Tuesday, September 29, 2020

I want to have my music in a movie. (know the rights).

 One problem I usually that the artist just comes up to me and says that they want me to place their music. It’s not that easy. If I going to approach supervisors, I really need to know all the rights and have those cleared. If I just borrow your song and try to place it, that would be like to borrow away your car. Sure, if I borrowed it to a person that you admire like a famous movie star, maybe you wouldn’t mind. Still, I don’t think you would be totally happy that I just borrowed out your car to anyone.

More you want me to borrow out my own car. At the same time, why should I do that? Placing a song into production is kind of a lot of work. Just doing it just to be friendly can be total suicide in the business.

It all comes down to rights. There are two rights to a song. The master and the composition. To be able to place a song (more or less borrow out the rights for money) I need to be in full control over these rights. That doesn’t mean that I need to own the rights, just that I have some paper that says that I can place this song and keep it going. In most cases why should I do this massive job if I didn’t earn any money myself?

For the master rights. Here is the recording. If you record the same song twice in different studios it’s two masters with two different master rights. Here I need to be sure that the master is yours. Too many times I find out that the song then was given out by a small record label. Yes, then it could be their property. What is common is that the artist has used samples. Have those samples been cleared? Just because you download it from the internet makes it that you can use it. Even if you download it and pay for it, be sure that this sample now belongs to you and you have the right to use it.

Then you have the composition. This is the writing of the song. So even if you have recorded the song twice in different studios both songs have just one composition right. Still, that right can be divided. Let’s say that you wrote the song with your best friend. During the recording, the producer added stuff and you got a professional songwriter to add to the song. If they are all part of the composition ( the things you register at your PRO) they also have a part in the saying of a placement. That means that even if you are really happy to be placed in the new Scooby-Doo movie it might don’t mean that the producer finds that appealing and even if the producer just owns 2% of the composition it still has it’s an opinion and the song is not cleared. If you then make things even harder. Then the professional songwriter is signed to a publisher. Then the publisher owns that part that they wrote in. 

So even you think this is your song, it’s not. And to be working with supervisors and placement they want everything cleared beforehand. Everything in placement goes fast (I will get to that in the next blogpost). There is no time to go back and check with people that they are okay with each thing.

What you do then is different ways. I can have a song that is not cleared. Then I more or less sit and wait for someone to call me and tell their interest. Then I can tell them that they have to wait for two days while I go around to all people and ask for their permission. Usually never works, but if you have a really famous song and people are very keen on it, yes it might work.

Another way is to pre-clear everything I get papers from everybody that they are ok with that we say yes to things for them. Then I can say yes direct when someone is calling.

If that happens then I can also send out the song in systems where your pre-clear things ahead of time, that is the most efficient way to do things. At the same time, you will lose some control over your work. So you can’t be too fussy about placement.

In the end of it. If you want a professional to place your music you need to be able to handle over some rights. You don’t just go out there and suggest music to supervisors. There is a whole thing around rights that need to be checked out. If you don’t have all this cleared don’t go out there and try to borrow out something that might not be yours.

Friday, September 25, 2020

I want to have my music in a movie. (make the right music)

I went through the goals of several artists on a showcase festival, I virtually visited last week. Many wrote the headline of this blog post. There so many myths around how to get into a movie, tv-series, commercial, etc. I don’t know how many panels I have seen in the subject either. So, I decided once and for all explain a bit how it works. I will also get into the traps and why your music is not suitable to be placed. I should know since I have placed music in over a hundred films tv-series and commercials.

First have the right music. I get a lot of artists saying that their music is so movielike or cinematic. What they actually are talking about is that their music is dreamy, has a lot of strings, and is very moody. Sorry, that is not what the creators on movies, tv-series and commercial looks for. All these background strings that set the mood of the movie are done by a conductor and a string orchestra or bought as library music. Mainly because the music must move with the pictures it’s almost done by a writer to the scenes. Also, there are libraries with this kind of music. When we did a police thriller we just called and got access to a database with just music for police thrillers. Over 10 000 songs that we just could test out and if it fitted, we just ordered that song from the library that was right. The likelihood that they will use just your new single as a background is kind of unlikely.

