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Custom Music? Ad Agencies?
Old 29th June 2019
  #31
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Vinylizor's Avatar
 

Etch-A-Sketch pretty much nailed it my experience - been through all of those scenario's!

Just one more variation on the theme to add....

The ad agency approaches a publisher for a top 10 commercial track but isn't happy with what its gonna cost 'em. So they go to the music agencies and request them to submit soundalike demo's - 10 agencies, each with 10 writers working for them, so that's a hundred free demo's they get back......

The ad agency then goes back to the publisher and say's they want that top 10 track at a much reduced fee, or they'll just use one of the soundalikes they've had done. Balls now back in the publishers court. Do they stand their ground? Maybe if they're a major, maybe not if they're an indie and need the income.

100 writers toiled over those soundalike demo's thinking they were in with a chance of a gig if they nailed it But they never were. They were just a bargaining chip for the ad agency to knock down the publishers fee.

Don't do demo's for free. There's ALWAYS money available for a legitimate gig.
Old 29th June 2019
  #32
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinylizor View Post
Don't do demo's for free. There's ALWAYS money available for a legitimate gig.
Quoted for emphasis!

Been in that scenario too many times. Actually, once was too many. Once you figure it out, that's the end of free demo's. They will play you like a fiddle if you let them.

The close brother scenario to the above? They want to hire their brother in law, but they have to listen to at least a dozen demo's before choosing the brother in law (friend, room-mate, etc.) so they put out the cattle call. Half the time they don't even listen, but at least they did their "due diligence". As Vinylizor mentioned, if they are legit, they have money for the demo's. Even if it's low paying, it at least signals that they are legit in looking for the right music.

There are a hundred similar "non-paid" situations to the above scenario's.
Old 29th June 2019
  #33
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Ovee's Avatar
 

Regarding to paid demo, what will be the amount that is acceptable (just approximate, for example the lowest amount that is worth the work)? I've been working with some brands, but fortunately for me it was all clear, transparent and smooth (work done - money paid), so I haven't got possibility to learn from situation like that.

The only one similar that I had was a really quick job of making edits of ad-ready song. Both sides confirmed amount of money, but on the final stage they told me that they must send it to recording studio because of some changes, so my work won't be used, BUT they've paid what we agreed on.
Old 29th June 2019
  #34
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elambo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinylizor View Post
Don't do demo's for free. There's ALWAYS money available for a legitimate gig.
I wouldn't make that a steadfast rule, especially if advising an up-and-comer, because it's not always the case for smaller gigs. If you say that there's nearly always a way to make money from the initial demo then I'd agree, but there have been many scenarios where the producers genuinely ran out of cash for music (because music is last in the process and last to get paid). It's part of your job to negotiate an alternate way of receiving compensation. This is an unfortunate truth because there are so many composers willing to work for free, so if you're not creative with your billing, and with the ways that you create equity for yourself, then you'll never get a foot through the door. To suggest, as a general rule, that it would be a bad idea to ever work for free is attempting to leapfrog over part of the credibility process.

Established agency/music house relationships have more power to make demands, but we're also talking about a much smaller percentage of the overall composer field than it was a decade ago and earlier.
Old 29th June 2019
  #35
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Tom O'Ryan is a musician from Miami.

I'll demo for free = ok (but we won't pick your track)
I'll demo for $200 = sorry we don't have the budget
Buy the music for $5000, use it or not = WOW we got avant-garde TOM O'RYAN to sell us a track for only $5,000. He's from BELFAST. Cut the check!
Old 29th June 2019
  #36
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

If agency creatives want a demo for free, it might not even be for something real, just an idea that they're trying to sell up the ladder. I've seen 'em pull that crap not just with composers, but VO artists (they call it "casting") and sound designers, too. Even if they're just paying a little, it's a real job and a client has to approve the expenditure and the agency's Business Affairs people have to issue a real PO.
Old 30th June 2019
  #37
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Vinylizor's Avatar
 

And if you are a freelance writer with a music agency, be aware that the ad agency may well have paid for demo's, but the music agency doesn't pass that money on to the writer, 'cause they need to pay the cost of their swanky soho office.

Elambo mentions in the post above that there is sometimes other ways to monetise any free demo's you do - library / production music being the classic avenue for many of us.

