MUSIC LICENSING (continued)
As more and more music is being made available online for different uses, it is natural for production people to turn to the internet to find music. Why? Because you can buy anything on the internet! Savvy bands are spending time on film bulletin boards offering up their music for soundtrack use, indie labels are offering licensing options on their websites, and composers are banding together and starting their own online write-for-hire agencies. If you or your bandmates don't have the time or expertise to find soundtrack opportunities and successfully pitch your music, there are other avenues for you.
Who to trust? I'm on movie sets a lot and I can tell you how hard it is to approach the music supervisor or the producer with a CD. Instead, I've found a few online companies that specialize in indie music licensing and are non-exclusive (which means you can join as many as you want - no exclusive memberships). Before signing with any company, remember you are entering into a business relationship that involves your work and payment for use of that work.
Contracts? The licensing company should have a legal contract that requires the signatures of the owners or the authors/composers of the music sent in. If the company is legit, they will want to protect themselves from fraud artists who will send in other people's music and profit from it. Also there is the final license contract with the filmmakers (or whomever) to peruse. Is it for a Master/Sync license or just a Sync license? (ascap.com, bmi.com, or socan.com can define these terms if you are not familiar with the industry jargon).
Fees? The contract should also state very clearly the fees (monthly? yearly? by the byte?) involved and how future licensing income will be split between you and them and how often you will be paid.
Also, ask about whether the tracks are required to be pre-cleared or if you can request restrictions. Some companies have a standard restriction that reads something like "This track cannot be used on scenes depicting racism, pornography, use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs." Requesting a restriction will obviously limit the amount of interest your music garners and ultimately the pay-out. Personally I don't care if a European sausage company wants to use my music on a television commercial -- I'm an indie musician who can barely pay the rent. I'll take that money and invest it in the future of my band.
Where to start? Start where you begin all your other research: on your favorite search engine (Google is huge). If you want to go the total DIY route based on your location, use your city name and keywords like "film production," "indie movies," "production companies," "music wanted," etc. Most cities and provinces have film associations and unions that keep track of local shoots and list them on their websites with contact information. Be prepared to be your own sales agent: you will have to send each of the interested parties a pitch package (some require two: one for the director and one for the music supervisor), diligently follow-up, negotiate your terms, and if needed hire a lawyer to proof your contract. continue