Adventures in Music Licensing
February 2018 Vol. 6, No. 2
* Happy Mardi-Gras/Carnaval season to everyone!
* I woke up a little under the weather, today(actually pretty nice outside!) As I felt better, I got inspired to do a "Hopeful Piano" track for a pitch. It came out pretty good!. Use anything for motivation.
* I have a MAJOR request…As you have probably noticed, this newsletter and information are free. I’m quite happy to continue with it. In exchange for this free service, I have a very small request. What would really help me at this moment, is for all of my readers to go to my Youtube page and subscribe. It costs nothing. Youtube is upping the requirements to maintain ad revenue for small channels (#smallchannelarmy). My channel is a few hundred subscribers away from 1000. I have until Feb 20, 2018. If only a percentage of readers on this newsletter subscribed, I would be there! The channel does have a video about my licensing class, and a number of music videos I have been creating to showcase my tracks. (That’s a discussion in itself!) There’s also a ton of videos from my drumshop that closed, along with percussion how-to-videos. A tuning video has over 81K views!
New intro video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQfU1_bFqSQ
Channel ID: https://www.youtube.com/user/edhartman1
* Welcome new readers! Please email any questions about licensing. I am always happy to respond (and it will go into the next newsletter)
* I have had a number of individual consultations. Thanks to everyone. It's amazing how many folks are seriously getting into music licensing!
* New Podcast Interview: (In depth interview. A bit more about my percussion side.)
* I am teaching my next Music Licensing Class on Saturday, Febrary 24, 2017, 9am to noon. (https://continuinged.northseattle.edu/courses/make-money-licensing-your-music). 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 am going to take 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!
* If this newsletter has helped you, please consider becoming a fan: I did start a Patreon page. This is very new to me, and I have a lot to learn about it. My page is (https://www.patreon.com/edhartman) Feel free to support the effort! Call it a voluntary subscription to this newsletter!
* NW Composers: Look on FB for Seattle Composer Alliance Monthly Meetups! They will move around, so keep your eyes open. seattlecomposers.org
* I am doing one-on-one consultations (in person, skype or phone). If you are not in the Pacific NW, and would like to get info, please email me (email@example.com) Let me know what you are interested in talking about (licensing, contracts, exclusive vs. non, writing, tech, etc.) and we can schedule a time to talk. My fees are below. If you just have a short question, you can always email it for a general answer in the next newsletter. Please let me know if I can be of help!
* I would very much appreciate any testimonials you have about the class. This feedback helps with promoting future classes. Please email me (see below).
Recent adventures in licensing:
Big recommendation...Make lists of tasks. There are unlimited licensing opps out there. Keep folders marked with emails and task-lists for each client, etc.)
I am looking into Soundreef.com. A friend has done well with it, so I did start the process of uploading tracks. Soundreef is a Italian company that supplies music to background retail, etc. They won a major legal decision that allowed they to collect direct royalties of this particiular type of licensing, that normally would have gone to the Italian PRO. Anyway, they are a type of music library. I am still figuring out a few things. They are non-exclusive, and it seems OK. They do have some online paperwork, including an “exoneration letter” to your PRO (BMI, ASCAP, etc.) that allows them to collect a very specific royalty in certain countries. It’s a bit confusing. I’m still trying to get an answer about the “master recording” their royalty form. I should have more information next newsletter. Best guess is it will create a new income stream, especially if you can submit a few dozen tracks.
Songtradr and Musicgateway both now have optional memberships. I can see benefits for either. There are still free pitching opps for both. Both show the clients they are pitching to. In one case, I did find that I can pitch directly. With Songtradr, that does mean that I won’t pay a commission on sales to that client. Keep your eyes open!
I just uploaded nearly a hundred new tracks to a few libraries. It felt good to get up to date. One library did offer to do the metadata! You bet they can do it. It can take 15-20 minutes per track. They are a lot faster than me, especially with genre, etc. One library is working with me closer on custom requests. I think the large upload put me on their front burner. Use high volume to attract and renew clients!
It’s all about the little $$. Createspace (Amazon) does books and CDs on demand. I did get a nice little royalty check from them. I recommend using them for CDs rather than producing and stocking CDs. It totally takes the risk out of the deal. You can use them along side with CD Baby, etc. (don't use the CD Licensing option! It can conflict with other licensing opps!)
More and more, I am seeing the same pitch from multiple sources (libraries, portals, and individuals). Even if you see a deadline on a pitch, don’t believe it. I have had a number of pitches that were over the deadline, and then popped up somewhere else.
Lots of forwards via TAXI. Responses from clients have been very light, I’m sorry to say. This has become a bit of an issue in the TAXI community. I don’t know if it’s just that there’s more being pitched, or the clients are using multiple portals to get tracks. I still feel TAXI is a good investment, if you can get to the Rally in November.
