Posts tagged #Education

5 Important Things You Should Know About Performing Rights Organizations, Royalties and Registering Copyrights

Panel speakers [from left to right]: Nan Wilson, Tracie Verlinde, Ehren Ebbage and Ryan Wines (Photo by Brandon Day)

Panel speakers [from left to right]: Nan Wilson, Tracie Verlinde, Ehren Ebbage and Ryan Wines (Photo by Brandon Day)

On Wednesday, we hosted an Artist Education event at Marmoset HQ, focused on everything you should know about copyrights and Performance Rights Organizations. The event featured a panel of experts in the field including successful singer songwriter and composer, Ehren Ebbage, Nan Wilson of Manage Ad Music and Tracie Verlinde of BMI, with our Co-Founder, Ryan Wines, leading the discussion. And with aim to share the knowledge from the event, we have answers to five commonly asked questions about the copyright and royalties world.

Making a living as a musician can be a challenging and rewarding venture. Like any other form of art-meets-business, it's all about diversifying and closely managing your income streams. Royalty income can be a critical revenue source for many artists, and when managed well, it can also be one of the most powerful components to help spur and create a sustainable living. Copyrighting in also an essential, yet often neglected aspect, protecting and declaring ownership rights for the music you create. While we know this area of music isn't the sexiest of topics, it's an extremely important one and we're here to help advocate for you and your awesome jams. Please  send questions you have to

1. What is a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)?

A Performing Rights Organization (or PRO) helps songwriters, composers and musicians receive payment by collecting publishing revenue streams through "performance royalties." As a songwriter, composer, or lyricist, you’re owed what is called a “performance royalty” any time your music is played on radio stations (terrestrial, satellite, and internet), used on TV shows or commercials, or performed in live venues, in addition to many other traditional and emerging mediums. Performance royalties are paid by radio stations, venues, and TV networks to Performing Rights Organizations like ASCAPBMISESAC, and SOCAN (in Canada) who then distribute the money to their affiliated songwriters and publishers.  Royalties for streaming media (think Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio and others) and some other digital media are administered by SoundExchange.  PROs only collect for artists who register with them. It is free to register as a songwriter with both BMI and SESAC. ASCAP charges a $50 registration fee.

Photo by Brandon Day

Photo by Brandon Day

2. What kinds of royalties are available to collect?

By registering your tracks to a PRO, your music can work for you. One song can bring in multiple revenue opportunities. Here are three forms of royalties that you can receive:

  • Performance Royalties. When your song is played on the radio, the composer and publisher of the song are owed money.

  • Mechanical Royalties. Anything you can physically buy with your music on it. CDs, vinyl, a song on iTunes, a ring tone, cassette tape.

  • Digital Royalties. Music that you download and stream, like from Pandora. Royalties are pretty minimal associated with streaming platforms at this time.

  • Other RoyaltiesThere are other royalty sources available for artists, including those for artists who perform for musical recordings used in commercials, TV shows, films, stage productions and more. There's also royalties available for artists who are featured on camera while performing or who's voices are featured in commercials, TV shows, films, stage productions.  Artist rights organizations and unions in these areas include the Amercian Federation of Musicians, the Screen Actors Guild, and others. 

3. How important is having a publishing company?

When registering with a PRO, it’s important that you register as both a songwriter and a publishing company, if you are both the songwriter and publisher. If you don’t register as the publisher and are the publisher, the PRO can’t give you that portion of the royalty payout. This is true except for BMI -- if you register with BMI, you can claim both sides under just a writer's account. While registering as a publisher can have its benefits, it's not essential to claim both sides under that particular PRO. 

Photo by Brandon Day

Photo by Brandon Day

4. How do I register my music as a songwriter and publisher?

Copyrighting your music is a critical element in helping to create a sustainable career as a musician, and it's a relatively simple. It is easy to register as a songwriter. To register as a publisher, you need to pick a name for a publishing company, open up a bank account under that company name, and register your songs with the US Copyright Office. Note: This doesn’t mean you have to get a business license to start a publishing company -- you can register your publishing company through your social security number as an individual business.

5. Why is copyrighting my music important?

Copyrighting your songs protects your music and your livelihood as an artist. By registering your music, it creates a digital timestamp and holds up as legal proof if your music has been used without your knowing. Your music is sacred -- protect it.

If you have questions about any of this -- please reach out our Artist Relations Team at Marmoset. Our mission is to advocate, protect and work to restore value to artists. Give us a shout at

Classrooms Without Walls: Google's New Expeditions App Helps Students Explore The World


We paired up with Google to present a new educational tool that helps students travel to places where school buses can’t through their new Exploration app.

