The music library concept has been around for many years, actually long before the internet incarnation of it took hold. It is almost 11 years and counting for our journey and there are more libraries online than ever and more keep appearing on a fairly regular basis.
Why is this? The reason is simple, the barrier to entry is now very low. Websites can be built and run quickly and cheaply; a big part of this is composers who decide to setup their own music licensing websites. While the mechanics of setting it up may be relatively simple the reality of ranking and making the website work as a business is a much bigger challenge. I would never deter anyone from doing this, but I am glad we started back when there was less competition. My advice to new composers is, use other peoples established libraries to sell you music before thinking about setting up and promoting your own library.
Anyone can upload and sell anyone’s music if it makes $$
In recent years there has been the emergence of user generated content, where platforms have been setup by big businesses with the intention of allowing anyone to upload music and sell cheap online licenses. The attention to detail and quality are often lacking and clearly the only motive of these businesses is to make as much money as possible. I am quite open to new ideas, but this one is not the greatest in my opinion.
Music is being down valued by some of these licensing sites and music quality varies as quality checks are lacking and anyone can upload. Many of the hard working composers I know are having music stolen and uploaded to such sites by fraudsters who make money from others work. When these matters come to light and are reported, the big libraries in question don’t offer any compensation and they don’t seem to care. To me, this sucks for the composer and the customer who are being duped into licensing music and inadvertently funding criminals, while the real composer ends up with nothing but aggravation and lost revenue. I am not aware of any of these libraries being accountable or taking legal action against these fraudsters.
Big investment does not equal profit
Having said that, not all of the heavily funded libraries are doing a bad job of it, ethically speaking that is. Music Dealers had more of a conventional licensing and music placing model and had a good reputation and was making great progress, so it seemed. With around $9 million investment you’d hope so too. The problem appears that they could not make enough in licensing to recoup this spend or make a profit and have recently gone into liquidation, despite their website still being online. In some ways you may think, how could you fail with that much money behind you!? But in reality, their is only room for so many licensing websites on page one of Google and you can only buy a small number of paid slots, so what are the other means of making in access of $9 million quickly enough online to justify such an investment. I don’t know, do you?
The question of royalty-free, stock music etc.
What royalty free means has always been open to interpretation and subject to a myriad of differing terms and allowable uses. This is due to the complexity of music licensing and the numerous vendors all with differing terms and licensing options. I guess that is the result of the many independent businesses in this sector.
It is no surprise to me that there is still misconceptions, preconceptions and incorrect thinking about these terms. It seems that the more music uses evolve the more complicated licensing terms become on music libraries. Recently we have been working hard to simplify and make it clearer for customers and have updated our explanation of what royalty free music is to account for the changes in recent times.
What is the answer?
Things have been and definitely are changing. Music libraries will come and go, some will aim to make massive incomes at any costs, others will remain niche. Some will have integrity others won’t. Who will remain, I do not know.
What I do know is that most people like fairness and believe that talented composers should be able to earn a decent income. Also, most people like to be appreciated and buy from people they know and like.
After 10 years of running MediaMusicNow we are one of the originals, and our philosophy is to be fair and have integrity. We don’t want to allow user generated content just to lower our work load and maximise profit. We don’t want investors, we want to make a good living doing what we love doing.
Have you been affected by the changes, whether a composer or library? Please leave a comment.