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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 ...

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Ryan Dawes

RADKeys from Rumblefish: The New Technology Enables YouTube Creators to Block Ads or Monetize Videos, While Compensating Bands and Artists

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.