With this technological development, any given classroom can now scour Mt. Fuji or marvel at the Great Wall of China through cardboard viewers with screens that can show the far reaches of the world from where each student sits. Through a series of photos stitched together from Google Street View and images from a 16 camera set up from GoPro, students can get 360 degree views with 3D images in their virtual-reality excursions. Now, 45 million students and teachers around the world use Google’s educational apps and we were more than thrilled to collaborate and participate in such an amazing technological advancement.

Working with Producer, Sara Leimbach from B-Reel, our Producer and Audio Engineer, Tim Shrout led the project on our end. We used the Keen Collective track “Bright Futures” that perfectly captured the inspiring, thoughtful and with highlights of playfulness and curiosity.


A (brief) History of Music in Film

Music set to picture has the unique capability of enhancing the emotional nature of the story, of setting the tone and mood to add depth to a filmmaker's narrative. But do you know how music plays into the history of film? We scoured musical timelines and histories to find out - and in the process found some pretty epic composer/director teams that made an impact on film forever. Check out our (brief) summary of music in film below:

So we know that the Lumiere Brothers premiered the first motion picture in 1895. The first music set to picture happened in the early 1900's, and that's believed to be for a few reasons:

1. Because the projectors that used to play the films were loud. Music played over film was intended to help cover up the sound.

2. Music added another dimension to the plot line, characters and story in the film that wasn't there when the film was silent.

The music then isn't like the music we have in film today, though - more often than not, it was played by one person on piano or by a string quartet and was either improvised or borrowed from classical music cue sheets that didn't always quite fit the story. That was until Birth of a Nation in 1915, which marks the first time a full orchestra played the music for the movie.

Audio didn't make it into a full-length feature film until The Jazz Singer in 1927, with the opening line "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothing yet," making history as the first synchronized audio to film. Just a few years later, in 1933, Max Steiner created what is believed to be first-ever original score to film, in which music matches the story. This was to King Kong, and Steiner went on to score hundreds more films, including more you might have heard of: Gone With The Wind or Casablanca.

Right around this time was when composers adopted the classical scoring technique, where a composer writes music with themes and simple, repetitive melodies called leitmotifs to trigger the audience's emotions. Music at this point was still largely orchestral and considered Western classical.

Later, in the 1950's, jazz music began appearing in film, which opened the door for other genres to become a part of film as well. One of the most popular movie genres around this time were spaghetti Westerns, backing Clint Eastwood or John Wayne...

One of the biggest composer/director teams of the 1950's and 1960's was composer Ennio Morricone and director Sergio Leone. The duo worked together on many films, including Once Upon a Time in the West, A Pistol for Ringo and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Morricone's scores are noted for their sparse arrangements and unconventional instrumentation (he added things like bells, electric guitar and harmonicas into his scores). It is believed that his compositions changed the way composers wrote scores for Westerns from then on out.

While Morricone and Leone were teaming up to revolutionize the Western film genre in the 1960's, sci-fi movies and thrillers were also making their way into theatres. This is when one of the most famous composer/director teams was born: Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock.

We'll try not to fan-girl out about this duo too much here, but...this is a pretty awesome pairing. Herrmann, a New York born composer, made his name first by classically scoring the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds in 1938, and then by scoring Citizen Kane in 1941. But the late 1950's and 60's showed Herrmann creating more stark, dissonant scores. like the dangerous, shrieking violins of Psycho or the darkly ominous, orchestral soundtrack to Vertigo. Much of Herrmnann's work was uncomfortable in its sweeping intensity, creating an unsettling tone that might not have originally been there. Hitchcock famously wanted the shower scene in Psycho to be silent, for instance, but Herrmann disagreed.

Herrmann's experimental technique paved the way for composers like John Williams in the 1970's. Williams wrote the score to the little series called Star Wars and made film history with his two-note theme for Jaws. The classical scoring technique made a return during this decade, ushering in more theme-driven scores from composers of the time.

The 1980's and onward has seen a ton of advancement in musical scores. From the dawn of the synthesizer - which allowed composers to create a score entirely from their own, without an orchestra to back them - to stepping away from entire thematic soundtracks to more individual "song scores," the past few decades have produced many memorable scores, such as Williams' magical score to Harry Potter, Howard Shore's epic, sweeping soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Hans Zimmer's booming, ominous score to Inception.

Needless to say, with all of this history to build on and grow from, we're excited to see what comes next. What are some of your favorite music moments in film? Let us know in the comments below.

