Monday, September 27, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips - "Synch License" (Part 2)

If the song is used in a television program, the amount of money made depends upon the way in which the song is used and when it is aired. If a song is performed in prime time, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC will pay more money because supposedly more people are watching. Synchronization fees for television are modest compared to film for mainly two reasons: (1) the synch fee takes away from the producer's bottom line profit; and (2) the songwriter and publisher stand to make money from the exposure.

If the song is used in a major film, the fees paid for the synch license can be much higher than television for mainly two reasons: (1) films are generally produced on a much higher budget than television programs; and (2) the rights to exhibit the song in all media (i.e., film, television, video) for the duration of the copyright are usually obtained by the producer.

Now, more than ever, there is an abundant need for songs in major and independent films, network and cable television, and other media. Hence, there are chances out there for songwriters to generate revenues and gain exposure for their music; these opportunities should not be overlooked or scoffed at.

Ben McLane Esq

Monday, September 20, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips ""Synch License" (Part 1)

There is a major source of income that many songwriters overlook: the use of music in television or film. Television and film producers need material for their projects. Not only is there money involved in licensing music for television and film, the use of a song in either of these mediums can mean widespread exposure. However, a producer will require the songwriter to sign a contract so that the producer can "license the rights". This allows the producer to utilize the material in whatever way the producer wishes.

In the world of film and television, decisions are made quickly and the producer will generally license the song which is the easiest to obtain at the cheapest price. The producer will not use a song until there is satisfaction that all of the rights are "cleared" (i.e., the copyright owner has granted the producer the right to use the song). If there are several songwriters, clearance must be obtained from each. Thus, songwriters need to make sure that the rights are easily obtainable.

The earnings generated from the use of a song in television or film normally come from performing and synchronization rights. A significant portion of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (performance rights societies) revenues are collected from television broadcasters (in the United States, motion pictures currently do not generate performance royalties payable by ASCAP, BMI or SESAC). These monies are divided up amongst ASCAP, BMI and SESAC writers and publishers. Therefore, songwriters are advised to become members of one of these societies, and register with them all songs written. A producer will not usually take a chance on using unregistered material because of the likelihood that the rights may not be available. Further, in the television and film business, music is reproduced when it is recorded on the soundtrack for the production. The right for the producer to make such a reproduction is called a synchronization right and the producer must negotiate a synchronization ("synch") license for each composition to be used.

[part 2 next week]

Ben McLane Esq

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips - "Endorsements" (Part 2)

Although endorsements tend to go to the established players, it possible for a local or new artist to enter into an endorsement deal. The key is whether the manufacturer thinks that someone will be attracted to the product if they see the artist endorsing it. For example, a local artist that is playing a guitar in his shows could have the ability to draw buyers into the guitar store.

Obviously, a more established player is generally approached by the manufacturers because there is name recognition and respect already in place. However, if you are not yet a recognized player, the first step to becoming an endorsee is to contact the manufacturer of the product you would like to endorse (i.e., the instrument you play) and let them know you are interested in endorsing the product. Then, send a press kit with a list of the gigs you have/will play. The gig schedule is very important because then the manufacturer will know that your playing is being exposed to the public. Finally, follow up and see if there is any interest.

If there is interest from the manufacturer, you will enter into an endorsement deal. Generally, in exchange for endorsing the product for a period of time, the artist will either get gear at a reduced price, get free gear, or be paid a fee. Fees are rare and are usually paid to an artist with great notoriety.

In conclusion, an endorsement deal is a way for an artist to gain some exposure and pick up some first rate equipment for little or no money. However, it is advisable from a philosophical standpoint that the player really believe in the product being endorsed.

Ben McLane Esq

Monday, September 6, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips - "Endorsements" (Part 1)

An important sales tool for musical product manufacturers is to have musicians endorsing their products. Hence, an endorsement deal is something serious players should investigate.

Product endorsements generally involve endorsing musical gear such as guitars, strings, drum sticks, pedals, etc. Product endorsements can include any/all of the following: (1) mentioning the product in liner notes on albums, (2) mentioning product in interviews, (3) endorsing the product at trade shows, (4) giving clinics, and (5) appearing in ads.

Both the artist and the manufacturer extract a benefit from such a deal. For the manufacturer, an endorsement by an artist is an opportunity for a player to be seen using their product. By mentioning/playing the product, or appearing in ads, the player is essentially saying that he or she recommends the product. To the manufacturer, they hope the endorsement will be a magnet to draw people into the stores to purchase the product. The benefit to the artist is free or reduced cost gear, and possibly a fee.

[part 2 next week]

Ben McLane Esq