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TJ:
Matt, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today about SongFreedom.com. It’s such a great service, and I think photographers everywhere appreciate the effort you’re putting into the SongFreedom.com project.

TJ:
So for a photographer who’s just now discovering SongFreedom.com, could you give a quick overview of how SongFreedom.com is different than sites offering royalty free music?

Matt:
We created Songfreedom so photographers and their customers wouldn’t have to suffer through generic sounding music any longer. We offer high production value music including songs you’ve probably heard on the radio that your clients might actually ask about. On top of that we make it affordable so you can use new music every time and every year. No one wants to hear the same old tired thing production after production or year after year. We want people to feel excited again about post production and we want their customers to be excited. Using good music is a huge marketing tool. If you create a production that people want to share then your potential customer base could go through the roof. Basically, we got tired of seeing everyone’s work being brought down by lame music and I think their tired of it too.

TJ:
Most photographers realize that just because they own a cd, that does not entitle them to use the music on their website. How is paying for a membership to SongFreedom.com any different than paying for a cd?

Matt:
This could be a really long answer but I will try to keep it brief. You have to have rights to do anything with music other than listening to it in private. Songfreedom has obtained the necessary rights and the ability to pass on those rights to others. It’s really a LOT more complicated than that but I’ll keep it simple for the purposes of this interview. If someone really wants to dig into this they can go to Songfreedom.com and visit our “What Is Legal” page.

TJ:
With royalty free music, the most popular option is to pay a one-time fee for a song, and the song is then yours to use as you like. How is the SongFreedom.com model different? Are there plans for SongFreedom.com to provide a buy-it-once model in the future?

Matt:
The one-time fee for royalty free music has been the norm for a long time. Songfreedom.com is a subscription platform. To give an example of how it works (and why it’s better) let me lay out one of our packages, the Silver package. This package only costs $40/month ($480/year) and allows our members to use up to 30 songs in our library over the course of that year. Think about it. That comes out to only $16/song if you use all 30. You’d have to use only 8 songs to equal the same price per song ($60) as some of our competitors. On top of the price difference I would argue that our music is better. How often do you get to pay less for something that is better? It’s pretty unheard of.

The other side of this question, being using the song for as long as you like with royalty free music, goes back to my answer to your first question. Are photographers really wanting to use the same song over and over and over and over and over and over… I’m getting bored just thinking about that. On top of that you have to consider your clients and potential clients that won’t enjoy slideshows or videos as much if the music is substandard and they definitely won’t enjoy them if they’ve heard the same song used in 5 or more other productions.

Our system is pretty simple. You sign up and have one year to download your songs and appropriate data for use. From the day you download that song and data you can keep your production using that song up for the next year. That’s plenty of time to leave it up and then start cycling the old productions out and making way for the new ones. I’ve been to just a few sites that have more than 20 slideshows and/or videos up at a time and they are a mess. If everyone took a second to look at the most successful people in the industry they would realize that they always have up what’s fresh and the other stuff goes away.

TJ:
SongFreedom.com has more than just mainstream music. What other types of music are in the SongFreedom.com library?

Matt:
We realize that not everyone wants to use what they hear on the radio in their productions so it’s important to have a nice mix, but sacrificing quality and relevance should not be an option. We have indie, instrumental, and cinematic music on top of the popular stuff and it’s all high production quality and relevant.

What do I mean by production quality? I mean something that doesn’t sound like it was recorded in someone’s garage or by a digital recorder at a piano recital. Quality should be important to you because it’s sure important to your customers.

And what do I mean by relevance? I’m talking about sifting through a catalog of 10,000 songs that won’t legitimately pair up with any production. This is a HUGE problem on some sites. I’ve clicked through pages and pages and pages….and pages of awful music just trying to find the “diamond in the rough” and it’s exhausting. Maybe the music was just bad or had lyrics that didn’t relate to anything but either way it’s a huge time waster. We try to be a great deal choosier with our music. Most of it is from customer requests so we know it will get used.

TJ:
At the end of a video using a SongFreedom.com song, there is a required credits screen. Can you talk a little bit about why that’s important to include?

Matt:
Well, there’s a few reasons. First, it’s part of our licensing agreement and even if you’re a Songfreedom member and you fail to do this you’d be operating outside the licensing agreement. Second, you’re helping yourself. If you don’t have the correct info on the end of your productions then they are much more likely to be removed and/or targeted. Third, it helps the artists. You’ve taken the right steps and licensed the music legally, now others can now what that amazing song is you’re using (assuming they don’t know the song already).

We make this whole process easy though. When you download a song from our site you get a pre-created slide with the appropriate info. All you have to do is drop that slide into the end of your production.

TJ:
SongFreedom.com has different levels of membership based on song usage, which means you have to keep track of which songs you’ve used, how many times you’ve used it, etc. Any suggestions for how to keep track of the number of times you’ve used a song? Any plans to add a usage tracker into the website?

Matt:
For now, our site keeps track and cuts people off when they reach their limit. Unfortunately there is no member element to this tracking system, yet. We have some really cool things coming in the next couple months that will show tracking to every member and do much much more.

TJ:
Right now, if I counted correctly, there are 18 mainstream songs in the library. Are there plans to beef up the selection?

Matt:
There’s actually 37 as of right now. So, yes. Along with the major site revamp in July (Songfreedom 2.0) look for massive amounts of mainstream and other content to be added. In the meantime, we’ve got some amazing stuff that people can start using right now. Again, what we have in all of our libraries is quality content. So even just sticking to our Mainstream library you’ll probably find 35 or 36 more great songs than you will in other 10,000 song catalogs.

TJ:
How does SongFreedom.com choose which artists and songs to include? If photographers have a favorite band or song, can they send you requests for additions?

Matt:
Anyone can send us requests at any time. The music clearance process is just that, a process. Some things may take longer to clear than others. Some things may take a few weeks while others take a few months. Every request goes onto a list and things are processed in the order they are received in with existing member requests getting priority.

TJ:
Matt, you rock the house man! Thanks for bringing music to the masses (yep, just came up with that on the spot)!


To see what I thought about using SongFreedom.com’s mainstream music library, check out my recent SongFreedom.com review. For more information and to become a member, visit www.songfreedom.com

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