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Making Music for Commercials


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#1 James Frank.

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 07:43 PM

So...I got commissioned to produce some music for an online-based commercial of this product by a company that sells iPod/iPad/iPhone accessories. My former videography instructor had done work with this local company directing very-well done product videos for them so that they received better promotion than the in-house crap they were pushing out before with horrid results.

Long story short, he had a specific track in mind he wanted to use: The Wiseguys, "Ooh La La", a slightly well-known dance track from the early '90s that has made appearances in other places since then. obviously the modest budget they had didn't call for them to contact the Wiseguys or whoever holds the licenses for that song nowadays, and since he was aware that I do music in my spare time he pulled me aside from class and asked me to basically remix the track to the point where the YouTube bots wouldn't automatically flag down the video for copyright infringement...so yeah, so far so good. I did the track, the old-fashioned way by physically finding the samples, downloading the albums they were on, manually going in to chop them up to the bits I wanted that The Wiseguys used, and sequencing them in slightly different ways and adding separate layers of both percussion and melody to distinguish it from the "original" dance track--and after I finished the job I was told "Well done!" and paid some $ for my hard work. Fast forward to ~6 months later...

I just was emailed by my former instructor, who has informed me that the legal department over at the company is gravely worried of getting caught now that the video is starting to catch some heat (and by that I mean getting a lot of views, not flagged for anything whatsoever), so they willingly took it down preemptively and assigned him to re-cut the video to a less egregious mix of the track. So, going down the chain of commands, eventually the burden has now fallen back onto me to fulfill this paradoxical situation I'm experiencing right now: from what I understand, they want me to make a 90's era-dance music track in the style of groups like The Wiseguys, without using samples.

What. The. Fuck.

Do they not understand that this particular genre of music was founded upon the basis that 90-100% of the mixes are sampled material meshing together in a sort-of sound collage? I've tried sending completely sample-free, original tracks to the guy--who always bounced them right back to me, complaining every single time that none of them worked...so he has a clearly defined idea of what he wants, but the confusing part is whether they're worried about legal action from the Wiseguys, the label that owns their catalogue, or the thousands of orignal artists they freely sampled without ever clearing any samples to make their careers lol...all in all, it's a mess-- and i just needed somewhere to vent. So what y'all think about this giant log of shit? What should I do? It seems like a Catch-22 situation for me, because if I send a completely sample free, original track, then I know that 1) they'll hate it, and 2) it won't be anywhere close to this style of music they're wanting me to emulate...and obviously, I don't think I need to go into the possible repurcussions of sampling, I think that's been covered well enough on these boards.

But yeah, it's a very nerve-racking situation because now I'm solely responsible for this project that I never even got paid handsomely for...they want me to make them a nice, fat PB&J, but they don't wanna have to pay the royalties to Jif or Smuckers and just sweep it under the table like no one will notice. It just seems like bad business sense on their part, and the lawyers for not taking the slightest bit of interest in reading up on the processes of sample clearances, copyright laws, what constitutes fair use, and all that jargon...from what I've always been told, it's the responsibility of the buyer to clear all samples and deal with the legal bullshit, not the goddamn artist that has no experience in the practice of law whatsoever. that's my rant for tonight.

-jf

#2 SunnyMeadowz

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 10:34 PM

Send them the first song you made. Then tell them that's exactly what they asked for. Then tell them if they don't want to play the video that's their problem. Then tell them to have a pleasant day and to never contact you again.

#3 ODK

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 04:55 AM

James download Ableton 9, secondly get all the same samples, nice loop chunks get them all sorted for tempo. Then every sample you got in audio convert to midi then get the synths to compliment the original, after delete all the sample and work of your midi conversions then rearrange into some bullshit mainstream order their brains can handle then send it in, you would of made your own cover tune of the original sample riffs and wot not, avoiding the samples but keeping the feel, thus getting away with it being an original tune, 2ndly burn a master copy on to cd, write on a note the title of the tune the length, the date you made it and your name, then SIGN that shit!! and then send it too yourself and DO NOT open it, the post date on the envelope will copyright the tune to you, you cover your own arse if they try to get funny in the future. Also don't forget to invoice them for a new beat, this is new work, draw a contract up and get it signed before you go any further, if they agree, then it's all good, if they don't want to, snap the master disk infront of them and walk away laughing with your head held high.

#4 scabs

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 12:00 AM

^^^
That's a myth and does not serve as true copyright in any way shape or form. Send that disc, along with the master track and the IPC to the address provided in the forms from www.copyright.gov

It'll cost you something like $30-45 a song, but you're covered, granted you don't sample.

#5 SunnyMeadowz

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 07:33 AM

^^^
That's a myth and does not serve as true copyright in any way shape or form.


TRUTH!
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#6 James Frank.

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 10:30 AM

so, update on this:

they decided to go with another licensed track lol, so it was just a giant waste of time...
fortunately, i did get compensation for my time spent working on it, so i guess all's well that ends well.
next time i license a track out i'd like for it to be on my terms, with my own track instead of making a sideways version of another person's work...i always felt really dirty doing that kinda thing, it just didn't feel right. so yes, feel free to give me shit for getting my grubby little hands on some o' dat slimy corporate cash. i can't defend it lol, other than by saying, "i needed the moneyyyyy!!!"

#7 ODK

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 10:45 AM

^^^
That's a myth and does not serve as true copyright in any way shape or form. Send that disc, along with the master track and the IPC to the address provided in the forms from www.copyright.gov

It'll cost you something like $30-45 a song, but you're covered, granted you don't sample.

It does because if you go to court with an unopened dated envelope and open it there as proof your backed up somewhat, especially if there is no contract drawn up, must admit though, I first heard that 20 years ago so obviously it's changed somewhat, I can see how it has become a myth in that case, but a lot of people I knew in bands did do this, better to do some thing than nothing, and there was no internet, so no www.copyright. either.

#8 Tahn

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 08:49 AM

I used to send stuff to myself to copyright it too. It is better than nothing.
Sorry to hear that James Frank. I'm glad I have not had problem with ML. I had a deal with some show 3 years ago, but they wanted a song that was already finished, so all I had to do is sign something. I imagine if someone commissioned me for a song, then changed the rules on me, I would be bummed out and just give them whatever to get it over with and not stress on it much. I think your situation is one of the reasons ML (music licensing) gets a bad name. They put artists in situations sometimes where they have to compromise or what some would say "sell-out".

#9 MWBOOGIE

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 10:39 AM

^Just saw this. The cheap copyright alternative is really not an alternative--to put it mildly.




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