Late last month, licensing and distribution company Music Dealers closed its doors and went into liquidation with little to no heads up to their artists, affiliates, and the rest of the industry. Eric Sheinkop founded the Chicago-based firm in 2008 to provide great music by independent and emerging artists to eminent brands.
Music Dealers’ services included sync licensing, custom music, rights clearance, creative services, performance and live events, music search, sonic strategy, and blanket and direct licensing. The company worked primarily with unsigned artists, providing their music to players in the advertising, television, movie, and gaming industries. According to their website, which is still up and running, Music Dealers worked with well-known companies like Coca Cola, Visa, Nike, Disney, and Bud Light.
Music Dealers set themselves apart from other licensing and distribution firms by “pre-clearing” music, assuring that the songs in their catalogue had already been granted permission for use. They dealt with non-exclusive contracts, permitting their artists to license their music elsewhere as long as they made it available on Music Dealers’ database.
The closing of Music Dealers came as a surprise to the music licensing industry, just one year ago after the firm was named one of the fastest-growing private companies in America by Inc. 5000. The firm was making millions for unsigned artists and was reportedly looking to expand internationally. Music Dealers claims that their bankruptcy was due to large startup costs and subsequent years of operating loss, driving them into a debt of over $9 million.
What does the closing of Music Dealers say about the sync licensing industry as a whole? If a company as large and seemingly successful as Music Dealers can suddenly close its doors leaving many of its artists unpaid, what can we expect to see in the coming months from other firms in the industry? Karen Gwee of Consequence of Sound provides an in-depth analysis of the current state of the sync licensing industry and her predictions for the future in this article. (http://consequenceofsound.net/2016/08/the-collapse-of-music-dealers-and-music-licensings-race-to-the-bottom/).