Watermarking Music and why it is Important
The debate on whether watermarking music posted online has been rumbling along for a while now.
Watermarking is a process where the composer inserts a sound or spoken word (such as ‘preview’) every few seconds when exporting a track. This is to prevent tracks from being stolen – or ‘ripped’ – online.
As an example, many of my uploads to Soundcloud have ended up appearing on websites that use software to stream tracks illegally and offer them for sale. All of the money paid to these websites goes straight into the pocket of the criminals running them, the composer will see nothing.
While this sort of thing continues to happen it’s very important to protect your music. After all, if you physically sold your music in a store, it’s unlikely you would stand there with smile on your face as people walked in, took a CD and walked out again.
Importantly, it’s also very unfair on the clients who have legitimately bought a license to use your music.
Unfortunately watermarking is not without it’s drawbacks. I’ve listed a few pros and cons of watermarking below.
- Virtually eliminates the potential for your music to be stolen
- You can prevent illegal streaming websites from making money off your hard work
- You can keep track of where your music is used
- It adds an extra layer of work when exporting music
- Ultimately, it does spoil the enjoyment of those who want to listen to your music
- On social websites – such as Soundcloud – you’ll probably find you get far less comments and ‘likes’ on tracks that are watermarked
- You’ll have to deal with multiple emails and comments saying ‘There’s someone speaking over your music!’.
Of course if you upload music purely for your listeners enjoyment and don’t need to earn a living from it, then watermarking isn’t necessary. A warning though, those dodgy websites could still be streaming and selling your music.
If you decide to watermark your music, the process is quite simple, if inconvenient.
- Create your watermark audio file. Either a beep or spoken word will do. You can find many places online to download various voices saying ‘preview’.
- Once you’ve chosen the sound/word you want to use, open up your DAW and place an instance of the audio file every ten seconds or so. Do this until you get to the minutes mark.
- Export the track as a high quality audio file and name it accordingly – such as preview.wav.
- Add this file to your music when exporting a preview version. (Make sure it isn’t routed through any effect or the mastering chain).
Using AG Watermark Generator
Composer Adi Goldstein has recently released this very handy little tool for adding watermarks to your music.
It allows you to use custom presets and batch process you files. An absolutely huge time-saver for any composer who has to deal with watermarking on a daily basis and is especially useful if you’ve got an enormous back catalogue of files that you’d like process.