The burgeoning Fitness App industry offers incredible workout experiences and a sense of community, but integrating music poses unique technical and licensing challenges. 

The health and fitness app industry is growing leaps and bounds, with some predictions putting the market at US$ 18.7 billion by 2030.  The growth is driven not only by better realtime data and equipment, but the worldwide pandemic is driving consumers to find a quality workout at home.    

Combining highquality equipment with classes is now a given for companies like Echelon, Hydrowand CLMBR.  These platforms strive to expand their offerings to their fan base with additional classes on and off the equipment – think yoga, strength training, and Pilates. 

Instructors with a worldwide reach on these platforms are gaining almost cult followings.  Participants accessing either a web streaming or an ondemand class expect an experience that delivers a workout and a sense of community and emotional connection.   

Music: Got to have it  

The underpinning of the experience is music. It sets the mood, drives the workout, and becomes part of the instructor’s brand. Class reviewers talk equally about the instructor and their choice of music-many reviewing the playlist before choosing a class.   

Instructors who understand this build their class around music, whether it is an hour of EDM, 80s greats, or Miley Cyrus. A large catalog of premium music enables continued class creation and engagement.  Recognizing this new vertical for music, record labels are partnering with platforms to create remixes and break new artists 

So, accessing music for these platforms is key to their business.  The challenge is getting licenses and handling the overhead of administering the licenses. 

Licensing: Infrastructure, Infrastructure, and More Infrastructure! 

One of the first major hurdles that platform needs to consider when approaching record labels is proof of technical competency. 

Record labels and publishers want assurance that the platform can effectively manage their catalogs while also reporting and paying accurately.  Unfortunately, these systems take a lot of licensing expertise, time, and technical resources to build.    

The quickest way to move licensing negotiations forward is to partner with an experienced and full-service digital music management vendor before engagement. This service provider will often have the trust of the record labels, access to the masters, sub-licenses, and proven systems for: 

  • Receiving the music and continuous updates from the labels 
  • Identifying content to ensure appropriate use  
  • Linking the sound recording to the musical composition to clear tracks for use, and ensuring proper payment to the publisher(s)  
  • Reporting and Payments  

Very few will provide all those functions, but those who do will make vendor management a lot simpler. 

Licenses for Live Streaming and On-Demand 

Generallyfitness platforms provide livestreamed classes which may or may not be stored, and they offer on-demand classes. Therefore, in consultation with a music industry expert or lawyerthese platforms will need to obtain appropriate licenses from labels, publishers, and collective management organizations (CMOs) covering the territories they will operate in 

Once they have secured licenses, the platform will have technical and service requirements to ensure only licensed tracks are used and to meet their ongoing licensing obligations as listed below: 

  • Establish an extensive catalog with matched sound recordings to musical compositions
  • Host an approved catalog for use by instructors 
  • Identify licensed and unlicensed tracks using content identification technology 
  • Reportingroyalty administration, and payments to rights holders 

It is hard enough to administer hundreds of thousandsand in some cases millions of tracks, but the difficulty increases trying to keep up with the continuous changes in catalog ownership. Platforms will need to identify tracks in their current on-demand classes and possibly replace songs when ownership has changed. 

One can see that a platform hosting both live-streaming and ondemand classes will have many licensing obligations and will need a partner to help manage the process.   


Let Audible Magic Help Manage Music on Your Platform 

Audible Magic enables platforms to focus on growing their business by providing worldclass proven music management solutions, including: 

  • Licensing Support – Understand what is cleared and not cleared. 
  • Fulfillment – Deliver cleared music to your platform now  
  • Content Identification – ID & track music on your platform 
  • Royalty Administration and Payment – Royalty reporting and payment to labels, publishers, CMOs and PROs   

This blog is issued for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as general legal advice.