Music Licensing Basics: What Olympic Athletes (And You) Need To Know

As I watched Ksenia Stolbrova and Fedor Klimov’s ice dance across the rink in Sochi I couldn’t help but hum along to the tune of “The Addams Family.” After being mesmerized by figure skater Ashley Wagner’s more dramatic performance to Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, I realized that I couldn’t imagine a skater doing a routine without music.

It’s sometimes hard to remember what factors into the organization of the Olympics, and what hoops producers and skaters have to jump through to get out on the ice. Music licensing is certainly essential to the execution of a successful Olympic event.

Radio stations, commercials, and even ice-skating rinks purchase public performance rights from licensors in the music industry that own the rights to large amounts of stock music. Every song that we hear in a public place is licensed (if the company is playing by the rules).

So how does a figure skater pay for a license to skate to songs that are broadcasted to an estimated 4 billion people? Individual figure skaters aren’t expected to pay a licensor to legally perform, (if they did, we’d probably have a bankrupt Olympic team). Rather, it’s a network producer’s responsibility to acquire the rights of the music used by skaters to be played in a specific venue. The cost depends on the type of event, (live competition, exhibition/gala, or taped,) and the networks reach out to companies in the music industry and pay a fee based on the venue’s arena square footage and playtime.

Newscom knows a thing or two about licensing video and photos, but it’s our partners over at Audiosocket that are the experts in music licensing. Audiosocket is a music licensing company that has modernized the industry by bridging the gap between music and technology. The company features more than 50,000 tracks by some of the best new artists in the industry, and concentrates on providing excellent customer service to all of its clients. We wanted to talk to someone who could give us an inside view into the music industry, so we interviewed Audiosocket’s CEO, Brent McCrossen. The following interview details what the music industry is like today, and describes how Audiosocket has played a role in shaping it.

1. How is music licensing different now than it used to be?

It’s different in a number of ways. With the advent of digital media, companies are creating more content than ever. However, in today’s socially connected world consumers need the content to be of high quality, while the companies are forced to produce this content on a lower budget. Music plays a critical role in any brand narrative. If it’s memorable, it helps the consumer feel a connection that can last. The days of using stock jingles in digital videos are coming to an end. The production quality has gone up all around and people want the music to be authentic.

Before the Internet, licensing music was very costly and labor intensive. Now, companies like Audiosocket are able to curate a catalog of high quality content, digitize it, classify it to make it quickly searchable and then integrate that into partners’ platforms, like Newscom, to deliver these creative assets that can be licensed at the click of a button.

2. What distinguishes Audiosocket from other companies in the music licensing industry?

It comes down to our technology and quality of content. Audiosocket was the first music licensing company to build a technology that was fundamentally designed to be entreated. In addition, we recently launched a new patent pending technology called LicenseID™. This allows any media publisher to embed inaudible data into the audio (or image / video) file that outlines all the details of a specific license. This allows content owners to better protect their copyrights and gives licensees a digital proof of purchase.

On the content side, we’re hyper focused on quality. There are many stock libraries out there that have millions of songs but the production quality isn’t that strong. For the end user, it’s like looking for a needle in the haystack. We focus on finding quality bands and composers that are creative culturally relevant content that enhances the media it’s synced to.

3. How has ‘Music as a Service’ revolutionized the industry?

MaaS has enable consumers and professionals alike to search for and license music right where they’re creating their content. Content license companies like Newscom and make MaaS available so their end users are able to preview the perfect track as they view the other content assists they’re interesting in licensing. This supports today’s faster production cycles and enables artists to get much wider distribution for their content.

4. Who are the majority of your clients?

The majority of our clients are digital agencies, larger advertising agencies, television broadcast networks, production studios, small businesses and multi-channel networks that are built on top of YouTube

5. How are your clients using the music that they license?

In all kinds of ways. We did a commercial for Progressive Insurance last year. The song was well featured in the commercial and they leveraged Shazam so the listening audience could scan the commercial with their smart phone, discover the music artist and get a free download. Small businesses are using our music to tell their brand stories on their web site and social channels and major TV shows are using our songs as background and featured tracks.

6. What is your favorite kind of music that shows up on Audiosocket?

That’s a tough one. I love all styles of music and deeply appreciate every artist in our catalog. The most licensed genres are Film and TV music, followed by singer songwriter and then indie pop and lastly dub step. Two of my favorite composers are Justin Marsalles and Mark Petrie. On the band / singer-songwriter side I’m a huge fan of Jetty Rae, Leopold and His Fiction and Saturn Missiles.

7. What are some tips for finding the best music files on Audiosocket?

Our search is very robust and I recommend that users leverage it to the full extent. Personally, I always start with a parent genre. From there, the sub-genres of that category are exposed. As an example, I might choose Rock and then select Indie Rock as a sub-genre. From there I typically add a couple of moods to further narrow the search. If there’s a specific instrument I want to hear, like violin, I’ll add that as well. Lastly, if I want a certain vocal type I can choose male or female or find instrumental track only by selecting no vocals. Another cool feature is to start out by typing a famous bands name into the search bar, to get results that ’sound like” the artist you’re referencing. It’s a cool feature that delivers great comparative results.

8. Can you talk about what stands out to you when you review your artists?

It’s really a few things. The first thing we look for is quality of musicianship. Can they play their instrument masterfully? Then, we look for the quality of the recording. A great artists recording in a poor way is still not going to be able to get licensed and quality recording is a most. Lastly, I look for a unique sound. Finding an artist who is not only talented but stand apart on their tone and pitch can have a lasting effect.

9. Why do you think Newscom’s clients would benefit from having access to music licensing on top of video and photos?

Music is a critical part of story telling. Look at the opening scene from a movie like Star Wars and then turn down the volume on the TV. How is the impact erased? Music helps to move the narrative forward and draws the listening audience in. For brands, music has a uniting effect and can tie a brand into a consumer’s lifestyle. They live for this because they know, if they create commercial spots with memorable music, the customer will always associate that great song with the products they love. All these things combined make for powerful creative.

Learn more about music licensing, check out Audiosocket content from Newscom.