New Publishing Tech
4 mins read

Q&A: Lickd, democratizing music licensing for social content producers

Lickd is the world’s leading, claims-free, commercial music licensing platform for social video content. The company is headquartered in London and was founded in 2016, before launching in 2018 with a growing team of music industry professionals, technologists and creatives. WNIP caught up with Paul Sampson, CEO & Co-founder, to find out how publishers can leverage their platform.

Can you give us further background about your company?

My background is in TV Production and then sync licensing (putting music to picture) and I worked with production companies in the US and the UK, putting music to film, TV and advertisements for 14 years. Today, though, everyone has a production company in their back pocket as well as the world’s most generous commissioning editor in YouTube and other such User Generated Content platforms.

Lickd was born out of the need to democratize music licensing to include not just large production companies but creators on social media. Lickd gives creators a way to use top quality music without paying production company prices. 

We are privately owned but have investment from the Nick Mason Group and Pentland Group. I run the business with my co-founder Simon Davis.

What business problem is your company addressing?

Whilst the music industry earns significant revenue from YouTube, most YouTube channels avoid using commercial or ‘chart’ music in their videos as it lands them with Copyright Claims which, in turn, leads to them not being able to earn ad revenue from their videos and in some cases can lead to their videos being blocked or taken down. 

This means there is a gap in the market for a licensing solution that enables Creators to legally license their favorite artist’s music for use on YouTube whilst creating an additional revenue stream for music publishers and labels as a result. 90% of all views on YouTube come from the top 3% of channels and if those channels cannot work with chart music then chart music loses valuable exposure and revenue.

The right music can make or break a video. Music is essential to setting the tone of your footage. Chart music not only elevates video content but can connect to your audience in a way that production music can’t.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

We have built proprietary software called ‘Vouch’ which interacts with YouTube’s audio recognition software (Content ID) and with rights holders’ YouTube CMS. It literally vouches for our users when Content ID recognises the music in their videos and informs rights holders that, in this instance, the music was legally licensed and paid for. This is the magic sauce the business is built on.

Can you give some examples of people successfully using your solution?

Popular football YouTuber, Chris MD licensed a track from Lickd that was part of the FIFA ‘14 soundtrack. When his subscribers heard it in his video they absolutely loved it. There were so many comments about the nostalgic power of the track which was a real pleasure to see. As a result of that engagement, the video garnered more engagement and we saw streaming and downloads of the song spike in the days around the video release. That kind of cyclical win for all parties is how this is going to work going forwards.


Pricing works out at an estimated 10% of the channel’s advertising revenue from their video. Prices for YouTube creators start at £6 per license / song use, rising to £250 per license on the top end, depending on the size of the channel’s audience – much like how broadcasters pay into music blanket deals on a sliding scale basis. 

What are other people doing in the space and why?

For the most part, all the incumbents in this space are all Production Music companies. One in particular has hundreds of thousands of YouTube Creators using them regularly and they use them solely to avoid getting copyright claims. Now that we can solve this issue for them with chart music we’re able to work with the very same user base.

How do you view the future?

There are numerous things we want to get to but, in short, we want to democratise micro-licensing for a market increasingly becoming content producers. This won’t be limited to YouTube content but across multiple UGC platforms and sectors including the Podcast and Gaming sectors.

We may look at the B2B market a little later in our journey but that space is heavily populated and Lickd sees the scaleable opportunity being in providing a consumer/creator focused solution. The commercial music sector has not been set up to deal at scale with what is now an enormous potential market of low fee, high volume consumer licenses. That’s where we come in – to help them automate the solution and develop a new revenue stream for them.

Thank you.