The online world can be a vast and scary landscape these days. Whether you’re headed down the rabbit hole of “the best studio mic for beginners”, or some conspiracy theory, it’s pretty clear to see there’s a massive wealth of knowledge – both factual and fictional – that is available to us on the internet.
My journey of really using the internet for actual learning purposes and not just as a time waster really began when I fell in love with recording music. I started researching DAWs, computers, mics, pre’s, midi controllers, studio patching, signal flow, and just about everything else that had anything to do with a pro studio. I quickly discovered that although I now knew what microphone was the “best” for recording vocals (and worth about 15k) this wasn’t actually going to help me make good recordings. I turned to online courses to help me learn the ins and outs of recording, mixing, and how to get the most out of my DAW of choice.
Once I realized how many resources were online for musicians, I also realized how much was missing. It seemed to me that the music industry was lagging behind in the online world, and probably for one main reason – the big commercial players wanted it this way. If everyone could do everything online themselves and take out the middleman, then they would be out of business. I’m super happy to say at the time of me writing this things have come A LONG WAY, but there is always something new around the corner!
CREATING THE CONCEPT
When I was searching for a place like SongShop, and realized it was yet to exist, I made it my priority to bring an online song catalogue to independent musicians. I thought I was crazy – hell I still think I’m crazy, but deep down I knew there were more people like me out there looking for the exact same platform.
I was actually excited that I had the chance to create something like this! It seemed fitting, because I am one of the songwriters and artists who would be using the platform, so I could design it to work how I thought it should.
The concept was simple – Songwriters have a profile that they host their catalogue of songs on. Artists have a profile with their bio and links to their music so writers can get an idea of their sound before pitching them anything. I also needed a way for artists to let writers know they are actually looking for songs, rather than get unsolicited pitches. To overcome this we created the “Pitch Platform”. It’s sort of like a job board where artists can post any information they choose about what type of songs they are looking for, and writers can pitch songs directly to them!
For an artist to record a song as their own, that they don’t actually own the copyright to, there needs to be some licensing in place. I wanted this portion to be as simple as possible, without the need for the artist and writer to converse back and forth and get contracts and licensing in place on their own. I also realized that many of the artists and writers who would be (hopefully) using this platform might not have a good understanding of licensing or the legalities of recording someone else’s song as their own.
ADD TO CART
To make this as simple as possible, SongShop is set up sort of like an online store. You purchase a license on a song, just like you would order a T shirt from your favourite brand. Choose the license type you want, add it to your cart, and check out! This is where the convenient part comes in, and also why it’s very important to have your legal name as your name in your profile (don’t sweat, there’s a spot for your artist name if you have one.) The site automatically generates a mechanical license between the artist who purchased the song, and the writer who wrote the song. Now let’s get into some legal stuff!
SOME LEGAL MUMBO JUMBO
What is a mechanical license? A mechanical license is a contract that lets the artist record their own version of the song, in an audio only format. Artists do not get to use any portion of the demo recording aside from using it for reference in the studio. The mechanical license also states the rate that royalties will be paid to the writer. We decided to focus on two main royalties with SongShop; Physical and digital sales.
The site has two types of mechanical licenses you can purchase on each song; Standard, and Exclusive. There can be as multiple standard licenses granted on a song at any time, but once an Exclusive license is granted, that song is exclusive to that artist for the next 6 months. Any other licenses that were granted previously are still in good standing, but no new ones will be granted until the end of the 6 month period. At the end, the artist can either renew their exclusive license, or it gets automatically transferred to a standard license.
So what happens when an artist finds a song they like and wants to record it? Well first, they would purchase a license to record the song – just like they would purchase anything else from an online store. The site then delivers the goods – The song demo file, the lyric sheet, chord chart, and the mechanical license.
SOO HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY??
The next thing I wanted the site to do, was actually make songwriters a bit of money! Crazy right?! Firstly, writers get a percentage of the mechanical license fee, that percentage is determined by their membership tier. Writers also get a mechanical royalty on song reproduction – this includes both physical reproduction (albums), and digital reproduction. That rate is determined by the license ($0.10 per copy for a standard license, and $0.20 for an exclusive license). Next, I wanted writers to keep 100% of any royalties they are entitled to.
SongShop will NEVER take any of that. So any money the writer makes off of that song is 100% theirs. That was one of the core reasons I wanted to build this thing – To give artists and writers a platform to use without taking 50% of what they make from their songs and recordings. In today’s world it can be tough for us independents to make money from music, so let’s let everyone keep what they are entitled to
SongShop started as something I was searching for, and I hope it’s something you can start using and benefiting from. It seemed simple enough on the surface, but I had no idea how to build a website this complicated, and no idea how to get it out to the world once it was finished! I was a writer with no platform, and an artist looking to expand the flavour of songs I had access to. With the help of the right team the idea came to life, and I think it can truly change the way artists and writers connect online!
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