Stock Music Licensing Explained

Stock media companies provide ready-made media content that can be legally added to your work in a matter of minutes.

Off-the-Shelf Solutions - Stock Media includes photographs, illustrations video footage, music recordings, Flash animations, web site templates, PowerPoint backgrounds and clipart.

Many stock companies refer to themselves as libraries because, like a library, they carry a broad array of materials that tries to satisfy a wide range of tastes and needs.

Licensed Not Sold - With stock media, what you are really buying is a license that gives you permission to use the material you're interested in.

Once you have a license you don't in fact own the material. It is still owned by the stock media company. They remain the copyright holders. Your license lets you legally use the material in your production.

There are two main types of stock licenses.

1. Rights Managed - The price of a rights managed license depends on how you wish to use the media you're interested in.

For instance, is it going to be used in a national advertising campaign or is it for your company brochure? Is it being considered for a PowerPoint presentation or is it going to be used in a motion picture? Each usage has a different price.

A rights managed license also takes into consideration how long you will use the media. Periods usually range from 3 months to several years.

If you are going to include the material in a product, your license will be based on how many pieces you plan to manufacture.

With a right managed license, at the end of the license period, you no longer have permission to use the media. Your relationship with the company ends (unless you extend your license).

2. Royalty Free - Royalty free means you are not charged a fee for each separate commercial use of the media. You can use the material as often as you'd like for as long as you'd like. You pay an initial fee for the license and are then free and clear of any further licensing restraints. Licensing is fast and easy, with one price you acquire synchronization rights to use the music as background music in your production.

A rights managed license is more expensive Why? Because when you license, for instance, a rights managed photo, the stock company removes the photo from circulation for the period of your license. No one else can use it.

This is the main advantage a rights-managed license provides. It protects against simultaneous use - so your competitor won't be using the same photo as you to launch their ad campaign. When you use royalty free content, there is no such protection. The same photo or music track may be being used by hundreds of companies at the same time.

The question to ask this important to me? Do I care if another company is using this image or this particular web template? If you do, then you will want to pursue a rights managed solution. If, on the other hand, it really doesn't matter to you, then you'll want to take a serious look at royalty free media because it is so much cheaper.

Stock by any other name - Rights managed recordings are known as "needle-drops" in the stock music world. This name came from the act of actually lowering a phonograph needle onto a record to place the music in a production. Now with compact discs, they've started calling it "laser-drop". I find "rights managed" to be a much better description.

Royalty free is sometimes called "buy out". I've also seen it referred to as "copyright-free" but this is really an error. The material is in fact fully copyrighted by the stock media company.

UniqueTracks is a royalty free stock media company. We began licensing stock music in 1998. Since then we have grown to include stock sound effects and stock animated footage. All of our products can be licensed on a royalty free basis.

Getting The Best Quality Without Mixing!

A lot of rappers and singers are under the misconception that you can record a song with the worst equipment and it doesn't matter cause they will fix it in mixing and mastering. That is the complete opposite of the truth and I don't want you to fall in that trap.

I have mixed dozens of artist's tracks and the hardest ones (the ones that won't come out sounding good anyway) are the one's that have the worst quality to begin with. The reason is because music is not alchemy, you cannot turn something already bad into a masterpiece. If you were a chef with the worst quality beef you are not going to throw seasonings and the trimmings on it and make a decent hamburger. The starting product must be fresh or else the whole song is ruined.

Of course there are people who cite Soulja Boy's rise when he was making Crank Dat and it was all distorted. Soulja Boy was a unique case but don't expect the same results for you. Most likely no one will take you seriously if your quality it bad. To them you will just be another want to-be who spams their page with "NEW HOT MUSIC" and it turns out it just gives them a headache.

Now I know you guys have great material and it's important that you express it with the world. You must have authority for people to want to listen to you though. That's why getting the best quality before hand is starting out on the right foot and it will be much easier to gain a fan base like that. It will also be easier to sell more of your music and merchandise.

1. Microphone & Cable

These 2 items are crucial in recording audio of any kind. If you want great quality before you mix you need to invest in a great low cost microphone (I have a post on my home site that has a great list from you to choose from) and a great microphone cable. Artist's usually think of the microphone cable as the least thing they need to worry about but in more ways than one it's more important than the actual microphone. Do yourself a favor - invest in a Monster cable and make sure people are not stepping on it!

2. Preamp/Interface

This will connect your microphone to the computer. Your recording tends to be better when there are less connections from the audio source (ex: The microphone to cable) to the recorder (ex: Pro Tools on your computer). That means invest in one that has USB or Firewire capabilities - not only is it fast loading but will give you a powerful edge quality wise.

Don't overlook the quality of the beat either, if the beat quality is bad it will drag down the whole song. Buy exclusive rights to the beat from the producer and get the mix handled by a professional. If that's not possible do not use that beat at all!

Before I close this out I just want to mention that if your on a tight budget you can get great quality at a low cost. I have a post on my site about the best cheap microphones I advise you to check out. After that you will need the best microphone cable and preamp you can afford. If you do all those 3 things correctly there should be no issue with the quality of vocal after that.

What Makes A Great Wedding Band

What makes a great wedding band?

If you are planning a wedding whether as a private individual or a wedding planner then you will be concerned about making the evening entertainment the best that it can be. That means thinking long and hard about what kind of band to book for the wedding party.

Here are our top tips for wedding band hire.

1. Check the band have all the correct public liability insurance required by most wedding venues

2. Check that the bands equipment is pat tested.

3.Check out video and sound files before booking. There are a number of websites online that will have lots of videos for you to check over.

