Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Licensing... no longer a viable income stream?

Want to license your music into a film, television program, commercial, or other production? The Rolling Stones can command millions, as can a range of other well-established groups. But the off-the-street indie is usually looking at a very modest payout - that is, if anyone is calling back.

That was the sobering takeaway from a panel of music supervisors and program producers assembled Friday at New Noise Santa Barbara. "If you have a licensing offer on the table, regardless of what the price is, do it," advised Gerry Cueller, owner of GoBig! "If the price is $200, don't go for $1,000, because they'll just get another band for $200."

Sounds harsh, though the supply of music is simply too great for producers to entertain negotiations. Meanwhile, publishers are pushing more heavily on synch licensing opportunities, simply because mechanicals are slipping so badly. The result is a supply glut, and that means lower payouts for the chosen few. "There's very rarely a song that you absolutely need," commented Daryl Berg, director of Music Licensing and Supervision at Fuel TV.

Instead, producers have the luxury of searching around for similar-sounding content if a particular deal falls through. And, they are usually sifting through a pile of tunes on a tight timetable. "There's infinitely more music than licensing opportunities," Cueller relayed.

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