Thursday, April 8, 2010

I hear Music

It seems that every time I see a new TV commercial these days it has a song or piece of music that sounds kind of familiar.

It’s easy to see (or hear) why familiar songs are so popular. They bring a familiarity and likability to your new spot. As a marketer you are effectively renting their popularity.

But rented popularity is not cheap. I’ve recently been doing a lot of work finding good music for a low cost. Let me share my findings.

First of all we have to understand the difference between publishing rights and recording rights. Publishing rights are given by the composer (or their heirs) based on channel, location and duration. Eg. Free to air, Pay TV, Internet, 12 months, Australia and NZ only. The fee for publishing rights varies by artist and record company, but for a well-known song expect to start at $75,000.

Now that’s just for the right to use the piece. If you want the actual performance that made the track so famous add another $75,000. Of course you can hire some talented mussos to record the song for a lot less, but everyone will know it’s not Aretha Franklin

So you’re looking at a starting price of $150,000 for publishing and performance rights. Add your agency markup. Add the artist’s ‘creative conditions’. Add a bit because everyone wants this artist at the moment, and your pleasant pop song is starting to give you a real headache.

Is there an alternative Tony?

Yes. A couple.

Option 1) Commission original music. It’s 100% yours. It will cost a tenth of the figure above. And it can be what-ever style you want. BUT it’s an unknown. You have to take a leap of faith. AND there is always the temptation to dabble, to dial up the branding, to have a go at this music lark. My advice? Don’t.

Either accept the piece or ask for another one. You want music that sounds like it came from a musician, not a marketer.

Option 2) Find existing music that is out of copyright. When you do this, the nasty $75,000 publishing rights disappear in a puff of smoke!

You still need to decide between an existing performed track or creating your own. Creating your own might be $15k. But finding an existing performance could be even less.

OK so what constitutes ‘out of copyright’? It’s different in every country. (In France if a composer dies fighting for his country his descendants get a bonus 30 years. I love that)

But here in Australia there are two rules. Copyright applies to music for up to 70 years after a composer dies. UNLESS he/she died before 1955 in which case it’s 50 years. You can find out more at:'_copyright_length

Option 3) Find an up and coming band and sign them for peanuts. It has happened, but it’s messy, and time consuming. If you want to go down this road, make the music the core of the idea and be prepared to let it lead the campaign.

So there’s three ways … hang on. I almost forgot. Stock music.

Option 4) Stock Music. If it’s just to fill in the background a bit, stock music can be insanely cheap. I’m talking under $100! On one job, I had used up the client’s sound budget, so I paid for the music out of my own pocket! That’s how cheap it can be. Of course the tunes are pretty simple, but there’s a wide choice and if that’s all you need, it’s almost free.

So there’s FOUR ways to make your commercials sing (sorry couldn’t resist).

If you have a creative advertising problem call Tony Richardson on (02) 9929 0588 or visit Tony Richardson Advertising or

You are welcome to reprint any AdNotes article on your website and in your e-newsletters for FREE. All I ask is that you attribute me, Tony Richardson and include a link to

1 comment:

Flexible Packaging Companies said...

Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading your blog, because they are always full of information that I can put to use. Thank you again, and God bless you in 2010.