An interview with a leading copyright licensing agent
What benefits are there in using a Licensing Agent?
An agent can:
- find songs to suit clients’ budgets
- give solid copyright advice so the agency does not get into trouble with clearances
- offer alternative music suggestions when a song is not licensable or too expensive
- give speedy replies on prices, as they have built relationships with the copyright and master tape owners (dealing with them on a day-to-day basis helps to minimise waiting periods)
- free up the TV producers, giving them time to concentrate on the other parts of their jobs, knowing the music is in capable hands!
- receive music samples of available songs
- locate music that is not represented in this territory
Why did you get involved in licensing?
I was working in many areas of the industry and was involved in copyright, and decided I like personal contact with people — and the musicians. I also like the fast pace of clearing music, especially in advertising. My background is in marketing, so this way I can combine my love of music with marketing.
Who are your clients?
Advertising agencies, TV production companies, post-production houses and small businesses that wish to make promotional DVDs and hold conferences. Also film students, film producers and directors, and television networks.
How do you find a Licensing Agent?
Most Licensing Agents are listed in the Australasian Music Industry Directory, on the web, in the B&T Directory and the Encore Directory — basically, any directory that is related to film, TV and music. Word-of-mouth from record and publishing companies is important, too.
What skills do you need to work as a Licensing Agent?
Anybody can give it a go but you must have a basic understanding of copyright so usually, it is good to have worked in a publishing company so you understand the two rights for each song. I have a Bachelor of International Business Relations degree and am currently studying for my Masters in Marketing. This all helps with the clients I am working with, and I keep up-to-date on all of the changing laws with copyright and the new technologies that are being introduced on a regular basis. What you don’t know you will soon find out — just one error and you’ll lose your client!
Can you tell me about one of the more interesting or complicated campaigns you have worked on?
The most current interesting one was using ‘My Way’ for Vodafone. This had to be cleared through the two overseas publishers via the Australian publisher, as each owned different parts of the song. As it is probably the biggest song around it was hard to locate the estates to get clearance. It involves new marketing media, like MMS messaging. This all meant finding the different types of broadcasting licences, rather than your straightforward publishing licence. Also, as they were doing a re-record, every version and any script changes had to be a cleared by the writer’s estates. Many people are involved. This all had to happen in a very short time as the agency had already booked media time with broadcasters.
Where do you see the future of music licensing going?
The media is constantly changing in the digital world so there will be more ways to broadcast a TV series, movie or commercial. With each of these, a new licence has to be invented. I also feel most clearances and music samples will be online or via mobile phones. This is an exciting time and opportunities exist for music licensing to provide a one-stop clearance facility for the multiple licences that are going to be needed. Since I deal with different territories, I am basically on call 24 hours a day. I can’t just work in the normal hours.