NoCopyrightSounds: A Breakthrough Idea | 2019-06-13 |

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NoCopyrightSounds: A Breakthrough Idea

Nusrat Jahan Pritom

13 June, 2019 12:00 AM printer

A Breakthrough Idea

It is not just the music industry in Bangladesh that is suffering at the moment. Piracy and illegal download are common problems all around the world. Well, yes, musicians abroad are slightly better off than us because their rights are more established there, they have access to royalty and there are also sites such as Itunes and Amazon that allow digital purchase of songs and albums and in turn help the artist sustain. However, the problem is pervasive as well. There is a proverb which states that inside every problem lies an opportunity. Nobody could think of any opportunity in illegal downloading! An artist has to work hard and pay with both his efforts and money to record and release a song. Giving it away for free would be a nightmare especially if for that artist music is the only means to earn his bread and butter. Yet, ‘NoCopyrightSounds’ did just that! The title itself says what they mean. There is no copyright. It’s like they are saying, “We don’t care. Do whatever you want with music and songs you find here.” A few years later, this record label sales surpass $1million despite free downloads. What seemed to be an idea that should have resulted in the collapse of a business ended up being the reason that business is earning in millions! So how did all that actually take place?

In 2011, an avid gamer named Billy Woodford established ‘NoCopyrightSounds’ on the platform Youtube. The label was described by Forbes as ‘a YouTube-first label that allows indie creators to use and even monetize its music freely as long as they give due credit back to the content owners’. In other words, you can simply download their songs, but if you feel like paying the artist- you can do that as well and pay however much you want to. While monetizing music is important, it also means another thing. By adding a value to a song, one also needs to put in multiple barriers to prevent that song being used freely by the audience. So that too is counterintuitive to what an artist wants! As an artist, especially a new one, anybody would want more exposure, right? Putting barriers to your music may seem rather odd, yet it’s a necessity to sustain your musical career as if a barrier is not put, all the songs which could have been paid for will get distributed freely.  Perhaps that’s why Billy’s model worked so well. It spread like a forest-fire and people simply loved it. There is hope in humanity and his wonderful idea of NoCopyrightSounds paid off greatly. Games channels of all kinds have used tracks from NoCopyrightSounds since it was founded in 2011 as a way to offer royalty-free music for YouTubers to use in their videos, in return for a credit and link back. Others have also availed of the songs and music here. The channel now has 13.8 million subscribers.


The artists of ‘NoCopyrightSounds’ deserve equal recognition. The most formidable one is the black mask clad prodigy Alan Walker. The Norwegian artist rose to global fame with over 4 billion views on Youtube with songs such as ‘Faded’ and ‘Spectre’.

In 2017, ‘NoCopyrightSounds’ made a new milestone with more than 1 million paid music downloads on Apple's iTunes store. Despite giving music away for free on YouTube – or rather, because of it, the channel is selling music in a year when the prevailing trend in digital music is away from downloads and towards streams. In an interview, Graham Best, director of NoCopyrightSounds, said, “At a time when conventional wisdom says that paid downloads are becoming irrelevant, we've proved the value of letting fans choose how and where to support the artists they love.”