Lots of new tracks – Jazz, new Spanish Guitar, sad strijngs, solo piano, funk, new cool jazz track for an exclusive library.
Finally, TAXES are so much easier without running a retail music store! I am free…
Tales from the Tech-Side:
Timesaver! Typically, I start my sessions with a custom template (LOGIC). Inevitably, as I play with all of the settings, including master mix stuff, the settings get more complicated. I just did a solo piano track, and copied a similar session to start from. Voila! I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel again. The piano sounded great, and I didn’t need to change a thing. If I’m smart, I will build a new template from that session specifically for piano. Just remember, you can always start with a previous session that had settings you like! Just remember if there’s any tempo changes, etc. already in there.
Questions from the Audience: (please email!)
If I'm going to give someone an "Exclusive" shouldn't I get something in return? Or, shouldn't it at least be a very well known organization with huge sucess stories like APM (owned by Sony?)
The songs I was going to send this company (three) are all under contract with non-exclusive agreements that I've signed, one is a three-year whereby I can opt out after three years, and the other is with a major network deal where I can opt out in one year.
Do you recommend I pick a few songs that are not contracted for (and less likely to be) or should I just stick with non-exclusive deals? Or, should I ask for something in return, and if so, what is it? I certainly don't want to give an exclusive for more then one year. I know APM has a one-year deal.
Some libraries start off non-exclusive, and become exclusive, or have both types of deals. I have given both non and excl content to the same library. I always recommend to be careful with excl., if there is no upfront money paid (when you give the library your music). Some excl. libraries will get blanket deals. They make money, by selling the whole library to the client (like Discovery networks). They may or may not split any of the revenue to the composers. The back end may be good though. Where it gets sticky, is if the backend is with something like Scripps network, where they DON'T pay any backend. So understand - NO upfront paid for the track, NO sync fee paid from the client, and NO back-end. Theoretically, the client might direct license to the library and pay backend that way. The library needs to pay you, of course, which may or may not happen. That is a worst case scenario. NO money on the placement. On the other hand, it might open up doors that pay well.
Let's get practical:
Exclusive is always tricky. I go with exclusives, if they ask me for something specific for a client. I figure the chances are good that I'll get the placement. I also ask, if the client does NOT take the track, can I get it back for another non-excl pitch. Sometimes libraries will let you take the track back, if no placement. But, many libraries will make you sign on the track excl. when you pitch. That's because they need to contract to legally represent the track.
I generally do NOT send a library a already non-excl track to someone, if they only want exclusive. I might email a link to a non-excl track to an excl library, and say, "I can create something like this track (although that track is not avail). "
I recommend asking the library exactly what they want. Genre, length, instrumentation, style, etc. Then I will create something specifically for them, that you I can live without. I will say, the last few tracks that were suppose to go to an excl. wound up going to a non-excl.
Some libraries are extremely particular, and will send out their needs regularly to composers. Some libraries will also list ALL of the variations they would love to have (with strings, with perc, no percussion, etc.) It can take serious time to do a dozen variations on a track. Serious film/TV composers (especially reality) do the extra work, and send all of the track variations. They can get a lot of work.
Should you go with exclusives? Yes, if they pay upfront for the track or, if they revert back to non (3yrs is typical), or if they have something particular. Otherwise, I generally stick with non. Some non will have an exclusive custom division, too.
In the end, it is all about relationships. If you become friends with the companies you work with, things are a lot easier to work out, and they will seek you out when they need something from your wheelhouse.
APM libraries (there are a number of them that work with APM) are extremely difficult to get into. They may be worth it, if you are ready for them, and vice-versa. Some huge excl. really want your entire catalogue. That is probably impossible if you are already involved with non-exclusives.
Hi Ed, I know you do a lot of "cues."
What sites do you market those through? Do you put them in libraries?Portals like Songradr? How do you market these?
I would guess they typically don't pay much, easy to put together and another source of income. Maybe $25.00 to $200.00 per cue plus the royalties?
How long do they need to be? Two minutes in length?
On yours, I assume you use your own instruments as a base (like guitar/marimba) and then add other instruments electronically?
The quick answer is cues = tracks. No real difference, except cues can be defined as writing music specifically for film and tv, rather than your tracks that also fit film and tv. Pay can be same or different, or more or less. Budget determines price. A reality cue might pay no upfront (only backend, which can add up) or can be used in advertising and pay $50K!
I use everything for everything, equipment-wise. If you want to write orchestral you need to either hire an orchestra or learn to create one on computer (not easy at all!). I just got a track rejected from TAXI because my strings weren't realistic enough. I agree. My composition was fine.
Usually I start with electronics for format and then add acoustic instruments to liven it up, or make everything sound real.
