How To Become The Music Supervision Champ At Your Company
By Christopher Rucks | Music Dealers
You’re not interested in being a decent music licensor or supervisor of music. You’re interested in being the champ. You want a championship belt around your waist with a golden embossed synchronization license in the middle. You want your colleagues to say, “Hey, was that you that placed that awesome music in that one project?” You walk by in slo mo and pound your chest as if to say, “Damn real.” Whether you’re at an agency, you’re working for a brand, or a production company, you’re new to the game, or have some experience under your belt, here’s a few tools to help you supervise music like a champ.
The Business. An important element of being able to supervise music like a savant is a strong command of copyrights, publishing, and the music licensing process.
Many tend to focus on the creative aspects of supervision or licensing, you know, picking that perfect song or honing in on the right emotional feel, but intimately knowing the business is a critical factor to licensing like a champ. Knowing the business comes from the sweet combination of knowledge and experience. If you aspire to be the supervision or music licensing badass at your company, do the research and get a firm understanding of synch licensing concepts, which will help you learn to speak synch with the people you’ll be working with.
Understand copyrights and the interests of copyright holders, the terms of a licensing agreement, cover songs, etc. Once you understand the bookwork, over time you’ll develop superhero-like senses for things like the costs associated with certain types of licenses, strategies for working with publishers and labels, how to work your music clearance budgets, to re-record or not to re-record, etc.
And speaking of costs associated with licenses, “expectation” is a very common problem among new licensees. Often, those seeking to procure music greatly underestimate the costs of clearance, which of course, alters your creative direction and/or budgeting. You’ll give yourself a great advantage by being able to develop strong estimates of music clearance fees while you’re in the planning process, thus saving you from the process of having to change direction in the middle of your project.
Be Brave! It’s easy to fork over a box crate full of cash to license the “it” song of the moment, the very song a half-dozen other companies are currently licensing. You should put your foot down and exclaim “NO!” You, brave soul, will walk the road less traveled.
Instead, showcase your passion for music and music discovery with an up-and-coming artist who makes incredible music or another artist that hasn’t reached mass market exhaustion. I know, I know, that’s easier said than done when you’re working off the approval of your own army of colleagues and a client who says something like, “What are the kids listening to nowadays? What’s a Bee-burr?”
Look for your opportunities to push the artists you know are synch-tastic. There’s great reward at the end of the tunnel for bringing new talent to the market.
Be One With The Sync. Separate yourself from your role of creative or supervisor and witness the music as a consumer would. Is the song emotionally harmonious with the imagery? Is it the musical yin to the visual yang? A great supervisor encounters media like a fan in the crowd, like a consumer watching the ad.
Get a true sense of what the music evokes. I wrote a funny article about the unusual words licensees use to describe the music they need, and we turned those words into a dictionary. But the definitions really reveal how granular good creatives can be with assessing the distinctive characteristics that comprise a song and how it relates to the picture. They assess the details; the pace and movement of the drums, individual instrument selections and how this affects the mood, the progressions and melodies and where they take the listener.
Be Personable! So much supervision and music licensing success derives from great relationships, much like any other business. Strong industry friendships make your life easier because you can easily connect with labels, publishers, etc., instead of tediously building new bridges when you need to work on a license. And of course, because the price of licensed music is so subjective, it really helps to have a good relationship come quote time.
Have Fun! Remember what you are fortunate enough to doexpose people to fantastic music. You are a DJ, the new A&R. You, skilled creative, get to make people pause whatever they’re in the middle of doing, like flying an airplane spoon of mashed peaches into their baby’s mouth, then cock an ear towards the TV, and nod their head in enjoyment of your musical selection. “Man, that song is awesome! What is that?” They drop the airplane spoon and bolt to google to search the message boards and blogs to find your work. How great is that?
I remember watching Adult Swim on The Cartoon Network and during one of their promo bumps, they played an absolutely captivating instrumental that left me frozen. After several days of searching, I found that music and that artist is now a favorite. Some genius introduced me to something new that became a part of my musical identity, and I’m forever grateful to the brand for putting me on.
There you have it; a few tools to help you become the music licensing and supervision champ at your company. Employ these techniques, then you too shall don your championship belt and hi-five your colleagues in slow motion as they celebrate your music licensing prowess.
Photo Credit: groks