Ring Back Tone Music Licensing Guides

If you need some information pertaining to licensing music in ring tones and ring back tones; then refer to this guide. This may not be applicable in all countries but at least it will illustrate the general process. First, this guide is only applicable to the use of master sound recording in mobile phones otherwise known as “master tones”, “true tones” or “real tones”. Master Tone is using the true audio recording of a music in mp3 format (may use another format depends on the telecommunication carrier) as opposed to the old polyphonic ringing tones. This has grown so much in popularity over the years and is actually a $6.8 billion business last year in 2010 (Source: USA Today).

The one that will surely benefit from this is the owner of the master recording. In majority of cases, this is the major label or an independent recording label. Or if you are independent artist that creates your own recording (such as bedroom/home music producer), you can as well take this opportunity.

Mobile phone cellular ring tone

Mobile phone cellular ring tone

So how this licensing works?

First, telecommunication carriers are very selective with the music that they choose to sell as tones to their customers. And you need a contact with these companies to help you land a successful deal.

This is where establishing connections can be important; and once someone is interested in licensing your music for ring tones or ring back tones. Its time they will look seriously in your catalogue. Common questions will be asked are as follows. Make sure you are prepared on how to answer the following questions as accurately as possible:

1.) How many songs in your master recording catalogue? – These are the number of music that have commercially released master recording and that you also own the master recording copyrights.
The bigger the number of songs in your catalogue, the better the opportunity since it will translate to bigger royalties, better advance payment and lots of choices for your client.

2.) What are the best songs in your catalogue? – Your client is primarily interested for “potential hits”. Make sure you provide a list of great songs by order of importance so that they will prioritize these songs during the song audition process.

3.) Do you allow your catalogue to be licensed exclusively? – Some clients may want to license your catalog exclusively. But most of the time the deal will be non-exclusive.

The purpose of #1, #2 and #3 is for your client to get to know your catalog, genre, style, etc whether it will fit their business model and other potential clients. Finally if the negotiation of #1 to #3 goes very well, your client will tell you that they will be interested in continuing with the licensing application and will provide what songs they would like to license. In some cases, these might be subsets of your catalog (e.g. only those hits) or they might be interested in licensing your entire catalog.