Launched in 2016, Artlist has grown into a powerful tool for many independent creatives today, providing royalty-free music tracks for use in various projects.
Today, we talk with Artlist manager Dikla Josef about the problem filmmaker and co-founder Ira Belsky and his three friends were initially attempting to solve, and how that has expanded in the years since.
SbP: Hi Dikla! Thanks for chatting today.
Can you tell me a bit about how Artlist was founded? What was the problem Ira and the other founders were trying to solve at that time?
DY: Artlist’s co-founders were filmmakers and musicians. And they saw a gap in the industry between the low-quality stock music that was just made for making money and the high-quality music that came at a price. They wanted to find a way to bring inspiring music made with heart and soul by real musicians to every creator out there. After all, music is an essential part of the creative process, and you shouldn’t compromise on its quality. And it shouldn’t just act as a filler. Music has the power to take film and video to a whole new level. The Artlist community continues to grow as more musicians and filmmakers join us. And our aim is to keep it as relevant and inspiring as possible for all creators.
SbP: And you’re based in Israel, yes? Do you have offices anywhere else?
DY: Yes, we’re based in Israel. Our headquarters is situated in the north of the country, and we have offices in Tel Aviv and in the Central District. We are constantly growing.
SbP: Why did you choose to offer a yearly subscription plan for services, rather than monthly or pay-per-use?
DY: That’s a great question, and the pricing model is something we thought about long and hard before launching our product. For one… it’s simple, and Artlist is all about simplifying music licensing for creators. This allows them to focus on the creative part of filmmaking. Second, we want our users to get the highest quality music as well as service. This model helps us ensure our musicians get paid well for their inspiring work.
SbP: This is probably a question tentative subscribers have. If a user cancels their subscription, what happens to the licensing rights of content they’ve downloaded previously?
DY: Once you download a song with an active subscription, it’s yours to use forever. It’s the same even if you don’t renew your subscription.
Stock Footage Thanks to Artgrid
SbP: I’ve seen the platform grow over time; not only in terms of content. What is Artgrid and what are some of other plans for your platform being made in response to your users’ needs?
DY: Artgrid is the footage licensing platform we launched this year, and it’s reinventing the way creators around the world think about stock footage. Our aim was providing the same simplified license as Artlist’s, as well as high-quality footage from today’s top cinematographers around the world. Filmmaking is our passion, so we understand what today’s creative filmmakers need to produce amazing films.
We want our users to use Artgrid as a starting point in their filmmaking process. That means that rather than serve as a stop-gap for missing shots, our users can create entire stories from our footage and fill in the gaps with their own shots. This can save so much time and money for creators as well as inspire them creatively.
That’s why each shot in the Artgrid catalog is part of a story, which is a collection of shots from the same sequence. You’ll see different angles and points of view, which gives you a lot more flexibility and freedom.
As for Artgrid’s future, we aim to grow our footage catalog exponentially this year. And we’ll do it without compromising the quality we offer.
Regarding future plans in general, we know that technology has a major effect on the licensing industry. And we plan on being at the forefront when it comes to improvements and innovations. We’re working tirelessly to make Artlist more of a complete solution for creators. We started with music, then added stock footage, so you can expect big features this year. Stay tuned…
SbP: Cool. How did you go about finding music artists to contribute work before launch? And how are you going about getting more these days?
DY: Before we launched, we worked in two areas.
The first was signing a contract with a label from England that provided us with music from about 50 musicians. The second was making our own music. Two of our founders are musicians, and they worked their butts off so that we’d have about 1,000 original songs for our launch. Then, we put up a webpage on our website where musicians could contact us to become collaborators. We started recruiting in-house musicians that would contribute more music as part of our Artlist Original program. That gave us control over the quality and type of music we offer.
We still operate in these two avenues, and we also have music scouts that scour the web looking for promising musicians whose music could fit our catalog.
SbP: In that case, let me give a shout out to one promising your musician and producer with alot of heart and talent: Chris Punsalan.
DY: We always welcome new musicians. Aspiring artists are welcome to fill out an application and if we think it’s a good fit then our Music Department will contact them for further details.
SbP: Do your music artists contribute regularly, sort of like putting out new albums or tracks? Or do they contribute in one-off amounts?
DY: It depends. Some musicians come to us with a back catalog of albums that they want to put out there. But we have long relationships with our musicians, so they send us music regularly. Our artists are not only contributors, but they are also our partners. Our business model offers them a very nice percentage of our revenue, so when they succeed, we succeed.
SbP: What are your thoughts about ASCAP or other media licensing agencies?
DY: ASCAP and the other agencies are doing their own thing, which is looking out for musicians’ interests. Artlist was founded to fill the void created by the boom of filmmakers in recent years and the lack of affordable original music. As such, the sync license that we offer benefits both sides. On the one hand, it provides a new platform where musicians can get exposure and make a decent income from their art. And on the other hand, it gives filmmakers a source of quality music that can elevate their video.
Taking on the Competition
SbP: I’m going to pick out three other competitors within your space and I’d like you to tell me how you differentiate yourself from them. These are other platforms also providing quality music for the type of users you serve: Epidemic, Premium Beat, and Soundstripe.
DY: It’s funny because when we started, the music licensing industry was working on a pay-per-song model, and all the emerging creators out there couldn’t afford it. We disrupted the scene by going with the subscription-based model. Little by little, all the other companies followed suit.
Today, our main differentiating feature is probably our license. Our competitors set numerous restrictions on their licenses. They may limit you to post your video only on certain platforms. Or they may set a limit on how many followers you have. Or they may allow you to use a song for only one project.
We eliminated all these restrictions. With our sync license, you can use our music for any type of video project, even commercial. You don’t need to worry about your video getting flagged if it’s posted on the “wrong” platform or that you might face extra charges in the future. You can also reuse a song you like in as many videos as you want. And as I mentioned before, once you download a song with an active subscription, it’s yours to use forever and in any project even if you don’t extend your subscription. This is something that our competitors don’t offer.
Another advantage we have is value for money. If you take into account our one-time yearly flat fee of $199 (which comes out as $16.60 per month), that gives you access to our entire catalog, unlimited downloads and a license that covers everything. I think that you can’t beat that in terms of value for money.
Our third and final advantage is quality. I don’t want to slam our competitors… you can find good music there, but from what I’ve seen, we have higher musical standards. We manually check every artist, album, and song that is sent to us to see if it meets our quality demands. In order to see the big picture, we accept about 4% of the music that we receive. That doesn’t prevent us from updating our library every day. Just this year, we added more than 5,000 songs to our catalog. That allows us to always offer music that sounds fresh. We always look to ride the current musical trends and offer music that will sound attractive to our creators’ ears.