Running a royalty free music business, I have become somewhat of an authority on the subject of music licensing. Although, having said that, this post is not directly about music licensing, it is an observation on the illegal / inconsiderate use of copyrighted material on the web and how you, as an independent composer / producer, band or artist need to protect your assets and your ability to sell your music.
In brief, I strongly believe that you should use an audio watermark on any of your music that you publish to the web. If you don’t, it could well be used without your consent or knowledge, and you could be losing out on valuable licensing fees, which I am sure would contribute to your continued creativity.
There are numerous ways that people can steal your music on the web and once they have it, they are very likely to spread it on peer-to-peer or social network sites as free to use music. These people may not even understand that you spent many hours composing and producing this music and that you earn an income from it. Other people may understand but have no respect for it. I have experienced this first hand too many times!
An un-watermarked track is easy bait to a thief so protect yourself against it. Not only are there a number ways of recording music from a web browser, there are many scraper sites out there that find mp3s on other people’s websites and use it on their own.
To negate the possibility of this, you can take the very simple measure of getting a voice-over to record a professional sound file as a watermark that you can mix into your music track.
All you need is a couple of lines… something like “This audio is copyright… for more information please contact www.MyWebsite.com”. You can include your own name, band name, company name, telephone number, whatever you like really.
Once you have this sound file, simply use your audio editing software to create a protection track. This is just a silent track with your voiceover sound file repeated every 10 seconds or so. You can then mix it into your music track(s) that you are planning to publish to the web and create a watermarked version. People can now download and share this as much as they like, it will be clear that the track is copyright and the cherished property of a talented artist / producer.
If they really want to use your music without the watermark, they won’t mind contacting you and paying an appropriate fee. And if they use it with the watermark, just see it as free advertising.
You may be thinking that you can’t afford a voice-over and editing software. Well, there is an open source editing software that is free, called Audacity, for mixing your protection track and music and as for a voiceover, my colleague, Anthony Richardson, a talented UK voice-over, can record you a simple two-line sound file for just £12GBP+vat when you mention this blog post or my name, Lee Pritchard.
“A very small price to pay for peace of mind.”
Anthony’s site is www.overvoice.co.uk
Click here to see a previous post about Audacity