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 ...
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.