In the digitized music ecosystem, some musicians are unsatisfied with payouts from online radio and music subscription services. This, though terrestrial radio might not play their music at all, or if it does, over-the-air radio does not (by law) pay any label royalties despite its power to make millions of listener impressions.
Regardless of the politics, musicians seek other revenue avenues. Live shows and merchandise sales represent a certain canon of thought which says that recorded music has lost most of its earning power. But there are other paths for recorded music beyond the 10-song album, and one of those paths is synchronization of original music to a media project — underscoring television, film, videogames, commercials, etc..
A platform called Songtradr comes out of beta today, hoping to create a market that is both friendly and accessible to creators, and productive for producers searching for perfect project music.
Putting Creators First
One interesting aspect of Songtradr is its function as a content management system (CMS) for music creators who upload their tracks to the platform. In this respect Songtradr functions like SoundCloud — before factoring in Songtradr’s endgame of building a buyer-seller market.
The idea of the content management system is to provide a low barrier to entry,” Founder and CEO Paul Wiltshire told RAIN News in a phone call. “We don’t charge any subscription fees. That allows catalog owners to upload an unlimited amount of music to the platform.”
There is no filter on the upload process, although uploaded tracks are subject to curation by the Songtradr staff, which groups high-quality content in a Staff Picks section around themes like Rainy Day, Fantasy Adventure, and Orchestral Cinema. These cluster can help buyers find suitable music for their projects. There is also an advanced search function which can target music by tempo, genre, price, and whether it contains vocals.
Building the Market
We asked Paul Wiltshire how a market of buyers and sellers will be built on this platform. Each side is necessary, and each side helps build the other, resulting in a chicken-or-egg business conundrum. “It’s something that keeps me awake some nights,” Wiltshire confided, but his strategic solution is to populate the sell side first, with a musician-friendly free platform that can be used for cloud storage even if the uploader has no immediate intention of offering tracks for sale.
“If we can build superior tools, free to use, and allow user to choose to participate in the market, even partially at some level, that solves the problem, ” Wiltshire told us. He is not focusing on extracting money from uploaders during this build-out phase. Revenue will come later in a commission model, where Songtradr will receive an average split of 17.5% when music is sold.
Selling and Transaction Tools
Songtradr has spent its beta period developing tech underneath the hood. the emphasis has been on simplifying the inherently complex business of selling music licenses. “One thing we’ve worked hard on is the variable license costs system,” Wiltshire said. The company invented a system which understands many types of license — TV, reality TV, dramatic TV, films with different budgets, trailers, and videogames. The music creator is given a slider which matches music against a pricing range across different licensing scenarios. This helps newcomers see how the landscape is shaped before pricing their music.
The platform also allows packaging music as tracks, albums, and premium versus “B-side.” Sellers can also invite offers to buy rights entirely, by selling masters and copyrights. “We tried to accommodate every transaction style, and every transaction culture, that exists,” Wiltshire said.
Songtradr is planning to extend its brand into distribution and administration, potentially competing with Tunecore and CD Baby, which help indie artists get into Spotify, iTunes, and hundreds of other digital distribution points. Paul Wiltshire thinks there is value in providing a single inclusive platform. “People want simplicity, and they prefer to go to one place. When there is a single place, other value sets emerge. A user starts to see all revenue streams come from one place.”