July 20 2011
One of the biggest hurdles in the music today is licensing and clearing music and samples. It can be a legal nightmare, ask the band Verve when they sampled the Rolling Stones for their big hit Bittersweet Symphony. Verve made no money from their big hit because they had to pay all the royalties of that song to the Rolling Stones. Girl Talk is a very good example of the legal complexities of music clearance. Even though Girl Talk gives credits to the artists he samples, he does not give them any monetary compensation. On Girl Talk's album "Feed The Animals," there were over 300 samples used. If Girl Talk wanted to properly get clearances for all those samples, he would need to negotiate over 600 contracts, and he probably would never see a dime from the release. Then there is Danger Mouse and his "Grey Album," which propelled the producer into super stardom. Even though that mashup album was hugely successful, Danger Mouse had to deal with cease and desist letters from The Beatles' publishers.
There has been no easy way to deal with music clearance. It is a convoluted system, where there our lawyers at every corner. For every song that you want to get clearance, you need to deal with the publisher, and the copyright owner. However, there is a new startup called Legitmix that aims to make the process easy and painless for remixers and producers.
Legitmix is a new web platform that allows musicians to freely use other artists’ copyrighted music in their work. This could be remixes, mashups, dj sets, sample-based productions and music documentaries.
Legitmix is a simple-to-use browser-based software application. Artists use it to create Legitmix files for their works containing other people’s copyrighted source music. The Legitmix file contains no audio and can’t be played in any way. Fans use a Legitmix file, together with the Legitmix software, and their copies of the source music (in any digital format) to recreate an artist’s work on their computer. If a fan doesn’t already own the source music, the Legitmix music store provides an easy way to buy it. The recreated work is identical to the artist’s version and is automatically imported into a fan’s music library along with their purchased source music.
For example, let's say you want to legally purchase a DJ set from 88Nine's Saturday Session. First, DJ would need to the tell Legitmix what each song is that makes up the mix. If Legitmix has all of the songs that DJ identified, the mix will be turned into a Legitmix file, which the DJ can sell legally. Then to purchase the mix, Legitmix will search your music library for the source audio files, and if you have any of the songs that is in the mix, it will deducted from the cost of the purchasing the mix. This is great way to release mixes legally, but the downside is that it could get very expensive especially if you want to purchase a Girl Talk song, which could contain 10-12 copyrighted songs. Below is a screen shot of DJ mix by Diplo, who has partnered with Legitmix.
On the left side of the screenshot is where you can listen and purchase the mix. On the right side are the songs that make up the mix and the cost of each one. It even includes a breakdown of songs if the song is a remix. The cost to legally own this mix would be $17.46. That is very pricey, but it is a good start to making things legal.
Currently Legitmix has about 1 millions songs available in their store. Hopefully in the future, Legitmix will be able to negotiate with labels to make it more affordable for the consumer to purchase DJ sets, and remixes. Maybe a subscription based model might work. (via Pitchfork)
What do you think?