend. So I definitely recommend learning how to tap into that. 8. Where to License Your Music: Where to license your music? I think at the beginning, and maybe even for your first year, it's best to focus on getting better at writing and producing music that works for licensing and also learning some platforms for music licensing. And instead of trying to get up on every website, most of which did not end up leading to any sales. I think you, I recommend they just work on pawn five because it represents a good balance of earning potential and earn accessibility for up and coming producers in that they will accept quite a bit of music in terms of both quality and style. And the thing is, you can always take your music off upon five. And I've had tracks on pawn five that I later sold to an exclusive library. After I re-mix them and added some elements once I got better. And I were like, Yeah, we don't care if you had an up on pawn five before, just as long as it's not out there being sold today. So no matter where you are in your career, well, especially if you are at the beginning of it, pond five is a great place to start and try to stick with it for a year. Because it's a sort of thing where if you have, unless you have enough songs up there, your songs might not be found or purchased. So if you can upload for different tracks a year, a month, I think by the four month mark, you'll probably start to see a sale or two a month, which is the greatest feeling that first sale you get when you're like when people are really paying me for my music. And even four or five years later, I still get a thrill every time I get an email notification, your song was purchased, it feels good. So stick with it. Really try to stick with it for a year and tried to upload for songs a month. And I think to Palm five. And I think at that point you can decide whether it's right for you or not. But consistency, improving your skill as both as a songwriter and as a producer are really important on practicing the craft of writing for stock music is also really important. And I think it's accessible. I really believe that you can start to pay your bills with music licensing. And it's been a really wonderful opportunity for me, certainly to cover quite a few bills every month. So not sorted to license your music. 9. Questions?: If you have any questions, just leave a comment below. I'll be happy to respond and let me know how I can help you. Let me know what you thought of this video and if it was useful. Thanks so much for watching. Bye bye.