By: Rick Landers
Most of us who have taken the time to study guitar are inclined to noodle around and compose our own songs. Some may be good, some bad, but with enough good in them to keep playing around with them and some so ugly that they need to be flushed away. When we have a song that we believe in, we dream of gathering audiences and the possibility that some might drop some cash to hear them again. When there are people who are willing to pay for our music, it’s not only a validation and an honor for us, but it may also pay for our next meal.
In the past it’s been a daunting challenge to find an avenue to offer up our music to those in the music business or mass media who might want to license a song for a movie, an event, or some other venue, or to sell them retail to individual buyers where we can reap from which we’ve musically sown. And there have always been the scammers or rip-off artists who are more than willing to take advantage of us. So, we were keen on finding a company that would make licensing and selling music more intuitive and safer for songwriters.
And that’s about the time we discovered a relatively new website called LicenseQuote, which offers a means for songwriters to set up their own shop to license and sell their music and keep all the profits from their sales. One aspect of the site is its free 30-day trial offer that looks like it is worth checking out.
Business partners Michael Borges and Doron Erblich have built the company from the ground up with a focus on helping songwriters move their music to the world. We spoke with Michael to find out more about LicenseQuote in order to see if our readers might benefit from checking out his and Doron’s site.
Rick Landers: There are thousands of people writing music these days and many are lost with respect to how to get their music to market in a way that protects their copyrights and provides some income, and at a reasonable cost. What does your site, LicenseQuote, offer songwriters?
Michael: LicenseQuote is a very accessible online service which anyone can use to license their music, from small indie artists all the way up to huge catalogs. We treat all our clients the same and they all keep 100% of the revenues from their licensing sales, which gets paid directly into their own PayPal account, or they can collect by check, wire or other standard methods.
Our clients also retain all of their music and recording copyrights. This means we’re not their publisher, or sub or co-publisher, so they keep full control of all their own publishing rights. Plus we offer all this for a very affordable monthly or yearly pricing, starting as low as $35 a year.
Some of the features customers have with their accounts include licensing negotiation, automated pricing and billing, a display of their catalog of songs and some API tools for marketing their product. We think it’s a powerful and flexible system for all kinds of music people, including independent artists, composers, publishers and others.
The LicenseQuote powered Licensing Stores are a place where people can search and preview songs in order to find or discover music that they may want to license for use or buy as a download. I guess the key thing here is that songwriters control their own store and get 100% of any profits from it.
We also have tutorials to help out people with new accounts that will help them manage their accounts.
One thing we started was LinkedIN group called Music Publishing and Licensing that now has over 6,500 members. It’s a great place for songwriters and composers to network, ask questions and discuss all kinds of music business related issues. Quite a few of our members are experienced music supervisors, licensing buyers, library owners and publishers, many who are on the lookout for new music sources. So, we think it’s also a great spot for people to check out and join.
Rick: So, you’re offering songwriters a web-based platform to negotiate deals or only pre-established structured deals to sell or license their music?
Michael: Yes, we offer buyers the ability to describe their project, get an instant automated price quote and buy a license in a few short minutes. Alternatively they can negotiate with the publisher using our simple bid/quote/request mechanism. Bottom line, the publishers have absolute control over the available negotiation means and pricing.
Rick: How does your site differ from more traditional ways to get music licensed and does your site break open opportunities that were limited before LicenseQuote went live?
Michael: We offer the copyright owners the tools they need to self-publish and keep 100% of the publishing and licensing sales revenues. Most importantly, they’ll maintain 100% of all their own rights, and this is something that works for anyone who wants to market their music using our LicenseQuote ecommerce powered Store.
This breaks open virtually unlimited opportunities for artists, bands, composers and indie labels to publish and license their music recordings from their own website with our embed code Store function. It also gives them the option to offer retail downloadable sales, as well as a commercial licensing option for those kinds of sales.
Rick: How did you come up with the idea for the site?
Michael: It was a combination of many things including my own interest as a small self-published publisher for my own recording creations. But, one of the timely influences was the establishment and growth of the magnatune.com online record label, founded in 2004 by John Buckman, which started quit a revolution in offering independent online music sales and commercial licensing promotion.
Though more of an online record label business model, they laid the ground work for standardizing most of the music license types, usage options and pricing in a more transparent, online way. Their approach inspired me to adapt some their concepts which later influenced the new LicenseQuote business model.
Rick: Do you have a musical or legal background? It seems you might need both to pull a site
like yours together.
Michael: Yes, a bit of both! I play violin, guitar and can use a midi keyboard to help with composing and recording. I also have a master’s degree in international business management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. I’m not a legal expert, but, I’ve learned to do much of my own research and of course paid some top-notch legal and copyright experts to go over our whole program with a fine tooth comb.
I also have my own small music publishing company and have first hand experience with music licensing, getting my recordings into various films, videos, ads, games and software [DVD creator] integration uses. I got most of this experience before launching the public version of the early LicenseQuote concept and continue to study and refine my knowledge about this field.
Along the way I also met Doron Erblich, who has partnered with me as Chief Technology Officer in our mutual LicenseQuote business. Though not a musician, he’s become an integral part of the “heart and vision” of the whole LicenseQuote venture, which I very much appreciate!
Rick: Once someone gets to LicenseQuote, what’s the process for establishing an account and setting up their music licensing “store”?
Michael: On the Pricing page there’s a sign-up button which offers our No risk, fully functional 30-day free trial. It’s pretty much a “no brainer” in that anyone interested can register and start exploring, setting up and using all our features for the full 30-day free trial period. This gives new members a chance to check out our platform and later decide which LQ plan will work best for them.
All publisher management pages include “Help files”, tips and videos when needed for more advanced feature setups. Most of our new clients get their basic Stores setup in the first day or two, and if they have questions, they can email or call us for specific questions or support.
Rick: Besides music, do you envision any other kinds of media licensing opportunities that LicenseQuote might offer writers, videographers or other artists?
Michael: LicenseQuote is primarily geared for music creators, but besides our bellwether commercial music licensing features, we also support optional music retail download sales and sales of other publishing related assets such as Midi (source) file and Sheet Music sales.
Of course it’s entirely possible to set up other kinds of custom license or sales profiles. For example, to sell video or other kinds of PDF file downloads. But, the common denominator store focus is all music publishing related assets.
Rick: The bottom line here seems to be that LicenseQuote is taking out the middleman and opening up more licensing opportunities for songwriters and possibly other artists. How do you see your site changing the playing field?
Michael: In a sense we are a new music business enabler. We are changing the playing field for all musicians. Using LicenseQuote anyone can easily license their music and increase revenues. We are strictly a technology partner, operating as an online Software As A Service (SAAS) provider who charges only a simple yearly or monthly flat subscription fee to provide a full service back-end for our publishing clients. One of our coolest, first clients, Jackie Henrion, says LicenseQuote is a “game changer” in her mind.
Rick: What kinds of responses are you getting from people in the music business, once they find License Quote? Have you made refinements or improvements based on input from people who want to sign up?
Michael: I’m happy to report that we’ve got a growing list of happy subscribers and many have taken the time to send us their positive feedback and testimonials. We listen constantly to their suggestions and mix them with our own research and other original ideas to improve the site. Every couple months we send out a newsletter with the latest updates about new features including many refinements, fixes, tweaks and upgrades.
Our strategy is to make nearly all new features completely optional, so subscribers who are happy with their setup don’t need to make any changes, but will always have the option to implement new features which appear on the Advanced Settings or Licensing Store admin pages, etcetera.
There’s so much to learn that we are now seeking partnerships with music business schools, like Berklee College, to get involved with our Education plans to give their faculty free access to our accounts for instructional programs with their students. We feel this will help build bridges to a whole new generation of independent and self-managed music publishers.