Venture takes licensing agency into music

Corbis, the licensing agency known for its vast photo library, has plunged into the music licensing biz with Greenlight Music, which launches today.

The new venture, an offshoot of Corbis subsidiary Greenlight (a clearance house that handles the personality rights of such estates as Steve McQueen and Johnny Cash as well as entertainment content), is bowing with with the cooperation of four major music label groups: EMI Music Publishing, Warner, Universal and Sony/ATV. Clients include Hallmark, with its audio greeting cards, and toymaker Hasbro.

The L.A.-based company bills itself as “a breakthrough online solution that takes music licensing from a complicated process that can take weeks, to a simple online experience requiring only a few clicks,” according to Gary Shenk, chief executive officer of Corbis.

Brian Monaco, exec VP sales & strategic marketing for EMI Music Publishing, added in a statement that the label is “committed to finding ways to simplify the sync licensing process” and calls Greenlight Music a platform that “uses technology to remove barriers and take the opportunity into new directions.”

With the four label groups as partners, Greenlight touts itself as a one-stop-shop for access to more than one million songs from well-known artists and songwriters, negotiating licenses and rates with all relevant content owners.

“We have a million customers around the world who come to us every day for iconic media,” Shenk told Variety, “and we thought that adding music to the mix was absolutely critical.”

Shenk explained that what sets Greenlight Music apart from what the labels can handle on their own is that “the reality is publishers and labels can’t administer 80% of the licenses (requested of) them because they don’t have the manpower to pay attention to a lot of the smaller deals that come in. They’re very good at advertising, television and film licensing. But a lot of the stuff that’s driving new demand — on the web, within companies, in online presentations — they’re not able to administer effectively.

“Ninety-nine percent of popular music is not owned by one entity — it’s owned by a label and usually multiple publishers. So (the labels) have turned that over to us. Yes, we’re a middleman, but we’re a middleman that for the first time has aggregated the world of popular music online.”

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