"Manage for Success" is a free monthly newsletter for record label executives who want to operate their companies efficiently and successfully. It's published by Keith Holzman of Solutions Unlimited, a management consultant, troubleshooter, and trusted advisor, and is based on his many years as a senior executive in the music industry.
Copyright 2005 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.
Record labels that have been around for a few years have probably built up a sizeable catalog -- one that has the possibility of becoming a significant gold mine. How to mine nuggets from that potential is the subject of this newsletter.
Feature films, broadcast television, cable TV programs, TV commercials, and the profusion of numerous independent films have created a huge demand for music of all kinds. Many have music specially composed, but others use existing music in addition to, or instead of, purpose-composed music.
They utilize a very wide variety of material, based on the nature of the show, its subject matter, location, and the mood required for the moment, and they obtain it from a great many sources. So where do they find it, and how can you get yours included?
Many people are responsible for licensing music for such use. They may be the project's producer or director, its music supervisor if employed, a music editor, or even a film editor who is frequently responsible for creating a "temp" (temporary) track until music can be specially composed or licensed. Frequently the creative people get so accustomed to the music used in the temp track that they decide to license it for the project. One of the most noted examples is Stanley Kubrick's use of "temp" music for "2001, A Space Odyssey" in lieu of Alex North's music that was specially composed and recorded for the film.
There are many ways to get your music considered for a project and it's frequently best if these people receive your music on a regular basis and get used to hearing from your label. They include known music supervisors, music publishers, especially the smaller ones, music libraries, and such independent A&R "aggregators" as Taxi. http://www.taxi.com/
You can find out who these people are by ordering the "Film & Television Music Guide" from Music Business Registry, which has listings of most active production companies and music supervisors. http://www.musicregistry.com/.
Daily Variety posts a weekly directory of films and TV shows in current production, along with their creative staff. http://www.variety.com/.
Another suggestion is to get an online subscription to TuneData, a division of Breakdown Services. You can then query their database for what music various productions are seeking and how your music might be appropriate. http://www.tunedata.com/.
One you've acquired your own list of possible licensees, you should send a package of appropriate music. This package should look as professional as possible and include an existing CD album with a note or sticker indicating what may be an appropriate track. Otherwise record a special CD-R, and print label information such as can be done on certain blank CD-Rs which allow direct printing, or on a paper label than can be printed on many ink-jet and laser printers. Just remember that the submission must look professional if you and your music are to be taken seriously.
These submissions might be directed to a specific film or show based on what you know is being sought, or you might send new releases on a frequent basis to TV shows that are running regularly and for whom your music might be appropriate.
It's a good idea to get to know some of these "targets" since your submissions can than be marked "solicited material" which is much more likely to get through and be heard. Otherwise it can be a bit of a crap-shoot.
Advice such as that given in these newsletters is just a small portion of what I do as a management consultant specializing in helping record labels manage for success. For more information on how I may be able to help your company, give me a call or visit my web site, http://www.HolzmanSolutions.com.
If you're thinking of starting your own label I recommend my book, "The Complete Guide to Starting a Record Company," conveniently available at http://www.CGSRC.com.
Bear in mind that usage of music in a film or TV show requires two licenses. One is for the recorded music that your label owns, for which you or someone on your staff will negotiate usage. This is called a "master use" license for obvious reasons.
The other license is for the written copyright and is called a "synch" (synchronization) license which is negotiated by the publisher of the copyright. In the event that your record label is also the publisher or co-publisher then you would negotiate that as well.
Fees for these licenses vary considerable based on the usage involved -- whether it's a matter of just a few seconds, part of a track, or an entire song, and the nature of the film or TV show. Documentaries generally have very small budgets for music, so they may offer very low fees. Feature films, especially from the major studies, have much larger budgets and can afford to spend more. Fees many range from as little as $250 on up to six figures!
The fees may include usage only in the film, but more licensees will request rights for additional, related usage, such as for soundtrack recordings, subsequent TV broadcast for a feature film, and DVD or other home video sale. You might be able to get paid up front for all such use, or negotiate what amounts will be paid in future as the usage escalates to each category.
Once you've agreed on the basic terms and fees, the licensee will probably send you its own license form. This may save you some grief unless you've already got your own standard form, in which case you know everything I've just written about! Otherwise, I suggest you use their form, read it over carefully to be sure it matches your agreed-upon terms, and then have it reviewed by your attorney to be sure your interests are protected.
Be aware that all this can take up a significant amount of time, so decide whether you want to handle it yourself, or have someone on your staff do it. Or, you might use someone on the outside accustomed to the task, who's familiar with the "players," and can do it either for an agreed upon fee and/or commission. This may be the best approach for a small, busy label.
No matter how you go about it, getting your music utilized is a lot of work, but the payoff can be richly rewarding.
Until next month,
Keith Holzman -- Solutions Unlimited
"Helping Record Labels Manage for Success"
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Copyright 2005 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved