Vince Quintero

Vince is a music industry veteran who strives to help artists get great licensing opportunities

Earlier this month, we asked ReverbNation Facebook fans and Twitter followers what they wanted to know more about when it comes to music licensing. We read your questions and we have answers!

We sat down with Vince Quintero, Head of Creative Music Licensing & Publishing at Red Bull Records to get the lowdown on all things music licensing. Vince has worked in the music industry for major record labels and with recording artists for more than 14 years.  His roles include strategic marketing/cross promotion, A&R, music supervision, music licensing and artist/producer management. Read below to get a Licensing 101 lesson from this seasoned expert.

Can you give a basic definition of what licensing is?

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 5.24.24 PM– Cleophas McDonald, The Madd Felon

Music licensing is the act of ensuring that both master and copyright holders are properly paid for the use of their music. My working definition includes the act of pitching the songs I represent for use in visual media and manufactured items. Visual media entails film, TV shows, video games, movie trailers and advertisements. Examples of manufactured goods are things such as toys and soundtrack compilations. I do all of these licensing deals from inception to approving the final deal terms and signing the licenses.

What is the difference between licensing and copyright? How do the two connect?

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 5.26.57 PM– Jeff Mercier

A copyright is a piece of intellectual property. Licensing is negotiating a contract which protects the copyright holders. What people like me want to do is license that copyright.

It’s easier to explain if we start by separating a song into ownership of the composition and of the master. The person who writes a song is the owner of the composition (unless they make a deal with another party to acquire it.) The master owner is the person who commissions or creates an audio recording of that composition.

Many times a publisher will buy/acquire either all or a percentage of the copyright to the composition with a clause to control it. A record label will create an agreement between a writer/performer/recording artist who will then record a composition with the record label’s money. That specific recording is the master recording aka “master.” Once the master is in place, I can go out and pitch the song for placement. Should it be accepted for synchronization, I will license that use.

If an artist wants to seek out licensing opportunities, where are some of the best places to start?

caughtindream– Dylan Bowers, Caught Up In a Dream 

I would tell an artist with a great recording to speak with a music industry professional who will refer a good licensor or licensing company. If they can’t find an appropriate contact, then I would suggest they speak with other artists who’ve successfully licensed music. The music industry is very small at a certain level. This especially holds true in the licensing community. To a certain extent, we all know or have heard of one another. Because of this, one’s reputation and work ethic within the industry is invaluable.

What are some of the “red flags” or risks artists should look out for when approaching a licensing deal.

chris_blogChristopher Wright Anderson

Artists should look out for anyone who tries to negotiate ownership of their publishing in perpetuity without compensation. Giving a licensor the ability to change the titles of songs (without just cause) is essentially doing the same thing, which is another red flag. Allowing a change of title gives the licensor the ability to register 100% of the publishing to your composition under their publishing company, thus taking 100% of your publishing royalties. In all fairness, a licensor should not take 100% of your publishing in perpetuity without some compensation. I would also tell an artist to stay away from allowing every licensing company in town to “non-exclusively” license their songs. This causes confusion between music supervisors and licensing companies in regards to who should be paid for the synchronization.

Have more questions for a music licensing expert? Sound them off in the comments below and stay tuned for our next post on the topic.

This post is written by Sam Logan, frontman of Lilac Shadows and ReverbNation team member. In our Guide to Photography and Cover Art for Musicians series, Sam will provide helpful advice and ideas for artists who are ready to take their image to the next level. Not sure why this is important? Check out our post on why visual elements are important for musicians and read on below.

It’s no coincidence that tastemaker sites like Pitchfork still release year-end “best album artwork” lists, not to mention sales of older formats like vinyl and cassettes, which rely on engaging covers, are on the rise.



Sam Logan

Is it surprising that in a world that revolves around what people are listening to, visuals carry so much weight? Not to me. [Tweet This]

Maybe it’s because I’m a musician, but the intersection of music and visual art seems like a no-brainer. And yet I’ve seen plenty of bands underestimate (or completely ignore) the power of photos and cover art. Big mistake in my book. Over the next few posts I hope to offer some simple advice, along with insight from some veteran industry minds, that can help you present yourself and your band as professionals with a clearly developed sound, image, and brand.

Great visuals can strengthen your brand and get you recognition [Tweet This]

Halfway through the recording of my band’s most recent album, No Dark/No Light, our guitar player came to me with an idea for our record release show: a multimedia exhibit featuring unique album artwork from as many visual artists as we could find.

Fast forward four busy months, and the exhibit/release show was an overwhelming success. We displayed 40 different album covers from 27 different local and national artists. We also made individual cassettes based off of each artist’s work so that people could buy their favorite design. Check some of them out here.


“The marriage between artists will stand the test of time,” said Buddy Ruski in his write up about the Lilac Shadows release show.

Our unique use of artwork and photography got us press coverage, and caught the attention of other artists and musicians who heard about what we were doing.

Graphic Success: Inside tips from three industry pros

Top promoters we work with agree that creative use of artwork and photography can round out an artist’s image and catch the attention of industry professionals — as long as you stay true to your band’s image.

John Sepetys, Senior Director of Artists & Repertoire of North Star Media

From an art direction standpoint, I like when the feel and vibe of the visual matches the music. And with this in mind, contextual relevance is everything. What could look totally cheap and amateurish for a polished pop artist, could be dead-on for an indie folk group.

Victor Alfieri, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of

Unless you are actually going for that specific vibe, the artist shouldn’t look like they are uncomfortable in their own skin. In many cases, this photo is their first shot at making an impression on a fan, promoter, booking agent or label. It has to make sense to them before it will ever make sense to us.

Vaughn Lowery, President of 360 Magazine

Captivating artwork is everything, Because we live in a visual world, artists should have photos that express the message points of their band. However, there is a clear distinction between quality and quantity.

So when it comes to your album art, not only do you have to place importance on it, but it also has to be done right. Creativity is key.

Have you used art with your music in a creative way? Show and tell us in the comments below.

Here’s a roundup of some of this week’s fresh new opportunities on ReverbNation

Skip the lines to audition for NBC’s The VOICE


Location: Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; New Orleans, LA; Washington DC
Genre: All

Get discovered by millions of people! Five artists will be selected to skip the line and audition for The Voice, one of the biggest vocal competitions in the world. Compete on TV and receive coaching from some of the most respected names in music, such as Adam Levine, Usher, Christina Aguilera, and CeeLo Green. Take this opportunity to share your music and your story with the world.

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#RNOpps Roundup: Campfire Festival, CountryUP for AXS-TV, Princess Blue Music Publishing & Planetrox

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