Taken away most of the things that are sound in the background. It leaves us with a movie use around five to six normal songs. Mainly in the end credits and some in montage scenes etc. Same with TV-series. Maybe one or two in each episode. Usually for a long scene with no talk, like a party or a traveling part. These songs are very much after a theme. My estimation is that 80% of them are happy tunes or contains a word that fits, like money, explore, together, happy, etc. It’s not that often they use songs that are sad, dark, etc. It happens but not very often, the strings that they can buy cheaper are more powerful. Most of my placements are also that the song has a bit of a strange rhythm.

Another thing is that people don’t really get is that your song will probably not be heard that much in a placement. We all remember that song that was almost as big as the movie. Of course, “My Heart Will Go On” with Celine Dion on the movie “Titanic”. The truth is that they used more songs in the movie, and you don’t remember those? Same with Roxette's megahit “It must have been love” in “Pretty Woman”. Same here do you remember the other songs played in those two movies?

Why do you not remember them? Both the megahits are placed in the movie in the right scene. It’s the peak of drama and the movie creator has used the songs to vision a sequence with no talking just music. In “Pretty Woman” in the beginning, it should have been actors talking but they thought that the breakup part went stronger when it was just sequenced with pictures, and they used more of the song.

To end up like that happens every ten years. First, you need just to be taken out to be placed. Just that is hard then also that they use your song in a strong emotional scene, most of the time it’s more of a happy scene. Then on top of that, the movie needs to become a megahit. It is a bigger chance to win the lottery. Most of the time the songs are in the end credits. Or very hidden. We got a song placed in a TV-series a couple of months ago. I had to see the scene four times before I understood where the music was. And there was no way I could tell that it was our song. It was played on a radio in the background. Yes, it was there but no viewer would ever know it was there.

Thinking that your music would be discovered by placement is kind of hard. Yes, if it becomes a hit, but very few movies become hits. You are probably also better off with a normal pop song then an ambient song that you think should work in the background.

It's more to just have the song in the right scene. I will go deeper into how to place a song in the next blog post.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The placement that went wrong!

I got a request for placement on an old song from one of the supervisors I work a lot with. This song is from a band that is no longer exists. We draw a deal that we can place the song anyway. Still, it was probably over five years ago someone requested something around them.

She had a lead on to someone that needed the song. But it was locked on YouTube through the aggregator to the song. This one was so old that back in the days we let the artist upload themselves to aggregators. The reason why we don’t let that happen now is pretty clear in what happens here.

She asked me if I knew the company that was blocking, it was not the usual ones, so I had no clue. I then went back to the leader of the band and asked if he knew.

The problem with this band was all the time that they never understood the music industry. Everything went around that it should be cool names, getting a record contract, being flashy. The band that takes a picture that they are outside the office of Universal. I told them for years that they had to learn how the industry worked before they could get a record deal. But no, half of the management job was to explain why they couldn’t get a record deal. It was several reasons, not just one. Still, it always came back that they didn’t have success because they didn’t have a record label. Oh well, I can always get you a record label that is not hard. Is just to negotiate without having anything special to offer is that you just get a deal, nothing really in the deal.  

After a year of nagging I just went to a friend that had one of by the time biggest record labels in Sweden. Got them a fair deal. Not the best deal, but totally fair. The first thing leader of the band did was trying to get to my record label friend direct. Suddenly he had the record label guy so why need a manager? The second thing he does I open his mouth and just tell the record label owner that they should invest 10 000 dollars on a video that their best friend would shoot. To the point is that his friend barely had done any videos and was certainly not a name. This was also the time when YouTube was still small so a video was really nothing anyone would put money in. The budgets were around 100 dollars if you had a budget.

The record label came back to me and was just astonished how stupid they were. I had to explain to them to not speak to the band speak to me and I had to deal with the stupid part from the band. This was also because the leader was phoning the inhouse producer several times a day just sitting and chat about nothing just to sound cool in front of his musician's friends.

