Make Your Next Creative Campaign Sing

Popular music has a way of catching the attention of consumers and, over the past year, advertisers haven’t been shy about licensing it for TV and digital campaigns. Social platforms like TikTok have also opened the floodgates for new artists, hits and jingles to explode at a moment’s notice.

Once you’ve found that harmonious tune to match with your new campaign, how can you ensure the music-licensing process doesn’t create a rift in launching the spot? Here are four key areas all brands should consider when seeking to license music for creative purposes.

Four Important Tips for Music Licensing

Publishing Rights: Any number of composers can be involved in writing a single song and each may be represented by their own publisher. It’s critical to identify, contact and negotiate with the correct representatives of each writer and confirm their ownership or administrative percentage rights. We’ve seen cases where a single writer is forgotten, forcing clients to scramble hours before a spot is set to publish or pushing back a critical launch, erasing months of planning.

Master Rights: What version of the song do you want to license? There are many different recordings of the same song, which likely come at different price points. For example, if you would rather use the Sid Vicious version of "My Way" than the Frank Sinatra version, you’ll need to locate the proper record label and negotiate a use. Different artists have different labels with some recording on several different labels during their careers. Publishing companies and record companies are almost always separate entities. "My Way" was recorded by Sid Vicious, Frank Sinatra and many others but it was written by Jacques Revaux, with French lyrics by Gillis Thibault.

SAG Vocal Fees: Along with publishing and master rights, don’t forget the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) vocal fees and American Federation of Musicians (AFM) fees. Some vocalists are fine accepting SAG scale fees, while others opt for double scale or even a flat buyout. These rights need to be explored and signed-off on prior to any launch or client request of a license from the publisher or label.

Re-Record Considerations: If you want or need a particular song but don’t have the budget for the original version, opt for a re-record with an unknown artist. This will reduce fees to license tremendously (by about half, potentially). It’s important to get permission from the publishers, ensuring they are willing to allow for a re-record. You also need to make certain the re-record is in no way a soundalike of the original artist, and some publishers may not allow for lyric changes.

Burns Entertainment has been partnering with blue-chip brands and agencies to identify, license and paper creative music deals for over 50 years. Some of Burns’ music work includes Coca-Cola, Yahoo!, Liftmaster, Toyota and the Constellation Brands portfolio (Pacifico, Corona, Modelo, Woodridge Wine, and more) among many others.

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