Terms of Service


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

Yeah, that’s true, but Matthew gets a lot of questions about things like recording live shows, posting videos to YouTube, using his music for school projects… These days the term “fair use” seems to be as nebulous as “pop rock” or “house.” This isn’t a legal document and shouldn’t be considered as such- but it should answer some questions.

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

    1. If you’re going to make money with Matthew’s music, he should too.
      For example: If you’ve got a podcast with sponsors, a music-playing website with ads, or you’re making a video that’s promoting a product. Do the right thing and contact Matthew about licensing.
    2. 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. If you’re trying to help an indie musician actually survive and pay his bills, you’re probably doing the right thing.
    3. Keep politics out of this.
      Matthew is very careful about which politicians, organizations, and causes he supports. If you’re thinking of using his music to support a candidate or cause, please contact Matthew first.
    4. Post links back to www.matthewebel.com
      Should be self-explanatory: Send people to this site whenever you can, please!
  • If you’re using Matthew’s 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 three lines of the video description. Only the first few lines of a YouTube description are ever seen.

    Important Note: Because Matthew is a YouTube Partner, their automatic claim system may find your video and “claim” the audio for him. This doesn’t mean Matthew or YouTube are telling you to take the video down! It just means YouTube recognizes that the song you used is Matthew’s and not something you wrote. If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact Matthew.

    Video from live concerts falls under the same category as Bootlegs below. Fan-made music videos, however, are awesome. If you want to make a music video to one of Matthew’s songs, please do. And share it with us!

    For all videos including Matthew’s music, please include a legible website credit rendered in the actual video for three seconds or more with:

    Music [or song title] by Matthew Ebel www.matthewebel.com
    Just because you post the video to YouTube doesn’t mean it’ll stay there. An on-screen 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 Matthew about licensing.

  • Yeah, even mix tapes are back. On actual tape.

    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.

    Matthew’s music is available for streaming on Spotify, Pandora, and elsewhere. If you want to listen for free, you’ve got ways of doing it that still support Matthew. You really don’t need to torrent MP3’s and expose yourself to viruses and ransomware.

    If, however, you’re trying to introduce new people to Matthew’s music, that’s strongly encouraged. Heck, Matthew’s even got a best-of album that he encourages you to share with others.

    If you’re going to torrent, burn, rip, tape, sample, mix, or share something Matthew made, please make sure there are plenty of links to www.matthewebel.com all over the place. After all, you’re doing it so he can keep making music for a living, right?

  • Want a stems-only or dub version of one of Matthew’s songs? Just ask. He’s got plenty for you to play with.

    Mashups are one of the coolest things the RIAA has tried to kill. Hell, they’d try and kill DJ’s if they could. If you’re making a mashup, let Matthew know where you’ve posted it.

    One thing to remember: If you’re using a sample, make sure it’s not something he’s cleared from somewhere else. Typically Matthew creates his own sounds, occasionally he uses royalty-free loops. But if you re-use something he’s licensed from someone else, you could get into trouble.

    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 (other than YouTube which will auto-claim the audio anyway), you’ll need to contact Matthew about licensing.

  • In most cases Matthew’s 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

    Of course, you can’t charge any money for those bootlegs, but Matthew encourages you to trade his bootlegs for bootlegs of other bands. So keep the cameras rolling!

    Bear in mind, of course, that if Matthew didn’t write the song, he can’t give you permission to do anything but listen to it. You’re on your own with live covers.

    (Also, if you don’t know what bootlegging is, educate yourself.)

  • To use Matthew’s music in school projects, church functions, or things of that nature, you really don’t need his permission… but you’ve got it.

    Remember: There’s a big difference between a private event and your big corporate media summit and you know it. Your for-profit coffee shop or website is not a “private project” either. Remember Rule of Thumb #1: If you’re going to make money with Matthew’s music, he should too.

    Otherwise, use whatever you need and share the project with Matthew.

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

  • 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 catalogue that spans decades.

    Recorded covers of Matthew’s songs follow the usual guidelines: If you’re planning on selling your version of one of his songs or otherwise using it to make money, contact Matthew about licensing. Otherwise, let’s hear it!

    For cover performances (i.e. your band playing “The Opening Band”), please do. You don’t need Matthew’s 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 and Matthew will get a teeny-tiny licensing fee from them.

    (And don’t worry if the venue isn’t actually paying their licensing fees… that’s not your problem.)

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

  • For recorded playback, there’s a fine line between enjoying some music at a party and using music to make your convention, coffee shop, or event more enjoyable. Following the rules 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 honestly not sure whether or not your event crosses the line, just ask Matthew.

  • What Matthew calls 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. Remember the rules of thumb: If you’re taking 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 love with the artists who make your show awesome.

  • What? There are people that object to their lyrics being posted online? WTF?!?

    Apparently we really have to make this part clear: Go ahead and post Matthew’s lyrics to lyric sites. Just be sure to include a couple things:

    And for God’s sake… get the lyrics right.

Gutless Disclaimering

This is not a legal document. If you’re planning on using this page in court to prove that Matthew gave you permission for something, it probably means you’re doing something you know isn’t right. Please don’t! Matthew earn his living from his music, something that’s really difficult to do. Please help keep him fed so he can keep making sounds.

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