So, it continued for a couple a month until they realized that being on the label just meant they had to work harder and actually start to focus on their career. That just broke up the band. The leader then called me and asked if he started a new band I had the rights as a manager for that too? I told him, no of course not. But he didn’t ask me if I would like to do it? He was just satisfied that he could move on with a new project. Okey the answer would have been no to the new band anyway.

Then he just went for all contacts that had passed through the former band with his new project. Of course, everybody knew that he was a pain in the ass so they called me see if I still was the barrier against all stupidity, when I was not they more or less dumped the project.

When I reached out for this old song I knew what kind of thing he would do. I got the question on an SMS. He answered ten minutes later with a question of what an aggregator was. So, I had to explain that. Then it just went silent. No more answers.

I had to go back to my supervisor that I didn’t know the name of the aggregator. They didn’t have time to wait they had already waited too long. I suggested another song with another band kind of similar and the supervisor would check that instead.

Five days later the guy answer with: What’s the company name that is interested?

Ok, like I would ever tell an artist that! I know that you would run to the supervisor try to sell the song through him, don’t knowing that the song is on a deal from us anyway. It would mess up the whole situation and the supervisor would be stuck with a maniac calling her all the time if she had sold a song. Or try to sell another song that doesn’t fit from his new band. Things like that are why supervisors don’t want to deal directly with and artist that has to little knowledge.

And just the stupidity to wait five days to answer on a deal? If you know the business, you need to answer before they had a question. I just told him that he was too late and just make a note to myself never try to sell anything with him again.

The tragic part of the whole story that this artist goes around and portrays he is the nicest guy in the world. He is trying to collect money for nurses. He is a spokesman for several non-profit organizations and so on. I guess the music industry’s Mr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

And today I got the message that the supervisor went along with my tipoff and placed the other song.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Social media gives away your knowledge.

Since I hold a couple of gateways to different things, I get a lot of requests on social media. Most people are of course people I never have met in real life. There are fake accounts so the first thing you look after if the person is real. If we have common friends is a sign that the person is real, not just one common friend but a couple.

Now these common friends also give away a bit what level you are on in the industry. Almost like a fortune teller, I can read what you want and what will happen with your friend’s request. I have been playing with my staff here in the office to see if my theory is right and so far, I have been better than the fortune teller machine Zoltar in the movie “Big”.

One example is when an unknown artist is making a friend’s request. You can see that they are new to the industry, there are few friends and the ones they have is usual local heroes in the area they are from. I usually say yes, and my guess is that that in the first 48 hours I will get a message with a question that they can send a song for me to listen to.

The fun part is that since they are an artist I just go into their accounts and check out what they have so when the question comes, I have usually already seen and heard it. It only takes a couple of minutes. I like those in one way. The problem is usually that they demand a lot of feedback which I really don’t have time to answer on. Unfortunately, my work time is limited to helping you with your new song that is already released.

Then you have a certain area. You get friend’s requests from local industry professionals and you can easily see that all the friends are from an area or a specific country. These usually just say hello and hope that they will meet me on some convention later that are held in their area. The strange part is that they never offer their services or do an exchange thing?

Then you have the bragger. These are usually older people ask for friendship and immediately start boosting about names they have worked with. The main problem with these is that the names they are throwing around are generally not in the industry any longer, a lot of “has been”. The question comes down to that they seek a job or something that we can hire them for. The problem here is that the friend's list gives away that your “best before” date is long overdue and several of the same friends have done the exact same request.

Then you have the spies. The ones that just make a friend’s request. You can see that they hold quite many interesting contacts. These usually just never send you a message. Instead, they are in for keeping an eye on what you are launching and what you are telling. This is the reason why I stopped telling who I meet or when. The only time I do that is if something is already made a decision on and I want to brag.  During on showcase festival, we made the whole page crazy by taking pictures with big companies and posting them on social media and everybody though we did deal with them.

Another cringy one is the artist that runs around like a headless chicken befriending everyone and ask for favors. There you can see that they end up with a list of who is who along with the shady people in the industry. In those cases, I more or less just avoid them. In the end, they will never make it.

