Adventures in Music Licensing & Scoring!
January 2020 Vol. 8, No. 1
* Welcome new readers! Please feel free to email questions about music licensing (and scoring). I will answer you by email, and add your questions (anon.) in the next newsletter. (see below)
* I am happy to start my 8th year writing this newsletter! I honestly had no idea I would be doing this for this long. Please let me know what you think about it, and if there is any way I can be of assistance to you, in the world of music licensing and scoring!
* The next licensing class is Sat, February 29, 2020.
Please share this with any musicians, bands, songwriters or composers you know in the Pacific Northwest. If you live outside of the Pacific NW, I will be taking my class on the road. Please email me, if you have any connections with music schools in your area. I can offer a combination morning Licensing Workshop, and afternoon Percussion Clinic!
Can't make the class? I have been doing a lot of "one-on-one" sessions with folks. It's a great way to answer nagging questions about licensing, and help organize your process for pitching, etc. We can take a listen and analyze at your music for licensing potential. I generally do sessions in my studio in Edmonds, WA. A band can come together to share the cost. Otherwise, I can skype, phone, or FB Video with you. Email for info.
* I would very much appreciate any testimonials you have about the class or individual sessions. This feedback helps with promoting future classes. Please email me (see below).
* "As the Earth Turns" Update:
I am moving into a new level of producing on this project! Distribution is coming (including some great TV!). I hope to have some more NW screenings of the film in theatres and film schools. Tons to learn! I am also working on a biopic and doc about the director.
Upcoming confirmed screenings of "As the Earth Turns":
Southern States Indie Fan Film Fest, Biloxi, Gulf Coast, MS, USA January 7 - 10, 2020 TBA.
Beach Cities Inspirational Film Festival, April 25, 2020, San Clemente, CA (Time TBA). "As the Earth Turns" won the "Crystal Wave Award" (Outstanding Recognition) in 2019.
115 festivals!, 131 awards/nominations, including 33 for best score!
About the film:
My soundtrack album is available!
\Recent adventures in licensing and scoring:
* As I was checking my Hostbaby account, I saw a notice that my site will be migrating to Bandzoogle. EEK. The last thing I need right now is to redo it. I wonder how the freebies from Hostbaby (CDBaby releases) will work. Hopefully, it will go smoothly.
* I will be starting a feature in the near future! I also have a short to finish up soon. More on these adventures as they evolve.
* There were some end of the year pitches (Songtradr, TAXI, libraries, etc.). Nothing yet, but hope springs eternal!
* Honey Your Royalties Are In Dept.:
Small payment from Songtradr for overhead music in Turkey and Switzerland!
Also, overhead music payment (a bit more substantial) from a music library I am working with. I hope to get them more tracks in 2020!
* I was adding some new tracks to my PRO (BMI), and as I was adding my name as writer, a bunch of other names popped up. I generally work alone, so this was quite mysterious. I researched the names and found them all to be alias of one composer. I did some research and figured out the library that this composer is CEO of. I had recently signed a contract with them. It's a good one that supplies a lot of TV tracks. What is different (and I did look at my contract to double-check), is that the library takes 50% of the writers. I will get 50% of any placements. I'm OK with it, as long as there are placements and back-end. It is non-exclusive, retitle.
* I'm checking this company out. Not sure about it. I found it on Linkedin, looking for tracks. Anyone tried it? https://songwritersandproducers.com/ar/
* I found a track on mine (from a 1986 LP!) in this podcast:
https://www.nts.live/shows/zach-cowie/episodes/play-it-as-it-lathes-w-zach-cowie-1st-december-2017 Keep googling yourself. You NEVER know where your music will show up.
* I went through a bit of a hassle with my soundtrack for "As the Earth Turns". I needed to figure out how to add information to my existing PRO registrations for the tracks to the film itself (I had registered them individually last year, and filed a cue sheet as a producer). I needed to a bunch of medleys that were created for the soundtrack recording, and with a little help from BMI, registered them separately (with a connection to the original tracks), and BMI connected any existing tracks to the soundtrack. This way, all tracks will be tracked by BMI from the film, itself, along with the soundtrack recording. Will any of this make money? Who knows. I am pretty sure, I will get it if it does!
* See link below regarding the Discovery Network's possible plan to buy you out and nuke your royalties!
* The long wait is over...BMI Jan royalties later this month. More in Feb!
Tales from the Tech-Side:
(NOTE: This article is a result of a very nice compliment for my film score of "As the Earth Turns")
I just watched your film! Your composing and orchestration were spot on for this silent feature. Can I ask where you recorded it? And can I ask how many were in your orchestra? I'm looking at using an orchestra, but of course, the studio has to understand how to record an orchestra, and I need to make it sound full, yet stay within budget. I'm aware of union cost for players, etc., but appreciated that you were able to get an epic sound here in Seattle. Or was it recorded elsewhere?
