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Easy Pop Music and Sound Licensing for Your Games with SongLily

, March 11, 2016

Great sound design is a crucial, but often overlooked element of storytelling.  Just try to imagine Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho without  Bernard Herrmann’s bone-chilling score.  Music is essential for world building, story immersion, and, most importantly, empathy.  Unfortunately, searching for and accessing pre-made sound is often challenging.  The sound market is fractured and difficult to navigate because of over-complicated licensing. Enter SongLily, a music licensing solution that helps you license sound effects and major label pop music.  

“Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit.” Beethoven

Here is an example of before and after sound design that Red Pipe did for the film State Zero:

SongLily offers production music, cues, sound effects and pop music all in one location, all immediately available for licensing and download.  SongLily’s mission is to help game developers can focus their time and money on creation instead of licensing red tape and tedium.

Licensing songs for your games

Well, let’s pretend you want to use popular music to enrich, support, and even subvert your narrative like the creators of Bioshock Infinite. For a little background (Spoiler Alert!), Bioshock Infinite takes place in 1912 and features a variety of songs from the time period as well as a handful of modern songs done up in a style to match. However, the creators have thrown in a few modern songs, kept in their original styles, to indicate ‘tears in reality’ created by the female protagonist, Elizabeth.

For a full list of licensed songs and how they were executed:

Now, if you happen to be the unfortunate person charged with the task of handling music licensing, you would learn that there are two copyright interests in a recording of a song.  One is the recording itself, commonly referred to as the “Master,” and the other is the underlying words and the notes, commonly referred to as the “Composition.”  In any piece of recorded music, whether it’s Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades,’ or a piece of production music, these two copyright interests always exist.  And to use any music in a game, you need a license for the use of both copyrights.   

The license necessary to use these copyrights in a game is called a Synchronization license (or Sync for short).  A Sync license is a license to integrate music (or sound) into and in timed relation with images.  It is different than a streaming license (like Spotify) which just permits someone to listen to the music.  So because there are two copyright interests, there are at least two licenses necessary to use a song in a game.  The Master is usually owned or controlled by a record label, a production music company or the artist themselves.  The Composition is generally owned or controlled by a publishing company, a production music company or the writer(s).  Sometimes, a song has multiple composers.  And in order to use that song it’s necessary to get a license from each composer (or, if each composer has signed to a publishing company, from each publisher).  So the end result is one song could require 4 or 5 licenses for use in one game.  

If you managed to follow any of that, I offer my sympathy, you must be exhausted from all the back and forth you’ve experienced having to deal with the record labels and publishers. If you’re still trying to figure out what any of the above mean, stop. This is why SongLily was created! Every track in the library has already been pre-cleared, including music by artists from major record labels, such as Fallout Boy and Motorhead.  If you’re looking for a quick and simple solution for music and sound licensing, SongLily is your one-stop shop, where you can browse, purchase, and download the sounds and music you need for your game in less than five minutes.

If you don’t believe it, then check it out for yourself:

9 replies on “Easy Pop Music and Sound Licensing for Your Games with SongLily”

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Thank you for this post and showing this service. Seems what I’m looking for is not there though. For my game I want to license the English cover of a song which the original Japanese version was sung by a group of three vocalists, made by a composer who is supposedly with JVC of Japan. A shortened version of the original song was used in a TV/animated series. It’s a maze but I’m sure I’ll find who to talk to.

Is there any distinct difference between this and APM music on the asset store? Or is it just an alternate library to browse from? Do the prices differ?

APM music seems to do paid royalty free music, so its all original tracks. Songlily does licensed music, so its music you will already know. So for example, you might see a beatles song on Songlily, but you wont see that on APM

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