- Kaitie Todd

Finding the Perfect Song // An Interview with Joe Simon


We recently featured the short film "Budapest" from our friend Joe Simon. Over the course of a day, he filmed a captivating portrait of a beautiful, historic city. Check out the vignette HERE.

One of the striking and successful elements in Simon's film is the use of music and how it moves the images on screen. The sparseethereal song "Dusk" helped create an vivid atmosphere of reflection and perfectly glided with the sweeping landscapes on screen. We caught up with Joe Simon and chatted with him about how he arrived to find the perfect soundtrack.

M: What was the process of finding the right music for "Budapest"?

JS: I wanted to find a song that was a little mysterious, started off slow and built up to a really nice climax. I love searching for music on Marmoset because of the "Arc" search, it makes my life a lot easier that I can find music specifically to hit the high points I've planned for the edit. I had a quick deadline editing this film, I wanted to edit this in Budapest within 12 hours so I had to limit my music search to 1 hour and I happened on this song about 45 mins into my search. As soon as I heard it I knew it was the one. 


M: What led you to decide to choose "Dusk" out of so many songs? What was it about that song?

JS: There was a few things that made this song perfect. 

1. Started off very slow, almost ambient. This allowed me to open with the right shots to create anticipation

2. A solid build throughout the song

3. Built to a great sounding climax.

4. The instruments had the right sound to fit the vibe I pictured in my head. 


M: How important do you find music to be in your projects?

JS: Music is huge, it's a large part of our storytelling process. The music sets the tone of our films as well it enhances the emotional content. Different music will make your viewer feel different things about the same footage/story, it's so powerful. 

Continuing along with Simon's point about how music can set the tone of a film, here are 2 examples of "Budapest" with a different soundtrack to showcase how completely different the mood can be by changing the music.

In this version of the film, we used the song "Silverleaf" by Glass Wands. This piano-led ambient piece starts off sparse and ultimately ascends into a beautiful crescendo with strings and synthesizer.

In the second of two examples, we took a more energetic approach with the song "Bright Beginning" by D.V.S. This music evokes a sense of hope and moves at a quicker pace with an elevated pulse from the drum machine.

Demystifying Music Licensing for Blue Collar Musicians

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In this modern landscape of the music industry, the role of music licensing has become one of the most important avenues of income for blue collar, working musicians.

On Wednesday, July 9, Marmoset will bring together a group of talented and experienced creatives to have an open conversation and help break down and demystify the fog and complexities of music licensing and what it means for you, the working artist.

We're ditching industry jargon and insider talk for an honest, transparent conversation. We'll break down the process and decision making that goes into licensing your music to film. We'll show some examples, take you through the process and help explain why decisions are made, what music works best, and the nuances behind the scenes. 

The discussion is taking place at our Headquarters - 2105 SE 7th Avenue, Portland OR 97214. Doors are at 5:30.

The event is currently filled and we're no longer accepting RSVP's. Please check back in or sign up for our newsletter to find out about our upcoming events. Thanks so much.


Let's meet the speakers...

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Ron Lewis is a Music Supervisor at Marmoset who's worked on a ton of independent films, commercials and ads. He's also experienced time in the field as a touring and recording musician with the likes of The Shins, Fruit Bats and Grand Archives.




Joe Simon is an acclaimed Austin-based filmmaker who's traveled the world, capturing stories with his striking documentaries. Winning multiple Telly Awards and a place on Event DV's Top 25 list, he's become one the most innovative voices in the industry today.


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Johnny Clay is a composer whom has built up a incredible resume of scoring for ads, film and reality TV, leading him to been able to quit his day job and pursue a full time career in music.  He's a wonderful case study of a Pacific Northwest blue collar musician success.




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Leading the event is our fearless leader, Marmoset Co-Founder Ryan Wines, bringing a wealth of working knowledge in the music licensing industry as a label owner, band manager and creative director.  Ryan co-pilots Marmoset’s creative teams, overseeing all music licensing and original music projects. He also recently gave a TED Talk on fostering creative culture and creativity


Music + Picture // Moving Forward with Aldebran Robotics

We recently worked with Aldebaran Robotics and director Max Esposito on this truly inspiring vignette.   Through this marriage of music and film, a truly touching piece has come to light. 

In this film, we witness the ingenuity of technology as a means to further education and communication.  Through the collaboration of developers, engineers, animators and teachers, the use of robotics has brought new possibilities in the classroom setting for children with autism with the NAO Robot

Throughout the process of embellishing the video's cinematic state, this custom-composed soundtrack weaved in a surging and euphoric mood to the piece.  The cohesion of music and film in this vignette flows harmoniously to bring together a piece that travels like a breathtaking journey.


Learn more about our custom compositions HERE.