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Thursday, 31 January 2013

MIDEM Marketing Competition - Best Music In Commercials

I'm just back from MIDEM where I was lucky enough to moderate the "Best Music in Commercials" strand of the MIDEM Marketing Competition.

You can see the presentation of case studies and panel discussion here.

The winner of the award was:

"Sprint/HTC EVO 4G LTE Launch" - Gabe McDonough, VP & Music Director, Leo Burnett (USA)

The othere finalists were:

"Blackberry Night Bikes" - Daniel Jackson, Managing Director of CORD Worldwide, Cutting Edge Music (UK)

"C3 Face" - Lionel Dray, Music Supervisor, The:Hours (France)

"La Guirlande" - Vincent Nayrolles, Head of Music & Sound, The Shop / Young & Rubicam (France)

"Matinique Moments" - Jeppe Kaltoft, CEO & Executive Music Supervisor, Upright Music (Denmark)

"Origami" - Christophe Caurret, Music Creative Director, BETC Music (France)

"Renault Twizy: Plug into the Positive Energy" - Thomas Jamet, President of Brand Content at UDECAM and CEO, Moxie (France)

"Unlock the 007 in you" - Hugo Takacs, International Account Director, Publicis Conseil (France)

"Youtube Space Lab" - Pete Martin, Creative Partner, Aurotone (UK)

A big thank you to the four jury members:

Steven Craenmehr, Creative Director & Sonic Branding Specialist, MassiveMusic Branding (Netherlands)

Patrick Joest, SVP Licensing and Marketing International, BMG (Germany)

Alex Lavery, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Pitch & Sync (UK)

Jeannette Perez, VP, Music for Brands & Advertising/Licensing, Sony Music Entertainment (USA)

Thank you also to Benjamin DEBUSSCHERE, Conference Project Manager, ReedMIDEM for inviting me to moderate the session.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Another one bites the dust. HMV R.I.P. Who cares?

Do consumers care that HMV has gone into administration today?

A personal view.

There will be a huge outpouring of industry opinion over the demise of HMV. So, where to start?

As ever, the BBC's Robert Peston provides some honest clarity and sharp insight so often missing from the trade press within the music industry on this particular issue.

Of course the record labels and industry pundits will bemoan the sad loss of the last bastion in high street music retail - claiming how terribly unfair it is that this once great pillar of the UK music industry has fallen to the sword of Amazon and iTunes. However, before you shed a tear, remember that it's no accident that iTunes & Amazon stole a march on the music industry establishment. Messrs Jobs and Bezos recognised the opportunity that the music industry perceived as a threat.

If you've not seen it, Steve Jobs' launch of the iPod in 2001 is still inspiring.

He saw the future, but for much of the early noughties, the music rights owning industries (record labels & music publishers) did their utmost to sue to death any business that sought for ways to satisfy the new consumer demand for digital music. The labels had made huge margins on CDs during the 80s and 90s and weren't about to relinquish that to geeks from Silicon Valley.

Some of you may remember the long battle that major labels fought to try to stem the tide of the mp3 format - They tried in vain to impose various digital rights management (DRM) controls, all of which eventually failed. By the time that the major labels realised they needed to embrace rather than kill digital (changing tack from litigation to licensing), they were too late. iTunes had already become the dominant player with Amazon not far behind. The future of physical music retail was inevitably doomed - it was just a matter of time as we watched Tower Records, Our Price, Virgin Megastore, Woolworths, Zavvi and finally HMV bite the dust.

Of course this is sad for the employees of these business, but do consumers actually care? This is where some personal perspective might be of interest.

Those of us with teenage children love to bore on about our offspring to friends and colleagues - The usual stories start "isn't it marvellous how they take to technology so naturally .... etc."

With two sons in this camp, it's always interesting to see how they engage with media content - how they find "appointment to view" broadcast TV completely archaic (and have done for many years) - how they laughed in disbelief when I first showed them a turntable and the concept of playing records (though bizarrely this is now cool again).

My sons wouldn't ever dream of spending money on CDs, partly because they know I'm lucky enough to receive many free samples from record labels. This is one of the nice perks of working in the synch licensing / music supervision market. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for these freebies, although they're always converted to mp3 files, and it's actually easier just to receive links rather than physical product. Nevertheless, I still enjoy reading the CD liner notes - holding the physical item - it is of course a sign of my age.

However, when I offer to give some of these free CDs to my sons (even for their favourite artists) they do not want them. That's right, I cannot even give away free CDs to my children - they have no value.

My younger son (12) just wants to know if I've ripped the CD into iTunes and put the mp3s on the family server - so he can copy them to his phone. The older son (14) has a Spotify Premium account, so doesn't even want the mp3 files. For him, it's just about access - how important this is became apparent on the day I forgot to renew the subscription.

So, from this personal perspective, which I'm sure is very familiar to anyone with teenage children, how is a physical retailer of music ever going to survive against this backdrop? HMV's death is inevitable as they are simply irrelevant to an ever growing market segment.

As someone who grew up with the magic of records, saving pocket money to buy 45rpm singles, I have fond teenage memories of the local record store. (I still have all my 45rpm singles in the attic). However, those days are long gone, they will never come back, and the music industry needs to let it go. My sons love music as much as I did at their age, but it's uninterrupted (legal) access that matters, not collectible physical items. I used to boast to my friends how many albums I had. My younger sons boasts how many gigabytes of music data we have on the family server.

So, HMW R.I.P. Let's bury it and move on.

Take care,



Monday, 14 January 2013

MIDEM Music Marketing Competition - Will you be there?

MIDEM is Europe's key annual music conference, held every January in Cannes. Increasingly it's become a destination for brands and agencies, looking to gain a better understanding of the music industry.

This year MIDEM have kindly asked me to moderate the Music Marketing Competition on Sunday 27th January. The competition has two sections:

1. Best use of music/partnership with an artist in a marketing campaign - moderated by Cliff Fluet of Lewissilkin.

2. Best Placement of Music in an Ad - moderated by myself.

In the second section, 10 finalists present campaigns from brands such as Renault, Blackberry, HTC & Coke Zero - each entry is judged by international experts in music supervision & licensing from Nike, P&S, BMG Rights and Sony Music Entertainment.

You can read about the competition finalists here

If you're going to MIDEM, do come along. If you'd like to meet up at the event, please get in touch.

 See you there,


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Why is "Love Me Do" now out of copyright?

Here’s an interesting development in the murky world of music copyright .. It’s a watershed moment when one of the earliest Beatles studio recordings ("Love Me Do") falls out of copyright before the extended 70 year protection kicks in.

CMU's Article is both informative and impartial. Do read it all!

In contrast, Music Week (as one might expect) raises concerns on behalf of the record labels that have lost their exclusive right to control these recordings.

It’s worth noting that:

1.    The sound recording of "Love Me Do" has only become public domain in the UK though is certainly not public domain in the US. Therefore any on-line exploitation couldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to potentially avoid a licence from the relevant record label (EMI Records, now controlled by Universal Music Group).

2.    The underlying composition "Love Me Do" is of course still in copyright. Even though John Lennon has sadly been dead since 1980, Sir Paul McCartney is still very much alive. As a co-written song, the composition remains in copyright until 70 years after the death of the last writer (in this case McCartney).

The issue of public domain is complex and often misunderstood by brands and agencies that might look to by-pass traditional licensing structures. Any exploitation of 3rd party controlled copyright without an appropriate valid licence is likely to lead to a claim by the rightful owners. Wise brands and agencies engage the help of expert licensing and legal resource before making dangerous assumptions that potential public domain rights allow them to use any music assets for free.

Getting it wrong on the basis of ill-informed advice is no defence for infringement of copyright. As the saying goes:

"If you think hiring a professional is expensive, trying hiring an amateur!"

Monday, 10 December 2012

Do brands know the pitfalls of parodying songs?

Doritos "parodies" East 17's "Stay Another Day"

Many brands like to take existing well-known songs and adapt them to the needs of a particular campaign. This typically involves the creation of a new sound recording, thereby avoiding the need to secure clearance from the record label that controls the original artist recording.

