Liam Reay, Sync Manager at indie music publisher Wipe Out Music, takes an in-depth look at music usage in social media, and how this could lead to huge music licensing opportunities for emerging artists.
In my previous article, I touched on how artists can no longer rely predominantly on records sales to stay afloat in the current industry, and instead have to bolster their careers in a variety of ways in order to gain both the financial stability and exposure needed to succeed. This time, we will look more in-depth into music usage in social media, introduce you to one of the leaders in social media music licensing and discuss why they could be the catalyst for a new trend in music licensing, leading to bountiful opportunities for emerging artists.
If you have ever tried to use a piece of music in an online video and got a pesky takedown notice because of a copyright conflict, you will know it can be mighty frustrating. If you are just starting out or are not a music professional, you might not have the first idea about what you need to do to get permission to use a piece of music. That is where Lickd comes in…
This innovative new service provides affordable and super easy music licensing to content creators, big or small. Whether you need a piece of music for a one-off project or whether you make videos every day, Lickd has a wide variety of high quality commercial tracks on offer. I had a chat with CEO & founder of the company Paul Sampson, so he could tell us why he thinks Lickd has the potential to be the “Spotify of music licensing”:
How / Why did this all start?
“I’ve been in sync licensing for 13 years and it’s all been in the B2B space – licensing music to agencies, production companies and film studios. Then one day I was watching a YouTube video with some awful music in and it occurred to me that, now, the whole world has a production company in their pocket and the world’s most generous and forgiving commissioning editors in YouTube and Facebook. I wondered “Well how would these guys get to license music?”. When I looked in to the issue I realised they couldn’t. And if you accept that the future of content is online, which it undoubtedly is, then you have to presume that it cannot and will not stay that way forever. So I decided to bring about the change myself.”
As Paul mentions here, social media holds a giant role in today’s society, with YouTube and Facebook now hitting over 1 billion active monthly users varying in age, nationality and ethnicity. Therefore, providing the perfect music for videos which are subjected to such a broad and culturally diverse audience could provide opportunities for both content creators and musicians from a plethora of backgrounds. I asked Paul to shed some light on how music usage in social media has changed and what opportunities have come out of these changes:
What opportunities have arisen from the change in music usage in social media for content creators e.g. YouTubers (licensee) and for music creators (licensor)?
“Well that’s a really interesting one. The obvious answer is that there is now the ability to not just earn revenue from low level UGC content but also license fees for legitimate licenses in more premium content, or what we call ‘CGC’ – Creator-Generated Content.
Elsewhere though, not only do the current Content ID restrictions deter top Creators and top Artists working together (unless it’s through Lickd) but that also precludes label marketing departments from getting music out to their target audience by the single most influential demographic available to them. Our platform currently solves half this problem but our imminent plans are to provide a conduit for Label marketing departments to search, find and collaborate with top Creator talent simply and easily. This is an interesting opportunity for labels to finally access YouTube talent systematically and for Creators to collaborate more simply with their favourite artists.
We’ve been asked before by labels to help them find the right YouTubers to collaborate with their artists, be that an interview, tour review or A.N. Other cross-promotion. Right now, they’re having to try and achieve an ROI without their being any data to support their choices. That’s the next opportunity in our minds.”
An important change Paul highlights here is the introduction and increase in popularity of UGC (user-generated content). With the creation of social media sites like YouTube, it has become easier for the public to broadcast media they create, including reviews, gameplay, vlogs, podcasts etc. However, content that falls under the category of UGC, no matter the purpose or how popular the creator is, still needs to have properly licensed music. Lickd bares this is mind with its pricing system, basing the cost of the licence on how many monthly views the user gets. This is not only beneficial for the user who creates the content, as it means that music is more affordable for emerging creators, which could give them the chance to get ahead by investing in other areas like cameras or studio equipment while still having good quality music in their video, but also for the musicians, as it means their music gets included in a higher selection of social networks, which could introduce them to more people and ultimately increase their popularity.
In contrast, CGC (creator-generated content) describes professional video makers or companies use music in their videos. The same rules apply to CGC, with the average number of monthly views determines the cost of the licence.
This is a great example of how Lickd has taken advantage of the opportunities created by the changes in social media and as Paul previously mentioned, before Lickd, it was near impossible to properly licence music. Therefore, the service could revolutionise the way music is licensed in social media for both aspiring creators and companies of a larger stature.
Paul goes on to discuss the future opportunities for linking up top talent with top creators, and how the problems posed by YouTube’s Content ID system could be a big factor in convincing major labels to sign a deal with Lickd:
“Copyright owners can use a system called Content ID to easily identify and manage their content on YouTube.
