Lake FX Summit + Expo: 3 Panelists, 1 Guide to Licensing Your Music 884 words · 5 minute read

In Chicago’s long winters, the lake-effect snow is next to unbearable; but last weekend it was music, not frost, that fell from the city’s inaugural Lake FX Summit.

The region’s largest free conference for artists, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs, Lake FX Summit + Expo spanned three days and six venues in Chicago’s downtown Loop. For our part, Music Dealers spent most of that time in the Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Ave, helping to steer emerging artists through the modern music industry.

Music Dealers participated in three panels during the expo: “Follow the Data: A Global Look at the Modern Music Industry;” “Why You Matter to Brands / Why Brands Matter to You;” and “Defining Real Revenue Streams for Artists.” These panels are illuminating on their own; however, when considered as a whole, they can act as a roadmap for artists new to music licensing.

Follow the Data

Launching Lake FX into full effect Friday morning, Music Dealers corporate counsel R.J. Inawat joined a panel of information idols to discuss the flow of data through the global music industry.

All from varying segments of the industry, the four panelists focused on what types of information an artist should gather and provide to its business partners, with an emphasis towards song titles, artist pseudonyms, and ISRCs (International Standard Recording Codes). Because the metadata of one song changes hands many times during the licensing process – from the artist to a company like Music Dealers, then to an agency or production company, then to a brand or film, and finally back to the PRO – it’s paramount to have all information correctly filed.

“When you finish writing a song, you and your band need to sit down and have an honest conversation about who owns what,” explained RJ to a crowd of eager ears. “Come to a decision and put that down in a legal document. Then, that document sort of becomes the constitution for your song.”

Without dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, royalties might never make their way into to the artist’s pocket.

Why You Matter to Brands / Why Brands Matter to You

Following R.J.’s data discussion, Music Dealers founder/President Eric Sheinkop moderated the panel, “Why You Matter to Brands / Why Brands Matter to You,” with DDB Creative Director Jean Batthany, Creative Director Diane Andreoni (formerly of McDonald’s), and artist Saam Hagshenas of Hey Champ and MONAKR.

The major question that the panelists explored was, “Is a record deal still the end game for artists?” There are so many ways a brand connects with consumers, from TV ads to mobile apps, and music can play a role in each. Major labels might still be still be signing artists, but they’re not providing the marketing support that artists need to reach new ears. Brands are one of the few entities with that capability, and they’re leveraging it more as they realize the marketing power of music.

“What we didn’t expect back in 2007, when we founded Music Dealers and started licensing indie artists, was the virality of placing cool, new music in ads,” said Eric. “People thanked the brands for delivering them music they hadn’t heard of before, shared that ad because they liked the song in it, and started seeing the brand in a new light. All because of music.” The panel discussed the success story of McDonald’s, DDB, Music Dealers, and The Wyld, an indie band out of New Zealand. The four collaborated on the brand’s 2014 Olympics spot, “Celebrate with a Bite,” which became the most Shazamed ad of the Games. The music was so popular, The Wyld embarked on their first U.S. tour and signed with Columbia Records shortly thereafter. Perhaps most interesting in this story are the evolved roles that brands and labels are playing in the modern music industry.

“The notion of what it means to be a successful artist has changed,” said Saam, who has worked with several labels before opting for independent status. “Brands are kind of the new A&R, the new record labels – they’re the only ones that are really breaking artists.”

Defining Real Revenue Streams for Artists

On Saturday morning, Music Dealers Creative Director Jessie LaBelle kickstarted the day’s events on the panel, “Defining Real Revenue Streams for Artists.” Jessie joined several industry experts to discuss the new ways artists can monetize their craft and develop sustainable careers as artists.

The panel focused on how to build upon the typical performance and touring business models with supplementary sources of revenue. The difficulty in many such sources is finding a means that provides adequate pay, as well as ample reach so artists can be discovered by new fans. Sync licensing is one of the few to do just that. With sync, Jessie explained to creative hopefuls in the crowd, that artists generate real and consistent revenue through upfront payments and backend royalties. Syncs can come in every shape and size: television, film, games, advertisements; instrumental, covers, custom. Each generates money in different ways, but all provide real revenue for the artist’s music. It also spreads their songs to more ears, so that their performance and touring business models can grow even further.

Contact us at if you have further questions on how to license your music!

By: Zach Miller, Music Dealers