Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yamaha Behind the Scenes: A License To Trill

Once again, we're very pleased to present some behind the scenes insight on from our PianoSoft insider, Cathy. Today's topic: The grueling licensing process behind the music you hear on your Yamaha instrument. Enjoy!

Have you ever browsed through the MusicSoft library and wished that you could find a favorite song or artist? Well, you are not alone. Those of us in the production end wish that we could feature our favorite songs or artists. Most of the time we can but there is a significant percentage of music that we cannot develop.

Popular songs composed after a certain date (always changing) are owned by someone. A large percentage of songs are managed by a larger clearing house that can grant mechanical licenses to developers (like Yamaha) but many songs are not managed by them. The songs that are not represented by larger organizations may be controlled by individuals or the original copyright holder. These companies may decline our request to produce their music.

On the bright side, we are currently in negotiations with copyright holders whose music was previously unavailable.

Click here to keep reading.

On the bright side, we are currently in negotiations with copyright holders whose music was previously unavailable. We hope to release many new selections and will keep you informed as we acquire the licenses for more great music.

I mentioned that this type of license is called ‘mechanical.’ This type of license allows the developer to produce a rendition that may be sold as a product. It might be on a record (what’s that?) or a CD or other types of physical media. There is also a mechanical license called ‘Digital Permanent Download’ and this license gives the party permission to sell a downloadable version of a rendition of the song. Sometimes we can get a license for a physical product but not the downloadable version. It gets complicated.

Let’s not forget the radio! Yamaha offers a great radio service playable through Internet Direct Connection on internet capable instruments. This usage involves an entirely different type of license called a performance license. These licenses are managed by performance rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI.

It is possible that we may have ‘cleared’ a song for mechanical rights and be unable to feature it on the radio. Sometimes the reverse is true. We would be able to play a selection on the radio but not offer it as a product. Fortunately, there are some smart people at Yamaha who track all of these attributes and make sure that the right songs are being released in the right environment and that the right people are being paid for their usage.

PS…I’m not one of those smart people.

This is a little bit of the saga of music licensing as it pertains to MusicSoft development. Do you have comments or questions? Do you want to know how my cat can eat dry food with only four teeth? Write to:

and I will reply! I may not know the answer but I will reply.

Note: Any suggestions or comments you send will be reviewed but we cannot promise to develop every project request. We have already received some great content suggestions and they are all under consideration. Please only send musical content suggestions and not any concepts that could be construed as intellectual property (technical concepts and ideas).

Have a musical day!

- Cathy