This is part 4 of a series of posts dealing with music licensing.
My last several posts have covered:
This week’s topic involves administration… which is just a fancy name for handling your paperwork and organizing the business of songwriting for film, t.v. and multimedia.
Because the music licensing game will potentially involve lots of your songs, you might find yourself inundated with paper. Before it gets out of hand, I recommend spending some time setting up systems to help you conduct business.
Here’s what you need to keep track of:
- copyright and PRO information
- waivers and clearances
- sync payments and royalties
I’ll break each of them down.
1. THE SONGS
It’s important that there be a central place where you keep all of your songs – the demos, the recorded tracks, the instrumentals, etc. There are various storage resources to choose from: your hard drive, an external hard drive, in the cloud… But what’s most important is that you have them all in one central place. Don’t let them get strewn in several different places just to be frustrated later when you’re under a deadline and can’t find what you need. Choose ONE place to hold your FINISHED songs. Create folders for them and their corresponding instrumentals. That way they will always where you need them – IN ONE PLACE.
And for the ones you’re still working on, it’s best to hold those in ONE place as well. I use Evernote to organize all my drafts and works in progress.
I also use my iPhone apps like Notes and a free recorder app to jot notes and lay down ideas, but I always then send them to one file (like in Evernote) so that I just have to look in one place to find everything regarding that composition.
If you’re a jot down your ideas on a napkin kind of person, then take a photo of your napkin and send it to that one place.
In the film and t.v. business, all the music users go by metadata to find and keep track of all the songs they listen to (which amounts to the hundreds of thousands). Meta-tagging refers to creating attributes and keywords to describe your song so they are searchable on a database or the web. Have you ever downloaded an album or song and then found that the file on your computer or in iTunes says “unknown artist” or “unknown song”? Well, imagine a music supervisor with thousands of tracks coming across these kinds of unknown files. They will be sent to the circular file. Don’t let yours be one of them.
How do you meta-tag your song?
This can be done in iTunes or other, similar media players. Drag your song into your library and then hit the “Get Info” in the menu. This will open a window with several fields. Fill out these fields as completely as you can. Make use of the “real estate” by filling in the genre, artist, composer, BPM and length. In the “comments” or “grouping” section, include your name and contact information.
Here’s a screenshot of the “Get Info” window in iTunes. This is one of my songs which I meta-tagged:
Remember: Songs will get separated from their e-mails, links, CDs etc… so ensure that your contact information doesn’t. It’s good practice to also meta-tag the file itself (like if it winds up on a desktop). On Mac, click on the file and Command I. Fill out the “Add Tags” section and include your contact information in the “Comments” section.
Here’s an example of a file on the desktop which has been meta-tagged:
Put your contact information on EVERYTHING!!
Publisher and music supervisors would rather see your contact info slathered on everything they have to touch in regards to your material as opposed to not being able to find it when they need it. It could mean the difference between using your song or moving on to the next one in queue. Make sure you include it in any correspondence you send them (e-mails, letters, CDs, texts… EVERYTHING).
Make sure you have an instrumental version of your song.
If your hard work has paid off and you’re offered a placement directly or through a music publisher or library, then you will probably be asked for an instrumental version. It’s important for you to have this and might be a prerequisite for you getting the placement.
If you are farming out your mixes and productions, make sure you request the instrumental as part of the deliverables. The last thing you need or want is to have to re-contact the mixing person and scramble to get what you need. You might not have the luxury of that kind of time.
Stay tuned for PART B of this post, THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MUSIC LICENSING : ADMINISTRATION. I’ll be posting that next week.
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Want more tips on songwriting for film and t.v.? Purchase my e-book, How To Explode Your Income By Licensing Your Songs here.