However, any use of the underlying "composition" or song requires approval from the relevant music publisher. Where this usage involves a change of lyrics or any arrangement that could be considered as "sending up" the song, publishers deem this use to be a parody. In these instances, it's almost always the case that the original songwriter's consent is required, which may be denied if they don't feel comfortable with the use.

Doritos use of East 17's "Stay Another Day" in its latest campaign can safely be assumed to be a parody use. However, the brand was smart in inviting East 17 band member Tony Mortimer to have a cameo role in the TV spot. As Mortimer has the majority writing share of the song "Stay Another Day", he would effectively hold the casting vote on whether it could be parodied in the way that Doritos wished. A cameo role in the TV spot would encourage greater engagement with the campaign plus, one would hope, an additional appearance fee on top of the synchronisation licence fee paid to Mortimer's music publisher (of which he would expect to receive the majority share).

So, what can brands learn from this example:

1. Clearing songs for parody use always takes longer than non-parody use. Allow plenty of time, say at least 2 - 3 weeks if possible.

2. Be precise and up-front about the exact proposed use of the song.

3. Avoid building the script around a specific song, which allows the brand to have back-up song choices. Also, never mention a specific song title in the script, which just demonstrates to the music publisher the extent to which the song is essential to the creative idea.

4. Without back-ups, the music publisher has significantly more leverage in the fee negotiations and the brand has little. In any event, a parody use will always attract a premium fee compared with a non-parody use.

5. Offering the songwriter(s) greater involvement in the campaign (e.g. a cameo role) will encourage greater engagement with the campaign and hopefully improve the chance of securing clearance of the chosen song.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Creative Capital: Debate at The Hospital Club

The Hospital Club have kindly asked me to participate in a debate on the future of the music industry.

The session is entitled Creative Capital: State of the Art - The Music Industry and will be held at 7.30pm on Tuesday 16th October.

The venue is the Loft Lounge at The Hospital Club which can be found here.

On the panel, I'll be joined by Ed Weidman (an entertainment solicitor at Michael Simkins) and Gary Reid (who runs  the Bands & Brands agency).

It should be an interesting debate, so do join us!

For full details of the event and to book tickets, click here.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What price Parlophone? Should artists share in the sale proceeds?

There's been so much written about the UMG / EMI takeover but I spotted an interesting Independent article on the perspective of artists. In particular, Blur "leading the revolt" against being treated as 'assets' in the sale of Parlophone.

It's always struck me as a sad irony that, when catalogues change hands, none of the sale proceeds flow back through artist and writer royalty statements. I'd argue that, without the artists' copyrights, Parlophone would have no value to potential bidders. Yet, whatever UMG secures from the sale, it certainly won't be shared with the artists that made Parlophone the great label that it is. Equally, the artists involved appear to have no say in the sale, nor control over the final destination of their recordings.

You can see why Blur's Dave Rowntree feels aggrieved and it's an interesting development that those artists affected may withhold their future product and consent to regain some leverage.

All this points to the underlying problem of the traditional recording agreement. Artists pay (by way of advance recoupment) for their recording costs, yet the label owns the actual recording - which is then free to be sold elsewhere. The sale benefits the vendor of the catalogue but not the talent. Is this unfair? How might this be changed going forward?

Given that advances to new artists are considerably smaller than in the days when Blur were signed, many artists now choose to retain their IP in recordings & simply license it to labels. A further protection might be to include a reversion of such licence in the event of a sale of the licensee company.

A more traditional method was the inclusion of a key man clause in the recording agreement, typically for the A&R man (& it usually was a male executive) that originally signed the artist. In this way, where the clause was breached (as a result of the catalogue being sold to a new company), the key man clause was invoked in order to free the artist from the recording agreement.

So, while securing a record deal always way (and for some still is) the key objective for new artists, it comes at a big cost. You may eventually be helping to line the pockets of the label owner through a trade sale, but not share in the proceeds.

Let's hope that Dave Rowntree secures some concessions.