One of the most frustrating things about my Ongoing History of New Music podcasts is that we cannot use full songs. In fact, the use of any amount of any song in a podcast is kinda dodgy. Here’s why.
When an artist signs a deal with a label, the label is granted the exclusive right to distribute that artist’s music. If we were to include that artist’s songs in a podcast, we’d become a distributor, opening us up to all kinds of legal action.
And here’s the crazy this: There is no legal mechanism for us to secure permission to include music in podcasts, even though we’re willing to pay some kind of licensing fee.
I’ve spent the last number of years speaking with various industry groups and record labels about the problem. “Don’t you realize how much money you’re leaving on the table? Can’t we figure this out? WE WANT TO PAY YOU!”
The reaction has been “Oh, yeah. I guess that’s true. Good point” And then–crickets.
Meanwhile, the podcasting world has been growing exponentially, with plenty of podcasts flouting licensing rules by including music, anyway.
It’s a mess.
HOWEVER, change seems to be in the air. An American organization called SoundExchange along with a company called PodcastMusic and other known as SourceAudio are apparently set to announce some kind of service that will “provide a new solution to the rapidly growing podcast industry to secure music with full integrated global licenses.”
It’s not ready yet. The service is set to launch in 2020 and that “participation…by publishers, labels, and other rights owners is on a voluntary basis.”
Ah. Digging into things a little deeper, it’s clear that PodcastMusic will not offer a blanket sort of music license as we see with radio stations, meaning that this appears to be a chaotic patchwork solution. It’ll be difficult to have music-intensive podcasts with, er, music. But it could be helpful for spoken word programming (i.e. shows like The Ongoing History) that use music in an educational/documentary sort of way.
A full announcement will be made Thursday. Meanwhile, you can read more here.