However I don't buy the age old 'music is the last thing to be considered, and the budget is usually spent by then' argument. It is always know that music will need to be purchased!

I'm afraid this phrase has just become part of the deceitful way the ad agencies try to boost their profits, along with trying to hold on to a share of writers royalties if they can get away with it. They'll have tried the same line with camera operators, acting extras, freelance animators / graphic artists.....
Old 30th June 2019
  #38
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elambo's Avatar
It sounds like a lot of people have been burned by the ad biz and there's been some scarring. The industry as a whole doesn't deserve some of these characterization as there are agencies operating legitimately and from the high road. No doubt there's a seedy side, but we should perhaps paint a wider landscape that includes the full spectrum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinylizor View Post
However I don't buy the age old 'music is the last thing to be considered, and the budget is usually spent by then' argument. It is always know that music will need to be purchased!

I'm afraid this phrase has just become part of the deceitful way the ad agencies try to boost their profits, along with trying to hold on to a share of writers royalties if they can get away with it. They'll have tried the same line with camera operators, acting extras, freelance animators / graphic artists.....
I've dated a couple of agency producers, and am now married to a film producer, so I understand very well how these budgets are structured and how monies are spent, and why. Yes, of course music has a budget of X at the beginning of a project, but when stages of the production further upstream go over-budget the producers tend to take small amounts from other areas. Post and music. So when a producer gets on their knees to plead for the same work for less money, it can be legit. You just have to know your client. And keep in mind that this industry loves gossip as much as the rest -- if an agency gets called on some bullsh!t budgeting tactics trying to squeeze their vendors, it gets around. On the other side of that coin, the solid practices of the more noble agencies are also very well known.

So you're not wrong that there can be deceitful practices, but it's another characterization that's being stated as normal whereas, thankfully, it's not the norm. Big agencies understand that they can't screw over their vendors, and they keep their producers in check (to a large degree).
Old 30th June 2019
  #39
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Anytime you're "late in the funding" the odds increase that you're going to get squeezed if not robbed.

My friend the location scout has never been stiffed in his life.
Old 1st July 2019
  #40
Negotiation.
Old 1st July 2019
  #41
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinylizor View Post
Etch-A-Sketch pretty much nailed it my experience - been through all of those scenario's!

Just one more variation on the theme to add....

The ad agency approaches a publisher for a top 10 commercial track but isn't happy with what its gonna cost 'em. So they go to the music agencies and request them to submit soundalike demo's - 10 agencies, each with 10 writers working for them, so that's a hundred free demo's they get back......

The ad agency then goes back to the publisher and say's they want that top 10 track at a much reduced fee, or they'll just use one of the soundalikes they've had done. Balls now back in the publishers court. Do they stand their ground? Maybe if they're a major, maybe not if they're an indie and need the income.
This scenario will NEVER happen because an ad agency is not stupid enough to say they even were listening or thinking of an existing track for their production/commercial. You won't see that mentioned in an email/draft etc. A soundalike will get them sued immediately and INTENT is what will drive the lawsuit. The agency might mention it on a call to a composer but will never have it described or mentioned in any written form. An automatic loser in a lawsuit, even if the final produced track is changed quite a bit. Any musicologist will play it safe and say there possibly could be 3 consecutive notes that sound like the 'top 10' track in question and if that 'top 10' track was previously discussed as a model to be used, they will get sued. Even if the agency thinks they will win the lawsuit, it's not worth it to them.
Old 1st July 2019
  #42
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Smoke M2D6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by michael c View Post
This scenario will NEVER happen because an ad agency is not stupid enough to say they even were listening or thinking of an existing track for their production/commercial. You won't see that mentioned in an email/draft etc. A soundalike will get them sued immediately and INTENT is what will drive the lawsuit. The agency might mention it on a call to a composer but will never have it described or mentioned in any written form. An automatic loser in a lawsuit, even if the final produced track is changed quite a bit. Any musicologist will play it safe and say there possibly could be 3 consecutive notes that sound like the 'top 10' track in question and if that 'top 10' track was previously discussed as a model to be used, they will get sued. Even if the agency thinks they will win the lawsuit, it's not worth it to them.