Videos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against a database of files that have been submitted to us by content owners. Copyright owners get to decide what happens when content in a video on YouTube matches a work that they own. When this happens, the video gets a Content ID claim.”
These restrictions stop music being used illegally by using an audio recognition system to determine whether that user has the right to use that piece of music in their video, while also giving the copyright owners of the music options of what action to take when a Content ID claim occurs:
- Block a whole video from being viewed
- Monetise the video by running ads against it; in some cases sharing revenue with the uploader
- Track the video’s viewership statistic
Using the service makes this less of an issue for a master rights holder, as an artist, label, distributor or whoever controls a tracks Content ID simply integrates Lickd’s “Vouch” Software. Once Vouch is integrated, claims can be managed by the software remotely on any tracks that are available for license on Lickd. Therefore, if someone tries to use a piece of music without a licence, the Vouch software will notify the rights holder and they can then take the appropriate action. This brings numerous benefits for rights holders, as this system should make it easier to find instances of their music being used without permission. This could ultimately lead to music copyright infringement being a thing of the past in social media and increase the amount of music licences and as Paul previously mentioned, give more opportunities for label marketing departments to reach out to the “single most influential demographic available to them”. This will obviously make Lickd a pull for bigger and bigger names in the industry.
The idea for a conduit for label marketing departments to search to find the right creators for their music could therefore increase Lickd’s appeal to major record labels prove to be a fantastically simple and innovative way of licensing music for social media, as labels will be able to choose the content creators that would best benefit the exposure of their music.
Overall, the opportunities that have arisen from the changes in social media could make licensing in social media infinitely simpler than it is now and Lickd could allow artists, both emerging and established, to be included in video content that is high in both viewership and quality. This gives countless opportunities for Lickd to expand and include more recognisable and valuable music to their catalogue, increasing its popularity.
I asked Paul about some of the successes Lickd has already achieved and it’s clear that the company is already being noticed by some of the big hitters in the industry:
What are your notable successes so far?
“We developed the platform and the technology behind it all in full within 12 months which was incredibly fast and we were delighted with that but I’d say our biggest success has been in convincing some incredible labels to partner with us. And we’re currently in negotiations with the biggest labels in the world to join the family and it all looks positive to date. The business case for branching out in to this new world is overwhelmingly compelling and that’s beginning to hit home with some rights holders you’d have imagined might be resistant.
Moreover, each time a big YouTuber signs up with us, uses the service and then uses their social media to thank us and spread the word, it’s incredibly rewarding to see it all come to life and solve a real problem.”
So with Lickd moving forward at a rate of knots, showing enough innovation and promise to attract the biggest names in the music industry… what next? As we all know (especially in music), nothing ever stays the same. So what we will be met with in the near future that will change how music is used in the social media world, and what opportunities will this bring for companies like Lickd and both music and content creators?
How do you see the landscape of your business changing in the next few years?
“Welcome to the game, Player 2! Things are just hotting up!
We’ve all seen in the news recently that Facebook has, for the first time, begun signing deals with the Majors for music in video royalties but the ever increasing amount of video content being uploaded to these platforms means that, when these 2 year deals are up, YouTube, Facebook and the music industry have difficult decisions on their hands in terms of how to handle remuneration on video content long term. Ad revenue will simply not be able to keep up. What happens in 2020 will be very interesting as both platforms will have decisions to make about how they handle UGC payouts vs more premium, ‘Creator’ led content.
Also, It’ll be really interesting to see how Facebook’s “Rights Manager” compares to Content ID in the coming months and years.
We should all be watching this space with interest.”
Clearly, we could be seeing some great changes of online music usage in the near future and as the landscape changes, Lickd intends to be at the forefront of the action:
Where do you hope Lickd will be in 5 years time?
“The Spotify of music licensing. All the world’s music in one place, available for license to online video. It couldn’t be any more laser focused for us than that one goal.”
So… with the number of smartphone users expected to hit nearly 3 billion by the year 2020, there is going to be a massive increase in both music usage and the way music is used in social media. Therefore, providing an affordable and easy and efficient way to licence music is going to make a huge difference in the quality of content produced and the level of benefits emerging talent can get by having their music used online.
How do you people get their music to you?
“We’re always on the lookout for exciting new content to add to the catalogue. Anyone – labels, publishers, independent artists, producers and writers big or small – wanting to submit music to us can get in touch directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will get back to you.”