Introducing… Music For Advertising

Hello All!  It has been a little while since we’ve given you something new to read…I assure you its because we’ve been busy making calls, making deals…and listening to new music.  Listening to new music, in fact, is the reason for today’s entry.  Most of you reading this site are musicians and producers associated with the Soundtaxi family, and as such we want to bring you useful information we hope helps you as an artist.

In the past few weeks, we’ve been going through the catalog submitting individual tracks to ad agencies, video game companies and music supervisors for film and television.  When it comes to multi-media advertising (TV commercials, online marketing, etc.) you’re typically talking content that lasts 30-90 seconds.  This is of course much shorter than your average full-length song.  When commercials use a big top 40 or indie pop “hit” they tend to go right for the hook, grabbing the most dynamic and memorable piece of the tune (similarly, with a genre like dubstep they may edit a song to start just a few seconds before the drop).

So here’s the thing, (and we’ve mentioned this before…but it is significant enough to mention again): producers and composers out there developing music specifically for commercial use need to consider the time constraints of music used for this purpose.  If an ad is 30 seconds long…and your intro is 20 seconds you may run the risk of losing a music supervisor’s interest.  Remember, these guys listen to hundreds of pieces of music dozens of tracks daily.

It is, of course, easy to market a 3-minute piece that’s already on the charts. If you’ve created an electro-house masterpiece…but nobody is familiar with it or your name hasn’t gotten out there as a buzz producer yet, you want to sell your track in those first ten seconds.  Soundtaxi can afford to evaluate an entire composition. A music supervisor may not be so kind.  Imagine having to go through hours of music to satisfy a 30 second ad. Trust us when we say many supervisors are only going to skim a track.

So… if you’re specifically producing a piece intended for commercial use (ads for products & services, movie trailers, etc.) you may want to watch those 30 second-build-ups. Those long and winding roads until we hit the drop, that beautiful 20 second long arpeggio…may wind up being all the music supervisor hears.  Its nothing personal, but a professional may not get past those first 30 seconds of music so they can listen to the other 100 tracks they are auditioning.  If all they hear is intro, well you can imagine the rest.

This is actually good advice for most modern production…if you can get someone hooked in the first ten seconds, you’ve got a fighting chance of creating the ever elusive ‘hit’.  In short…long introductions are cool….but sometimes its nicer to get to the point.

Advertising & Music Licensing – (Soundtaxi at the Billboard Film & TV Music Conference Pt. 2)

The importance of advertising is certainly not a new concept within the music licensing community. Recently, however, with the help of synch deals, music publishers are supplanting labels as the driving force in the music business, and advertising plays a major role in this shift.  Soundtaxi attended the Advertising: New Path To The Charts panel (sponsored by Ole, rising stars of marrying music and marketing strategy) at the recent Billboard Film & TV Music Conference in Hollywood late last month. Music execs for leading ad agencies and publishers came together, illustrating just how important synch is, in driving artist success stories.

To put things in perspective, Gary Miller, VP Film/TV Music for Universal Music Publishing Group shared that Alex Clare’s breakout hit “Too Close” sat at a paltry 3,000 units sold before that famous Microsoft Internet Explorer ad.  After?  4 million units sold.

Also in attendance was Imagine Dragons producer Alex Da Kid, himself symbolic of the importance of repeated exposure in creating a hit.  The psychology behind repeated radio spins relating to fan/customer adoption of a certain band or song, holds true in advertising (how many times have you heard Imagine Dragons’ “Radiocactive” in an ad?).  In fact, it was revealed that Imagine Dragons’ music has been used in 200 spots and counting (web, television, etc.).  A little clearer why we all love the tune, right?  We hear it everywhere.

When asked if being mindful of synch opportunities was something he considered when producing tracks, Alex stated that while he doesn’t want the spotlight on advertising deals to “get in the way”, he is more mindful of its importance than ever in his production process.  Sounds like a polite way of saying “yes” to us.   Who can blame him?

Jeannette Perez, VP Music for Brands & Advertising for Sony Music discussed how advertising deals have become a key part of record release strategies.  She noted that Kelly Clarkson’s 2011 album “Stronger” was released one week prior to the popular Toyota ad featuring the song of the same name.  The “Stronger” single was released the following week.  To date, the single has sold 5 million copies.  Translation:  These things don’t happen by accident.

The bottom line here is that synch deals are becoming more than a hopeful source of secondary income for artists and labels.  It is sometimes the key to unlocking the full potential of a project.  We, at SoundtaxiMusic, have been making this priority one for some time, just take a look at our work.  We have been successful in licensing music to globally recognized brands, and will continue our efforts to make this a priority focus of our business.

While we certainly don’t wish to tell our affiliates how to make art…we do think that our writers, producers and composers must become agile thinkers, if in fact securing synch deals is a priority for you as an artist.  Enhancing your strategy in composing only enhances our efforts in marketing your material, which of course enhances both our chances of landing that one synch that could change your life forever.  Music licensing continues to become an increasingly important aspect of the business, and Soundtaxi will continue to stay ahead of the curve.

News from the Billboard Film & TV Music Conference Pt. 1

SoundtaxiMusic attended the Billboard Film & Television Music Conference last week in Hollywood (quite appropriately).  We had a few great meetings, and made some wonderful contacts to better serve our producers and composers.  We also came back with a wealth of information about the state of the industry….good and bad.

First the bad news…  The most distressing, information was the general consensus among professionals, that rates for licensing are coming down.  That’s from some of the industry’s most respected music publisher reps and music supervisors.  At the conference’s The Expanding Role of Music Publishers panel discussion, many echoed the sentiment.  Brian Lambert, head of Film and Television Music for Universal Music Publishing noted that in addition to this, there were also far “fewer films being made.”  The industry is struggling with falling rates, fewer films in production and falling budgets.

The trend of independent film production companies shooting with smaller budgets and then seeking distribution with larger studios, has helped shift the economics of music budgets.  With the production phase out of major studios’ hands, music budgets understandably fall to what an independent company is capable of paying.  The news was a bit discouraging, with publishers and licensing companies warned to begin managing the expectations of their writers.

However, there is a bright side.  The good news is, the panel agreed there are more licensing opportunities than ever before.  While big studio films may be declining in frequency, there is an overall boom in multimedia (web series, online ads, growing number of television programs, etc.) opportunities for music.  Soundtaxi has been ahead of the curve on this trend, and we continue being an industry leader in Europe, placing our writer’s material in online campaigns and web videos with the same dedication we pay to film, television and commercial synch deals.

Because there are more opportunities, this has shifted the overall perception of music publishers.  Panel moderator David Hirshland, EVP Client Services with BMG/Chrysalis noted that this may be the first year where royalty revenue generated from licensing might outpace revenue generated from mechanical royalties (i.e. sale of records).  With this changing landscape, it is important for both publishers and writes to draw new conclusions even as they manage expectations on up-front pay.

P.J. Bloom of Neophonic got the entire crowd buzzing as he noted, these days “you can’t get to radio without getting the synch.”  The simple translation being: licensing the right song to the right property can catapult the careers of recording artist hopefuls.   In that regard, publishing arms of major companies…as well as independents like Soundtaxi stand a great chance of being the “record labels of the future” so to speak as marrying the right song with the right image can help create a new hit…but more on that with Part 2 of our Conference Roundup.