Empowered Artists – Independent Music Licensing

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In part 1 of this blog series, I revealed a little about myself and what I’ve managed to achieve in music licensing off my own back, with no help from labels or publishers. I’d love for all independent artists to be able to have the same success.

Firstly, how independent are you when it comes to making music? Do you have to rely on others for studio time, or simply just to release your music?

Put yourself in the driving seat

When I ran a digital label with others it was a frustrating period. Trying to rely on people who may not have the same time, drive, or ambition as you to make something happen is not ideal. Ideally, you want to have your own set up, so you’re able to focus on making your music as much as possible. Think of your music as a plant. The more you feed it, the more it will grow. Plants will keep growing, getting bushier and larger until they flower, and eventually if you’re lucky they will bear fruit.

So it’s incredibly important when you’re not earning from music to keep feeding it. If you want to be a content provider then the most important thing is to keep building your content, even when it’s not earning. It all holds value down the line.

The ability to make music whenever you feel the need and the desire to do so is a big deal. Just like anything in life, if something is important to you, prioritise it! Watch less Netflix, go out less, make excuses to stay in. You have to feed this for it to grow. The universe is reactive. Big things are unlikely to come your way if you’re not putting in the work. But if you love making music, it’s not really work is it?!

Do what you do best

Think about your music style – what are your strengths? What makes your music interesting or unique? Feed these things, practice as much as you can to refine your sound.

Of course, if you’ve read part 1, ‘Say Goodbye to the Middlemen’, you’ll hopefully have begun to realise that music is a highly regarded skill, and that if you have the ability, this should be your focus.

After the music distributor I worked for and had a label with went bust in 2003, I had no home for my music. Many times I thought about quitting. If it’s just going to be a hobby, it’s certainly an expensive and time consuming one! But as soon as you start seeing the value in what you’re doing, it all changes. This applies to everything in life, not just music.

In part 3, I’ll talk more about where my music found a home, and the way it started gaining attention and music licensing work that has continued to thrive for more than 5 years.

But just know, none of my success has come from selling my tracks in the traditional sense. In fact, I give my music away for free. Anyone can download and stream my catalogue for absolutely nothing.

When I got my first licensing gig, I received £25 for a company to use my track in an internal Christmas video. Less than a year later, I received £1500 from a big German engineering firm to edit one of my tracks across 8 videos. I’ve never learnt music production or video editing, but there I was earning from both.

Being in control of your own royalty free music library enables you to take on jobs you would never get by relinquishing control of your tracks to a publisher or label. A huge bonus is also that YOU make the contacts. After all, the only reason publishers take their cut is because of the contacts they have.

Licensing through your copyright

Empowering yourself as an independent artist means being fully in control of your music’s copyright, and not giving control of it to some external company. I’ve made this mistake with publishers before. 7 years ago I gave 25 tracks exclusively to a publisher, who just sat them in his library gathering dust. As I’d given them exclusively, I had no choice but to abandon them to the publisher instead of being able to earn from them myself. Do not make the same mistake as I did. Publishers and labels will promise a lot and deliver nothing.

So please join us for part 3 of this Independent Music Licensing Collective blog, where I’ll reveal the steps you need to take to join us in earning from your music.



Independent, london-based producer and IMLC co-founder Ketsa is a giant of the Creative Commons music scene. His music has been used for a Volvo TV advert, and promotional campaigns by Greenpeace, Audi, Riachuelo, Grance Ormonde and films by the National Geographic, The UN, The Atlantic, Forbes and many many more. As head of Artist Services at the IMLC, Ketsa is fully committed to educating creators on the benefits of royalty free music licensing with his Empowered Independents YouTube series.

Empowered Independents