I don't distinguish any real difference in market for cues vs. tracks. I really see them all the same. Cue is a terminology that is probably from film or TV scoring. In the end, a track is a track. Music libraries sell both film scoring type tracks as well as regular songs and instrumentals. Music libraries started off by selling "source music" - like when a radio is on in the scene, and they need a song playing. It was called "needle=drop". Nowadays, libraries are asked to score entire movies or TV shows. One library can have an extremely wide variety of musical styles and needs.
Generally, most scoring cues are probably used for TV, commercials, and trailers. The specifics of them can differ. I've had requests for 60 sec, 1:30, 2:00 and beyond. In general, 2-3 minutes is tops. Because editors are going to work with these tracks, having edit points helps. Those are easy places the track can be cut and pasted. When you are designing this kind of track, you probably want to think about sections. (15, 30, etc.) If your tracks are at 60 or 120 BPM, it's very easy. Otherwise, as you create your first musical phrase, just keep in mind at the end of a section, the music will trail off a bit. There doesn't have to be silence, but a good drop of volume does the trick. Reality TV is really what this type of track is useful for. Editors will use tons of tracks to build a show. Listen to shows to hear the variety of music. The will need tension, suspense, humor, sad, happy, and neutral tracks to score the program.
I use Sound Studio on Mac to look at my mixes and see where the breaks are. I just did a track, and put some cymbal swells in at the breaks (I used electronic cymbals, too!). When you look at the mix, you see the sections easily. Each section is somewhat similar but instruments are added and taken out to create theme and variations. It's really like giving the editor 4 tracks in one.
That's just one type of track. Trailer music can build over the entire track. Trailers are using muiltiple tracks, but in the end, there is a style to it. I'm not a trailer expert, and it is a difficult style to get into. There are specific trailer libraries to market to.
One great use of TAXI, is the pitches have a lot of this information on them. The clients ask for specific types of tracks. TAXI more than any other pitch portal gets specific on these kind of pitches.
I can recommend that you can use Music Library Report to get information about libraries (link on my website). Going to music libraries and listening to tracks can answer a lot of questions.
There certainly is a need for relaxing instrumentals for just about anything. I've had tracks used by libraries and in TV and films that were never designed for anything in particular. They were semi-improvised pieces! In summary, I wouldn't get hung up on trying to create anything specific, beyond what you are comfortable with. When you want to challenge yourself, and create something with a needed form, style, instrumentation, genre, etc., go for it. Otherwise, focus on what you are great at. If you analyze your existing tracks for length, etc. you may discover there is a market for them beyond what they were created for. I use a variety of pitching portals (taxi.com, musicgateway.com, songtradr.com, etc.). I can tell you that most of the time, I get inspired to write a track through these companies. A lot of the time, the track doesn't get the initial pitch, but does get used by someone else. Once you create a track, an entire world seems to open up, and you see the possibilities. So often, within a week, another potential client will be looking for the same thing, or very similar. Write, Submit, Forget, Repeat.
We are signed-up with Songtradr. We have many tracks uploaded. Meta is next.
We upgraded to pro, which is very cheap, I also put our songs under all the monetization categories. They have a special deal ($4.99/month) I'm a little afraid that they now have the songs to play freely, to try to get them licensed, so why would anyone pay us? Did I do the wrong thing, or is that how it's done? Are they legit or should I worry that I have just basically given away our music?
I don’t think you need to worry about Songtradr. I’ve used it for pitching up to now, although I do have one track in one of their background music companies.
As far as having your music playing anywhere, don’t worry about someone using it. They would have to license it through Songtradr. In your browser (like Chrome) you can under file, go ingognito and go to Songtradr. You’ll see what it looks like for someone else to see your songs. You will see they can’t just download them.
Even if you have music that is downloadable somewhere, it doesn’t mean anyone can legally use it, without your permission or license. (you can get blank license forms. I have some. Contracts can’t be copyrighted, so you can use nearly anyones - just take the text and put your company’s info in. I don’t worry about folks using my music on personal videos. It will never add up to much, even on Youtube, with ad revenue. Commercial productions will never use your music without proper licensing. They can seriously be sued, and they know it. If anything, they bend over backwards making sure you have all the rights. They prefer to work with licensing companies, like Songtradr, or music libraries, because the music clearance is done correctly.
I’ve thought about the Songtradr deal right now. I know of some very successful pros that are using it. I will say not to depend on anyone company. Check out music libraries, and pitch to them. As long as they are non-exclusive, it won’t conflict with anything. You will learn as you go. Use the TAXI forum for questions, too. Musiclibraryreport is also full of info about libraries.
Keep the questions coming, and I will answer as best as possible. (I may use them in my newsletters, anonymously)
Thanks, and good luck!
LINKS OF THE MONTH:
Crash Course in Logic Pro 10.4 Updates and Features:
About library music: (Great stuff!)
About music for commercials:
Ed Hartman Consultation
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
Groups: contact for price
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 week:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.”
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”