Terms of Service

What is this? A TOS page for a musician? This isn’t a cell phone contract, it’s music!

Yeah, that’s true, but I get a lot of questions about things like recording live shows, posting videos to YouTube, using my music for projects… These days the term “fair use” seems to be as nebulous as “pop rock”. This isn’t a legal document and shouldn’t be considered as such- I just want to clarify my position on some really confusing issues.

Rules of Thumb

Here are some basic guidelines to follow when considering using my music. These rules supersede all the others, so take them to heart:

If you’re going to be making money off of my music, I should too.

For example, if you’ve got a podcast with sponsors, a music-playing website with Google Adwords, or you’re making a video that’s promoting a product, do the right thing and contact me about licensing.

If you’re doing it for the right reasons, do it.

You’ve got a conscience, you know if you’re being cool or being a schmuck. The RIAA will not notice if you rip off an indie artist, but I will.

Keep politics out of this.

I am very careful about which politicians, groups, and causes I support, so if you’re thinking of using my music to support a candidate or cause, please ask me first.

Post links back to www.matthewebel.com

Should be self-explanatory: Send people to this site whenever you can, please!

Proper Online Video Crediting

Proper Online Video Crediting

If you’re using my music behind something personal (not promoting a product or service), go for it- just be sure to link back to this site in the first line of the video description. That part’s important because, as you can see, only the first few lines show up in a YouTube description.

Because I’m a YouTube Partner, their automatic claim system may find your video and “claim” the audio as mine. This doesn’t mean I or YouTube are telling you to take the video down, it just means YouTube recognizes that the song you used is mine and not something you wrote. If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact me.

Video from any of my live concerts falls under the same category as Bootlegs. Fan-made music videos, however, are awesome. If you want to make a music video to one of my songs, please do!

For all videos including my music, please include a legible website credit for three seconds or more with:

Music [or song title] by Matthew Ebel

Just because you post the video to YouTube doesn’t mean it’ll stay there, a little credit in the video itself goes a long way.

If you’re promoting a for-profit service or product or planning on making any money from the video directly or indirectly, you will need to contact me about licensing.

File sharing can be anything from torrents to mix tapes, digital or analog. The RIAA tells us file sharing is always wrong, but they assume you’re a thieving bastard. What matters here is your intention, something no lawyer can put into words. If you’re just being lazy or thinking “I can’t afford the 99¢ to grab this track from iTunes,” you’re stealing. If you’re trying to introduce new people to my music, that’s something I strongly encourage.

If you’re going to torrent, burn, rip, or share something I made, please make sure there are plenty of links to www.matthewebel.com all over the place. After all, you’re doing it so I can sell some albums and earn a living, right?

In most cases I’m all about the bootlegs. If you’re at a live show and you’ve got a video camera or portable recorder, please grab a bootleg and spread it around. Just make sure anywhere you post it you link back to www.matthewebel.com

For online shows where a direct digital copy is possible, just make sure I’m not recording the show for release as a live album or via The Officer’s Club. Otherwise, keep the tapes rolling!

Bear in mind, of course, that if I didn’t write the song, I can’t give you permission to do anything but listen to it.

For school projects, church functions, or things of that nature, you really don’t need my permission. But you’ve got it. There’s a big difference between a private event and your big corporate media summit, you know what a private project is and what isn’t.

Of course, please include a link to www.matthewebel.com wherever possible (in the video, cited in your sources, etc.)

Mashups are one of the coolest things the RIAA has tried to kill. If you want to mash my tune with another or add a techno beat to it (or something like that), please do. If you’re using a sample, make sure it’s not something I’ve already cleared from someone else. Typically I go for royalty-free loops when I use them. As always, link back to www.matthewebel.com wherever you can.

And as with everything else, if you’re planning on making money off of this new creation (called a “derivative work”), you’ll need to contact me about licensing.

Both covers and parodies already have a lot of legal precedent behind them, so this should be easy. Parodies are allowed under copyright laws, otherwise Weird Al wouldn’t have a career right now.

Recorded covers of my songs follow the usual guidelines… if you’re planning on selling your version of one of my songs or otherwise using it to make money, contact me about licensing. Otherwise, let’s hear it! For cover performances (i.e. your band playing “The Opening Band”), see the next section.

And as always, link back to www.matthewebel.com wherever you can.

“Public Performance” can mean playing one of my recordings in public or performing it yourself.

For recorded playback, there’s a fine line between enjoying some music at a party and using music to make your event or store more fun. Following the rule of thumb here, you know when you’re crossing the line from a personal gathering to a commercial event/convention/etc.

If you’re charging admission, donations, or selling some kind of product and using the music to enhance the event, you’ll need to grab a BMI license. Any restaurant with a jukebox, live music, or a sound system is paying a licensing fee for everything that’s played.

If you’re in a band and you want to perform one of my songs, please do. You don’t need my permission to do so, just be sure to hand your set list to the venue you’re playing in. They should be paying their BMI fees if they’ve got live music, your set list will tell them what to put on the paperwork.

(If the venue isn’t licensed as they should be, don’t worry about it, it’s not your fault.)

These are all covered under Public Performances, but what I call fair might be different from BMI or the RIAA.

I believe that podcasts and internet radio are the future of music discovery, so I try to be as open as possible. When in doubt, play it. If you’re an indie podcaster and you think your audience will dig my music, play it. Even if it’s not listed in my podsafe tunes, it’s all good- if you have a song of mine that isn’t listed there, you’ve already bought my album and you’re a fan. Right?

If you’re part of a commercial radio station or podcast (broadcast or otherwise), you’ll need a BMI license. Like I said in the rules of thumb, if you’re taking in ad money or sponsorships to cover more than your hosting and domain name, you’re a commercial station. Do the right thing and share the proceeds with the people who are making your station so awesome.

What? There are people that don’t want their lyrics posted online? Are you kidding me? Apparently I really have to make this part clear: Go ahead and post my lyrics to lyric sites. Just be sure to include a few things:

Gutless Disclaimering

I need to point out again that this is not a legal document. If you’re planning on using this page in court to prove that I gave you permission for something, it probably means you’re doing something you know isn’t right. Please don’t! I earn my living from my music, something that’s really difficult to do.

I want you to enjoy my music in more ways than just listening to it, so please help keep me fed so I can keep making it.

If these terms don’t answer your questions or, more likely, left you with more questions, please contact me and we’ll get it sorted out. Thanks!

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