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This week we launched iLicenseMusic, a royalty free music licensing web site, available as a subscription service.

-> We’ve been licensing music like mad for 10 years…

At Magnatune (our sister company to MoodMixes), we’ve licensed our music to over 5000 projects, of which almost 3500 were indie films! Two of these films have won “best film music” awards. I’m really proud of this, and part of what made this possible was being way out ahead of everyone else with what was (for many, many years) a one-of-a-kind model. Our success helped inspire the CCPlus license at Creative Commons as well has 3 copy-cat businesses.

10 years ago, there was no online music licensing : I grafted the stock photo licensing idea from Getty Images onto the music business. There had been one famous attempt by Gerd Leonhard (who is now a good friend, and who tried the idea with his licensemusic.com), that crashed and burned rather spectacularly.

Magnatune’s licensing model has been to sell each different use of our music separately, so people only pay for the rights they need. Ask a musician for all rights, forever vs 30 seconds in a film for a festival and you’ll get a very different idea of what the price should be. For many years, this unbundling worked well, and it got rid of the dreaded “music lawyers crafting a custom agreement” which has killed music licensing revenue for so many labels (well, the lawyers liked that arrangement).

But… in recent years we’ve found that almost all videos go on the Internet, and they also go global. The notions of restricting media types and distribution territories no longer make any sense.

Film festival organizers have been asking for complete clearance of the music, for all uses forever, in order to simply submit a film for consideration at a festival. Our unbundled approach no longer works.

In recent years I’ve also provided music to the same film makers year after year, as they’re a very committed bunch, and keep making movies one after another.

Finally, and unexpectedly, I always thought that Magnatune would be a money-losing idea, and that the real profit would be working with businesses. Much to my (happy) surprise, Magnatune as a consumer business has done just fine. We’re just about to work on a total rewrite of Magnatune, and a good part of that is having it only be a consumer-music-service, and not do double duty as a business-to-business service.

These thoughts and more were going through my mind, as I came up with the idea for …

Ilicensemusic Logo Transparent

–> The new idea

So… what if we were to change Magnatune’s music licensing approach to encourage repeat customers to stick with us, to use more of our music (and of course, less music from the competition), by having a low-cost subscription service? They pay a monthly fee, and all their music problems go away.

Magnatune and its musicians win, since we get a dependable income stream.

Film makers win by lowering their music costs, not having to negotiate, and having all the rights cleared so there aren’t any troubles later on.

So… that’s how iLicenseMusic works — for $89 per month, a film maker (or anyone else who needs a music license) can use our music in their projects and products, and there are no other fees. They can cancel at any time: after which they can’t use our music in new projects or products. Seems fair, no?

Nobody else is trying this business model with music licensing. I thought it’d be interesting to be the first, and to see how it works out. Our old way of doing things worked great for many years, but now it’s time for something new.

As of this week, all music licensing goes to either:

1) iLicenseMusic: film, video, internet, games, presentations, etc…

2) MoodMixes: background music for restaurants, stores, offices, etc…

I’ll let you know how it all works out!

-john