Avoid being caught out...don't
a big bill for royalties pops through
your letterbox...Get the licencing
right before you start!
Would you ever book
an artist to play in your theatre, club venue, at your wedding
or corporate night out without having heard them? No, me neither.
So this is why it is important that you promote your act by putting
audio samples of you singing on your website.
In other articles I go through the various methods of actually
producing the audio clips of you singing and how to embed them
in to your webpages, but for the purposes of this article, we'll
assume that you already have a few audio clips ready-made, and
have produced a web page ready to upload to your website where
visitors will go to download/play these audio clips. So, all you
need now is a licence to allow your visitors to play those clips
when they visit your website.
Why Do I need A Licence?
All music, no matter where it is performed and by whom, is controlled
by strict licencing to protect the performers and writers of that
music. For example, if you showcase an audio clip on your website
of you singing a song that was written by say, The Beatles, you
are using their song to promote yourself (and most probably earn
money from the gigs or exposure performing that song helps you
get). So Lennon and McCartney, who wrote the song, are rightfully
due a fee for helping you achieve this. That sounds fair doesn't
Certainly, you could argue that you are not a professional
entertainer and you don't make money from the clips on
your website, but at the end of the day, music licencing
is the law (and an international law at that), so take
my advice, don't try to lock horns with the music licencing authorities
- I've worked with them for years. No matter how you try to get
them to see your point of view, they'll simply take you to court
and a court will always rule that if you use someone elses
work, you should pay for it - period. It's the law, and in my
humble opinion it's completely fair and reasonable, so pay your
dues and sleep well at night - do!
There are two copyrights attached to every piece of music, no
matter where in the world your website is or where in the world
it is used:
1. Copyrights of the performer
2. Copyright of the author (ie song-writer)
To further explain, if you use backing
tracks, produced by us here at MP3 Backing Trax as the backing
music to your audio clips, then you need our permission to use
these clips. This is because it was our musicians who performed
the music on these recordings, so, as the performer, we
hold the rights to whether you can use those pieces of music and
where. Good news is that if you want to use our work and you contact
us and ask our permission, to date, we have never refused a customer
yet (see further down this article for our terms).
The second copyright is more complicated because it is granted
by the author ie the person who wrote the original song or the
authors estate (or he may have sold the rights to a third-party).
While we at MP3 Backing Trax have had contact and dealings with
you when you purchased your tracks and are happy to help you,
our customer, promote and further your career, the original authors
of the songs don't know you and are therefore very unlikely to
give you permission to use their work freely. However, don't despair.
You don't need to go hunt down the widow of some dead guy and
ask her permission to use his song on your website! All music
licencing can be covered by one simple licence (often referred
to as a "blanket" licence) which will allow you to use
almost any music you like on your website. How good is that?!
In most licencing cases, the audio clips you use should not exceed
30 seconds but check the licence - it will tell you exactly how
much of a song you can use. In general, the more music you use,
the more you pay for the licence (there are many different types
of licences so be sure to tell the licencing authorities EXACTLY
what you are planning to do so they can issue you with the correct
licence). Don't risk receiving a big bill for extra royalties
at a later date because you got this wrong!
Where to obtain a licence (authors permission)
Different countries in the world have different licencing authorities
so wherever you and your website is based, that's where you need
to obtain the licence from. The music licencing authorities in
all countries work together because they are all working with
the same song writers and to the same ends - protecting unlawful
use of their work, so don't think for one minute you can play
one licencing authority against another! They'll simply put their
heads together and just shut you down altogether - it's just not
Here are the websites of the main licencing authorities in the
UK, USA and Australia. If you are situated in any other country,
contact one of them and ask who controls music licencing in your
particular country and they'll be happy to point you in the right
direction - as I said earlier, they all work together:
USA - http://www.riaa.com
UK - http://www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk
Australia - http://www.apra.com.au/
Where to obtain a licence (performers permission)
Here!....from us! We, the people who performed on your backing
track recordings, so we grant this permission. And, as far as
we are concerned here at MP3 Backing Trax, if you want to use
our backing tracks to record an album and/or use some clips from
that album on your website, then we are more than happy to allow
you as long as you ask our permission.
Simply contact us,
tell us what you plan to do, the website you are going to use
our music on, and what songs you are going to use. To date, we
have never refused permission to a customer yet. All we ask is
that you make clear on your website that the music was produced
and supplied by MP3 Backing Trax and insert a hyperlink to our
on your web page where those audio clips are.
Remember, we don't just sell backing
tracks - everyone who works here at MP3 Backing Trax is a
professional gigging entertainer just like you, so we want you
to be successful as possible and we want to help you promote your
act as much as we can. Our sister website Sensational
Artists was set up for this very purpose so if you haven't
visited it before, have a look there now for some free promotion
for you and your act.
So, there you have it. All of the above can be condensed in to
3 easy steps.
1. Decide what songs you want to use on your website.
2. Contact us here at MP3 Backing Trax and obtain permission to
3. Contact the licencing authorities in your country and purchase
a licence to use them.
That's all there is to it. So whatever you do, don't neglect
doing this. If you do, then a year or two down the line
a big bill will unexpectedly drop through your letterbox saying
you owe royalties. You'll be made to pay, or prosecuted, or both,
so don't take the chance.
It doesn't cost much to do things right, so get it right first
time, and you can sleep easy forever more!
Article Written by Kenny Campbell
(This article cannot be reproduced without express
(all rights reserved)