TOP 5 WAYS TO AVOID LICENSING PITFALLS

This post was originally published on the Love Darling website and was written by band member Mike Wolpe.

LoveDarlingBand

I recently had an exchange with a friend and fellow songwriter regarding a licensing company that had contacted him about representing/pitching his songs, and while offering my opinion to help guide him through this process, I was inspired to share some of these insights with you.

So for today’s blog-tastic bloggy post I wanted to highlight some of the wisdom I’ve gained, while working with my band, from our own experiences licensing our songs to TV/film soundtracks.

Collectively we’ve placed a good number of songs in TV show soundtracks over the last few years and have had mostly positive experiences, and the last thing I want to do is create any sort of negative expectation of this process. But there are some red flags I’ve learned to recognize and be aware of when dealing with licensing companies/individuals. I wanted to share some of these red flags with all the aspiring songwriters out there, and hopefully prevent some of the potential negative experiences of placing your songs, or being taken advantage of by the less-than-well-intentioned side of the music industry.

LoveDarling

Red Flag #1: Upfront or monthly fees

I know this has become a common practice for many song licensing libraries and companies out there, but the simple truth is, whatever rationalization or justification they try to hypnotize you with, there is no reason any songwriter, band or musician should be paying upfront fees to a licensing company, library or individual. There are obviously no hard and fast rules in this industry, and they are changing every day, but I personally believe the artist has every right to negotiate the best possible sync fee/royalty split with whomever places a song for the artist. There is absolutely no justification for upfront fees because of the profit they will be making on the back end of every placement.

(The company that contacted my friend wanted a $1500 upfront fee. I’ve personally never encountered such an exorbitant fee – the most I ever encountered was $300. Both are blatant scams. Even a $5 submission fee is ridiculous, in my opinion.) So always question the reasoning behind this request when working out these deals or deciding whether or not to work with a company or individual. ALWAYS do your research and make sure you’re working with ethical, fair and artist-friendly people, if possible.

Red Flag #2: Excessive sales pitches/”word diarrhea”

Something I’ve encountered many times, not only in licensing, but many aspects of the music biz, are individuals that will try to influence and convince you that their service is essential by subjecting you to an unbelievable assault of excessive talking or “word diarrhea” which is just an attempt to wear you down until, out of sheer exhaustion, you agree to their (usually unjustified, self-serving or ludicrous) terms.

Always be wary of endless sales pitches and non-stop talkers. If they can’t explain the value of their service quickly and with transparent clarity, odds are they are simply trying to hide something, or sell you something you really don’t need. (The same caution could be applied to many other aspects of the music industry, too, such as artist management and public relations companies…)

Red Flad #3: Questionable credibility

Another example to look for: is their list of recent placements and client list credible? When researching their website/business history always check to see if their list of clients includes credible artists and reputable networks that they have recently had songs placed in. Especially if they are requesting any kind of upfront or monthly fees.

Red Flag #4: Did they contact you directly?

Typically, if a licensing company/individual contacts you directly (unless they are simply inquiring about a specific song they heard that they would like to use for a legit placement), they are most likely just trolling the internet for bands and artists that they can sell their (usually ineffective) services. These companies are simply taking advantage of all the desperate and lazy bands and artists that have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into believing these companies provide a valuable service.

It’s usually best for the artist to contact the individual/company themselves and submit their music once they have determined the company is legit and offers fair deals and artist-friendly royalty splits.

Red Flag #5: Exclusive contracts & unbalanced royalty splits

This one is a bit negotiable and I would evaluate this particular aspect depending on the context of each individual deal. But unless a large amount of money is being offered for a “buyout” of a particular song that justifies an exclusive buyout, I would never agree to an exclusive deal with any licensing business or library. It just doesn’t make any sense and cannot possibly have the artist’s best interests at heart, because it limits the amount of times the artist can license a song, which is entirely illogical for independent bands and artists especially.

Also – and this is something that you can adjust and feel out from deal to deal – I would never agree to a placement deal where the licensing company or individual is taking more than 50% of publishing and/or the sync fee, or ANY portion of the writer’s royalties. And frankly, I find 50% of publishing to be questionable, and I always attempt to negotiate a fair and balanced royalty split whenever possible.

But sometimes the opportunity of mass exposure to an independent/unknown artist can outweigh a fair royalty split – something we all have to evaluate as these opportunities come up. Always ask yourself who is really benefitting from the deal, and whether it feels fair and balanced for everyone involved.

These observations are obviously based on my own experiences and hopefully I’ve provided some helpful insights! Don’t get me wrong – I’m not at all implying that the music industry consists ONLY of shady individuals and bad people. But I AM saying they are definitely out there, and it would be naive to believe otherwise. Ultimately, EVERYONE who takes their career seriously should always dig deeper, and if you’ve done your research and it feels right, then go for it! I’ve obviously had many great experiences and benefits because of the songs I’ve had placed in TV/film soundtracks and I hope you do, too!

May the song placement Schwartz be with you,

Mike of the clan Love Darling

just breathe

“Change” is The Best Word In The Dictionary

 

Change means growth.  It denotes moving forward and hints at an evolution that surely brings with it new things.  I always think change is for our best although it sometimes takes us a while to process and wrap our heads around.

