Selling stock music / royalty free music

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JDavid

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22 May 2020
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Hi,

I have a question about selling stock music / royalty free music.
I am a music composer selling my music through royalty-free music websites. I really like the concept but it is a slow process and they take a big cut, so I'm trying to find out how complicated it is to start my own stock music site (also known as 'music library').
The idea is to start a small library with my own music and maybe expand with music from other composers. Is this a very complicated legal operation or can I just copy-paste the license agreements and edit them for my own site?
Hope someone can answer my question.

Best regards,
Jim David
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

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can I just copy-paste the license agreements and edit them for my own site
I‘m not intending to be derisive, but there is a certain irony in this notion. You want to sell music, being a work of talent, exertion, and subject to copyright, and are contemplating pirating someone else’s work, involving talent, exertion, and copyright, to do so.

Yes it’s going to have complicated aspects to it. On one hand you’ve got licensing and royalties to negotiate and document. Then you’ve got the technical aspects of running the site - servers, storage, security, delivery, payment.

If you cut and paste documents, the misappropriation aspects aside, they’re likely to not match your setup and way of transacting and could end up being more damaging than not having any documents at all.
 

JDavid

Member
22 May 2020
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Thank you for your reply.
To avoid confusion, a music library is not pirating or illegal, maybe I should've explained it a bit more. It is a very common construction. Composers submit their own work to the library, still maintain full copyrights and get a percentage of the sales. The library does the selling part, the composer the composing part. It is a legal operation and all the composer has to do is upload their music.
The thing is that libraries take a big cut, sometimes 70-30, which is unfair. Thats why I want to sell it myself.
I actually found a selling platform with prefab license agreements, maybe that's a good start: (licensequote.com)
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

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To also avoid confusion - I wasn't implying that the music library was 'pirating or illegal'. I understand the concept, which is why I was referring to licensing arrangements for the music. These arrangements allow for the composer to provide access to their music via the library in return for remuneration. Probably somewhat similar to a publishing arrangement where the artist retains the rights to the music (instead of it going to the publisher). My reference to pirating was in respect to the comment that you could just 'copy-paste' a legal agreement, which implied you weren't going to actually pay for their use.

An 'off the shelf' document may suit your purposes. The chances of that are fairly small. The more complex the situation, the less likely the fit. It's a bit like buying clothes 'off the rack' when you've got a unique body. It may be too loose in places, too tight in others, prone to ripping at inopportune moments, and/or just plain look weird.

There are also some circumstances where generic, pre-made agreements should be avoided at all costs - there are where there are regulators and licensing arrangements involved where you must have a fit for purpose policy and procedure regime (that's probably not you, but it is worth mentioning).
 

JDavid

Member
22 May 2020
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That's very useful information, thank you.
It is not my intention to literally copy-past legal documents, but I hoped the structure would be universal and applicable, but I get the feeling that's not the case.
Could you maybe advise me where to start with the procedure of constructing these license agreements?
 

Rob Legat - SBPL

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This is not a DIY job. It would be quicker and easier for a lawyer just to do it than to explain it. My suggestion is to look for an 'entertainment lawyer' (yes, it's a real thing) who will have experience in dealing with these types of arrangements.