Finally! It Is Now Possible To License Popular Music For Just $25

Finally! It Is Now Possible To License Popular Music For Just $25

A few years ago, after about 10 phone call attempts, I got in touch with a guy who was in charge of licensing the music for a major band. I wanted to purchase the rights for a single song to to play in the background on my wedding website. I was told that if my budget was below $15,000 he didn't have time to talk to me. Since my budget was around $100, our conversation ended quickly. It has always been practically impossible for individuals to purchase licenses for popular music... until now.

After I hung up the phone I was angry. The music industry wants us to pay for the rights of their music but then doesn't give us a reasonable way to do it. If I get paid a couple thousand dollars to shoot a wedding and then they want to charge me $15,000 to use the song once, for a slideshow that at best will be viewed 200 times, it simply doesn't add up. As photographers we understand copyrights and most of us want to do the right thing, but for years it just wasn't possible. Today I am proud to announce that this has all changed.

After WPPI in Vegas I got a call from Matt Thompson, the owner of Song Freedom. Matt told me that he had recently struck a deal with some major music labels and it would now be possible to legally license popular music for certain types of small projects. I was really excited by this news, but there are two small stipulations. At that point in time, these licenses were only good for 1 year. So if you made a wedding slideshow, for example, you would have to pull it down after 12 months. The other problem was that his service was subscription-based, meaning that you would have to buy 50 licenses up front. This would cause a problem for those people that many only want to use the service on a per-project basis.

A month ago Matt called me again and said, "Lee I have good news, the 1 year restriction is now gone and I have a per project price of just $25." At this point I knew that this service was a major game changer.

Song Freedom does not have every popular song, but there is one way to fix that. If we can all start licensing music legally more record labels will jump on board. Hopefully in the near future buying any song for commercial use will be as simple as an iTunes purchase.

Over the past few months Matt and I have become friends and I'm excited to say that Song Freedom will be an Fstoppers sponsor. I hope that each of you (especially the wedding photographers out there) will check out this fantastic new service.

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Elliott Montello's picture

This is fantastic news!!! This should have been made possible years ago. No more trawling through royalty free music sites having to listen to 99% crap till you come across one good song. hooray for "Song Freedom"

Mike Kelley's picture

I was literally just on the ASCAP 'rate calculator' page today and while it was a bit archaic, it was possible to get moderately priced music licenses (though I'm not sure if I had to spend 25k to license 300 songs to get those low rates). I was looking for a way to do something like what you've described - music for personal projects and slideshows, and this will be a great tool.

Daniel McCarthy's picture

Hey Mike - you should really check out - I think you'll dig the site. 

Dave Dugdale's picture

This is really cool news!

I can see how this will work fine with Vimeo and perhaps that's all you need for event based videos, but I can see and issue with YouTube since they can detect these songs and not allow the video if the record company doesn't want it used there. But I'm sure if you explain that to your client that it can't go on YT and only on Vimeo that they will understand.

George Mantaring's picture

Dave - Once you license the song, SongFreedom sends you a "License Slide" to add in at the end of your video, which is your proof that the song was licensed.  Hopefully that will help prevent the record companies from requesting a DMCA takedown, even after YouTube automagically detects the song content...

Other than the fact that their logo is freakshily similar to the old stumble upon one ( This is an FANTASTIC looking service. 

Tulaga Whitcombe's picture

I was just thinking the same thing when I first saw it... how ironic, did they license the logo to use? hehe

Bert McLendon's picture

I just went through the same crap talking with the licensing agent for the XX, I wanted to license their song "Intro" for a sel promo video... 20k... for 1 year... wtf?  After telling them that I only do this part time and that It would only generate 10k MAYBE for the year they said "sorry".  They need to open their eyes and see how much money they could be making licensing their songs to 1000's of small business owners.

Paul Nicholson's picture

SingFile and HFA used to be the way to do this stuff - and it's still a great way to do it - but they don't support Sync licenses anymore. Good to see that Sync (video) usage is the primary purpose for this new site.

Ghislain Leduc's picture


Chithanh Tran's picture

this is totally awesome!!!  I've been meaning to try and find a way to do this and make it easy on myself.  

So does this mean that they can put a song into a mega block buster movie for just $25?

Geoff Lister's picture

No, the licensing terms are pretty specific, these licenses don't cover anything beyond weddings and similar, personal videos.

Mihai Radulescu's picture

sounds like a great idea - however, i have searched for 20-30 tracks and artists i would plan on licensing, and none of them came up on the site :(

James's picture

how is that popular music ??? ... is the same music you find
in a petrol station in Nebraska !

Switzerfilm's picture

$25 per song - Songfreedom Wins!  Game over!  Couldn't agree with this article more

Jim Poor's picture

The entire country genre library consists of 66 songs. I've only heard of one of the artists. Popular where?

Joop van Roy's picture

Looks good, but Matt should really fill in width & height for his images! ;-)

Davis DeLo's picture

Good lord, who designed that atrocious site.

Erik Tande's picture

Is this for online productions only?  Can I use this on something that will go on TV?  I can't find any info about this on their site.

Aaron Psylywyc's picture

I would encourage video producers to stay away from popular music, because unless a certain song suits your video in a way that no other video can, I doubt you will garner any more interest because you're playing a piece everyone has heard before.

It's not like anyone watches a video and says "hey I know this song, that makes this video better!"

In fact, it's more the opposite; "Hey I've never heard this before, this is cool, I wonder what it is..."Use your videos as a launching point for new and original music by no-name or up-and-coming bands that will freely (or cheaply) license out their work. You get cheap licenses, they get exposure, and your audience gets new experiences. I've discovered plenty of cool music acts from videos posted up here on fstoppers, and if everyone starts using LMFAO and Katy Perry for their Wednesday Rundown vids I'll be severely disappointed.

Carlos Rosado's picture

That is awesome news. I saw the new mainstream music last night on Songfreedom. Hopefully soon they will be able to put more songs. It is a crime what these record companies want for their licenses. Thanks for this post.

Ethan Loomis's picture

The game is certainly changing! Now instead of just per-song licenses, you can get unlimited access to Soundstripe's entire library! Check out Soundstripe; I've used it in all of my recent video projects:

Mike Waterman's picture is my go-to site to license music. Just 99 bucks for a year of unlimited downloads which includes commercial use - hard to beat imo.