Rumblefish: Content ID and Music Micro-Licensing
Rumblefish is the leader in micro-licensing and YouTube royalty administration. Its micro-licensing platform allows social video networks, video applications and marketplaces to offer soundtrack functionality on web, tablet and mobile offerings providing access to the world’s largest copyright-cleared soundtrack catalog of over 5 ...
In the digital music revolution, the gatekeepers have been banished. Music pours into the market, and the tastemakers of yore—radio program directors, record store buyers, music critics—have given way to a new crop of curators. Working behind the scenes, in positions few know exist, a new generation of music professionals are quietly influencing tastes via new platforms like apps, ads and online video editing programs where new artists are being discovered in the great flood of...
Agreement with the Online Radio Service Kicks off Rumblefish Merger with HFA’s Digital Service
Rumblefish, the nation’s leading provider of rights management solutions for the music industry, has entered into an agreement with Digitally Imported, the premier online radio destination for electronic music fans around the world. Rumblefish, recently merged with The Harry Fox Agency’s (HFA) Slingshot rights management service, will streamline Digitally Imported licensing and royalty processes, in support of its music streaming business model.
Digitally Imported integrates streaming radio, on-demand features and e-commerce on a single platform for a one-stop listening experience for electronic music fans. Founded in 1999 as one of the first online radio networks, Digitally Imported has grown to offer nearly 90 distinct channels covering a full range of electronic music sub-genres such as Trance, Chillout, Techno, House and Ambient. Digitally Imported enlists electronic music enthusiasts to curate 100% of its vast content catalog – ensuring authenticity, originality and depth for millions of monthly listeners. In addition, Digitally Imported streams original, exclusive and first-to-air mixed shows.
“Rumblefish and its increasingly robust services remove the obstacles and hassles, so that platforms like Digitally Imported can do what they do best: Get artfully chosen music to listeners who love it,” said Michael Simon, President and CEO of Rumblefish.
“Digitally Imported is continuing to uphold its commitment to the electronic music community by taking all steps to ensure content creators are paid. Rumblefish is a critical component to that ongoing strategy,” said Ari Shohat, CEO of Digitally Imported.
Tapping Rumblefish allows Digitally Imported to focus on creating an unparalleled listening experience by eliminating the need to manage thousands of licensing relationships, manage copyright administration staff and program complex royalty formulas. Digitally Imported will rely on Rumblefish for its U.S. interactive streaming licensing needs, including the royalty calculations, statements and distributions.
The newly expanded Rumblefish will now offer everything from its innovative, patent-pending RADKey® technology to tech-savvy rights management simplifying the administration of intellectual property rights. Top executives from both Rumblefish and HFA have worked together to integrate these services into a cohesive and powerful suite of tools, to benefit both music creators and users. Both companies were recently acquired by SESAC, in a move to become the world’s first comprehensive Music Rights Organization.
About Digitally Imported:
Digitally Imported, the premier online radio destination for electronic music fans around the world, is the only electronic music platform to integrate streaming radio, on-demand features and e-commerce on a single platform. With nearly 90 distinct channels of 100% human-curated electronic music, Digitally Imported ensures a superior listening experience with authenticity, originality and depth. Digitally Imported has received numerous industry awards, including winning first place in the International Dance Music Awards for Best Online Radio, Best Global Radio and Best Music App. Founded in 1999, Digitally Imported brings a complete electronic music experience to millions of fans via the Web, mobile applications and third-party streaming partners. For more information, please visit www.di.fm.
About SESAC / Rumblefish / The Harry Fox Agency:
SESAC is the only Music Rights Organization in the United States, serving both music users and creators with music licensing services that utilize sophisticated information technology and data science in order to provide timely, efficient royalty collection and distribution. SESAC is unique in its ability to offer singular licenses for the works of its affiliated writers and publishers that aggregate both performance and mechanical rights in order to drive greater efficiency in licensing for music users, as well as enhanced value for music creators and publishers.
