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Keller Medlin introduces Sounds Sphere

This new platform makes stunning beat packs affordable to all indie artists. Keller explains how it started and how it works.

Tell us about your platform Sounds Sphere, who’s it for, and what do you do?

Sounds Sphere was an idea that developed over the course of a few years as I was producing full time in Nashville, TN. I realized that independent artists don’t have many choices when it comes to the way they get their songs produced. Sure there are tons of producers out there, but the process is the same whether you hire someone in person, hire someone online, or buy beats online. I wanted to build a better way and set out to do that.

In short, I built Sounds Sphere to help artists and songwriters create great songs faster and with less cost leveraging the non-exclusive licensing model that’s been popular for a few decades (especially in Hip-hop IE “Old Town Road”).

How do non-exclusive licenses work?

You can think of it almost like leasing a car. Multiple people can have the same model car, but you still have your own individual version of that car. When you license an instrumental non-exclusively you have the right to create 1 derivative work (your song) which becomes its own copyright. Technically there’s not an issue with having tons of these derivative works so it gives power to artists to get the same quality production they would have typically paid thousands for, for a lot less.

What are the tradeoffs if you use a non-exclusive license?

Typically the publishing and master of the derivative song are split with the producer of the instrumental (or beat). The artist is also usually restricted to a certain number of streams and can only use the song in specific ways defined in the contract. Historically these contracts haven’t been very favorable to artists, but with Sounds Sphere we set out to create the best possible experience for artists so we knew we had to have a favorable contract.

To give some specifics, most non-exclusive contracts online don’t allow artists to own the master which we do. Most contracts restrict streams to 10,000-50,000 while ours allows for 100,000 streams. If your songs typically stream around that much anyway, it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars on the production. Even if you stream more than that it’s still economically a better deal to use non- exclusive licenses for most independent artists.

Screenshot of Sound Sphere app

What makes Sounds Sphere different from sites like BeatStars?

BeatStars was built for producers. It’s essentially like Shopify in the sense that they license the technology to users (producers) on a subscription basis. If you think about it, this means they don’t have any incentive to cater to the needs of artists because producers are their customers. This means that the artist's experience isn’t great which leaves a lot of room for improvement. Sounds Sphere was built the opposite way – prioritizing the best possible experience for artists who want to leverage the non-exclusive model. We address all the major problems artists experience with sites like BeatStars. These include:

  1. Having high-quality tracks only (no more wasting time browsing low-quality beat sites)
  2. Having a personalized playlist recommended just for you (no more listening to tracks not relevant to you)
  3. Having a standardized contract that is favorable to artists (now you don’t have to worry about multiple variations of contracts or heavy restrictions on your songs)

What else does Sounds Sphere do for artists?

Besides the platform experience itself which makes creating songs a whole lot easier, we offer after the sale services to help our members even further. We recognize it’s not enough to just buy a beat and that be it. Songs have a process from the writing all the way up through release and promotion and we want to help each step of the way.

All our members have access to free mastering for their songs, discounted mixing rates, and coaching on things like distribution, publishing, and promotion. We have strategic partners as well that can help with specific tasks like Spotify playlisting or social media marketing. Finally, we have a featured artist program which highlights a select group of artists on our website and socials. In addition to those things, we also publish articles, how-tos, and guidebooks on our blog at least twice a month. We write about topics artists care about and want to provide as much value as possible to our community through education.

Screenshot of Sound Sphere blog

The music industry is in a state of flux right now, where do you see it heading?

The pandemic hit the music industry hard which forced innovation and thinking outside of the box. Musicians are resilient and creative by nature. I think we can all use this time to reconnect with our “why”. Why we make music in the first place and what our relationship with music is. After the virtual concerts are over and we get back to “normal” I think we’ll see some of the innovations and creative ideas that flowed from this time period carry over.

I also think independent artists are more empowered than ever before and we’re already seeing a changing of the guard so to speak. You don’t need a label anymore and with technology and new tools available to artists, you can pretty much do everything yourself.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

If you’re an artist or songwriter and are interested in trying us out, we have a special offer for a 7-day trial membership for $1 which comes with a free track download … check it out HERE.

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