Logo + nav bar

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.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

MIDEM Marketing Competition

MIDEM 2013 is still some way off, though the music marketing competition is already up & running.

This competition now features two different categories:
·         Best use of music/partnership with artist in a marketing campaign
·         Best music placement in an ad

The call for entries to the competition is now open and entries must be made before November 11, 2012.
Click here for more details. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Consolidate and Rule

Here's an interesting story on possible further consolidation in the advertising holding group market. Is Interpublic about to be absorbed by a rival?

There's a strange parallel with the seismic changes occurring in the music industry as Universal seeks to finalise its acquisition of EMI's Recorded Music division by placating the EC with label disposals

The landscape in both marketing communications and music industries could look very different in the coming months. Whether this is good news for advertisers whose revenues finance the former (and have become increasingly important to the latter) remains to be seen. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

What's the holy grail in artist brand partnerships?

Read our post on MIDEMBlog which highlights some best-practice campaign attributes, illustrated with engaging case studies.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

CMU Daily reports on Resilient Music at The Great Escape

CMU Daily reported on the recent band brand partnership panel at The Great Escape in which Resilient Music's Richard Kirstein participated.

Read their report here.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Reporting back from The Great Escape

The Great Escape : The Brand Band Partnership Panel

Last week I attended The Great Escape in Brighton - my third time at the event. I spoke on the The Brand Band Partnership Panel together with:

  • Tim Dellow (Creative Director, Love Live)
  • Jemma Downey (Director of Marketing Partnerships, Live Nation)
  • Jasmine Skee (Head of Music Sponsorship, O2) - Panel Moderator

Here are some of the questions we addressed and some thoughts in response:

(A) Why do brands spend money on new artists?
Music is of course a consumer passion point and therefore a powerful short-cut to engagement. In this context, there was a general consensus that some brands like to adopt the role of "patron of the arts". We discussed how an element of philanthropy / altruism can be justified as part of corporate CSR strategy - a role in which the brand is seen to be "doing good works", unmotivated by profit. It's also true that new artists are more cost-effective. Some brands pay little or no fees to new artists. Finally, brands like to be positioned as taste-makers - a conduit to music discovery for consumers. Partnerships with new artists help to reinforce this positioning.

(B) What do they really want in tangible terms?

Exposure? Access to audience? Content? Intellectual Property ownership?

For Brands, clearly authenticity and credibility are important objectives in any artist partnership. We examined the idea of "fit" - though it's certainly a subjective term. There were some strong views on partnerships that worked and those that didn't. Brands with a heritage, or "permission" to be in music, received praise. Some examples were:

Converse Allstars have been many musicians' footwear of choice for several generations.

Like Converse, Rayban clearly has heritage in music - The Wayfarer model in particular is a favourite of musicians the world over.

Whilst some panellists felt Blackberry's U2 tour sponsorship was purely a badging exercise, the Tinie Tempah partnership was deemed more credible. The artist openly spoken about his daily use of the product which adds authenticity to the
relationship. In a similar way, Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am has used Blackberry's BBM IM service for live raps which adds a product-demo elements to their partnership with the brand.

We also touched on the IP issue - clearly something close to my heart as rights management is Resilient's core business. Some brands are already securing IP ownership of commissioned content i.e. assignment of copyright in bespoke music rather than a traditional usage licence. While this might be seen a controversional by some, I see this as a natural development which will only expand over time. 

Turning to Artists, what do they want? Certainly exposure via brands' owned, earned & bought media channels. In many cases, brands can offer artists far greater reach (and far deeper consumer insight) than record labels. Logistical touring support and/or travel is also very desirable.

Tim discussed Love Live's work on Ford's Bands In Transit activation. Clearly all artists need transport for touring, and the classic Ford Transit has been the van of choice for many generations of UK artists. There's both a credible heritage (or "permission") for Ford to be here, plus a utilitarian/functional benefit for artists who participate.

Finally, investment in content creation was seen as very attractive lure for artists. Brands can easily fund high-production value filmed content in a manner which artists (and many labels) cannot do for themselves.

(C) What will they really offer in return?
Money? Free product? Audience?

Yes, all the above. On Money, Tim felt that artists should always be paid. Jasmine commented on how O2 rarely paid emerging artists. I believe that "value exchance" is certainly a better strategy for both parties (rather than a straight financial transaction), especially where longevity of relationship is a key objective. Where brands pay fees, managers take commission and labels/publishers withhold artists' shares against unrecouped balances. In contrast, artists receive the full benefit directly for any goods or services provided by a brand within a "value exchange" deal. A manager can't take 20% of a van or jacket!  

(D) How can artists access brand money, or get involved in brand-funded new talent initiatives?

All the panellists stressed the need for artists and their managers to "do their homework". Prior research is vital before making any approach to a brand or agency.

Points to consider included:

Identify brands with compatible values

  • Identify brands who work with artists in a similar genre
  • Examine the types of campaign that target brands have previously activated
  • Examine brands' campaign cycles and time your approach accordingly

I would also advise artists to:

  • Consider brands that the artist already uses in their daily life
  • Consider brands whose services or products it needs to support their career e.g. transport, clothing, footwear, equipment

In terms of identifying the right people within brands, my advice would be:

  • Reach out directly
  • Immerse yourself in Marketing trade media (e.g. brandrepublic.com)
  • Look for brand contacts who have a geniune passion for music - they may be musicians themselves or have held previous roles in music companies. These people may feel like more compatible partners than career corporate marketers who just happen to have been given music as a remit.

(E) Do artists have to compromise in anyway to capitalise on brand money?
It's all about clarity and transparency. Both sides need to be clear on objectives & commercial terms from the outset. Eveyone should enter the relationship with their eyes open and walk away if they're not comfortable. No one likes surprises - both brands and artists.

(F) Should new artists really treat brands as a new form of media, rather than a new form of investment?
Yes, brands are now media channels – much more so than the traditional music industry. Brands increasingly focus their energies and investment on earned media, namely social. In this context, engaging content is vital in driving consumer engagement - so music has a key role to play.

So, we attempted to cover a lot of ground in our 50 minute session. Hopefully the above points will be helpful.

My thanks to Chris Cooke (Unlimited Media) and all The Great Escape Team for organising the event.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Resilient Music at The Great Escape 2012

I'm attending The Great Escape in Brighton for the 3rd year running from 10th to 12th May. Are you going?

This year I've been asked to speak on the Brand Band Partnership panel at midday on Saturday 12th May in the Pavillion Theatre. Do come along and join the debate.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Resilient Webinar for World Federation of Advertisers

Towards the end of 2011, we were kindly asked by the World Federation of Advertisers ("WFA") to present a webinar to its members on music rights.

The session we delivered was entitled "10 things marketers need to know about music rights". You can view the slides here.

We had around 25 WFA members on the call, all from leading blue-chip advertisers and from a variety of markets in Europe, LatAm and Asia.

Our sincere thanks to WFA's Steve Lightfoot for organising the webinar.