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Entries in music licensing (8)

Tuesday
Feb282012

Series: The Music Playground Presents Wishes & Thieves

This is gorgoeus.  Enjoy.

Tuesday
Feb142012

Interview with Steve Schnur


Stagehand TV-Steve Schnur-Worldwide Executive of... by TheOldStagehand

Great profile of Steve Schnur by Stagehand.  For those of you in music licensing who have been living under a rock . . . he's "da man" when it comes to syncing music for games and leads EA's music department. Good interview here with him talking shop - really a must see for anyone in the business.
Friday
Dec022011

Interview: The Black Keys Take On Music Licensing

No Hummers and no mayonnaise commercials . . . The Black Keys dish on licensing their music and seem to have a good head on their shoulders and perspective on music for advertising in this interview.  Baby's gotta eat!          

Monday
Nov072011

20 Questions With Eric Hillebrecht, Music Supervisor

Name:    Eric Hillebrecht 
Title:     Creative Director, Senior Music Supervisor, President 
Companies: The Music Playground  (www.themusicplayground.com)
The Lodge (www.thelodgemusic.com)

1. Song I Wish I Synched:  Ou Est La Femme - Louis Vertigo Remix (Hear it below).  Also, Incredible Eyes by Ben Hartley from Special Blend Records. This is one of the most synch friendly tracks I have ever heard.
2. Favorite Music Placement:  Not something I placed, but rather wrote for a short film called Carrot Vs Ninja (See it below).
3. Most Requested Creative Direction: "I'll know it when I hear it
4. New/Emerging Artist/Bands I Am Listening To: Pretty Lights. These guys are well known through a cult following and I just can't get enough of their sound. Their music just makes me feel cool walking down the street.  Watch it here.
5. Last Concert I Attended: Dapuntobeat a funk, disco, dance band out of Mexico City. Tonight I am seeing Wishes and Thieves and next week Jviewz.
6. My Favorite Online Music Web Site: I like Tumblr cause its just for the people by the people and exposes me to more then just music. It's like a content friendly twitter feed.
7. My Favorite Mobile Music App: I use my ipod to conserve battery life.
8. Number of Music Tracks I List To Everyday: Roughly 200.
9. My Favorite Music Synch Curveballs:  Mah Na Mah Na (The Muppets).
10. Favorite Cliche Movie Trailer Music Track:  Not sure what this means.
11. Favorite Cliche Action Sports Music Track:  Not sure what this means either.
12. Music Track Least Likely To Be Used Mom/Daughter Movie of The Week:  I Touch Myself - The Divinyls
13. Music Track Most Likely To Be Used in a Pharma Commercial: "I've Want A New Drug" - Huey Lewis and The News
14. Instruments I Play: Guitar, bass, drums and some piano and trumpet.
15. Radio Station I Listen To Most:   I don't in this market cause it smells like payola. If I hear Adele one more time I will cry. Radio is misused.
16. Favorite 80's Song: "We Dont Have to Take Our Clothes Off" Jermaine Stewart is up there:
17.  Most Un-Licensable Track Ever:   I Touch Myself - The Divinyls.
18.  Biggest Licensing WTF Ever By A Major Artist:  Not sure.
19. Desert Island iPod Mix: Ratatat and Trentemøller.  Cinematic non-lyrical stuff cause the same lyrics would probably drive me insane. The break at 2:12 is sick.
 
20. Desert Island Film Soundtrack:  Punch Drunk Love, and I Heart Huckabees cause Jon Brion is the best.
Thursday
Nov032011

Avoiding "Grey Music" When Licensing A Track

We have all been there.  The spot or show is first airing, we have just high-fived, and we think we have locked up the next hottest thing for music only to get the dreaded call from your legal department . . . Houston, we have a problem . . .  So many variations of this call over the years and none fun . . . Your gut sinks to your shoes as the lawyer tells you: The guitarist never signed off on the sync, there was an undisclosed co-writer who had a publishing deal already, the manager wants more money, the track is actually not new or unique and lives in a few music libraries and has been synced all over town already, or the worst, a dreaded musicology issue. . . so many gut wrenching twists.

