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Music e-marketplace Songtradr tunes into song licensing

Launched earlier this month, Songtradr connects musicians with buyers looking for music to use in television shows, films and commercials.

The music industry has a new way for artists to sell their songs.

After nearly two decades as a music producer and songwriter, Paul Wiltshire had seen enough of the red tape involved in acquiring song licenses. That led Wiltshire to launch this month, a marketplace where songwriters can directly reach buyers interested in licensing or outright purchasing their music for use in television, film, advertising, video games and online media.

“Any music license requires permission from the master owner and the songwriter, which means when trying to license a song there are multiple voices and sticking points in the process,” Wiltshire, the company’s founder and CEO, says. “What we’re trying to do is connect sellers directly with buyers.”

Songtradr, which opened to a restricted audience last May before becoming available to the public this month, features more than 35,000 tracks. Wiltshire declines to say how many users, including artists and buyers, the site has so far. The site works with independent artists as well as those signed with a record label. Musicians signed to a label, however, must obtain permission from their record label before one of their songs is purchased or licensed on Songtradr.

Songtradr is an open marketplace, which lets any musician with the equipment and desire to sign up and upload her songs to the site. Wiltshire says he’s positioning Songtradr to grow along with a widespread increase in music production, offering artists a new venue for building exposure and generating sales. With more people creating television shows, movies, ads, web series and other forms of media, he says, musicians have more demand for their music and can use Songtradr to reach buyers.

Songtradr does not vet artists before they upload their music. Buyers can browse by the medium in which they intend to use music, such as movie trailers, corporate ads, or promotions. They can search by such criteria as genre, tempo, instrument, male arranged by Songtradr’s own music advisors.

Songtradr charges no sign-up fees to buyers or sellers. Musicians are allowed to set their own prices within ranges that Songtradr sets for artists based on experience. After uploading music, a musician picks from a sliding scale that best describes his standing within the industry, such as “emerging artist” or “established artist.” These distinctions set a baseline price for their songs which starts at $25 and go up as high as $50,000.

Sellers can also list their price as “offer only,” which Wiltshire says helps emerging artists establish their music’s value within the industry. When a musician lists a song as an offer-only, buyers can submit a price they’re willing to pay, but it’s up to the artist to accept the price. On Songtradr, this feature is used more frequently when buyers are attempting to purchase a song’s master track, which means the artist sells their ownership and royalty rights of a particular song. By listing master tracks as “offer only,” it leaves the door open for sellers to negotiate independently with the seller.

Buyers can license a song, which grants them non-exclusive permission to use the music, or they can buy out the copyright and master recording of a song. Songtradr emails artists when they receive an offer for a song, and it charges sellers a 17.5% commission on each sale.

Wiltshire says, which was built entirely in-house, is still being developed. “We’re also going to add features which allow the musicians to tailor their preferences of how their song gets used,” he says. “For example, if they don’t want it in a Trump commercial or an alcohol commercial, they will be able to note that.” Only weeks into its launch, Songtradr has turned attention to advertising and getting their word out.

To build its exposure in the music business, Songtradr is working on marketing campaigns through a combination of paid search and social media and will participate in such industry events as the MuseExpo and Ascap Expo in April.

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