SESAC’s Performing Rights subsidiary is the second oldest and most progressive PRO in the U.S., the only PRO to pay monthly radio royalties and was the first PRO to pay songwriters and publishers for live performances in venues of any size. Its affiliate roster continues to grow, with recent signings such as Green Day, Mariah Carey, Zac Brown, Kesha, Charli XCX and Nikki Sixx joining established affiliates such as Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Lady Antebellum and the Kurt Cobain estate.
Following the acquisition of the Harry Fox Agency, the leading U.S. Mechanical Rights Organization, SESAC’s Rumblefish subsidiary, a leader in music micro-licensing, was merged with HFA’s Slingshot business unit under the Rumblefish brand. This powerful combination drives value for creators and users of music by delivering a comprehensive digital rights management platform designed to simplify the administration of musical compositions and master recordings, monetize network platforms such as YouTube and provide license verification services utilizing its RADKey® technology.
SESAC has offices in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Portland, San Francisco and London. www.sesac.com
When Ryan Huston got his first Rumblefish check, he was blown away. The rent was due and money was tight. The Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter learned as he tore open the envelope that music micro-licensing paid not-so-micro royalties. The quarterly income stream led to a more comfortable existence for Huston and his family. “I still remember it, how grateful I was,” Huston enthuses.
Huston’s career trajectory would have been hard to imagine ten years ago. Fascinated with music, he found a guitar on the curb in his early teens, fixed it up, and taught himself to play. After some college-level courses, he pursued his passion as an indie artist. His catchy, wistful songs gained him a huge following on social media, first on MySpace and then Facebook, resulting in over 3.5 million plays of his tunes.
Yet translating this burgeoning fanbase into a modest middle-class income proved daunting. He sold CDs online, but touring was out of the question due to family and other work obligations. “With so many songs and so many artists out there, it’s hard to make money, especially if you can’t or don’t want to live on the road,” reflects Huston. But then he found a way to make his songs create revenue without going on the road: allowing both personal video creators and professional ad agencies to pair his songs with their visuals. “Licensing has been a blessing. It’s enabled me to have a music career as an indie artist.”
Huston began working with music micro-licensing pioneers Rumblefish in 2008. The relationship has been a driving force in helping Huston develop his career. “Before, we were selling CDs via social media mostly, and that was the extent of it. Then I started working with Rumblefish and I began receiving regular income--it was almost always in the thousands--and it was all from people licensing my music for their videos and projects. It was incredible,” Huston recalls. “It’s been pretty consistent across the years and it’s been monumental in my day-to-day.”
Licensing in this day and age means much more than television and film, though Huston’s songs have seen placements from MTV to Disney and Lifetime, and his song “Thank You” was picked up by Target for a compilation (the song is now on regular rotation on Sirius). It’s not just music supervisors and pros who are drawn to Huston’s tenderly thoughtful work. A great deal of his licensing royalties are generated because of Rumblefish’s relationship with apps like Tango, Stupeflix and Animoto.
Rumblefish provides apps like Animoto with catchy, licensed music for their user-generated movies. Animoto users can select songs like Huston’s as the music track for their own videos. Then, when these videos post to platforms like YouTube, Huston can earn an additional royalty. Songs like “Love you forever” and “This Life” play behind approximately 40,000 videos a day, chronicling joyful moments in thousands of strangers’ lives. “It’s a consistent connection,” Huston remarks. “Animoto has helped me reach more listeners, and now I have fans in more than 20 countries. All through licensing.”
Though it’s still early days for micro-licensing, the field has been seeing double-digit revenue growth annually for the past several years. Not only are artists like Ryan seeing immediate returns, there is a cumulative effect with each user-generated video acting as a sort of fishing line for both new fans and new revenue. The more videos that are created using an artist’s music, the more opportunities there are for discovery by additional networks online. It’s revenue streams like micro-licensing that are helping to re-engineer the careers of musicians in the new music industry.
Huston releases his next album this year.
Popular YouTube personalities--competitive eaters turned fitness gurus, ridiculously cute cats--understand the value of using great soundtracks in their videos. Record labels and musicians make money when their songs are used in popular videos, too.
