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Pumping Up Online Music, Video Ads

Pump Audio launches an editing tool that lets people license music to create video ads for Web sites.

A company that helps independent musicians and artists license music to television studios and advertising agencies launched a service aimed at the growing crop of amateur filmmakers popping up on the Internet.

Pump Audio Inc. on Monday rolled out MyPump Soundtrack, a Web-based service that provides professional and amateur content producers the ability to license songs. The five-year-old company based in Hudson Valley, N.Y., typically serves television networks from NBC to MTV.

MyPump Soundtrack allows creators to view their video while searching through the Pump Audio catalog by genre, mood and speed to find the perfect track to match to their production. There are about 65,000 pieces from which to chose, ranging from jazz and classical instrumentals to hip hop and rock bands.

The service could help companies that want to build Web ads license music to go with videos. It also could head off copyright issues for promising filmmakers wanting to display their work legally at video-sharing Web sites, such as YouTube and MySpace.

Steve Ellis, the company's founder and CEO, says video content is the Internet's future. "We just did a couple of shows for CBS that were created specially for the Web," he said. "There are new Web companies working with video content, either user generated or advertisers, in hopes of becoming ad-inserted businesses. These companies will run up against having to get the rights to use the music."

But some budding musicians aren't too concerned about the kids who mash-up homemade videos with music, and then upload the digital content to the Web or share them with friends.

Los Angeles musician Brady Harris struggles to get his mixture of pop and country western music placed in commercials and television shows. He has licensed several pieces of his music through Pump Audio in the last four years. The most recent picked-up by one of Portugal's biggest banks to run in a commercial.

"I'm not too concerned about someone using my music without permission for a clip on YouTube or MySpace," he said. "The exposure is much more difficult for me to get."

Others are a bit skeptical as to whether Pump Audio will find additional revenue from a customer base less experienced in video and music content.

Especially since Pump Audio's business model has historically focused on placing music in MTV reality shows like "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County." Now they are "just trying to jump on the YouTube buzz,"said Steve Gordon, New York-based entertainment attorney and author of The Future of the Music Business.

Gordon doesn't quite buy into the new service, and not convinced the new service will fly. "Out of all the song pluggers, Pump Audio has the best shot at making it work because Steve is a smart guy," he said. "Ellis attended Wharton business school and was a rocker for 10 years, assigned to Columbia Records, so he has the experience to know what executives want."

Ellis believes entertainment executives to amateur videographers want a place they can go to easily license music as the Internet evolves into the next television, complete with ads. Videos posted on sites like YouTube that clearly are for commercial use will have copyright issues, he said.

Companies like Current TV already accept and pay for viewer-created advertisements. In May, the TV Web site began airing the first commercial spot for Sony Electronics, created by 19-year-old Tyson Ibele from Minneapolis.

Ibele and others now have an option to access MyPump Soundtrack to license music at different prices, from 99 cents on up to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how they will use the music.

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