Finding the perfect soundtrack for a video project or short film can be a laborious and painful process for budget filmmakers, yet it’s a task that requires plenty of care and attention. Websites like Audio Jungle make it affordable to license music, yet the huge library means finding the ideal track difficult. On the other end of the scale, Marmoset provides excellent, curated music but may be too expensive for your budget. Music Vine claims to have filled this gap in between by providing affordable, high quality, curated music licensing. We sat down with Co-founder Lewis Foster to speak all things music licensing for video projects.
Last month, Facebook threw up a sponsored ad my way at just the right time, when I was sourcing music for an editorial fashion video. With it being a passion project, it was unpaid work so I wanted to keep the costs down, yet the vibe I was looking for was quite specific. I often spend hours searching for and testing out music. Not for the love of it, but because finding good quality, affordable licensed music is tough.
The sponsored ad was for a site I had never heard, Music Vine. I found the track I needed in about 10 minutes. At $40 I received the track in .wav and .mp3 formats in five versions of different lengths for a <1,000,000 web audience. Being a team-of-one filmmaker, I’m always searching for ways to make my workflow more efficient, and how to get good value for money for my licensing. Music Vine hit this sweet spot on this occasion, saving time in editing by providing a bundle of different track lengths, and being easy on the wallet. Was I just lucky on this occasion to find a compatible track in a short time, or was there more going on under the hood to help guide me to what I was looking for.
I reached out to co-founder Lewis Foster to get the scoop on Music Vine, a new player in an extremely competitive market dominated by some big players. He seemed to have understood the high levels of competition yet said, "we simply wanted to democratize the licensing of great music, making it legitimately affordable and straightforward for everyone to easily access world-class music for their productions."
For those of you who are used to searching budget friendly music licensing sites, you'll understand the frustration sieving through hundreds of useless tracks till you eventually come across the decent options for your project. Lewis and the Music Vine philosophy of "ten exceptional tracks are much more valuable than 100 mediocre tracks" drives their strict approval system. "Believe it or not, each and every track submitted to us actually gets checked by three separate reviewers before it is accepted, which may sound extreme but it's a part of the precedence we place on the caliber and authenticity of the music we take on."
By curating the music themselves, Music Vine attempt to do the heavy lifting for its users so that you’re only picking from high-quality music. With the time I've spent surfing the site, I'm inclined to agree that the quality of music and originality is certainly a step up from what I've experienced on more budget friendly, or free music licensing sites. What's more, they have a free suggestion service. That's right...free. Send in as much info on your production as you like and the folks who actually curate the library will suggest tracks and have your list of suggested tracks within you in two hours. I wonder how scalable this feature is, but for the time being, this could be godsendnd for any filmmaker tight on time.
Having good quality to pick from is pointless if you can’t find the track you’re looking for. Music Vine's answer to this is to "to focus on rigorous simplicity and on removing clutter." Music Vine matches market leaders with intuitive categorization and enjoyable browsing. The Spotify style curated playlists were an unexpected personal highlight when sourcing music.
There is no doubt that the library will need to grow beyond it’s 1645 track library to keep regular custom coming back, but in the meantime, Music Vine has built an effective platform to service filmmakers. Interestingly, this was not what seemed to have brought the most drive to Lewis in his venture. "We're home to a huge amount of very inventive and unconventional music which really serves as a creative treasure trove for those productions and films where something interesting is needed to break the mold. Cultivating the catalog in this respect is something we really enjoy and take a lot of pride in." When Lewis said this, it struck a chord with myself as a filmmaker, as I can appreciate the power of a genre bending track to complement productions.
The site feels like it’s a music licensing library made by filmmakers who have understood the challenges of scoring and editing within a budget. Take the simple decision they have made to remove the watermark from the tracks for example. They are opening themselves up to piracy for sure, but this represents a belief that any filmmaker worth their salt would acquire licensed music legally. This also makes listening to sample tracks more enjoyable and feel less arduous than on Premium Beat for example.
The future of Music Vine looks bright, with a brand new site about to launch that is even more focused on the user experience, all aimed at cutting down the time it takes for filmmakers to find the perfect soundtrack to their production. "We received significant investment after two years of 'bootstrapping' the business (i.e not living off much!) and as a result of that financial injection we've been busy working on building the all-new version of Music Vine."
When I first got in touch with Lewis, I expected the usual salesman language of "why us and not them." And yes, I certainly received the in's and out's of their music licensing platform, but what surprised me was the passion of linking up brilliant musicians with aspiring filmmakers. The music industry is an ever changing landscape to earn a living, and Lewis took immense pride in becoming the ideal matchmaker to these entwined mediums and I think this passion comes across in the thoughtful design of their site. "It's an awesome adventure to be on!" Lewis beams.
Music Vine are offering our readers 20% off a single purchase using the code FSTOPPERS at checkout.