I have more than a few sketchy NDA's that beg to differ on that. More often than not I get asked to "get inspired by" a song, keep it in the same key, and tempo, with the same kind of bass, and energy as the original....on some pretty big jobs, too.
Old 1st July 2019
  #43
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elambo's Avatar
Yep, references are quite common, and are even mentioned in emails which they know are traceable. Smart agencies know to use words like "inspiration" and will not steer you toward copying anything commercial. "We like how it feels" or "we like its drive and energy" or "it has great instrumentation" is typically as close as they come to suggesting any kind of direct emulation. But mentioning references is common at every stage, not just music.
Old 1st July 2019
  #44
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Vinylizor's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by michael c View Post
This scenario will NEVER happen because an ad agency is not stupid enough to say they even were listening or thinking of an existing track for their production/commercial. You won't see that mentioned in an email/draft etc. A soundalike will get them sued immediately and INTENT is what will drive the lawsuit. The agency might mention it on a call to a composer but will never have it described or mentioned in any written form. An automatic loser in a lawsuit, even if the final produced track is changed quite a bit. Any musicologist will play it safe and say there possibly could be 3 consecutive notes that sound like the 'top 10' track in question and if that 'top 10' track was previously discussed as a model to be used, they will get sued. Even if the agency thinks they will win the lawsuit, it's not worth it to them.
Ha - your direct experience in this field is obviously limited!

What you say should be correct, and its amazing that this simply isn't the way things are done.

There are several reasons why -

Often the director wants the kudos and cv enhancer of having a big track synced to their latest ad. Maybe they have a specific track in mind when they are filming. When they can't afford the original, only a soundalike will do.

Or the picture editor cuts to a temp track, and after a while the 'creatives' are so used to seeing the ad with this particular piece of music that nothing else seems to work as well.

One things for sure, when you are involved in meetings with these guys, its amazing how little they tend to know about music and the legalities and cost implications of their ideas. Thats for Legal and Accounts to worry about.

In the case of soundalikes (which of course is only a subset of writing music for adverts) the briefs and the email conversations will explicitly tell the composer / music agencies exactly which track they are referencing. YouTube links included! This includes big worldwide household name ad agencies.

Of course as the composer, your contract with them will expressly say that should there be any copyright issues, you will be liable for all the consequences.....
Old 1st July 2019
  #45
Gear Nut
 
Vinylizor's Avatar
 

In reference to my above post.

It isn't always the case that the ad agency starts out with the express intent to rip off a track.

Often its simply that the perfectly legal style-a-likes that come in just doesn't seem to have the 'je ne sais quoi' of the temp track.

So they keep going back to the writers 'can you change this bit to be a bit more like the reference we gave you', and before you know it the style-a-like is now a sound-a-like.

It's very easy on a forum to say that as a composer you just shouldn't get caught up in all this. But the reality is that its often young inexperienced composers, who get caught up in the 'race' - they're down to the last three writers and they just need to do these final changes....
Old 1st July 2019
  #46
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"Demo love." It's a thing. And hard to break away from.
Old 2nd July 2019
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
"Demo love." It's a thing. And hard to break away from.
I like the term "Temp-itus"

It's a condition that most VPs and inexperienced directors suffer from.
Old 2nd July 2019
  #48
Gear Guru
No smart production company cuts a spot to a pop tune without owning it. There is a lot of library music that they can get easily and is very well produced.

Custom music is very carefully crafted and some have an agency pick a stock track and punch it up, to avoid confusion. My earlier comment wasn't about $600/hr being a high figure FWIW, but an objection to having an "hourly" mindset. The actual money can be a lot more, however the liability is tremendous, especially with union musicians and deadlines. The people that are good at this are more into sonic branding and combine market research with demographics and focus groups. It isn't for the faint hearted, and on a top level production is months of work, usually condensed into a 6 week timeframe...... as Elmer said, "Be vewy vewy caweful when hunting wabbits".....!
Old 2nd July 2019
  #49
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elambo's Avatar
In my experience, *most* editors will use a temp track while cutting, and it's quite often (though not always) a commercial release which they do not own, because they know that the intent is to replace it later. This has occurred for the greater part of the last century with film and ads -- editing of any kind. It is, of course, the genesis of Demo Love, or Temp-itus, and why it's hard to get that reference out of the clients' heads. The downside is that it does establish Demo Love (and it opens yourself up to litigation related to sound-alikes), but the upside is that clients can come to an answer about what type of music works for the project earlier in the process.
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