Yet YouTube can only pay ad revenue generated by the ad to the video creator or music rightsholder--not both. Even when an artist or label gets an upfront fee and agrees to give the future dollars to the video creator, YouTube can’t read a license agreement. It flags the song and automatically pays the music rightsholder anyway. With YouTube’s huge volume of videos (300 uploaded per minute), this problem has become an industry-wide epidemic.
That’s all about to change, thanks to RADKeys, a patent-pending innovation from Rumblefish, the pioneers of music micro-licensing and a subsidiary of music rights organization SESAC. Now video creators can acquire an alpha-numeric key when they license a song that allows them to instantaneously block ads or monetize videos on YouTube.
“It’s like a music license ‘barcode’ that lets video creators use licensed music in their videos and easily monetize that video or block ads, all while fairly compensating artists,” explains Rumblefish CEO Paul Anthony Troiano. “The RADKey enables YouTube to ‘read’ complex music licenses, making it easy for anyone to use licensed music in a YouTube video.” RADKeys are entered into existing fields on YouTube by the video creator when they upload their video. The keys are also integrated into Audible Magic, who provides digital fingerprint content recognition technology that enables fast and accurate identification of music in video networks such as Facebook, Dailymotion, Vimeo, Twitch and others.
Much like keys that unlock computer software, a RADKey conveys data regarding what kind of license the user has purchased. After entering the unique RADKey into YouTube, YouTube and Rumblefish communicate programmatically to verify the license, specific song, use type and other license parameters instantly. The video creator is simply informing the video network that they have a license and are opting to either monetize or block ads on their video. Each key is unique and secure and can not be used by an unlicensed party or for the wrong song.
This simple and secure solution to a common and vexing problem was more than four years in the making. Rumblefish has been in the licensing business for a decade and a half, first as a traditional music placement house, licensing tracks to TV, film, and advertisers. Then as the company’s catalog reached the millions of tracks, and partnerships extended across the web, Rumblefish led the music micro-licensing charge.
“We license over 150,000 songs every day and have played a big part in making music micro-licensing accessible and useful to video creators everywhere.” recounts Troiano. “We saw an enormous issue for video creators and artists who were having trouble navigating the YouTube claiming system and we provided a solution that’s good for YouTube, video creators and artists alike.”
Currently, RADKeys are available at participating online music licensing marketplaces, most notably via Shutterstock Music (SSTK), where users get RADKeys for each music license purchased. Rumblefish will be announcing additional RADKey partners at this year’s SXSW Music Festival.
“SESAC has always had a strong vision for the future of music licensing and rights administration and our acquisition of Rumblefish was the first move in that direction,” said John H. Josephson, SESAC Chairman and CEO. “Investing in RADKey furthers our vision to offer an expanded, more efficient licensing and administration model with a first of its kind technology. SESAC is continually seeking opportunities to use new technologies to help creators maximize the value of their works and RADKey represents an important new means for them to expand the universe of digital platforms on which their works can be monetized.”
RADKeys establish a universal, instant means of conveying rights, an essential piece of the infrastructure to power the new music economy. “For the first time ever, you can programmatically communicate the rights in a music license to a video network,” Troiano states. “We’re making the internet literate when it comes to reading music licenses, which removes enormous friction for video networks, video creators, and artists and labels. We couldn’t be more thrilled!”