4. Check out customer reviews. Find out what other clients thought of the band.

5. Think of your guests. Will the band meet with all the guests tastes or are you only going to appeal to a small section of the guest list.

You can make many of the decisions involved in hiring a wedding band considerably easier by using an entertainment agency. Wedding entertainment specialists are able to offer you best value prices and invaluable advice about the kind of band and what you should be looking for when hiring live entertainment for a wedding. Your wedding day is very special and you need everything to be perfect. The evening party should be a time for you to relax, kick off your shoes and dance the night away. You can be certain of being able to do this if you have the knowledge that a wedding professional has organised the wedding band for your event.

This does not necessarily mean that you have to pay more for the entertainment as a wedding professionals will use their special relationship with bands in order to give you discount prices unavailable to a one off purchaser of entertainment.

The best way forward when hiring anything is to have a recommendation but if this is not available to you then using a well established agency with a pedigree is the next best thing.

With modern media such as video and sound files it is not always necessary to go and see a band live before booking. Its is sometimes very hard to find the time to see a band live before booking however beware of really professional sounding music clips as these can sometimes have been created in a studio and bare very little similarity to the natural sound of the act. Video is the best representation but again keep your eyes (and ears!) open for doctored sound and miming bands.

Why Most Artists Fall Short

If you're making music you should have at least these basics covered, online profile on the popular social and indie websites along with at least 3-4 songs for people to listen to, pictures of you or your group (2-3 if possible) a bio and some YouTube videos.

If you don't have these basics in place get busy getting them together because they help people discover you and people who are already familiar with your music learn more about you, get a feel for your personality and what you look to bring with your music. Any one of these may cause someone to take an interest in what you're doing musically in addition to what they have already heard from you they'll check back to see what's new.

Artist that falls short of gaining the progressive momentum they seek usually happens because:

They are inconsistent in making music They are not working regularly to hone their craft and improve on the music they deliver They have not found a unique way to tell their story or make their song memorable They don't know how to write a good song Poor production quality and/or track selections Those are just some of the more common reasons artist don't progress the way they'd like to. As an artist whether you sing or rap, you need to be continuously working on improving what you do and the more you do it the better you'll get. Everyone listens to music and as listeners we know the difference between a singer/rapper just starting out and a polished singer/rapper that's put some time in. How they sound, the clarity in their voice, their delivery, the song structure and quality of their music production as well as the overall sound quality of the song are all indicators that lets us know where that singer/rapper stands musically.

People will rock with whatever they like as long as they like it. If the look and quality is up to par with what they expect they will support and stick with you. So artists should be writing every day and if you produce your own music then you should be doing both every day.

Another thing that I didn't mention in the list above is strategy, many don't have a plan of how to effectively create awareness and promote the new music they're creating.

A$AP Rocky (a rapper from Harlem, NY) made a low budget music video for his song "Purple Swag" put it on YouTube, promoted it and increased awareness about the video being out and ended up doing impressive numbers with that song. Note: though the video might have been shot on a shoe string budget or maybe he didn't even have to pay to get it done but the point I want to make is that the audio production for the song was in step with industry standards.

So with that, know that the details behind the music are important, even before you think about selling or promoting your music and a lot of artist lack consistency in their work ethic and quality in the products they turn out.

Check out the Disc Makers website to download free guides that cover many of the points that in my opinion prevent artists from seeing next level movement. These are very basic points and checks but I feel it's necessary to say because I come across a lot of artist that don't realize they fall into some of the pitfalls I listed previously.

How To Get the Right Song!

From my understanding and experience of how people make money within the music business, all 3 components must be at the highest possible level. In this article I want to tell us how to get the song component of the product.

Contrary to popular opinion amongst artists, not many individuals can stand in the place of Paul McCartney or Cathy Dennis as real singer songwriters. You will find that someone like that late Whitney Houston did not write all of her songs. For example, 'I Will Always Love You' was written by Dolly Parton with Whitney's version going Platinum in key territories. Let me give 3 ways of getting hit songs on your albums.

1. Cover Versions: the law is that once a song has been released to public domain anyone can cover that same song. Although you will still need to get a clearance license from the appropriate bodies, in the UK that will be MCPS/PRS. Technically you can cover any song. Now think of all the songs you are able to sing that you do not need to write. Sometimes artists have been told to only sing songs they have written. That is bad advice because 100% of 0 is 0. Although the writers royalty will not come to you, the performance royalties will be all yours (in the UK system). A song that does not make money will not make you money. So search for songs that have been released that will really suit your voice you will be on to a winner.

2. Sing Cross Genre Hits. 'I Will Always Love You' was originally sung by Dolly Parton who is a Country artist; Whitney Houston was an R&B artist. Why don't you find great songs in other genres you can sing? You will be amazed at the hits songs that are transferable to your genre. Find R&B hits that can be sung in Rock. Remember the song 'Walk This Way' by Aerosmith the Rock Band? It had a rendition by the group Run DMC 11 years later and took the track to number 4 on the Billboard charts.

3. Find Song Writers Who Will Write For You: many people feel intimidated if they realise they aren't such great writers. Please snap out of that kind of thinking. Be sure that the way GOD made us; no one has all the knowledge. Think about Michael Jackson; most of his hit songs were written by other people. If he was not embarrassed to sing other people's songs but made them a fortune in the process, why would you shy away from a process that can make you extremely successful!?

Start looking for songs today, knowing that good lyrics are always good whether they were sung 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The music and style is what requires an update. So why keep on struggling to write songs when you can also sing other songs too!