Adventures in Music Licensing
March 2018 Vol. 6, No. 3
* Spring is on the way! It’s gonna be in the 60s in the Pacific NW!
* Thanks to everyone that subscribed to my Youtube channel! I was able to get 1000 subs by the deadline. YT did de-monetize me, although my channel is under review, and should be remonitized in the near future. It was a lot of work, but I did learn a lot about YT, especially how tags really move you up the suggested video list. Also, Tubebuddy is a wonderful browser plug-in (free version) that does all sorts of things to optimize and analyze your channel . I recommend it. There were a ton of YT videos on increasing subs and traffic. The YT community is quite a group. Tens of thousands of small channels subbed to each other.
Channel ID: https://www.youtube.com/user/edhartman1
* I have a SWAG shop! You can now get cool T-shirts, mugs, and other gift items. I’m putting designs out regularly, of music (especially percussion) and recording based ideas. This company (threadless.com) is one of many that prints on-demand. You set up a shop, upload designs, and they do the selling. You set the price. It’s kind of like a music library! Anyway, keep an eye on this. It’s another form of royalties. It’s a nice secondary way to create stuff, too. You can really work on your brand (check out my Ed Hartman Music logo.) https://edhartmanmusic.threadless.com/
* 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!
* I am teaching my next Music Licensing Class on Saturday, May 12, 2018, 9am to noon. (https://www.campusce.net/nscc/Course/Course.aspx?c=2117). 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 - Update: I will be at the Wed, 3-14-18 (7:30pm) meetup at Blue Star Cafe in Seattle! See you there. Best info: https://www.facebook.com/groups/seattlecomposers/
* I am doing more and more 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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:
Songtradr.com (free or membership)is doing a lot at the moment. I have a number of friends that are getting blanket deals (retail music services, etc.). These services pay directly (quarterly) and can add up. You need to get them a lot of music, though.
Musicgateway.com (tier membership) has been working hard, too. Like Songtradr, they are creating more opps for higher membership levels. I’m not ready to recommend that . Pay to play is always risky. Opps that go to specific requests (movies, TV) can only take one track from all the submissions. There’s a lot of music out there. For libraries and blanket agreements, the client takes hundreds or thousands of tracks. Your success rate should be a lot better.
It’s all about the little $$. CD Baby came through with a small payout for digital sales. It’s nice to see something! I also got a small payout from Triplescoop Music (great little library – Note: Tare now asking for music that is not monetized on Youtube)
My last licensing class was great. Thanks to all who attended! I’m finally figuring out the PC in the classroom! (I’ve been a MAC person since the first Macs) Of course, it helped when I got the right password!
I’ve been regularly getting more tracks in Crucial Music. It’s a tough library to get tracks in, but they are one of the best, and will let you follow who they are pitching to. I do know of a lot of writers that collaborate, and get more music in this library. They tend to like “source music”, like jazz and background music that might be heard in a restaurant.
I’ve been using box.com (free) to shop tracks. I can create a folder, and exclusively email a client tracks to check out and download. The free version has limited storage (I use wetransfer for larger files). Box is great for pitching though. I use it like soundcloud. Box is als good for allowing directors to temp your tracks (try them out in a scene). Temps are a great way to get music into a film. Temps may become placements, if the director can't find a better fit. Music editors look for temps, too!
I have been pitching to TAXI listings a bit. Forward percentage is up. I am waiting on responses (not as much, though). I still recommend TAXI, especially if you can make the RALLY (free for members) in the fall. If you are going to join, call (don’t do it online) and mention my name for three free submissions.
I am seeing more multiple sightings of pitches between platforms (TAXI, Musicgateway, Songtradr, and other music sources like libraries and supervisors). There have been situations where my digging got better information that what was out there. You can find supervisors on social media, but it does take quite a bit of digging. I have been pitching to one supervisor directly, and it feels a lot better knowing the track is getting to the gatekeeper. Keep your eyes OPEN!
I am working on a few different projects directly with clients. Through FB, I was able to connect with a writer/producer and create some alien sounds (see tech below) and trailer music for a book, etc. It was more of licensing arrangement. There was no picture to score against. I was generating tracks on request. I did a number of them for the client. Payment is on it’s way! I should have one film done within the month, and another to start soon after. There’s a great scoring film link below, for those that are thinking of scoring films (especially bigger budgets). It’s a bit intimidating, but the point is you need a team to do it!
I have been submitting to some very exclusive libraries. I have gotten some revealing reviews back. There is another level of tracks being generated by composers, especially with hybrid-orchestral music. You really have to have state of the art sounds and production level to be successful with these companies. I am now rethinking how I can get to that level. Go to the library you are submitting to, and really listen to similar tracks. There is a reason those tracks are in the library.
If you want a laugh, google youself along with the words "net worth". If you are like me, you will get an interesting surprise. One company bases it's information on IMDB credits, I'm guessing. When your IMDB credits are up, your net-worth seems to goes up! I wish it worked that way.
Tales from the Tech-Side:
A pitch to a client for alien sounds and music taught me a lot about sampling. Within Logic, is EX24. It has a great sampler in it. It’s a bit tricky, but you can go to Youtube for plenty of tutorials about using it. I was able to find audio sounds of animals (free, and free-use). You can just put the audio on the timeline, and manipulate it with effects, EQ, modulation, etc. With a sampler, you can upload the audio tracks up as samples. By creating a sample with it, you can play the sound on your keyboard. The sampler allows you to spread one of more samples across one of more keys. The results vary. I was able to create some cool singing whales, and really scary squids! I may sample some of my acoustic instruments next, so if I am recording audio, and need to fix something, I might be able to put a sample version along side it for editing.