Thank you very much for your kind words. The score is all electronic with live percussion (my specialty). I use Logic on a MAC and EastWest orchestra (Hollywood instruments). I am absolutely delighted that you heard it as a really orchestra. That is the ultimate complement, especially from a musician.
I did mix the score at a very good post studio in Seattle, Clatter and Din. I prepared "stems" - orch sections (divided high and low) with solos. I also brought each instrument in as back up. I did add a doubling of an electric bass to the basses (old Hollywood trick) The engineer was exceptional. I believe that was the difference. If I did it again, I would have had a solo violin, and cello player (& maybe a trumpet) come in and add the icing on top. I have added EW Solo violin and it's sounding very good, especially in addition t the violin section. Adding even a few real players can make the difference. I also use the EW solo Piano with three mic positions. That has really upped my solo piano tracks.
Anyway, you made my day.
Learning how to really use a virtual orchestra does take practice. You have to think like a player. Articulations are the key. Wind and brass need breathing points. Open strings are important. My real percussion instruments (snare, bass, cymbals, timpani, bells and xylophone) also help sell the score. It is period, so I think the audience may be more forgiving. Without dialogue, the score has to really sell the action and emotion. I love the film and the story, so scoring it was very enjoyable. The audience has to listen. Because the director is not alive, I had a very wide-open path. My co-producer was very supportive.
Annoucing a new feature for 2020: Articles from Readers!
(Please email me if you would like to submit something for this newsletter. It can be about anything in music licensing and scoring. I would love to hear about your personal adventures with music libraries, PROs, music supervisors, directors, etc. Thanks!
TAXI Road Rally review 2019!
When I went to the Road Rally I had almost no experience in the music industry and the thought of having a successful music career seemed like science fiction to me, but when the Road Rally was over I felt like I was ready to take on the world. Not only was the Road Rally motivational, but it also taught me clear, actionable measures I could take, including everything from electronic music production tricks to ways to prevent yourself from "getting screwed" by using contracts, to methods for collaborating with other musicians. On top of that, I made many professional connections and last but not least, had a lot of fun. To say it was a life-changing experience is not an overstatement and I hope to go again next year.
Questions from the Audience...
What the heck is up with Songtradr? They did an upgrade, and many of my tracks have copyright issues.
(A number of readers on this one!)
I got notices to fix a bunch of tracks. I tried to fix them a bit, and then gave up. I asked ST to help. I had 47 (out of around 180 tracks) needing changes. They emailed instructions. It was totally confusing. Then ST flipped a switch to fix one, and my tracks that needed changes went up to 127. Now I'm officially pissed. I told them I don't have time to figure out the copyright settings for 127 tracks, especially considering how confusing it is. All of my tracks are the same, ownership-wise. I said they need to fix them.
I told support they needed to help with my tracks, and they did get to the bulk of them (over 100). I was able to finally figure out the last 20 (out of 187) It took every piece of insane anti-logic to pull it off. It is a series of bizarre commands. Masters - change ownership to 0, save, then make it 100, make sure you save and continue, then do the same with Writers. I have multiple entries for myself as writer(It has ALWAYS been confusing!), so I have do juggle different combinations to make it take. Then go-to "Approvals" and accept. BOTH writers and masters have to be approved there, then they show up in the other tabs with a check. Of course, NONE of this is obvious. Even after doing this, some tracks would show as need approval (go back and save and a few times!). EEK. What was most interesting, is support said, "Please keep in mind, this update was implemented based on buyer feedback and what they requested from us and our artists. In order to license immediately, and more often, this update was necessary for most users." BEST ADVICE: Contact support and tell them to fix. That is another hour of my life that I will never get back.
UPDATE: There was another email that went out needing members to update there global PRO information. I was able to fix that, although it took a few tries to get it right. I still have about 6 tracks that might have some issues. I'll get to them next. The adventure continues!
TIP: I recommend joining the Songtradr group on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/786199044895237/
LINKS OF THE MONTH:
Composer Fee Chart:
The bad, the really bad and the ugly about Direct Licensing (The Discovery Network Debacle!)
Get involved with this issue above:
EARNING A LIVING VS. GETTING A GIG: WHAT COMPOSERS NEED TO KNOW:
The Modern Guide to Music Publishing:
The 11 Contracts Every Artist, Songwriter and Producer Should Know -- Music and the Movies:
SYNC SUMMIT LA
KEY WORLDWIDE MUSIC INDUSTRY & SYNC EVENTS LIST 2020:
Regular Composer Events in LA:
ASCAP - I CREATE MUSIC EXPERIENCE - APRIL 1-3, 2020 (Nashville)
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I am always available for one-on-one consultation, in person or via phone or Skype (call or email to set up)
One hour: $70.00
Two hours: $120.00
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I will be happy to critique your music, make recommendations for marketing, suggest libraries to put you music in, help figure out studio configurations (although I am not a heavy tech person. I can recommend people, though), and give you general career advice. If you are interested, please call or email.
Joke/Quote of the month:
"I start in the middle of a sentence and move in both directions at once."