New Driven is constantly changing as it morphs and grows and decides what it wants to be when it grows up.  

I’ve made the decision to broadcast my radio shows solely through JammerStream.com.  That decision was made because I feel that the JammerStream network is a quality network built by dedicated individuals with a large and growing audience. The awesome staff there archives all New Driven IMPACT shows so that people can catch them any time they want – this is a boon for all the bands New Driven presents to the world.  

I’ve always been blessed to know some of the most amazing people on earth.  Probably my best traits are that I draw out fascinating people to know and exchange idea’s with and I’m good at brainstorming. So, that said, I’m excited about the future going forward. 

For The Music,

Sherry

How To Be Smarter Than Everyone Else

A few weeks ago I interviewed a relatively new artist from Florida.  Her name is Meresha and her catchy single, “Fool Don’t Be” caught my attention.  She requested the MP3 of the interview and I sent it to her.  Then she blew my mind.

Within a week, she sent a return email that included a link to the video below. She turned a simple interview into a public relations tool AND made a huge impression on both New Driven and JammerDirect.com.

Think outside the box. Think beyond yourself. Win the fight.

Click the image below for the video and make sure to catch what she does at the end!

MERESHA SINGER INTERVIEW NEW DRIVEN

CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO

Elm Treason: Uncomplicated

You Either Get It, Or You Don't

My love of music is right up there with my love/obsession with my garden, the Georgia Bulldogs and NASCAR. Any true music fan must admit that these days, good music is damn hard to come by. ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Twitter, and a host of other social media sites, in addition to these have made it such that any two bit hack that can strum a guitar and place their hair gel accordingly can get a following and a fan base rival to some minor league baseball teams. Suffice it to say, that for me to hear something I like, it means I have heard at least a hundred things that made me want to eat horseshit as opposed to hearing it for a second time.
I was trolling around on Twitter one day, as opposed to doing what I was supposed to be doing at work, and clicked on a link…

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KYNG – There’s No SEX Left In Rock n Roll

Kyng burn the serum banner

Eddie Veliz, frontman for KYNG is feeling rushed.  His band is currently in the midst of a tour that is snaking it’s way across the U.S.A. in a bit of a frenetic pattern. For instance in August they play Georgia, then Alabama and then…Fargo, N.D.!

He feels he’s more a professional driver at times instead of the upcoming rock legend his fans view him as but it’s all good.  Now signed to Razor and Tie Records, the band is seeing packed out shows and playing along side some of today’s hottest acts like Black Label Society, Seether and Black Stone Cherry.

The three-member, Los Angeles-based band consists of Eddie Veliz on guitar and lead vox, Pepe Clarke on drums and and Tony Castaneda on bass.  They’re all veterans of the independent rock scene and have earned their chops over the years playing in a variety of bands and touring coast to coast across the states.

Their sophomore album, Burn The Serum, dropped April 15th of this year; it’s their first album with Razor & Tie.  The sound is definitely melodic metal/hard rock with all kinds of influences thrown in for good measure. It surprises you from jump as you’re expecting the vocals to scream in your face and instead, it’s something MORE.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Eddie.  Click on the image below to find out what it’s like to sign with a big independent record label, how KYNG skyrocketed to national notoriety and where the sex went in rock n roll.

CLICK IMAGE ABOVE TO HEAR PART 1 OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH EDDIE VELIZ FROM THE BAND KYNG

CLICK IMAGE ABOVE TO HEAR PART 1 OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH EDDIE VELIZ FROM THE BAND KYNG

 

Every band I speak with has a unique definition of what it means to “make it”. Eddie’s definition doesn’t disappoint.  Click the image below and ENJOY.

CLICK IMAGE TO HEAR PT 2 OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH EDDIE VELIZ FROM LOS ANGELES BAND: KYNG

CLICK IMAGE TO HEAR PT 2 OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH EDDIE VELIZ FROM LOS ANGELES BAND: KYNG

Contact KYNG:

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New Driven YouTube Playlist For Week 28 April: Featuring Cara Quici

Cara Quici - Album Cover

CLICK IMAGE TO LISTEN TO INTERVIEW

Welcome to our new playlist for the last week of April!

This week we’ve got an interview with Cara Quici to share with ya’ll.  Cara is a spitfire, born in Corpus Christi, Texas.  However, she came of age in New York and Los Angeles, both of which are now home to this budding singer/actress/model.   One of the cool things about Cara is her willingness to share some of her success secrets.  So if you want to hear her thoughts on what helps an artist succeed, make sure to listen to all 4 parts of the interview.  Just click the sexified image of Cara ABOVE and you’ll get to enjoy the total Cara Quici experience!

We think it’s pretty cool that she got the permission of The Beastie Boys to remake their biggest hit single, FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT.  She made the song totally her own, but what she has coming up for the fall 2014 is even more alluring…and you’re gonna have to listen to find out what that is.

Artists/Bands in this week’s YouTube Playlist in order of appearance:

CARA QUICI

THE TASKERS

THE CLOX

SCARS ON 45

RAUSHI

SILENT NOISE PARADE

SPACESHIP DAYS

FATHER JOHN MISTY

JAMIE ALIMORAD

ONE DAY REMAINS

WILD CHILD

THE CONTROVERSY

SWEAR AND SHAKE