Music for Filmmakers: How Art-list Is Changing the Way We License Film Music

Film Music licensing has always been a hassle. It used to be that you had to deal directly with record labels, or a performance rights organization like ASCAP or BMI. Back then, it was neither simple to license good music, nor inexpensive.

These days, there are plenty of services that offer royalty free music, and many of them are easy to use and specifically designed for filmmakers. However, licensing high-quality music on a commercial basis is still expensive — oftentimes prohibitively expensive for low-budget filmmakers and people who need to license multiple songs for multiple projects.

That’s where Art-list comes in.

The Israeli film music licensing platform, which is launching at the end of February, is looking to make quality film music available to everyone for an affordable annual subscription fee of $199.

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What does that subscription cost get you, you’re probably asking? Well, quite simply, it gets you unlimited access to every single song in the Art-list catalogue (of which there are currently over 1000).

And more than that, it gets you universal licensing of those songs, which means that you can use them however you want — including on commercial projects — for as long as you want. There are no hidden fees or anything. You just subscribe to Art-list, find and download some film music, and you’re ready to roll.

Here’s the company’s introduction video, which features Ira Belsky, a working filmmaker who co-founded Art-list after being frustrated with all of the current options for licensing film music.

In the company’s press release, Belsky outlined his reasoning behind founding Art-list:

“There’s a lot of great music out there, but most filmmakers don’t have the budgets to license a lot of songs,” Belsky said. “So we decided to create a platform that would give filmmakers unlimited access to real, honest music that comes from working musicians, and making it available to everyone for an affordable price.”

Film Music Quality (Plus 5 Free Songs for IFH Readers)

While there are other subscription services offering unlimited royalty free film music, none of them match the quality of music that you can find on Art-list. Just click here for your 5 FREE Songs.

That’s because the music on Art-list comes from real working musicians from around the globe, not from some guy in a bathrobe with a MIDI keyboard who sits around making stock music tracks all day every day.

Another one of the company’s co-founders is Asi Ayalon, a well-known musician and producer in the Israeli music industry who has deep ties with other independent musicians around the world. His ability to source inspiring film music and work directly with musicians is at the heart of Art-list.

So far, the company has produced several videos spotlighting featured artists.

One of the other cool things that Art-list is doing right now is giving away 5 free songs from their catalog so that everybody can hear the quality of the film music they’re offering.

Here’s a quick preview of the songs they’re giving away.

If you’re interested in downloading the songs for yourself, just head on over to the Art-list website and enter your best email address. The songs will immediately be sent to you in both MP3 and WAV formats.

The Interface

Another compelling aspect of Art-listt is its interface, which is clean, minimal, and downright beautiful to look at.

Of course, good looking and functional aren’t necessarily the same thing. Luckily, Art-list is designed to get out of your way and help you find exactly what you’re looking for with search qualifiers that are genuinely useful for filmmakers.

Unlike other licensing services where you’re immediately presented with an overwhelming array of genres and tags, Art-list lets you search its catalog by mood, the theme of your film, or by the instrument type that you’re looking for.

And of course, you get a nice graphical representation of each song’s waveform, which can be helpful when you’re trying to find a song that shifts from quiet to loud or vice versa.

Benefits of the Subscription Model

Other than the fact that that you get unlimited film music, Art-list’s subscription model also has one other major benefits.

Because of that business model, the company is incentivized to follow music trends and keep their library fresh and current. If they don’t update it regularly with new music that filmmakers want, people won’t renew their subscriptions. It’s as simple as that.

All in all, Art-list is very likely going to be an incredibly valuable service not only for independent filmmakers, but also for YouTubers, podcasters, and anybody else working in media production who needs access to quality music at an affordable price.

Art-list is set to launch in late February of 2016. If you’d like to be updated on its progress, be sure to follow them on Facebook.


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Robert Hardy is an independent filmmaker and writer based in Denver, CO. He runs The Filmmaker’s Process, a one-of-a-kind site dedicated to teaching filmmakers how to craft films that they’re genuinely proud of.


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