There are always risks associated with licensing a song for an advertising campaign. This video blog episode provides advice from the experts at Music Mill, by looking at a particular example of the issues involved in reviewing contractual agreements from music publishers and record labels. We hope it will be helpful if you are an agency person dealing with suppliers of music for advertising campaigns.
You’ll find the full transcript below:
Today’s music licensing episode is all about the risk inherent in the detail of single licensing contracts for advertising campaigns. Sound boring? Well, not if you want to minimize your risk of things going pear-shaped later.
So let’s get right into it. Let’s talk about licensing contracts, or more specifically the relationship between the approval and the contract. If you’re a TV producer and you get an email from us or the publisher or somebody, another music supervisor with a formal approval saying that you can go ahead and use the song, normally it spells out the usage that you’ve been granted approval for. And particularly it gives you a list of media that you’re allowed to broadcast the song on, things like TV, online, cinema, radio, and so on. But that is not a contract. Now, if people have done their job correctly, the approval licensing email should be in plain English, easy to understand. But when you get the formal licensing agreement, it doesn’t necessarily use the same language, sometimes it does, but often it doesn’t.
Now, in this gap between the approval and the contract, there is always a legal risk, sometimes things get missed out, sometimes they get translated incorrectly. And if you’re not doing music licensing all the time, it’s difficult to check that you’ve got exactly what you thought you were going to get. And there is definitely a risk that later on after the music license starts, you suddenly discover that you’re not covered for everything that you wanted and then you have to pay more money. So it’s really important to get it right up front. Part of our job as music supervisors is to check these things and minimize your risks. Now, at Music Mill, my wife and business partner, Clare, is the main person who does all that. It’s part of her role. Let’s talk to her about it. So today we’re going to talk about music contract terminology. Very exciting, of course.
So tell us what you do when you get music license contracts in.
Well, I check them against the terms of approval and the client’s request. That sounds a lot easier than it is because each company has a whole different range of terminology.
We’re the people in the middle that have to interpret the language of the music industry and the language of the advertising industry. When you first saw the word theatrical, what does that make you think about?
I would be assuming a play.
One of the music licensing contracts we get regularly is for cinema. Now, most people say if you’re getting permission for cinema, that’s cinema. But for one particular supplier, standard theatrical means cinemas, drive-ins, public places where films are exhibited, and a fee is charged, which kind of makes sense, but you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.
Okay. But then what does non-theatrical mean? Now, there’s a good one.
Not on the stage.
Not on the stage. Everything’s non-theatrical except theatrical. But anyway, this is a different contract. Non-theatrical means closed audiences, not primarily engaged in theatrical exploitation, things like hotels and schools and churches and oil rigs of all things. But buried right in the middle of that, there is display of the video or the performance on an airplane, which means that if you request, we get requests for in-flight, and most contracts say in-flight. So you’ve got to know where you’re looking, you’ve got to know, some music licensing contracts say in-flight means in-flight, whereas others, you’ve got to dig into non-theatrical and make sure it’s there. So I understand you’ve got these big multinational corporations, they would have developed these contracts decades and decades ago. They’ve issued tens of thousands of them. It all works for them. It’s a big machine.
So, they’re not going to change it, and I’m certainly not going to approach them and say, can you please change that definition? So there you have it, a tiny little window into the arcane world of music license contracts. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg really, there’s a lot more to it than that. I really want to emphasize these video blogs aren’t trying to teach you how to do music licensing. What we are trying to do is simply give you some insight, so that if you’re on the other end, if you’re the client or the agency, you have a better idea of all the issues involved.
If you really want to minimize the risks and do the job properly, then you really need to engage someone like us, a music supervisor who knows what they’re doing, otherwise, things can and do go wrong all the time. And I should finish by saying, it doesn’t matter where you are, we can help you. 95% of our business, our operations, is done by email, the other 5% by phone, so we can find songs and license them for anybody, anywhere in the world, anytime. Just send us a message.
See you later.
If you would like to check out or subscribe to the whole Vlog series of Life on the Border of Music & Advertising, please search for “Bruce Tweedie Channel” on YouTube.
And remember, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, we can help you with finding or licensing songs. Message me!
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Please contact us if you need help with music searches or licensing songs for advertising campaigns, or just want to chat about music and advertising. We would love to hear from you! About anything really.
bruce at musicmill.com.au
Credit: the opening and closing sequences feature “Strong Hands” from Ben Catley:
The song: https://soundcloud.com/bencatley/stro…
About Ben: open.spotify.com/artist/66OGdUyXn2WSipn6ZYq7id
Disclaimer re copyright and fair use: https://www.musicmill.com.au/fair-use/