Rumblefish is the world leader in music micro-licensing and online video monetization. Its micro-licensing platform allows social video networks, video applications and marketplaces to offer music functionality on web, tablet and mobile offerings, providing access to the world’s largest copyright-cleared music catalog of more than 5 million copyrights. The company makes music for online social video easy and legal, and has had over 65 million videos use its music tracks, resulting in 1.4 billion YouTube views per month and millions of dollars in royalties for its artists. Rumblefish clients include YouTube, Shutterstock, Google, Tango, Vimeo, SocialCam, Vizify, and WeVideo; and partners include CD Baby and APM. The company has offices in Portland OR, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
SESAC is a leading music rights organization. In addition to Rumblefish, SESAC owns SESAC Performing Rights, a service organization founded in 1930 to serve both the creators of music and music users through music licensing and timely, efficient royalty collection and distribution. The second oldest and most progressive performing rights organization in the U.S., SESAC Performing Rights is the only PRO to pay monthly radio royalties and was the first among the PROs to pay for live performances to songwriters and publishers. SESAC Performing Rights is known for its diversified repertory that includes genres ranging from Adult Contemporary, Urban, Jazz, Rock, Americana, Contemporary Christian, Latin, Country, Gospel and Dance. SESAC Performing Rights represents an impressive gallery of artist catalogs including Kurt Cobain, Mariah Carey, Nikki Sixx, Zac Brown, Jerry Cantrell, Robert Johnson’s catalog including the legendary song, “Crossroads,” the classic hit “Unchained Melody,” Mumford & Sons, Jimmy Napes, Charli XCX, Disclosure, Paul Shaffer, RUSH, Bryan Michael Cox, the Avett Brothers, Lady Antebellum, Thompson Square and Swizz Beatz. SESAC also represents iconic songsmiths Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond. Additionally, SESAC has long represented the music on some of TV’s biggest shows including Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Parenthood, Dateline NBC and Dr. Phil among many others.
In the digital music revolution, the gatekeepers have been banished. Music pours into the market, and the tastemakers of yore—radio program directors, record store buyers, music critics—have given way to a new crop of curators. Working behind the scenes, in positions few know exist, a new generation of music professionals are quietly influencing tastes via new platforms like apps, ads and online video editing programs where new artists are being discovered in the great flood of sound.
The Rumblefish Discovery Team works on this unsung frontier, making connections for both traditional licensing (TV, advertising) and micro-licensing. Drawing on a catalog of three million tracks, a catalog that is orders of magnitude larger than yesterday’s sync libraries, the team finds the right sounds for a broad range of apps, platforms, and marketplaces. These songs make their way into millions of user-generated videos and slideshows, in the kind of micro-licensing placements that are Rumblefish’s specialty.
“I like to dive in, pages and pages deep,” explains William Nix, Senior Music Supervisor at Rumblefish. “I listen for tracks that would work well in many situations, but would not necessarily come up in a more traditional search. I always have an ear out for tracks that are a little outside of the box or would add an interesting dynamic to the pitch.”
In the era of overwhelming choice and giant catalogs, search has become key. It’s connected to metadata, the tags associated with every music file that indicate everything from tempo to mood to composer. Yet these tags are artist generated—and not always accurate or helpful. “You have thousands of people who swear they sound like the Beatles or Radiohead,” notes Sarge Sargis, Director of Music Discovery for Rumblefish. “While you may be influenced by those bands, it’s important to be honest with tags, otherwise music supervisors or potential clients may write off your entire catalog.”
The whims and vagaries of metadata demand other means of finding good stuff, including tapping into social media and other music-oriented online platform’s APIs and seeing what is causing a stir or gaining traction. “If you are active online, turning that activity into more views of your YouTube videos and getting more fans on sites like last.fm, those are metrics we can use to bubble up your tracks,” says Sargis, “and it will make an impact on how likely we are able to find your track.”
Yet all the algorithms and data points can’t replace human ears and judgment, as Nix and Sargis sift through songs for the right feel, the right fit. Their ears are guided by backgrounds that mix the best of the pre- and post-internet business. Nix grew up playing in bands in his small Louisiana hometown, but cut his teeth in online advertising and social media. Trained as an archeologist, Sargis spent decades in brick-and-mortar music retail, where he learned both the subjective pleasures and objective demands of getting the right music into the right hands. “In the indie music shop world, you have to stop being a music snob and help people get what they need,” explains Sargis, “if you want to keep your doors open. That objectivity serves us well in what we do in our work now, too.”