This is of course just for fun. The list, later on, can grow and can reveal when a person is getting to a place where they are an influencer in the industry. Still in many cases, if your friends are only bearded men that plays the flute, I know what level you are on. 

Yes, everything can be read in the numbers on the internet.  Still, we can’t seem to get an accurate top chart?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

If you had an opportunity to sit down with an industry executive what is the one question you would ask?

 This week has been so much stupidity that I think I just want to shoot myself. But you must think on the bright side. Use it in your blog and explain the stupidity. So yes, I got a lot of new stories to write.

We start with a Facebook friend of mine asked this question: Artists, if you had an opportunity to sit down with an industry executive what is the one question you would ask?

Kind of interesting what the artist would answer. Of course, this was not a stupid question the stupidity in my life will come later in other chapters. My guess was of course they will be aggressive and start accusing this person because they haven’t succeeded yet. Like that would be this person’s fault? Okey in the old industry there was gatekeepers. That is long gone, everything is really open. The fact is that nowadays it’s not hard to sit down and discuss with even the biggest industry executive.

I stole some of the questions here and try to give my answer on them. I guess you can say I’m one of those industry executives, of course not the biggest one. The biggest one is only hired to build up the company. Most of the time these people are heads over just a company that doesn’t really matter what it is. They recruited from any type of business since it’s all the same, their job is for the company to make more money. Of course, the artist they work for matters, that is like a product that is important for a company. Nowadays though few of them are in the process of choosing the product when they take it it’s already popular. Let’s go back to the questions.

-          I would ask him/her how do they plan on competing and staying relevant in the age of streaming services becoming the modern era record labels.

Good question. The major record labels are NOT developing artists, some smaller do, the big ones are mainly taking on artists that are flashing through social media channels or apps like TikTok. Their job is to develop that artist with a fanbase to get more revenue and of course they take a percentage out of that revenue. The problem the majors have is that these careers and platforms change so rapidly that the careers is only available for around a year. Another problem is that the money is not that big and a lot of cheating so most artist on the platforms is not signing up with the label since they can’t afford to share that percentage. This is though much safer to earn some money on an artist for a year then develop an artist for five years and then might get slightly higher revenue. For the companies, this is a safer way to go.

That they are relevant, that can be discussed? But yes they still give sweet deals to a big artist like Talyor Swift, so they won’t disappear in that kind of sense. The streaming services are not acting like record labels, they tried early in their things but realized that they can’t predict anything anyway and all their attempts fail. A reason modern attempt was trying to break Ava Max through Spotify, she has the numbers, but not the fans.

-         -  I would ask, why don't they give back to up and coming artist, who is extremely talented, but don't have a way, or the knowledge to capitalize on their gift.

I guess we already took this one. It’s too much of a risk!

-          - What are you guys actually looking for right now?

I guess I got that one there as well, an artist that already has a fanbase they can capitalize on.

-          - How do I get paid if I am not in charge of Production or Producing my own Material.

Then you are a boyband that is hired as an actor is hired in a movie. You get a salary. If you do your own material, you own it you can then license parts of it to get a better reach. The days when companies invested in recordings and stuff is way over.

-          Get you a lawyer that knows something about the music industry let him ask a question.

That is really the wrong thing. I have met many lawyers that have no clue how the new music business works. Better to let them see the papers when you have them on the table. They are usually good to intemperate the law. Most of them are really lousy to be updated or even have the knowledge inside the industry.

There were more good questions but I will stop there and might come back to them another day.

There were more good questions but I will stop there and might come back to them another day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The headless chicken game!

Another one bites the dust

And another one gone, and another one gone

Another one bites the dust….

Yes, you can hear me like crone that Queen song when I bump into artists or industry professionals that play the headless chicken game. This phrase was invented by an intern many years ago around the behavior of a couple of artists that had screw him over.

“They just run around like headless chicken screwing everyone or screwing each other” he screamed in frustration. And the whole office just laughs out loud.

We all knew what he meant; we all knew the behavior he was trying to set words on. After that, it became the headless chicken game.