The fact is, if you have been in this business for even a second . . . You have been burned on this topic.  For years, commercial music was dominated by composers and major labels/music publishers who know the drill and are extremely buttoned up and professional.  You get what you want, how you want it, and rarely have issues other than the unavoidable musicology issue here and there . . . Cut and dry and limited sync risk. 

 But as smaller record labels and band-driven music web sites have flooded a wave of "grey music" onto the market, web savvy artists have taken a "let's just get it out there" shotgun mentality and often times haven't crossed their t's or even written their i's before the money is on the table.  Worse off, these music websites have done ZERO due diligence on the music, have simply automated the process, lack any real legal or licensing expertise, and then put disclaimers and indemnifications all over their sites to avoid liability. So what happens? Well, its like Russian roulette - sometimes the sync is fine and sometimes it blows up.  No shock there when you have artists who upload their music onto every possible site, they don’t tell their other band members or writers, the websites distribute the music without any regard to whether or not it has been cleared or approved appropriately.  On top of that, when they find a sync, they negotiate rogue deals and will say and do just about anything when a lucrative music sync is on the line . . . simple greed.  The result, ugly and chaotic and, often times, litigious.  

How do you know the music you are syncing is free and clear and not "grey music?"

How can I protect myself and my clients?

The best answer is to simply consider the source.

Here are a few general rules of thumb on the types of music companies to work with and the general risk profiles of each to help you navigate these issues and lower your risks . . .

A. Reputable original music houses have the lowest risk.  Music production companies have professional staff composers and work with musicologists on a regular basis to ensure your track is original and clean.  Safest choice.

B. Exclusive production music and stock music libraries are pretty clean.  These companies either pay for, commission or acquire the rights of the music in their libraries.  Although never perfect, they have legal agreements with the writers, singers and musicians and copyrights on their libraries and, in general, have locked up their music pretty tight.  Very low risk.

B. Known music supervisors and music licensing companies, major record labels and publishers all have lower risk profiles as well.  They almost always have direct relationships with the artists and very tight legal contracts that help protect their sync clients.  Yes, some artists can be difficult when trying to get approvals, their process can be slow and artists can get greedy when they hear the word "sync" (especially on renewals), but generally low risk once your deal is done.

C. Smaller record labels, some risk...the larger independents are as buttoned up as the majors ... But the web tools available these days can make the guy next door an independent record label.  Worse off, unlike major labels, smaller labels typically have more ambiguous rights around syncing ... So beware ... the smaller the label, the dodgier things can get.

D. Aggregators, non-exclusive music libraries and band-focussed websites touting thousands of tracks that are easily searchable that are from bands and artists . . . High risk ... caveat emptor.  Their lack of sync knowledge, lack of legal expertise and lack of artist diligence makes these music tracks a wild card.  Often times, they are tech companies and not music companies - so don't be fooled into thinking otherwise because they hired one or two people from the industry.... Typically, not worth losing your job or client over given the wealth of tried and true music sources available.

After you pick your source...In terms of a “check list” that can help you lower risk...make sure:

A. Every co-writer has read and signed the sync agreement

B. Every band member, musician and singer has read and signed the sync agreement

C. Use musicologists for a final blessing when in doubt

... Hope this was helpful... Always choose wisely, work with professionals and if you get a grey feeling, trust your gut and walk away from a sync that doesn't feel right ... There is plenty of great music out there free and clear!  Happy syncing!  

Friday
Oct072011

Kia Party Rocks with LMFAO

Bring yourself to love this one on so many levels . . . irresistible fun and solid music track selection.  

The Kia Hamsters are back at it again and styling the 80's running man to LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."

(i think they have become the "McRib" of the car world - ya know, like here and gone and back again when you least expect it - and certainly the best car company mascots)

From their first spots a few years ago, the Kia Hamster campaigns have used great music licensing.

Can't wait to see what these furry nuts do next, but we love it and hope they keep up the great work.

(wow, i just used "furry nuts" in blogpost)