Music Licensing - The New A&R

A familiar situation:

A commercial comes on. A catchy tune perfectly choreographed to stunning visuals. One feels something they cannot ignore like other commercials. The viewer says, "Who sings that?"

This is music licensing in action and while it is not a new concept in media, it is one that has gained recognition and interest among viewers and artists recently with technological advancement. As the music industry sheds the old business model of discovering artists through radio and nurturing them through CD sales, music licensing is capturing new listeners. In this frontier of mass exposure, publishing companies are prioritizing their artists' song placement in movies, television, commercials, video games, and viral web videos.

Businesses are also emphasizing music to visuals in media. This can be explained in two fold: First, technology allows us instant gratification. A viewer sees a commercial with a song they like, searches on the Internet for who sings it, and within a few clicks, can purchase the song. Passive to active consumption comes quickly. Second, technology has enhanced our multitasking abilities. Because we are are stimulated consistently with assignments and activities throughout a normal day, it takes more to engage a viewer. Attacking multiple senses is more important than ever in media.

So how does a song get to be placed in media? Music licensing.

Once a music supervisor, who is in charge of selecting the music for the project, comes up with a number of possible songs to be used, licenses are needed to obtain permission for placement. The selection process of potential songs is dictated on a number of factors, most importantly being budget allowed for music in the project and the style of music the director or company wants. A sync license is the most essential, allowing a song to be "synched" or paired with a visual source. Depending on the type of project, an exclusive rights or non-exclusive rights license can be issued. The difference between the two being the degree of ownership that takes place for the song. Once again, the common denominator in deciding which to use usually comes down to how much the budget for the project allocates.

Outside of big corporate environments, local businesses are now getting the opportunity to take part in music licensing firsthand thanks to technology.

The Internet enables a new concept called crowdsourcing. One can post the need for music on a website by describing the details of the project and style of music wanted, and declaring the terms of payment and usage. Songwriters from all over the world can then submit their work simply by uploading their project to the site. Many positives come from crowdsourcing, including the ability to have music custom tailored to your project. By using crowdsourcing, you could be discovering the next great act.