Let's Talk About Music Licenses - Pt. I

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Navigating the world of music licensing can feel overwhelming if going in blindly. And with a project’s many variables to consider and gauge, the starting line can have the potential to change — again and again.

At Marmoset, we work closely on our own and clients’ creative projects everyday — from films to commercials — so we understand the struggle. It’s the reason we’ve recruited our Creative Licensing Coordinators to step in and share their industry experiences and advice with our readers for this special series on music licensing.

This week we sat down with Music Licensing Coordinator, Nathaniel Schmidt to talk about the most common music license, what to carefully watch out for, and how to choose a music license confidently.

Small Business Licenses

Approaching a project in terms of categories can give a licenser superpowers; in a way, it’s process of elimination by narrowing down what license is best suited for a project and better yet, which licenses don’t apply. No matter what step of the music licensing process you happen to be on, we recommend starting by checking out our license breakdown page here.

From Independent Licenses to Small Non-Profit License, the guide outlines the purpose of each license, the expected cost, and even usage terms.

While Marmoset sees all of these plans licensed daily, there’s one in particular that often has some confusion surrounding it — the Small Business License. Geared toward small businesses and operations, this option allows these clients to obtain an affordable license for usage of high quality music. While the term “business” is in the title, this music license serves the purpose of pairing with content that highlights the spirit of an organization.

“This license is for people not selling a product specifically,” says Nathaniel. “Instead, this music license is more for brand videos, how-to pages, things of that nature. It’s a license for content that’s more informative, something that highlights the brand or company rather than a specific product or service.”

Here's another recap of what a Small Business License entails.

Small Business License — Music for highlighting company culture, events and employees.

  • Tunes for highlighting company culture, events and employees.

    • Permitted Content: You are an individual wishing to license one master recording and composition embodied thereon (“Musical Work”, as defined in the attached Standard Terms and Conditions) for the creation of a film or slideshow that highlights an organization as a whole. Content may include company highlights, event coverage, culture highlights, and employee insights - films that give an overall sense of the spirit of the organization. 

    • Non-Permitted Content: Fundraising campaign or call to action, or any film that highlights a specific product or service of the organization. 

    • # of Spots: Single (1) use 

    • Lifespan: Perpetual 

    • Cost: 

      • ▶ 1 - 20 employees: $199.00

      • ▶ 21 - 50 employees: $499.00

      • ▶ 51 - 100 employees: $699.00

      • ▶ 101 - 250 employees: $999.00

So while the video editor licensing the song works for a company of five people, if the end client (who the video is for) has 150 employees — Marmoset will want the licenser to abide by the latter.

Beyond the License Page

While the aforementioned page offers an in-depth overview of the many different licenses that can be purchased through a couple quick clicks on Marmoset’s site, these licenses are not fully comprehensive. Instead, there are a variety of projects that will require other types of licenses that don’t always easily fit within a simple category.

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“When people see click licenses, they think they somehow have to adhere to that,” says Nathaniel. “We can do custom licensing. But keep in mind we have designed these more basic licenses to facilitate the process for smaller projects, independent artists, or what we sometimes refer to as micro budget projects.”

Nathaniel goes on to describe how many of these licenses listed on our license page are geared toward more limited web usage, whereas paid web, broadcast radio, or in-app media projects would need a customized license.

“The click licenses were designed as a kind of like in-between measure where certain things can be pinpointed — like typical classic uses that can be easily identified and just made available. But for example, if it’s just going on a small business website, you don’t need to deal with someone going back and forth in a negotiation, signing a document, being invoiced. Instead you can easily just pay and go through the site.”

Our Creative Licensing Team gets how the details can get muddled from time to time, so keep in mind our team is always welcoming to offer input and guidance.

“There’s no need to rush; we understand that your project is important and you might be on a tight timeline but the world isn’t going to end if you don’t necessarily get it right the first time,” says Nathaniel. “But because of that we suggest reading through the licensing page that covers all the click licenses we offer. After reading through that, if it doesn’t sound like it fits then it probably doesn’t and you should reach out.”


Thanks again to Nathaniel on our Creative Licensing Team for kickstarting our music licensing series! Stay tuned for next time when we dive into frequently answered questions and clarify what you should know when asking about custom licenses.

Have music licensing questions you’d like us to address? Send them through the form below, then head over to Marmoset’s Instagram page as we chat about licensing with Nathaniel.

Posted on October 15, 2018 and filed under Marmoset, Music, Education.