Platform streamlines music licensing for non-pro prods

The last thing student filmmakers used to have to think about when creating their projects was the legality of the music they used. After all, it was unlikely that any big-name music creators would come calling after sitting in on a student film festival or a university workshop.

But with a multiplicity of digital platforms allowing nonprofessional fillmakers access to untold numbers of viewers — and the potential to gain viral fame through them — securing proper licenses becomes a potentially costly, momentum-killing hurdle.

That’s where music licensing platform Audiosocket steps in. The company launched a new platform, dubbed Audiosocket U, earlier this month, making a streamlined approach to licensing available in targeted form to student filmmakers.

The idea is to provide students an alternative to either crossing their fingers on uncleared commercial music or delving into the canned stock sounds from free production music libraries, with a number of Audiosocket’s offerings falling closer toward the commercial music end of the spectrum. With a catalog that the company claims houses 35,000 songs from 2,000 indie artists, the company has seen its platform adopted by independent videogame and mobile app makers, and hopes to provide a convenient way to skirt the dreaded DMCA takedown notices that can sideline videos on YouTube.

The Seattle-based company, founded in 2007, had previously secured partnerships with Vimeo and IndieFlix, and it was through a venture with the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) — for which the company provided music for trailers and other fest videos — that the company spawned the idea of targeting student filmmakers.

“I don’t think there’s any better way to go to market than when the need drives the product,” said Audiosocket prexy Jenn Miller. “In this case, we certainly didn’t sit down and come up with the idea to start Audiosocket U, it was because we were addressing students’ phone calls and inquiries and giving them the opportunity to go through the process.”

The company’s platform, dubbed MaaS (Music as a Service), provides filmmakers with a genre-specific listing of pre-cleared songs, some licensable for as little as $5 dollars. Upon purchase, a student filmmaker would then receive all appropriate documentation of the agreement.

“Educating (film students) about copyright compliance is great, but if you don’t provide them with a resource, it’s only 50% of the equation,” Miller says. “All the major platforms — YouTube, Facebook, Vevo — they all require these sorts of documents now, and while SOPA and PIPA may have been squelched in their original incarnations, copyright compliance is no longer a request, it’s a demand, and we’re furnishing students with the ability to actually do the right thing.”

Audiosocket is far from the only, and certainly not the first, film-services company to target student filmmakers. Script software company FinalCut Pro and editing platform Avid license their technology to film schools, hoping to instill brand loyalty that will carry through when the student enters the pro ranks. Miller says Audiosocket’s student platform is still too young to discuss longterm strategy, though the company plans to reach out to film schools as the platform solidifies.

In fact, they’ve already signed up 20 to a program that allots an annual donation commensurate with the number of licenses granted through the university’s email addresses.

Music Bits

The imbroglio over the alleged corruption at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has grown ever more sordid, with a 70-page Los Angeles city audit spotlighting a series of major irregularities. Electronic music promoters Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac and Reza Geremi of Go have already been formally charged in the affair, with the city’s recent report alleging that the latter paid no rent on its 2010 Love Festival. Commissioners proposed a deal Tuesday that would grant the nearby USC control of the venue.

And, delivering happier news for major L.A. venues, Mexican rock veterans Mana supassed a significant Southland milestone this week, when the band sold out its 11th appearance at the Staples Center, with three shows slotted for this weekend. The previous record for Staples Center perfs was held by Britney Spears, with eight.

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