Alright, so it feels like we’ve been talking about Soundcloud on the blog a lot lately, but I guess that goes to show that they’re a company on the rise.

The latest? Soundcloud has announced that they will be partnering with Getty Images Music to offer licensing deals to their artists directly through the music platform.

The new Soundcloud-Getty arrangement will give artists the option to make their tracks available for commercial opportunities by including a “licensing” button right on the music player.

I’m a big supporter of artist’s licensing their music. In today’s cash-strapped music industry, licensing is a great resource for artists to profit financially from the music itself. However, some interesting points were raised by Bruce Houghton in his blog post on the Soundcloud-Getty deal, that may not make it as friendly for artists as the headlines suggests…

What’s the incentive?

This deal will make it very easy for ANY artist to make their music available for licensing. What kind of cash are we talking? Here are some examples of rates from the Getty Image Music rate card:

Single use, Web or Mobile Programming = $99 USD

Podcast Advertising = $125

Radio Advertising = $500

Corporate Use = $1,500

For film or television usage, or national or international advertising, the licensor would have to contact Getty for a direct quote. Not bad, and it costs the artist nothing to sign up and offer their music for these deals

How do the sales break down?

Soundcloud artists receive “35% of the upfront licensee fee plus 50% of Getty Images’ share, as publisher, of any backend performance royalties”.

So what’s the catch?

Artists will have zero control over where their music is used. To quote Soundcloud directly “Your agreement with Getty Images Music allows us to license your music to any client who is willing to pay money for its use. The agreement you sign pre-clears all of your music for potential licensing.”

The reasoning for this: “Pre-clearance is a strong selling point for our clients who are more likely to use music that causes them less hassle.”

What’s more, the artist won’t necessarily be told of where their music is being used before the usage airs. They’ll of course tell you on your financial statement, but they can’t guarantee that you’ll be told in advance.

What do you think?

Houghton makes an interesting point in that 50% (fair or otherwise) going to companies who place and license songs is relatively standard practice for the current music industry. However, that usually involves the company actively pitching the music around to find proper placement. In this case Getty really isn’t doing any of that work, only making it available for licensors to come find.

So I’m curious as to what artists think. This sounds like a great opportunity for an artist to gain licensing revenue, but is it necessarily worth giving up 100% control over the usage of your work?

I can understand the pre-clearance as it creates less hassle for the licensor. It’s the same concept as creating less hassle for the artist having to arrange licensing deals. But again, is total relinquishment over usage of your art asking too much of an artist?

Is the revenue distribution fair? Should Getty be receiving a 50% share? Is this a good deal for your music?

I’d love to get some opinions from artists and others! Post your comments below and let us know what you think!