All too often, I’ve seen people use other people’s music in their videos, which are subsequently removed from YouTube, and they wonder, “why?”
It’s called copyright, and people who create music, images, art and other works have the right to protect it and be compensated for its use. When it comes to photos, I have found many websites that provide excellent photography available under a creative commons license.
While there are some sites that offer free music under a Creative Commons license, most don’t allow commercial use. But to be able to commission a new piece of music for a commercial purpose generally doesn’t come cheap. Where do you start?
That’s why I was so intrigued when I met Cueniverse founder Wellington Lora Jr. this month. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the service and provide food for thought about people who violate copyright. (Some answers lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Tell me about your background — where are you from, what did you study, what instruments do you play, and what's your favorite music/musician?
I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Queens. I've been playing piano since I was 8 years old, classically trained. I’ve always had a love for music. My dad is a drummer and would play lots of ’70s rock records in the house. Early in life, I had a taste of some of the best music ever made — groups like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and a taste of the Beach Boys from all of the “Full House” episodes I watched. In college I studied PR & advertising while playing keyboards in different Latin bands — mainly salsa & merengue groups. I was also heavily influenced by hip hop; growing up in New York, it’s hard not to be.
I figured out how to connect my digital keyboard to my computer and that’s where I felt like it was history. I locked myself in my room and started creating music like a person possessed. During that time I was able to produce records for artists like Pitbull, Busta Rhymes, Swizz Beats, NORE, Nina Sky and many more. A few years later I had an opportunity to create music for a friend’s pilot TV show. She was creating it and shopping to different networks. One of MTV’s executive producers happened to check out the pilot and really was feeling the music. My friend put me in contact with him and that began my career composing for TV. I started to meet more and more people and get more opportunities to place my music in different TV shows. I loved that I was able to make money doing what I loved and thought I should do this on a bigger scale and Cueniverse was born.
How and why did you launch Cueniverse?
I launched Cueniverse because I didn't want to live my life with regrets. I didn’t want to say to myself that I could have done something with music and never did it. I launched it because I never wanted to be taken advantage of at a job or yelled at by a boss. I wanted to make my own rules and not be a slave to a job I hated. Most importantly, I did it to continue to do what I love to do for the rest of my life and hopefully be able to inspire others to follow their dreams and … at least be able to show them that there is a way to make music your career.
In short, what is Cueniverse?
Cueniverse is a music agency & production library designed to provide high quality music to Television, Films, Brands and Digital agencies.
How does it work?
You tell us what type of music you’re looking for and we can find it in our repertoire of over 20,000 tracks via our online Cueniverse player. It allows you to search for tracks using terms like your favorite artists or band, mood, or even genre, with many more search filters and features available to drill down what you’re looking for. If we don't have it in our player, we can also custom-make it for you. We can design it to fit your exact specifications — like creating a custom music suit for your content.
Do you find that a lot of people don't realize they can't just use whatever music they find on the Internet?
From time to time I still come across people that don't necessarily understand that you have to get permission to use someone else's music. I feel like overall people are more educated on that fact more than ever. I think people who knowingly use other artists’ music and don't really care to clear it with them are worse. The people that don't know may just not be educated on it. The people that steal know better but do it anyway — which is terrible.
Who are your musicians? I.e., what sorts of folks sign up to license their music through your platform?
My staff and I hand-pick and listen to everything that comes in. We make sure it holds up to a certain level of dopeness. When I initially started Cueniverse, I was bringing on board my fellow producer friends who who were extremely talented composers, some even Grammy-nominated. I told a lot of them what I was doing, and everyone loved the idea.
[Some] of our composers may be indie bands or artists, right at the cusp of stardom. They are looking for other ways to make money with their music and get exposure. Cueniverse can offer those type of opportunities. I like to think that we help keep that dream alive for them of stardom, by making them money and showing them that not only do people dig their music but also the artists can make a living [creating] it.
Who are your clients? I.e., what sorts of companies come to you to license music, and how are they using it?
We are blessed to be working with some of the biggest companies in the world. We have contracts with many TV networks and have composed tracks for TV shows such as E!’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” several MTV series, including “Girl Code” & “Guy Code,” “Catfish,” “Jersey Shore,” “Fantasy Factory,” and “Ridiculousness,” and VH-1′s “Love & Hip Hop,” among others.
We've had the pleasure of working with brands like Nike, Grey Goose, Mercedes, Wall Street Journal, Purina & Nexxus. We've also created some parodies for College Humor. We've composed almost a dozen different parodies for them, receiving millions of views. Our biggest hit was Mitt Romney Style, which was a parody of Gangnam style, which now has more than 60 million views alone.
What's your dream of how someone would use Cueniverse?
I’d love for Cueniverse to be the number one go-to music resource for TV productions, movies and online videos in the world — even to be a resource for popular artists looking to find music to suit their records one day.