Adventures in Music Licensing
January 2018 Vol. 6, No. 1
* Happy New Year to everyone! I hope everyone has survived the holidays. I am looking forward to 2018 as a full-time composer (and a little teaching!).
* Welcome new readers! Please email any questions about licensing. I am always happy to respond (and it will go into the next newsletter)
* 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!
* 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!
* If you have any articles, links, ideas, etc. related to music licensing, please let me know!
* For anyone who has taken my licensing class, 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:
The Royalties keep a coming. BMI paid out week (Q2 2017). I had a few new shows, including: “Real Housewives of New York City”, Ultimate Homes (Hawaii, and Islands). The Hawaii one is on Youtube. (You can now what Youtube on your TV with Comcast - It’s an eye opener watching your own YT videos on your TV!) The Ultimate Homes shows (Discovery) paid over $100 for the quarter. The Blind Side (2009) did nearly $100 on MTV alone. The box-office disaster, Cold Light of Day (2012) with Henry Cavill (Pre Superman) continues to make good money, world-wide. It paid $130 in Germany, alone, this quarter. My goal for this year is to double or better my BMI payments.
I am continuing to direct license music. I connected with a filmmaker on FB. He was looking, on his feed, for some music for a small Indie short. Folks recommended cheap Royalty Free libraries. I recommended he might try working with a local composer. Knowing the cheap prices of tracks on libraries, we negotiated a low fee for two tracks. I created a simple sync-master agreement, and the client will pay me on paypal.
I am waiting to start scoring a short film that will be fundraising soon, to pay for the score. The film is funny, so it will be a good challenge to bring the humor out of the dialogue and visuals.
I I did find a music supervisor on social media, looking for music, and just pitched him a new arrangement of Saint Saens, “The Swan”. It needed to be very virtuosic, which was a challenge (see tech below). I’m waiting to see if it gets in the film. It was great to work with a supervisor, directly.
I spent a week uploading a ton of tracks to one of my favorite libraries, musicsupervisor.com. They allow you to keep your publishing (no retitiles), and you get both writers and publishers share! Bless them. I’ve gotten a few very good gigs from them. The upload system is good, but takes about 15 minutes per song to do metadata. I uploaded 50 songs!
There was a very challenging pitch I went after, last year, for a track similar to “The Secret Life of Pets” theme. My track came out well. Two of the pitching portals had it, but no luck with forwards. I did connect with a library in the UK (where the pitch came from) and they did take the track for the library, and will hunt for the pitch). Never say die.
Temp: (Meet the Pets) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyvMUp7Vt5Q
My track: (Swinging in the Starlight) http://edhartmanmusic.com/jazz_fusion/s/swinging_in_the_starlight
Tales from the Tech-Side:
Tricks of doing virtuosic music on computer:
The first thing to understand, is that you can always slow the music down (if it is midi). I mean REALLY slow it down, so that you can create it at your own pace. I’m a pretty good improviser, so it’s easy for me to create accompaniments (bass, chords, arpezzios, etc.). I can create complex runs, redo and improve chords, and edit in and out notes.
You can find midi files to create your own music, but make sure they are from the original piece (pre 1923ish Public Domain). A new arrangement may not be public domain.
I create a chart first, with melody, and then hand write chords to create a “fake” arrangement. I may or may not use that track for the actual music. It is usually quantized for notation. Logic does a great job of quick notation, with little editing. I wouldn’t use it for heavy publishing, but for quick charts it is great! I use classical “fake” books too, to create classical arrangements.
You can transpose midi, create multiple tracks (even if it is just simple piano), and use different ones. That makes it easier for editing.
Tricks to make a track retro:
I just did a retro mix of a vocal track (40s style). Izotope has a great FREE plug-in, Vinyl that can retro-ize your music. I added a little recording noise at the beginning and end (loop from Logic), and presto, and old-sounding track.
Questions from the Audience: (please email!)
Do you recommend recording instruments on something like the Yamaha Clavinova or do you do your own recording with live instruments and use software to add other instruments? Most importantly, if one were to use the Clavinova to lay down tracks including piano, guitar, etc., IS IT THE PRODUCTION QUALITY THEY NEED FOR MOVIES, T.V. AND COMMERCIALS? Or is just a demo?
