Zen and the art of music licensing

Since I licensed my tracks out to O’Neill Europe for the Deep Blue Open dvd, I’ve had a lot of people asking for some advice on how to get their music into film, tv etc. Obviously, I’m no expert, and I had a few people give me some pointers before I signed up with O’Neill, but here are some tips from me from what I’ve learned so far (but don’t blame me if this method doesn’t work!!!)

I was approached by a licensing company for them to use my tracks on an O’Neill surfing dvd and got some info from them about how to get my stuff into more films, etc and was advised to get a showreel together to prove to film makers and post-production people that my music fits in with the sort of thing they’re looking for. One of the best ways to do that is to offer some of your tracks for low/no fee to build up a portfolio. Have a look at some of these for more info:

http://www.mandy.com

It’s a site for film jobs – go to the Production Jobs section and check look through all the locations, eg Europe, then the Post-Production links. There’s both paid and lo/no income jobs.

http://www.ukscreen.com

There’s a forum on the site which lists people looking for music for films, mainly lo/no fee

http://www.labelsound.com

They’ll make all your tracks available for film and tv licensing (for a small fee).

http://niceup.com/misc/internet_music_licensing

An excellent article about how to get into the film music industry.

Google for things like music licensing companies, “indie movies”, “music wanted” stuff like that. Check out indie movie forums – there’s always indie film makers looking for cheap music and it gets you some footage for your showreel. Contact your local college or uni if they have a film or media school. Have a look on the unsigned band web forum – http://www.unsignedbandweb.com/forum-37.html for people advertising for music. There’s always ads on there. There’s a film makers forum on Myspace.com, too.

Music licensing can be a bit of a closed shop to unsigned artists if film producers have got a massive music budget. They get the best composers and pay a fortune to people like Sony and BMG for tracks. If the budget isn’t so big they want unsigned people like me and you. Usually for lo/no fee. Oh, and it looks good on your music CV if you’ve got film credits, whatever they are.

It’s definitely worth going down the lo/no fee route, just to get known. I’ll pm you with a list of some of the other sites I’ve been on for info. Make sure, though, that you get a proper contract. Well – 2 in fact – a Master Use and a Synchronisation contract.

BTW when you’re dealing with these sort of people – licensing, post-production, etc., be prepared for a very long wait. The company I dealt with over the dvd was actually liaising with about 5 or 6 other companies, so I was the last to know anything. If the bloke said there’s potential, try your music out on the sites I mentioned. Oh, and tell people you’re a film composer, and say so on your website.

You never know – you might get your music used and get paid a lot of money for it.

This article first appeared on my Blogger pages in November 2005. Since the, I’ve learned a lot more….
I’ve now discovered music libraries and production music….more information about how to get into this is at the MCPS website, where you can get a list of the 80 or so libraries in the UK.

I’ve had quite a few more opportunities………….

– Deep Blue Open has been on TV around world and now on O’Neill TV. Clips of this are doing well on Youtube. Click here to have a look….

– Tracks on another O’Neill DVD and surfer biography film

– Requests from various indie/student film makers for use of my music – I was confident enough to say “no” because the deals weren’t right. If I hadn’t done the O’Neill thing, I wouldn’t know about my rights, etc.

– Tracks put forward by licensing company for use in Hollyoaks (UK TV show)

– Signed non-exclusive deal with major UK music library for licensing my tracks to TV, film, advertisements etc. The tracks are now registered with MCPS-PRS.

– Requests from other music libraries to work with them.

Oh, and I’ve actually made some money from all this.

Check out some of my film music at my musicfreedom site.

Disclaimer: the opinions and advice given are just that: opinion. They do not constitute a contract between you and the companies mentioned, nor are they intended as adverts for those listed. Don’t sue me if you don’t get signed!

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All the world’s an MP3 stage

I’ve been thinking about the number of music hosting sites and MP3 directories that I have my music on. Most of them are free-to-download places where people can just have my tracks for nothing. I started off in late 2004 by choosing just one site – Electromancer.com, which is now no more, just because I lacked confidence about my music and it seemed like a good place to start when I’d never even considered putting my music out to the public. In fact, even though Electromancer closed down last year, a lot of the artists are still active on the forums of another site, Nervejam, and are still as friendly and supportive as ever.

I got a bit more confident after getting some great reviews, thinking that more people might give me a listen, so I followed links and recommendations about other hosting sites, signed up to 2 or 3, and waited for the plays to roll in. Then I started chasing more sites and more plays, until I had tracks on about 1o or 15 sites. I’ve now lost track (and usernames/passwords) of most of those sites, and still get the occasional email from them, saying someone has posted a comment. A quick check on google as to which sites I’m on offers up 94 links for “mistrust music site” and 30 for “never alone mistrust” (my first track from 2004).

I still see the same old faces on all these hosting sites,

Continue reading All the world’s an MP3 stage

Music Licensing

Someone on the Big Chill forum that I occasionally visit wanted some advice about getting his music marketed through a music library and wondered if he had to sign up with MCPS and pay £100 for the privelege. As you may have read on here, I’ve recently signed a non-exclusive agreement with a major UK library, and haven’t had to register with MCPS, so something doesn’t add up if this chap has been told otherwise.

As far as I’m aware, the agreement I signed sorts out pre-clearance for my tracks that the library is offering to film, tv, companies etc. In other words, if a few tv production companies hear of one my tracks on the music library’s website and want to use it, there’s no need to wait ages for them to send me an individual agreement for each programme, for me to check them, sign them and send them back, etc, before anyone can use them.

From what I understand, the music library registers my track with MCPS (they get listed as the publisher), the production company requests a licence from MCPS website giving the catalogue number of my track, and the production company pays MCPS for the licence. MCPS (eventually) sends the licence fee (minus their admin fee) to the music library, which then pays me (minus their take – usually 50%).

If anyone else is looking for advice on signing up with a music licence in the UK, have a look here at the MCPS production music guide, which even shows you the official rate card for different types of production (anything from about £20 to £000s). The music library should be registered with MCPS – if they’re in the UK and not on this list, it’s probably not worth dealing with them.

If anyone from the USA or other countries is reading this and knows something about it in other countries, please let me know.