License to steal

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The indie world is full of wonders! No, really! Every day, if you are an unsigned artist, you will get at least a dozen of marvelous opportunities in your mailbox, or via social media private messages… It’s amazing how everyone wants you on their platforms or radio, amazing how many people want to promote your music, and bring you in front of millions of potential fans!

Turns out that all of these so called opportunities are click baits and you will soon learn that for the discounted price of $$$ (they accept Paypal!) you will be the new star of a social media no man’s land, guaranteed!

I must be getting old, because I will repeat what my mama used to say: when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! That’s right, if you look closer, all of these wonderful opportunities turn out to not much… but hey, they are at a discounted price!

If you are new to this business, you will quickly learn to discard all these scams, they are not that hard to distinguish, really!

What might be a bit harder to wrap your head around are the countless platforms and radios who are not asking money upfront. You might think: “Great! These are not the scammers, finally! These are real genuine music lovers and they are going to help me reach an audience”.

Now is the right time to read the fine prints. 

They usually have that kind of things on a form you will need to sign or agree to when you submit, or as a “terms of use” on their website. Don’t skip that reading! There’s a lot of boring boiler plate stuff, but there’s usually a paragraph about Intellectual Property, or Ownership, or License, or License Grant, or something that defines who owns what, and what you agree to when submitting as pertaining to your content.

USER TERMS - LICENSE

Here’s one of these paragraph, taken randomly from a radio website (that shall remain unnamed - XXX below -, but believe me, there are countless of the same clauses in the “terms of use” everywhere on a big majority of these platforms and radios), so here is just one example:

“With respect to any Content posted by or in connection with the Products and Services, you hereby grant XXX a WORLD-WIDE, ROYALTY FREE, IRREVOCABLE, PERPETUAL license, alone or together or as part of other information, Content and/or material of any kind or nature, to use, copy, modify, publish, edit, translate, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, and otherwise EXPLOIT such Content (specifically including through streaming, podcasting, online/broadcast and satellite radio, suggested playlists and user playlists, but specifically excluding through phonograph records), to publish and promote such Content in connection with the particular Products and Services (including, without limitation, for advertising and promotional purposes), to publish and promote such Content elsewhere within XXX or any other XXX website through links to XXX, and to SUBLICENSE such rights through multiple tiers of sublicenses, all without any obligation to you, whether by way of compensation, attribution or otherwise. Such license shall apply with respect to any form, media, or technology now known or hereafter developed.

I have highlighted here the part that they especially DON’T want you to pay too close attention to. Read it again. Let it sink in!

What this basically says is that you are granting these people the perpetual, irrevocable right to do anything they want with your music, to use as they see fit on their platform/radio or any other that they might be affiliated to and might create later. They might use it and license it somewhere else, without your knowledge and you will have no recourse against that. They will have NO obligation to you, not even the obligation to say that this is YOUR music. In short, it’s the good old “all your data are belong to us” again!

So I suggest you read all these “term of use” very closely. Each time you submit your music somewhere. You might have already submitted somewhere with these kinds of terms. I’m pretty sure you did, because they are everywhere. Now is time to think of how much you want that supposed exposure, are you prepare to forfeit your rights to your own music perpetually and irrevocably? What kind of compensation will you actually get from it?

So, again, think long and hard about where you put your music, because otherwise one of these days you will realize that they might not have a license to kill, but you might have granted them a license to steal!

6 comments

  • Gregory M Hurley

    Gregory M Hurley Michigan

    Great insight, hope new bands and new solo artist listen up and remember what they have read here.

    Great insight, hope new bands and new solo artist listen up and remember what they have read here.

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Thanks for visiting, Greg! Indeed I hope they will, otherwise they might feel sorry later. :(

    Thanks for visiting, Greg! Indeed I hope they will, otherwise they might feel sorry later. frown

  • Jimena

    Jimena Buenos Aires, Argentina

    You're absolutely right. Thanks so much for the tips!! Btw, you are awesome. :)

    You're absolutely right. Thanks so much for the tips!! Btw, you are awesome. smile

  • John Robson

    John Robson Redcar UK

    This is appalling! Thanks for highlighting this, mate 👍

    This is appalling! Thanks for highlighting this, mate 👍

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Thanks for visiting and the kind words, Jimena! :)

    Thanks for visiting and the kind words, Jimena! smile

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Yes it is John, and it's unfortunately very common. I'm sure you will see it on many occasion. Thanks for the visit! ;)

    Yes it is John, and it's unfortunately very common. I'm sure you will see it on many occasion. Thanks for the visit! wink

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