Music Can Make Or Break A Surf Edit — It’s Time To Set A New Licensing Standard - Stab Mag
Matt Meola’s surfing is fast, loud, and typically comes with a bit of country twang. He often works with his friend, musician Lukas Nelson, to find the right sounds to accompany it. Photo: Jimmicane

Music Can Make Or Break A Surf Edit — It’s Time To Set A New Licensing Standard

Reminder: All Stab Edit of the Year entries must feature legally cleared music.

news // Dec 9, 2021
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s widely accepted that a surf edit has only two main ingredients: Surfing and music. 

While the extras — titles, animations, 16 mm B-roll, etc  — can add a little flavor, the surfing and the music do most of the work. Get this combination right and your edit will earn its place in surfing’s collective consciousness, where it will be revered and referenced for years to come. 

As a reminder, Stab is giving away a Bitcoin for the best edit of 2022. We want the winner to get the music/surfing combo right — truly right. 

While the act of legally licensing music is standard practice in similar industries like skating, surfing still exists in a cowboy state in which unlicensed music is still regularly used. We’ll raise our hand and admit that we haven’t exactly been angels in this regard. However, with the Edit of the Year initiative, we feel we’re in a position to shift things in our world.

To reiterate one of the rules we published in our Stab Edit of the Year announcement post, everything must be licensed and cleared. No exceptions.  

If you’re a surfer or editor who’s unfamiliar with this world, don’t stress. We want to set a new standard and we’re happy to help. A few suggestions: 

-Find a lesser-known band you love and reach out to them. In many cases, they’ll be happy to work with you and get some exposure. 
-Use a music database to find and legally license music for cheap. We recommend artlist
-Hire a music licensing guru like Tyler McLoughlan at the Sound Pound. You can tell her what songs you’re after and she’ll do the hard work for you. And even if a track is unattainable, she’s great at providing alternative options that feel similar — which is friendlier on the budget and benefits independent artists. Win/win.

In the past, many surfers and filmmakers have taken on music licensing as a creative challenge and set themselves apart as a result. Think: Dane Reynolds incorporating ambient noise, Taylor Steele providing a platform for Blink 182 before they went mega, or the RAGE crew deciding to record their own soundtrack. 

We’ll let you figure out what best suits your vibe — just make sure that everyone who took part in creating the magic gets their fair share. 


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