Music licensing company Melodie are reshaping the music industry in Australia

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Music licensing company Melodie are reshaping the music industry in Australia

Left to right: James Henry, Helena Czajka, Nooky
words by jacob mccormack

Established in 2017, Sydney-based music licensing company Melodie are making a name for themselves within the industry.

Designed to provide direct opportunities to artists and composers within the world of music for video, advertisement, television, podcasts and other types of content, Melodie has been growing exponentially since their inception.

However, the process of setting up Melodie has been a challenging journey to say the least. From the perspective of their Managing Director, Evan Buist, this has meant building the foundations of the company from scratch.

“Starting out we had no music, no clients, and had made a decision to build our search technologies from the ground up,” says Evan. “We were bootstrapping Melodie for the first two years, which meant a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create a sturdy foundation.”

But as time passed the catalogue grew. Organisations and musicians alike involved themselves with Melodie, and the business began to blossom.

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“It’s certainly a lot easier now,” he says. “The decision early on to focus on retaining a high level of quality across everything we do, meant we were able to develop a strong foundation with great technology and fantastic music, which our users love. We deliberately decided to grow our library more slowly and in a measured way in order to keep that high level of quality. Which means even though we don’t have the largest catalogue in the world, our users are able to find better music, faster. It’s quality over quantity”

The catalogue system that Evan refers to acts in a starkly different manner to that of streaming services. Melodie works by granting licences to content creators, businesses, brands and production companies to use music in their content.

“The main difference between Melodie and streaming companies, like Spotify or Apple Music, is that we provide our users with synchronisation (‘sync’) licences to safely integrate music inside content such as TV shows, films, videos, ads, games and podcasts. It’s an area that some composers and artists might not explore as much as they probably should, it’s quite a lucrative corner of the market.”

This final point is vital, as Evan, who has come from a compositional background, knows that as a musician it can be tough to make a decent income. The intention behind Melodie is to create an additional income stream for musicians, in a way that places value on their creativity and acknowledges the arts as an income generating profession.

“My background is in audio post and composition, writing jingles and music for advertising,” adds Evan. “So, I know first hand how important it is to look at all the different ways to earn money in music – it’s not easy to build a truly sustainable, long term career in the arts. Alongside streaming, touring, physical media, merchandising and other opportunities explored by our writers outside of Melodie, we provide music licensing opportunities for the tracks we represent. It’s simply another string to the bow.”

“We acquire music from our artists on a track-by-track basis. We might sign 10 or 20 tracks from a new composer, and are immediately able to plug that music into our established distribution channels, licensing those tracks across the creator economy, royalty generating broadcast media, and creative technology platforms with users via our API product.”

“Every time we license a piece of music, whether it’s to a creator, an ad agency, a TV production company, or anyone else: our artists get paid. We’ve built a highly benevolent model whereby our artists receive 50% of every dollar we earn, and keep their performing rights royalties. We’ve never done buyout deals, ensuring our artists are setting themselves up for a sustainable career in music.”

Melodie has a worldwide roster of currently around 120 composers and independent artists from every corner of the globe – with more than half of the roster from Australia. The support for Australian music and local artists, is a commitment that was built into the company fabric from its onset.

“We’ve just introduced a new initiative on the platform – an ‘AUS button’ – empowering local users to filter only Australian music, thus directly supporting local artists and our industry. This is something which has never been done before, and we’re now approaching local brands, businesses, production companies and all levels of government to say, ‘hey, if you’re interested in supporting local music, you can toggle that button to ‘AUS’ and every time you download a track you’re paying a local composer.’ It’s that easy.”

“We’re also working with First Nations artists and have recently set up an investment initiative where we’re channelling $25,000 a year into the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists for sync opportunities via the Melodie platform. Our goal is to help seed the development of a First Nations Screen Music Economy: to engage and support artists through those opportunities around music synchronisation and royalties, creating new and ongoing revenue streams for those creating the music.”

For composer James Henry, a Yuwaalaraay, Gamilaraay, Yorta Yorta and Yuin man, becoming involved with Melodie has generated another means of making money through compositional work.

“Melodie reached out to me via someone I have worked with a while back,” says James. “They knew I was writing music for theatre and screen and thought I might be a good fit for Melodie. I don’t have a publisher and always wanted to have my music available. It appealed that I could make use of tracks I’d written that were good, but hadn’t made it into the final cut of productions I was working on.

“I also wrote some specific music for them; a contemporary/traditional Aboriginal music blend. It was nice to write for a specific production in which I knew how I was to be paid and have clear guidance. It’s great to know they have an interest in representing Aboriginal artists and music, and also that there are genuine requests for it from their users.”

As Melodie continues to expand as a business and provide strong support for Australian music in doing so, the future looks bright for musicians and composers to continue doing what they love, and get paid.

Access Melodie via their website here.

This article was made in partnership with Melodie