CueSongs beta revisited – colour me surprised!

Extra! Extra! OMG!!
Almost a year ago now, I blogged an early judgement on the CueSongs beta. Suffice to say I was very disappointed at a service that was trumpeted as a radical shake-up of music licencing, making it accessible and affordable for all, when it was very much less than that. Accordingly, I posted an irritated polemic, and also emailed the text to CueSongs. Even after a pleasant couple of email responses from Ed Averdieck and another member of staff, I was gently rebuffed in suggesting they expand their offering to “semi-pro” and home users.

It’s been particularly pleasing that, to this day, Googling CueSongs beta brings up my blogpost as the second result!*

However, I’m always willing to reassess and accept that I may have got things wrong. Having subscribed to their updates, I recently had an email informing of changes including this gem:

We’ve got many more license types available. In particular, we’ve introduced new cheaper licenses for SOHO (Small Office & Home Office) video producers, for YouTube Channels and online broadcast and for non-commercial users like schools and producers of wedding and other home and family type videos.

Hallelujah! Having dug into the site in more detail, I found their very sensible percentages charges. Given online advertising is 100%, they’ve got a much more diverse selection of licences, including School at 1% and Personal at 0.5%. Given a sample track, FRIDGE MAGNETS – SHE DON’T DANCE (INSTRUMENTAL) [as mentioned below, the website design doesn’t enable linking to it!] which costs £600 for a World licence, that means Schools pay £60 and the personal charge is £30. Not too far off from my suggested basic rate in the previous post!

I’m also glad to see they’ve added a Photographer/Videographer licence for event footage, again at a low rate a world away from the high corporate percentage levels – a very good decision.

Even more encouraging is the way they’ve allowed internet streaming on the various licences, and made the key distinction between ad supported and no ads. A video can come under Personal, School or Videographer licences as long as it’s not ad supported on Youtube (which is a system you have to actively opt into). Ad supported Youtube videos need the still reasonable 5% rate. I’m guessing that if your duly licensed kitty video suddenly goes viral and you want to put ads on it, you’d simply be able to re-licence at the higher rate.

There are still room for improvements. The track selection is still rather anaemic, meaning the music you can use is dictated by their available selection, although that’s to be expected in a service that’s still young and growing. Also, personally I don’t like the one-page app-ish design that flicks around when you click on things, and doesn’t have tracks as specifically linkable/openable HTML pages. It doesn’t feel like a website design that’s robust enough for powerusers (not to mention SEO) – but again, this may well be changed and updated as the service grows. Or perhaps I’ll grow more used to websites designed for tablets rather than computers!

One other issue worth noting is that a lot of tracks don’t have the cheaper “non commercial” licences enabled. Again, hopefully the record labels will eventually be convinced that, rather than diluting their brand, this is a positive thing. As I’ve explained before, the videos will be uploaded either way – infringing or licensed. Allowing the licences just enables them to profit from it, even in small amounts, versus getting nothing. But this probably isn’t under CueSongs’ control – they’re just waiting on the publishers waking up to 21st Century realities.

All in all, I’m both impressed and encouraged. Whether my feedback had much to do with it or not, it’s pleasing that CueSongs has updated its offering to better reflect and service the commercial realities of the internet today. I wish them great success in their continued growth!

* = YMMV, due to Google’s filter bubbles…

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