Recent request from a library that works with reality music: This gives you an idea of the versions they might need. If you have old tracks without versions, send them to the library. For new tracks, this is a good start. Do your versions when you are in a DAW session. You don’t want to have to go back. Funny things happen (can’t find the original audio, etc.)
light tension (comedic-tension), dramedy, pizzicato themes, quirky
All tracks must have stem/alternate versions with hard stops:
full length (1 min-to 1:30)
30 sec version
bed/no melody version
very sparse version (bass & perc)
stinger version (5 sec)
Questions from the Audience: (please email!)
I have a question regarding copyright permissions for pop tunes arrangements. I occasionally create short arrangements of pop tunes for some of my beginner/intermediate piano students to play. I was considering offering those for sale to piano teachers on a website. Even offering to do custom arrangements with a quick turn-around time. I’ve done a little bit of research toward this and I’m thinking the administrative work in getting permissions to do Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, etc tunes would be HUGE!!! I’m totally put off by the work involved for copyright permissions.
Am I right or am I creating a mountain out of a mole hill? (L)
I've always stayed away from covers for recording or sheet music because of this. Getting rights is tough, and unless you can offer a ton of sales, the very large publishers involved really don't care.
What you might do, is contact publishing companies about working for them doing arrangements. You can send them samples. Hal Leonard and Alfred would be a good start. I would look at their catalogs, and see what artists they have (see similar products, sheet music and method books). Coming up with a catchy book of arrangements for a certain level, concept, music style, etc. might be of interest. You might make more money, and they would do the PR. The downside, is expect a fairly low commission (10-15%). That's publishing! Doing it yourself will get you more, but getting the rights maybe tough. Maybe there's some new companies that do online sheet music sales only. They may pay better.
I'm not really sure where you check for sheet music publishing rights.
from Harry Fox (where you get recording rights):
The Harry Fox Agency does not offer print rights; however, you may secure print rights by contacting the publisher directly. (Use a PRO to find the publisher)
I think I heard you say that a clean original and engaging instrumental track would be more marketable than a track tied to a specific lyric or story. (J)
The less specific the lyrics are, the more marketable it is to media (attaching it to another project). If you say, "I love Lisa" that really limits it's usage. "I love my girl" would be more generic. Places, times, people, etc. all pigeon-hole a song. (J)
Would posting both a lyric version & an instrumental only side by side in a library help sell the mood and potential for the instrumental track to a client who does not want to be tied to a specific story? (J)
Having an instrumental bed is there for the editor to play with. They can use it under dialog. Having an instrumental with a melody, could be a stand-along track, or could be used in an edit with the lyric version, or could be a reprise of the song later (or earlier as a foreshadowing of a melody). Broadway musicals do this all the time. Think like a director. How would you use your song, if you had several versions? Many lyric songwriters make more money on instrumental versions of their tracks, too!
Or is that counterproductive by mentally gluing the track to a story that doesn't fit his purpose? (J)
I would not worry about that. Give the director options. The more generic the better. Of course, if a director, or music supervisor wants a specific song, with a specific name, or place reference, that will be part of the brief.
Read these books to answer these questions...(Dean is a tremendous songwriter, and TAXI member)
(This was a question I got on FB from a film director about using score music in another production)
As a composer do you typically handle all the contact as far as getting a certain song for a project? Also, do you use some of your own work more than once if it fits different projects?
Good questions. Typically, a score composer focuses on the underscore. The music that creates the emotional under-bed of the film. It's usually most of the music. On occasion, a film might be full of licensed music (pop tunes, etc.) with some underscore to link everything together. With composers being able to create so much themselves (rather than hiriing orchestras, recording studios, musicians) it's possible to create something quite good from a home studio. I can "score to picture", and sync my music as I write it. If there is sufficient budget, I can send the music to live players to record as well. This is all part of the scoring process. That is usually plenty for a score composer to be responsible for. A music supervisor might be hired (or the composer can do this job on a low budget film). That person will find specific tracks that might be needed beyond the score. If John Williams writes the music for a film, he may not want to worry about a pop song in the middle. Also, pop stars and record companies from all eras have used films to promote their music in media. Anyway, getting clearance for this music can be tricky. Master and Sync agreements need to be signed by all parties. Usually you pay for these tracks in your film, above and beyond your score. They can be cheap or extremely expensive. If you can't afford a star (50K and up) you might use an indie ($100 and up!)Whatever you do, the agreements for the score and any music you use need to be done carefully.
Regarding using music in another project, it is possible. One way to keep your music cost down, is to license the music in your film, like you license a song. That gives the composer other ways to make money with it. Big companies, like Warner Bros, buy out the score (work for hire) from the composer. It may be iconic (like Star Wars). Usually those companies have their own publishing, and can make use of the soundtrack as a CD release, or license it elsewhere with related products (games, TV, web, media, advertising, etc.) Wow, that's a lot of shit. Anyway, I do offer a licensed score option to fillmakers as a way to keep the price down. Unless you are making an iconic film (with a big budget) the score really isn't important for the filmmaker to own. When a production companies hires the composer, they will own the music. If they license it, the composer can use it elsewhere, but it can be a lot cheaper. Many things to get into!
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:
Vocal Production Tutorial: How to Add Texture with Reverb and More
Getting PRO sound:
CD Baby buys Adrev: (will be interesting!)
6 Tips On Writing Music For Film and Television
Music licensing on YT:
Make your own online library:
* New Podcast Interview: (In depth interview. A bit more about my percussion side.)
Joke/Quote of the week:
If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music. Gustav Mahler
All contents © 2018 Ed Hartman