Yet Sargis’s archeology past serves him equally well: Both he and Nix painstakingly sift through a massive amount of music daily. They listen for tracks (or bits of tracks) that might work well for advertisers, filmmakers, or other clients, while also seeking out unknown artists who push the envelope just enough, while keeping the right sound or mood for mainstream listeners. “We consider an app or marketplace’s main users— say it’s skaters or soccer moms—and try to pick music accordingly,” explains Sargis. “Sometimes, we get a bit more free rein,” adds Nix, “and can push the envelope a bit. When the apps have a trendy section you can be more adventurous. We can find music and artists in our catalog that we might enjoy personally and want to promote. That’s another exciting part of what we do.”
The team’s discoveries often translate into listeners’ discoveries, as users take Rumblefish-selected tracks, add them to their videos, and upload them to social media or video platforms for public viewing. Entire new niches are emerging—trailer music, for example—with commercial appeal, music that was once relegated to industry-only obscurity.
Rumblefish is the world leader in music micro-licensing and online video monetization. Its micro-licensing platform allows social video networks, video applications and marketplaces to offer music functionality on web, tablet and mobile, providing access to the world’s largest copyright-cleared music catalog of more than 5 million copyrights. The company makes music for online social video easy and legal, and has had over 65 million videos use its music tracks, resulting in 1.8 billion YouTube views per month and millions of dollars in royalties for its artists. Rumblefish clients include YouTube, Shutterstock, Google, Vimeo, SocialCam, Tango, Vizify and WeVideo; and partners include CD Baby and APM. The company has offices in Portland OR, San Francisco and Los Angeles. www.rumblefish.com
When messaging/social app Tango wanted copyright-cleared, image-perfect music for their latest music slideshow sharing product and very first stand-alone app, they knew who to partner with: Rumblefish, the music micro-licensing pioneers and expert music curators.
“We’re soundtracking sharable memories,” explains Molly King, Marketing Manager at Rumblefish. “Music drives image and gives it power. Having Tango launch its first stand-alone app based in music confirms this and gives users yet another way to share content that is rich and meaningful.”
Tango Music Pix allows app users to bring together photos, create a 30-second slideshow, add a music track, and share with other users via Tango, Facebook, Twitter, and email. Sleek and intuitive, Tango Music Pix is tied to Rumblefish’s massive catalog of more than 2.5 million tracks via the Rumblefish’s API. The app will also highlight curated playlists by genre, mood, occasion, and more, to help users choose the right track for their slideshow. Users’ projects are stored in the app, allowing users to share or watch later.
Tango Music Pix should prove a great new space for Rumblefish’s artists and labels. It also shows what Rumblefish can do for app designers who feel music’s power and want to incorporate into their product simply and easily, via Rumblefish’s API.
It’s no surprise that a major player in the app space would turn to Rumblefish to build its first music-driven product. The micro-licensing experts were called in to provide a simple, legal solution to the music rights problem associated with this kind of content creation.
Rumblefish’s curatorial savvy also came into play as the two partners were talking through the deal. Tango eagerly allowed Rumblefish’s music discovery team to develop rotating playlists of tracks guaranteed to enhance the app’s content. “We have such a strong music discovery team that Tango trusted us to find the right sound and feel for their users’ images,” notes Peter Suk, Rumblefish Client Account Manager.
Rumblefish is the world leader in music micro-licensing and online video monetization. Its micro-licensing platform allows social video networks, video applications and marketplaces to offer music functionality on web, tablet and mobile offerings, providing access to the world’s largest copyright-cleared music catalog of more than 5 million copyrights. The company makes music for online social video easy and legal, and has had over 65 million videos use its music tracks, resulting in 1.4 billion YouTube views per month and millions of dollars in royalties for its artists. Rumblefish clients include YouTube, Shutterstock, Google, Vimeo, SocialCam, Vizify, and WeVideo; and partners include CD Baby and APM. The company has offices in Portland OR, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Tango is a free mobile messaging service with more than 250 million registered members. Through communication, social features, and a compelling content platform, Tango members discover engaging ways to connect, get social and have fun. Tango has enhanced its messaging service with an innovative content platform for game developers, advertisers, and others. Tango is available on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and PC, and it works across 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. Tango is available in 14 languages and has members in more than 224 countries. Founded in September 2009, Tango is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and has offices in Beijing, China, and Austin, Texas. Visit www.tango.me for more information.