This is a follow up story for Easy Song. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi again, this is Aaron Green and I am still the Vice President/Director of Sales and Business Development for EasySong. Since our first Starter Story, we have changed our business name to simply “Easy Song”. We made this change since we have expanded our operations to not limit our scope to just song licensing services.
Not only do we continue to service the independent artist community with mechanical and custom licensing for any type of song clearance needs, but we have also branched out into Publishing Administration and US Copyright Registration services to help any songwriter publish and protect their original compositions as well as providing brokerage services to administer and execute their 3rd party license requests. This new dimension to our business model has been such a blast and we feel really good about the impact we’re making within this arena.
This new publishing administrative assistance program is where we set up links or portals on our clients’ "contact us" pages on their websites where all 3rd party prospects can connect with our team directly to explain the music use, project synopsis, and what media rights they need. This is a full-service program from start to finish, where we thoroughly screen each request, suggest action plans to our clients, and execute these deals with formal agreements, invoicing, reporting, and collection on their behalf; our partners hardly have to lift a finger.
This eliminates the time and energy our clients normally experience in regards to evaluating, extracting, negotiating, and answering any general licensing question. Our company operates as an extension of their customer service department to ensure their catalog has strong representation to make better deals with fair market value.
Our new Copyrighting Service has also been a nice shot in the arm for our company since we launched it in October 2021. Most often, many independent songwriters struggle with registering their original works inside the US Copyright Office (USCO), which can be an intimidating process to complete accurately. There are plenty of variables regarding what one can or cannot register regarding compositions and master sound recordings.
We have kept our ear to the ground for several years with these pain points and our team has completely immersed themselves in this entire process with the US Library of Congress. We have now reached the point where the USCO has collaborated with our team to survey and suggest system improvements for their user experience. Easy Song has been blessed with such a talented staff who are passionate about serving the community in this endeavor and have truly become experts in how to successfully legitimize our clients’ hard work into tangible and legal form.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
As of June 2022, we have grown to 146,000 users, compared to 60,000 when we published our first Starter Story in 2018. Our reputation continues to develop in representing individuals who have little-to-no music industry connections and need to be educated on music rights and licensing procedures.
We have strengthened our marketing efforts to reach more independent artists, bands, labels, production companies, filmmakers, ad agencies, community groups, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, schools, churches, and colleges. We have aggressively pursued more partnerships within the music distributor area, production companies, and artist promotional services. More and more partners are jumping on board to help fill the music licensing void within their current systems and providing their users with an improved customer service model when they can turn to the Easy Song team to answer any music rights question while tailoring and assessing what needs to be done for each project.
Within our new Publishing Administration department, we also offer licensing brokerage services to help dive in and actively represent their catalogs. This has been one of our new success stories.
For many years we have studied the music clearance game with over 11,000 publishers and record labels in our system where we have helped many clients secure 3rd party licensing on a variety of media rights and scales of production regarding songs they did not write, but wish to use the copyright and/or master sound recording for their projects. After executing a consistent flow of deals over the past 7 years alone, we felt confident to jump into the administrator game so we can sit on the other side of the negotiating table.
Some so many DIY self-published songwriters who need immense help with organizing and keeping up with large volumes of licensing requests. Many do not possess the expertise or music licensing knowledge to accurately screen and execute these types of deals, which is our bread and butter.
Our team understands all variables concerning the assessment of accurate market value compared to our client’s catalog stature and how that is compatible with these 3rd parties who wish to use their work. These partnerships have opened our eyes to this huge void in the independent artist community, and we truly believe this part of our business has immense potential to represent a vast market share of independent artists. We are currently scouring all opportunities to gain these administration lifers regardless of their catalog size or level of exposure.
Another big endeavor on the horizon is the development of our own Easy Song Marketplace. This is still in the early stages, but we have partnered with the best cover song studio vendor in the business who produces very high-end replica recordings of today’s latest Billboard hits of all genres, as well as an extensive cover catalog from the past 50 years. We plan to sell and license these recordings to the public. At the same time, our entire user base will have the opportunity to actively sell their recordings within this space while we help broker licensing deals to these 3rd parties. This will be a perfect marriage of our current systems all coming together at the same time into one beautiful digital store of music commerce.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Our mechanical song licensing division has leveled off over the past 18 months, which is our service to file, report, and issue cover audio song licenses to artists who wish to re-record a composition they didn’t write (covers with no copyright alterations and no original composition added) to be released in an audio-only product (like in a single, EP or album format). 8 years ago this was our main source of revenue, but now it occupies roughly half.