My understanding is movies take the song "as is" to use, unless you're writing a custom score as if you're John Williams or something like that. The salesperson at the piano store tried to tell me movies always re-do our songs and therefore it doesn't matter if we're not production quality. I don't think he's right....
In music licensing, most clients are looking for finished recordings. There are some situations out there, where music will be re-recorded, like if you are writing for another artist. Even then, it's important to create a high quality demo recording. Certainly, if you are scoring a very high budget film, the composer will create the score on paper, or more likely as a "mock-up" recording, using software instruments, etc. A team of arrangers, orchestrators, musicians, and tech-folks will manage the recording. Hollywood has had a history of "hummers", or composers that don't even read music. They rely on a team to deliver the final recorded score. John Williams still writes his scores on paper, but can orchestrate, conduct, and deliver a finished score. It really is a cooperative effort, though.
Nowadays, with so much electronic scoring, and software available, modern composers have become the entire team (composer, arranger, performer, sound-design, etc.). This is not necessarily a good trend. Rather than perfecting their craft as composers, they may spend more time learning about technology (and spending a lot of money). With sufficient budgets, modern high-tech composers do have teams to create their scores. Hans Zimmer is an example of a composer that created an entire production company. He gets tons of work, and consistently delivers extremely high quality work.
The equipment is never as important as the musician, though. Good songwriters and musicians always use the equipment at hand to the best of their skill level, or collaborate with others to get the right sound and arrangement. You have two options working with others. You can hire them (Work for Hire or WFH, in which you pay them something, along with a WFH contract, that releases them from any ownership of the composition or recording. You can collaborate with them, in which you need an agreement on ownership.
The answer to your question on whether a simple keyboard is enough to make music for media, really depends on the track you are taking as a composer. Theoretically, if you really want to become a film composer and write the musical score for film, a simple keyboard might be fine, if you know how to orchestrate, or have software (finale, etc.) that can create the score. You will need a serious budget and team to finish the process. If you want to create individual tracks that a going to be pitched to TV, film, and advertising, you need a serious recording device like a stand-alone recorder or a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) like Pro-tools or Logic. You will need to learn all you can about the software, and how to engineer tracks. You have to wear many hats.
A good keyboard that connects to your computer DAW is important. It can be an inexpensive ($100-300) USB "controller" type that has no sounds on it. All it does is trigger the sounds on the computer (virtually unlimited). You can use a high quality master keyboard (like the Yamaha) that also connects to your computer. You would have your choice of using the keyboard sounds and/or the DAW sounds.
I have all of the above. The keyboard I use most of the time, is my trusty Oxygen 61 controller keyboard. I do havea high quality Yamaha 88. The sounds out the Yamaha are limited by very good. I got both a decade or more ago. I use the YAMAHA mostly to play-along with students (it has an excellent "split" for bass and piano). I can connect it to my computer, but usually use the simpler Oxygen. The Yamaha has a much better action and range, but the smaller one connects better to Logic. I also have some older synthesizers, and a medium sized more modern Yamaha keyboard that I originally got for home, when my studio was at my store. I haven't used it much since I moved it into the studio. The sounds are very good, though.
Personally, the sounds on a computer can be amazing, and nearly unlimited. Logic comes with a huge amount of sounds in the program, both electronic and sampled instruments. You can buy "plug-in" orchestras (like East West) that add another dimension. You can start with Garageband (free with a MAC) to start learning about this. There are many free Youtube videos, and pay tutorial sites to teach you.
You will need to learn how to record both audio and software instrument tracks, mix them down, master the recordings, and put them in the right format (mp3, aif, wav, etc.) for the clients.
Is it overwhelming? At times, yes. Is it possible? Yes. You will always be learning about music and technology, no matter what your goal is. As complex as a DAW is, it can simply be a recording device like an old tape recorder. One of the best reasons to MIDI compose (trigger sounds in the computer), is that you can edit individual notes, slow the performance down, change the sounds later, copy-paste, etc. If you need to compose fast, these tricks can really speed up your work-flow. Talk to other composers about their set-ups (on FB, etc.). Better yet, start a local composers organization to share ideas. Good luck!
LINKS OF THE MONTH:
How To Land A Synch [a.k.a. song placement] In An Ad, T.V. Show or Film [Emily White]
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:
From New Year’s on the outlook brightens; good humor lost in a mood of failure returns. I resolve to stop complaining.”