So, what it is when a person just runs around and try to use everyone they meet as a steppingstone. At the same time, they try to be friends with everyone. They don’t understand that a lot in this business is about trust and network and friendships. So try to climb the ladder on several different places will be the end result that everything crashes down.

I just bumped into a fresh case of this. A person that I invited to my former festival. This person really doesn’t have anything in the industry to brag about. I merely just gave the person a chance. As soon they got into the festival the person just went for the CEO and started to just groom him. Thinking that the higher up you are the better it is. The problem here is that the CEO is as bright and good as Basil Fawlty. Of course, with that when we left the festival, we took all network with me and just left the person with the CEO. Suddenly all the opportunities that this person usually got were gone.

So, what to do? Well then, the person runs to the next one asking for favors. And this one thought it was ok since the person was in my network. Not long after they realized that this person had gone above them and was now grooming their sponsor. That lead of course them coming back to me asking about the loyalty of this person. I just told them what had happened, and they realized it was not good to have this person in their network.

All doors closed at the same time. The person was suddenly banned from quite much and really didn’t understand why or how.

Same with an artist that was trying to have a manager. As soon the manager gave him a contact, he just grabbed the contact and tried to squeeze the new contact to be him, the new manager. He then did the mistake by playing on the club that the old manager booked of course making the new manager kind of pissed off. Of course, the audience that the artist promised to the old manager was the work of the new manger that really didn’t want to promote the old mangers club. The artist just saw it as another gig. In reality, he pissed off both mangers and the career was kind of over.

No, you shouldn’t run around like a headless chicken and try every opportunity there is. Quite many carers both for artist and industry people have gone down the drain because of that. Don’t forget who brought you in.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The format is not your enemy, it’s free to break the rules but know why.

Many artists follow all the rules and advice that are given to them at conferences, online or in workshops, etc. One rule seems though hard for them to understand, format.

Format is how the general audience listens and is presented to music. You have every artistic right and freedom to not follow these format rules. You need to be aware that you are excluding yourself from a lot of listeners. No, you cannot change people. Either you change for them or you accept a smaller range of audiences. Either way is the right way for you, it's your choice. Right now however I have too many people that have chosen to leave formats and then doing PR and efforts that are in a format world, and then complaining that they don’t get the same chance as other artists and that the world is to shallow.

What are the format rules? It varies, but I can take an example. I got in a demo from an artist. Every song was over six minutes long and an album of ten songs. Me working on the radio know that you need to make a really good exemption to play songs over 4:30 minutes. Why this rule? Studies have shown that the audience starts to change the channel if there is a song playing for too long that they don’t like. Of course, there are exemptions like Don Mcleans, American Pie that is eight minutes long. But then they usually fade it in the middle. And if you look at online radio, fading is not that easy to do, so you rather stay in the format of three minutes to four minutes. This is that the audience hangs on. Playing long songs is risky for me as a radio producer. If you then do songs that don’t fit that it’s my artistic freedom to choose to not play them. It’s your artistic freedom to release longer songs because they should be that way. You take a bigger chance though by leaving the format that I will play it.

Same rule that you should release it on a Friday. Friday is the official release day of music in the world. Many blogs, magazines, and stations has built up their release systems around that. Their working schedule is put that way. Many algorithms are programmed that way. You can release on a Tuesday you have to full right to do that. Don’t expect that all these people should change their schedules just because you don’t want to stay in the format. You can release it on a Tuesday but take a chance that you are not picked since it won't fit the editor's schedule.

A lot of complaining I seen the past weeks has just been around this. Either the artist didn’t know or understand that they broke a format rule, or they just wanted to be cool and different and think that would help them to reach an audience. The choice is simple. You lock your self inside the format and try to be creative inside that. Or be totally outside the rules. Whatever you do don't try to do it halfway that just gonna make people take things off.

If the things you release is mediocre, well then it doesn’t matter if you follow the format or not. It won’t fly. It’s only if it’s great and you follow the rules you might have a bigger chance if you also follow the format.

It’s no rules, it’s a choice but don’t complain about the system or if people mark it out.