Since the MLC was established in the US (Mechanical Licensing Collective) in January 2021, this now operates as one of the central sources to represent all registered publishers to process audio mechanical licenses. This is mandatory for interactive audio streaming distribution stores (such as Spotify), however, our company is still allowed to issue mechanical licenses for digital downloads and physical media, such as CDs or vinyl (which there still is a decent market for these formats with plenty of independent artists).
Luckily, we anticipated this new shift in our industry a few years in advance since congress had been going back and forth with music publishers, digital distributors, and performing rights organizations to create this new establishment. We had already begun plans to expand our service offerings such as our Custom Licensing division (for any song request that requires special permission from the rights holders such as music videos, films, advertisements, lyric changes, master sound recording sample use, theatrical/live stage use or any form of composition print rights, for example), Copyrighting, Publishing Administration and Marketplace.
The constant entrepreneurial reminder keeps ringing in our heads as each new phase of our business passes; “to survive and thrive as a small business, we need to keep reinventing ourselves every 3-5 years”, which is the creed we have always followed since 2005.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The conundrum of allowing your employees to work from home vs. live in the office seems to have been one of the biggest cultural shifts we’ve experienced since 2020, just like many other small businesses. Now, many companies operate remotely, give their employees the option, or offer a hybrid model. There doesn’t seem to be any “right” or “wrong” answer to this and the dust has not completely settled in regards to what is more effective and productive for the company compared to the retention of good employees and their mental well-being.
If you can truly visualize the entire blueprint of your business model inside your brain and how it will be successful, anything is indeed possible.
At Easy Song we do offer flexibility for child care needs, mental wellness, or any signs of illness. However, outside of this, we still require our team to work live in the office. We believe there is a flow of constant synergy when talented humans get together and we experience higher productivity when it comes to live collaboration.
At the same, this is a very complicated industry while keeping up with its constant evolution, where there is ongoing training which we believe works best when our managers can work with our employees live in the flesh. The Easy Song team is such a strong unit and we have so much respect for what each person brings to the table that we need to cultivate and invest in these individuals.
There is also a flow of new ideas daily to create new opportunities, and revenue streams and strengthen our current systems. Once again, we do this best when we can collaborate in a live setting. Virtual meetings do not have the same internal impact. This is not an easy message to digest with newer employees who see their friends and family constantly working within remote settings.
Our management is still trying to find compromises and adapt new policies to these new standards where there is always a little give and take on this subject, but we hope to find a good sweet spot to make sure productivity is at a maximum level while keeping our employees happy.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Outside of our new Marketplace, we are also developing a unique music streaming app that we hope will revolutionize the way people use and experience their music library and playlists. I will save this fun surprise for our next Starter Story but keep an eye out on Giddy.
Within the next 5 years, we want to trailblaze the standard for how independent music is digested, administered, streamed, and distributed. We believe we have the right team, talent, services, and infrastructure to make this a reality.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
The Nineties written by Chuck Klosterman. This is a fascinating synopsis of all cultural and historic events that occurred in the 1990s. The way Mr. Klosterman breaks down the human and world significance of each section and chapter has brilliant commentary and details. Even though I lived throughout this interesting period, this book opened my eyes to so many details I had overlooked (or didn’t even know in the first place). It is such a fun and enlightening read!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I don’t want to sound like an after-school special, but if you can truly visualize the entire blueprint of your business model inside your brain and how it will be successful, anything is indeed possible.
I’m not talking about generalities here, I’m referring to you being able to boil down all concrete details to the very element inside your mind, and not just “hoping” it will succeed but taking a strict mathematical, non-biased approach to said blueprint, it is then up to the rest of your body to put forth maximum effort day in and day out to make sure this comes to fruition.
If you truly want this to occur, you will painstakingly solve all variables, identify upcoming obstacles and scour the universe for the right team with aligned entrepreneurial mindsets and work ethic, nothing can stop you. If you quit in the middle of this journey, you never really wanted it in the first place.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Customer Reviews
- Clear Cover Songs portal
- Custom Licensing portal
- Copyrighting Service
- Publishing Administration
- Partner With Us
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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