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Watermarking your Music

Many of my music uploads to Soundcloud have appeared on websites that use ripping 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.

The situation is also very unfair on clients who have legitimately purchased a license to use the music.

Watermarking is a process where the composer inserts a sound or spoken word (such as ‘preview’) every few seconds when exporting a track. This prevents tracks from being stolen – or ‘ripped’ – because they’re useless to the end user.

Personally, I rarely watermark music on my primary Soundcloud page. As I use it as a music portfolio for potential clients, and so only upload a small selection of my music. On balance I feel it’s worth the risk of the tracks potentially being ripped, as I want my music to be heard in full by genuine listeners.

While an effective method of deterring theft, watermarking has its pros and cons;

Pros

  • Virtually eliminates the potential for your music to be stolen.
  • You can prevent illegal streaming websites from making money from your hard work.
  • Easy to implement, especially if using specialist software.

Cons

  • It adds an extra layer of work when exporting music.
  • Ultimately, it does spoil the enjoyment of those who want to legally listen to your music.
  • On social websites – such as Soundcloud – you’ll probably find you get far fewer comments and ‘likes’ on tracks that are watermarked.
  • You’ll have to deal with emails and comments on social media saying ‘Someone is speaking over your music!’ (often in a far more impolite way).

How to Watermark your Music

If you decide to watermark your music, the process is quite simple.

  • Create a 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 file 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 60-second 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 effects or the mastering chain).

Watermarking the Easy Way

You can avoid much of the hassle of watermarking you music by purchasing software that does the job for you.

There are a few options available, but my personal favourite is AG Watermark Generator.