TV/Film Placement

In addition to 99 cent downloads, more than ever we are looking to film and TV for a song placement. If we are successful there, it means instant recognition for our song and for ourself as an artist, not to mention the money paid for the license and the back end performance royalties generated. Here are three internet sources:
Taxi: Billed as the world’s leading A&R company, Taxi works to pair its members with music industry professionals, hopefully resulting in label deals or song placements. It costs about $300/year to join and they charge a fee every time you want to submit one of your songs for an industry event or media placement.
Broadjam: Networking site dedicated to indie music. Song of the month/lyric of the month contests with cash prizes. Can sell downloads on site. Broadjam charges $.19 per $.99 download (20%). There are opportunities listed to place your music with film/TV projects on a reasonable flat fee per song basis.
Rumblefish: Music licensing site that acts as broker for music supervisors seeking music for film and TV. You retain all rights and performance royalties. Rumblefish gets 50% of the net licensing fees. It’s non-exclusive with a one-year term and no submission fees.

The gist of my “music is free” speech

Anyone who’s recorded with me has heard this. But in case you should need a refresher course, here it is.

In the mind of the public, music is free. There are many reasons to record and publish music that don’t have anything to do with making money, but IMO if you want to make money with music you must package your music with something of value that cannot be reproduced digitally.

There. That’s the gist of it.

Until the late 1960’s the only form of recorded music was the phonograph record. It was not portable. It could not be reproduced by the ordinary listener. Then the cassette tape was invented. At first the sound quality was inferior to the phonograph record so the music industry ignored it. But soon the quality DID improve and the fact that it allowed the user to compile a tape of their favorite music from different sources and carry it around made it more popular than the phonograph in a matter of a few years.

The music industry got legislation passed that allowed an addition of a royalty to the price of blank cassette tape as a form of compensation for the sales lost due to consumer home taping. The money generated from this went into a big pool that was distributed according to the record label/artist’s sales of real product. The more popular labels/artists got more of the pool.

Then the CD came out and we were back in the days of the phonograph. It could not be reproduced by the listener, could hold more music, sounded cleaner, and could last longer. But the invention of the CD burner changed things again. Now the consumer could make digital copies of their favorite music again, just like the cassette days. And just like the cassette days, the labels got legislation passed that allowed an additional royalty to a certain type of blank CD called the “music CD.” (The truth is that except for a header that identifies the disc as a music disc, there is no difference between this type of CDR and a data CDR except that some standalone disc burners will not burn to a data CDR. They’ve been cripped by their manufacturer.)

The internet and the MP3 changed things again. Again we have an inferior format (MP3) that is more widely used than the higher quality CD because of its portability. We think nothing of sending entire songs via email, downloading hundreds of our favorites to our hard drives and MP3 players, listening to customized internet radio, etc. So for the time being, because of the ease of digital copying, the value of recorded music is approaching zero.

On the other hand, people still pay real money for things they need like clothing, food, shelter, gasoline. So it follows that by packaging your music with something of value that cannot be reproduced digitally, you can make some money. What kinds of things am I talking about? Here are a few examples.

Your live performance is the first thing. It exists at a point in time that will never happen exactly the same again. In order to have a memory of the performance, people will buy a physical item like a CD, tee shirt, hat, etc.

If your song has a trademark-able hook, take advantage of it. Example – “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet spawned an industry of items for him. Not only was the song popular, but in the thirty years following its publication, there are now Margaritaville restaurants, bar supplies, clothing lines, and more. Why? Because the title identified a lifestyle.

Niche markets like specialized groups and charitable causes are places where your music can be considered a rallying cry or an anthem for the cause. People will support the cause by purchasing your music outright. But if you can add to that with something physical, it will mean even more. One example is the song, “A Song For My Son” written and published by a mother of the groom because there were no wedding songs with that subject. She packaged the CD with a small booklet that could be signed by friends and family and kept as a keepsake.

These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure that people will not stop making music just because consumers feel they have the right to copy and distribute it without paying for it. I’m sure that at some point there will again be just compensation for creators. But for the time being, in this transitory stage, digital goods bring attention, and real goods bring real money.