Wednesday December 6th, 2023
Download SceneNow app

SoundSauce: The Music Licensing Platform Connecting MENA artists

With a pioneering online library for MENA sounds, this industry-shaping platform is making sync and stock music more accessible for everyone.

Youssef Armanios

Picture the scene: screams echoing through the night from chance-hungry artists, who chuck innocent mobile phones at the wall at the sight of another ‘sorry song needs more time’ message. Filmmakers reeling in the after-effects of being the latest victims of a copyright take-down. Search engines erupt into flames with an excess of tracks all sporting the same Camel-Desert-Turban cover art at the faintest pairing of the two search terms ‘Arabic’ and ‘music.’

Braving its way into the discombobulating world of copyright, licensing and stock music in the MENA region is SOUND SAUCE, a new platform connecting Arabic music producers and artists with filmmakers and brands.

SOUND SAUCE has created an online library that makes sync and stock music more accessible for everyone. Music producers can upload their beats and tracks, to be discovered by the filmmakers, content creators or brands looking for the right soundtrack to their visuals. Labels and distributors, for their part, can list catalogues of Arabic music to ease the process of synchronisation and licensing for their artists.

See it as something of a transparent and comprehensive marketplace. Production houses, advertising agencies, filmmakers, editors and content creators can browse a diverse range of Arabic sounds and tunes at ease.

The first licensing platform of its kind operating for Arabic music, SOUND SAUCE is responding to a major gap in the MENA music ecosystem. Until now, copyright and licensing procedures, owing to confusing bureaucracy and indistinct bylaws, have been a point of confusion for artists and producers. Fearing copyright infringement claims, filmmakers and content creators will either turn to a music producer to create an original sound for them, incurring higher costs and release delays in the process, or buy music from international sound stock websites, which are scarce in choice and variety when it comes to Arabic music.

SceneNoise spoke to co-founder and CEO Nirvana Bebars, to hear more about the story behind Sound Sauce, and the mechanics of the licensing process.

What motivated you to set up Sound Sauce? As the first licensing platform of its kind in the region, what were the challenges you encountered at first?

The idea came from one of my partners and co-founders Muhammad Gamal El-Din, who is a film director and has editing background. Every time he’d work on a project and the music selection stage came, he’d encounter the same problem: the very small and stereotypical Arabic libraries on stock websites for music. After a lot of discussions and research, we noticed that this longstanding gap in the market affects all creatives.

The biggest challenges fall under the legal department, as a lot of music licensing terms don’t have a clear definition in laws in the MENA region. Sound Sauce wants to maintain both the artist’s sense of security when submitting their music, and the trust of the user that Sound Sauce is a reliable source.

For artists who aren’t familiar with laws around licensing, can you tell us a little more? How will Sound Sauce help artists out with legalities?

We're aiming to deliver a licence exchange process that's quick, secure and easy. Sellers submit a request to be listed, and once they’re manually verified by our team they can list their audio files. They pick what licences they want to sell (basic, advanced or professional). Professional licences must be approved by the artist before each sale.

As for the legalities, we facilitate the secure exchange of licences, so a contract is automatically created for each purchase based on what the use cases are. Alongside the top law firms in the digital sphere we've created a pretty easy process that safeguards both buyer and seller.

What determines the track licence prices shown on the site, and what percentage of that goes to the artist?

For ‘big shot’ artists, the prices and rates are completely set by the artist. That being said, we do provide our recommendations to these artists based on market practice and our combined experience. For up-and-coming artists and producers, we provide guidelines with a pricing range for each type of usage, based on the length of a track and its potential usage, as well as the artist’s popularity, and other factors.

The vast majority of the fees go to the artist – Sound Sauce only takes a small commission for facilitating the exchange, which is determined when we approve artist request forms.

Despite being in its preliminary phase, Sound Sauce has already worked on PR activations with big names and brands.

Yeah, we’ve collabed with music producers, rappers and musicians for campaigns with Puma, Sole DXB, Vodafone, Esquire and more, and we're extremely grateful for every opportunity we’ve had so far. We also produced a music video with one of our artists, which we’re very proud of. We’ll be releasing that soon.

If Sound Sauce is currently in its Beta stage, what can we expect moving forward?

Moving forward, you’ll be seeing minor and major updates on the experience side of the website. We aim to amplify the sound of the middle east globally. We have big announcements rolling out within the next few weeks… So all I’m gonna say is watch this space.

Check out the Beta version of the industry-shaping platform and its fast-growing Arabic library here.