Heads up: Music With Flavor is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
Ever asked what is the Harry Fox Agency?
If you want to be successful in your music career, your work needs representation and protection.
Music is a unique type of creative work in that it can be played by anyone with the talent to reproduce it, meaning all of the work that you put into crafting your amazing tracks can be taken away by someone else if the work is not properly protected.
This also means that it’s easy for someone else to make money off of your songs by covering them without your permission.
To make matters more complicated, artists with an online presence open themselves up to copyright infringement and theft simply by having their music available online.
While it’s sometimes possible to manage these protections and negotiate agreements on your own, the ins and outs of doing so present a number of challenges.
What happens if someone samples your song and their song makes a lot of money?
If another artist wants to use your work, do they need a license? How do you get paid if they make money off of performing your song for others?
For most artists, the answer to all of these types of questions is representation and license management through a company like the Harry Fox Agency.
What is the Harry Fox Agency?
Founded in 1927 by the National Music Publishers Association, the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) is an administrative licensing partner for musical artists. Essentially, it functions as a rights management agency that collects mechanical license fees and distributes them.
When you partner with the HFA, your work is registered and licensed to others for performance purposes. When your song or a piece of your song is performed by a license holder, the HFA collects a royalty on your behalf and gets you paid.
Understanding Mechanical Licensing and Copyright
Before getting into how the Harry Fox Agency works, it’s first important to understand what a mechanical license is and is not. A mechanical license is a license that allows the holder to distribute and reproduce musical works that are in a fixed format. These formats can include things like CDs, but they do not cover live performances.
So, when you record your music, the actual recording itself is what is covered by the license. This is different from copyright as your copyright pertains to the actual song as a thing. You do not need to record your song in order for the work to be copyrighted. Simply creating the song on your own is sufficient for copyright.
This means that if you write a song and play it in front of someone else and they copy it and claim it as their own, you may have the legal authority to seek damages in court if the other person makes money off of your song. When you issue a mechanical license, you are allowing someone else to use your recorded song for distribution to others.
How the Harry Fox Agency Works
In a nutshell, the Harry Fox Agency works much like other licensing administration companies. As an artist, you create an account, fill out some paperwork, agree to some terms and provide the music that you want to license. From there, the Harry Fox Agency administers the issuing of licenses to others on your behalf.
When the song is performed under the terms of the license, the Harry Fox Agency records the use and collects a royalty that is then sent on to you. You maintain copyright, but you do sign away certain licensing rights as the Harry Fox Agency will represent your registered works according to the terms of your agreement.
HFA and Slingshot
Historically, the Harry Fox Agency dealt strictly with licensing management for physical media, but in the digital age, it’s more important than ever to keep track of who is using your music and where it is being played so that you can get paid.
This is important for business professionals as well as artists because the two often need to find a way to connect for mutual benefit. For example, a software developer may want to use a piece of music in a program or a business owner may want a certain part of a song played during a presentation video. In either of these scenarios, a license is required and royalties need to be paid.
To bridge this gap, the Harry Fox Agency introduced a simplified solution in Slingshot. The basic premise of Slingshot is that business professionals can quickly and easily license the music they want through a customized database provided by the Harry Fox Agency.
From there, the HFA records plays, documents royalties owed and collects royalties on behalf of the artist. This also means that musicians who work with the Harry Fox Agency have the potential to have their music used in media that receives widespread attention across the country.
The Harry Fox Agency Offers More Digital Options Through Slingshot
Whether you’re an artist who wants to provide licensing to another artist for a song you wrote or you’re an artist who wants a license to record someone else’s song and distribute it, the Harry Fox Agency can help through Songfile.
As a branch of the HFA, Songfile provides licensing for traditional media as well as streaming media, but the best part is that Songfile offers services for smaller quantities of units to be licensed.
This means that artists who don’t have a huge audience can license a limited amount of units and still receive royalties without the hassle of needing to qualify for services by being a big name in the music industry already.
When you license through Songfile, your rights are administered and royalties are collected for you much like with the traditional Harry Fox Agency services. Rates are subject to change, so you will need to visit Songfile online to learn about current royalty rates for traditional, fixed media licensing and digital streaming media.
As of May of 2020, Songfile restricts artists to licensing for up to 2,500 physical units and digital downloads as well as less than 10,000 interactive streams.
Rumblefish Offers More Ways To Connect Artists With Business
Rumblefish is another arm of the Harry Fox Agency that places an emphasis on working with businesses that need to license music. This means that musicians can leverage the power of Rumblefish through a relationship with the Harry Fox Agency and Songfile to potentially license work to large companies that need quality music for everything from commercials to branding and marketing materials.
Additionally, Rumblefish is partnered with ClassPass, a digital fitness program that utilizes music to encourage workout behavior. Once again, this could lead to the potential to have your music licensed and heard by a very large number of people.
Benefits Of Working With The Harry Fox Agency
- Accessible to artists with experience and emerging artists
- Easy licensing is done almost completely online
- The HFA has a long history in the music business, and its name commands respect and carries weight
- The Harry Fox Agency works with thousands of publishers and record labels and has managed the licensing for millions of songs
- The Harry Fox Agency handles all of the licensing details and collects royalties to allow you to focus on creating more music
- Songfile is perfect for artists who may not have a lot of airplay or album sales, and the relationship with Songfile can scale as you grow in your career
Should I Sign Up for the Harry Fox Agency?
While signing an agreement with the Harry Fox Agency comes with many benefits, it also isn’t for everyone. By signing up, you’re agreeing to let another entity manage your licensing, meaning you lose a fair amount of control over your music.
Now, this isn’t always a bad thing because it’s important to allow experienced, knowledgeable professionals handle certain things in life when you don’t have that experience or knowledge.
Just know that by partnering with any rights management services provider, there is a trade-off. Also, the Harry Fox Agency is intended for artists with large licensing needs that exceed 2,500 units and 10,000 interactive streams, and Songfile is meant for artists with numbers below these thresholds.
This isn’t to say that emerging artists won’t benefit from working with HFA. In fact, you can start now with Songfile and build a good relationship that can thrive as your career grows.
It’s important to remember, however, that as you grow in your career and form various partnerships with record labels, publishers and others in the music business, those entities may already have their own preferred rights admin companies with which a relationship has already been established.
This means that you may end up having to move your music to another rights administration company in order to move forward.
How to Get Started
To get started as an artist with the Harry Fox Agency, you can visit the website. There, you’ll be able to sign up for a Songfile account, or if you’re a publisher, record label representative or distributor, you can create an account that targets your specific role in the industry.
The Facts on Harry Fox
If you’re more interested in making music than handling the nitty gritty details of managing licenses and chasing royalty payments, the Harry Fox Agency may be a good fit for you.
Through its huge network and storied history in the music industry, the Harry Fox Agency is able to ensure artists get paid for their work and that copyright is upheld, both in physical media and through digital use.
In addition, artists who partner with the HFA can also monetize music through YouTube, meaning even more ways to make money off of your hard work as a creator. To learn more and sign up, visit the Harry Fox Agency online by clicking here.
For more breakdowns on similar music industry services check out the articles below:
Music With Flavor Staff
Helping You Taste Success In Music