Experiences & Information for independent entertainers and musicians

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Nashville Film Festival and Music Licensing

First off I have the hardest time remembering how to spell the word “license” so if I spell it wrong please don’t judge me.

This past week found me at the Nashville Film Festival for three panels that I’m hoping will help me and you to navigate the world of music licensing. There was much to take in and I lost my first post - (save every few minutes when editing in tumblr, better yet edit in a word program – lesson learned!)

This topic may take a few weeks to cover but please keep checking back because I feel I learned some great information that I would really like to share with everyone interested in placing their music in film, TV and commercials. 

Tuesday’s panel was called Music Supervision 101.  It covered the basics of how to submit to music supervisors.  Wednesday’s panel was supposed to be 201 and although it was a little bit more in-depth from the description on the website I thought there was going to be a little more real opportunity to pitch to the panel however that did not happen.  However I did get some more information and the chance to connect to another supervisor so all was good. The last panel I attended was Third Party Music Licensing. 

I will once again give you some notes via my scratchpad however if anyone has any input or feels I’m misinformed please, please, please submit or ask a question and I will make sure to straighten things out.

This weeks topic will be: Terminology

This is a list I came up with listening to the music supervisors speak at each of the panels as well as doing reserach online trying to get good definitions for each of these terms.  Below the list are some great websites that I referred to and have more great information. Again if I’ve missed anything or you are not clear on something please submit or ask a question.

Synchronization license - a license for use of a composition in a film, pre-recorded radio or television program, or radio or television commercial.

Preproduction, Pre - arrangements made before the start of filming.

Postproduction, Post - work performed on a movie after the end of principal photography. Usually involves editing and visual effects.

Rerecord – this term seems to have the same meaning as “cover tune” a new recording of a song that has already been recorded and released by another artist.

Perpetuity or Perp – the synchronization license has no end date

Licensor - the owner of the licensed work (songwriter, composer, publishing company, record label)

Licensee - the person or entity to whom the work is licensed (Production Company)

Worldwide – according to the book Kohn on Music Licensing “virtually all motion pictures and television synchronization licenses today are required to be issues on a worldwide basis” meaning extending throughout the entire world.

Clearance – negotiating and obtaining the rights for one or more songs or source music cues from the copyright owner and negotiating a fee resulting in a Synchronization License in which all the terms for usage are clearly stated.  This can be for “all media” or “digital only.”

A Side – according to the Indie Tool Kit  “the rights to license a song is referred to as a “side.”   A “synchronization license” and a “master use license” are each considered a side. For example, “a thousand dollars per side” means that the synchronization license and the master use license each cost a thousand dollars.

Step Deal – the filmmaker makes a first payment based on the film’s budget and additional payments when the film’s grosses reach certain specified sums.  One of the supervisors on the panel said the only film she’s ever known to make it through all the steps and pay the synchronization license in full was Garden State.

Work For Hire - a piece of music someone is paid to compose but the copyright to the music is owned by the employer as soon it is written.  .  

In Gratis Rights – giving someone the legal right to use you music for free

Cue Sheet – a document filed by the production company with a PRO (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN) containing a detailed list of each piece of music used in a film or television production including how the music will be used, the writer, publishing, length of music and title.  Example

Source Cue/Source Music – music that is placed in the scene of the film or television show as opposed to being in the musical score. 

All in deals – artists that control both their master and publishing rights will do “all in deals” that cover both “sides” of the composition

Third Party Companies – a company acting as a “middleman” between composer and production company who has built previous relationships with music supervisors and finds opportunities for composers and publishers to have their music placed in film, television and advertising.   Some ask for an upfront fee some take a percentage the licensing agreement from the composer or copyright owner.

Instrumental - means your song should be submitted without the vocals, however the melody line does not need to be rerecorded by another instrument, just remove the vocals from the track and submit that along with your original version. Traditional instrumentals are also accepted however having an instrumental (backing track, karaoke track) version is important. 

Song Stalkers - think about it and don’t be one!

Master - is an original sound recording from which copies can be made.

Most Favored Nation Clause (MFN) - a most favored nation clause (also called a most favored customer clause or most favored licensee clause) is a contract provision in which a licensor agrees to give the licensee the best terms it makes available to any other  licensee.

Twang – according to some music supervisors anything with a banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. “Country Music” does not seem to be overly popular with Hollywood so watch your mixes.  A song can suddenly become “twang” when these instruments are added.

Master Use License - an agreement by which the Copyright Owner of a Sound Recording grants Permission to someone else to use the Sound Recording in a visual work

New Media a term meant to encompass the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies in the later part of the 20th century. Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulatable, networkable, dense, compressible, interactive and impartial. Some examples are Internet websites, computer-based multimedia, computer games, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. New media is not television programs, feature films, magazines, books, or paper-based publications.

One Stop Shop – a person or entity who owns both “sides” and is able to license both the master and publishing of a song. 

Metadata – all the song information you can add into your mp3 tags.  For example in ITunes, choose your song, right click, select “get info” and fill in as much information as possible including contact information.

Co-writer – another person who owns rights to the song you have composed together

Production Lists – basically a list of films or TV shows in currently being filmed or in pre-production.  Here’s an example from the teamsters

All in Cues - I never found a decent definition to this phrase I heard repeatedly, if anyone can give me a good definition I’d love to have it.

All the music supervisors were very friendly and down to earth.  Some described themselves as music geeks and said if there’s ever anything you don’t understand just ask them; don’t be afraid to feel stupid.

Here’s some great sites I referenced for this blog.—A

Next week I will discuss “Getting Your Act Together” 

This will be a blog about the first things you need to do before you start contacting a music supervisor.  CJB

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