Getty Images and SoundCloud Team Up, Let Users License Music

By Kira Grunenberg

As much as SoundCloud can work for any average folks who have more than just music to upload to the internet, the playback platform also loves to broaden its rolodex of collaborators across industries to optimize their users’ experiences –whether those users are from the uploading or listening side of things. The last big news of SoundCloud’s partner progress was its teaming up with CD Baby back in July. Now, SoundCloud has streamlined things even more by collaborating with Getty Images.

This new development brings in a “license” button, available for addition to artists’ SoundCloud players, which provides a quick and simple, single-click process for requesting permission to license an artist’s song for use in another medium.

As reported by Gigaom, there is a clear system for pricing and payment distribution among SoundCloud artists and their “customers” –the ones filing the requests.

“Getty’s rate card details how usage in web or mobile advertising will cost $350, inclusion in corporate marketing will cost $1500, and so on. The creator [aka the SoundCloud artist]  gets “35 percent of the upfront licensee fee plus 50 percent of Getty Images’ share, as publisher, of any backend performance royalties”.

[Furthermore,] depending on what type of licensing that’s been chosen by the user, Getty registers the track with performing rights organizations and administers the royalties – 100 percent of the ‘writer’s share’ goes to the creator, along with 50 percent of the ‘publishing share’.”

It’s also clear that SoundCloud itself will not be taking a direct cut from any of the users who decide to embrace Getty Images and its new feature. While such a decision may make SoundCloud seem like a bit of a doormat, there are some things to consider if you’re the artist looking for a way to get some relatively painless extra exposure for your work. One stipulation from the SoundCloud/Getty Images FAQ includes this implication of giving up placement control:

“Do I get to approve where and when my song can be used?

No. 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. Pre-clearance is a strong selling point for our clients who are more likely to use music that causes them less hassle.

To make an extreme point for a moment, this means if John Doe wants permission to use your song in an ad for cat memes and has the money to back up the request, well, there’s nothing you can say to contest that. This one agreement aside, a bonus method for (virtually) complication-free monetization appears to be nothing short of a total plus for those artists who might still be on a lower than ideal budget for putting their work out there. Whether or not SoundCloud eventually unleashes a less-flexible add-on in the future is still unknown, though moves like this one may be just another in an overall sequence of steps to gather user interaction data to see if drastically changing SoundCloud’s ‘benefit-to-payment’ ratio is even necessary at all.

Kira is an old school music nerd with a love for all things creative; always searching for music’s common ground. She graduated with an M.A. in Performing Arts Administration from New York University. Drop her a tweet @shadowmelody1