Monetizing Remixes

by Jeff Ponchick in Distribution February 07, 2017

If you’re a producer or a DJ you probably have a whole catalogue of remixes that you’ve been working on, and sitting on, for quite some time. Wouldn’t you love to share those remixes with the world? Or better yet, maybe even make a little money off of them? The remix culture is probably one of the best ways to really make a name for yourself as a new artist in the electronic scene, but if you do plan on redistributing these remixes, either for sale, streams or monetization on SoundCloud or YouTube, it is important to understand that you will first need to obtain a license from the original copyright holder before this is possible. Otherwise you run the risk of copyright infringement which could result in you facing very serious legal action from the “master recording owner” of the song that you’ve remixed.

A license is basically a formal, or informal, written contract between you and a copyright holder which grants you the permission to monetize their work in whatever manner they’ve outlined. These licenses can grant you rights in some areas, but also may prohibit from the right to monetize in others. It is important to be very clear about the conditions of your license beforehand so you do not find yourself in a legal battle over the revenue you’ve earned.

Unfortunately there is only ONE way to get a license on a remix track, and it’s not always easy. When remixing someone else’s music you are taking portions of the actual audio recording from the original track and using it in a new creative song recording. This falls under the jurisdiction of either the label or the artists themselves (usually independent), which either way is referred to as the master recording owner. If you are attempting to license a song from another independent artist, who is not represented by a label, the best way you can go about obtaining a license is to contact that artist directly, and basically just ask them for permission. This can be through an email, a phone call, or whatever else you’d like, but eventually you will need to have some kind of signed document between the two of you that outlines what the license is for, where and when it will apply and how much you will be paying them for the right to use use that portion of the song. Usually, the more of the original audio you use, the more it will essentially cost you.

Here is a Remix Agreement Template you can draw from:

On the other hand, if the audio recording you are trying to license is being held by a label, and not by an independent artist, your job is going to get a lot more difficult, and most likely a lot more expensive as well. In many cases, unless you have a direct connection with the label that owns the original, it can be nearly impossible to get an audio remix cleared.

A license to remix and monetize someone else’s work can get pretty expensive if the song is a hit, but be sure to understand the difference between remixing and covering a song because the latter can cost you a lot less money and a whole lot less of a headache too if you are an independent artist.