It's a long read, but it contains information I have spent a long time searching for. I didn't know was who was providing all the music for Radio, TV and Film, where they're were found and who exactly was finding them. In other words I knew nothing.
I would post it as a blog, but I don't want to push the one thats there down so soon. Maybe I'll move it over later.
This converstaion is taken from a private group on Linkedin and I am probably breaking some rule or another. It begins with Adrain - he's an A&R guy for some entertain company in Chicago. He's reacting to the amount of self-promotional spam that has ruined the group. Another guy joins in. He's a real dick, but has insight nontheless. enjoy.
Adrian Brigham "If you think that advertising, film, and TV reps and producers spend 12 hours a day, for weeks on end, trolling groups like this or the internet in general looking for just the "right" song for their projects, you're delusional. Sorry, that's the truth. Sure, you might find some small indie film with no budget or a local car dealer browsing Taxi or similar bulletin boards, but not the big guys. They don't have the time or interest in doing that.
Advertising agencies have their own internal music departments with their own screened and accepted music libraries. BIG LIBRARIES! If they don't already have exactly what they need they either network with other agencies' library managers, go through a placement agency, or contract one of the artists they work with to write and record what they need. Bottom line is they don't come here! Neither do the placement agencies. They have more than enough artists pounding on their door every day to have to waste time searching for stuff on the net.
Placement agencies are where the independents have to go to stand a chance. Most of the better ones operate very quietly off the radar screen and tend to work only with well established artists. We work with one in L.A. that does no advertising or soliciting whatsoever. They don't need to. Their clients are major motion picture companies and television networks as well as the largest of the advertising agencies. Their suppliers are all major label artists. The last thing they want is a ton of indies harassing them. There are many, many other placement agencies that can be approached, especially through the internet, but I trust few of them. Personal opinion is that any that want you to pay them to post your music are not legitimate. The good ones take a commission on selling your music. That's their incentive to work hard for you.
Sync licensing is not as simple as many think. It isn't "just send me a check to use my song." Purchase and royalty payments have to be negotiated on a number of use criteria, and also in most cases have to involve ASCAP or BMI. If you use any union musicians the AFM will have to be involved as well. These are the kinds of things that placement agencies specialize in handling, and is why the big clients go through them and not direct." . . .
J. Frederick Millea • Reality has such a strong fragrance.:) I've always said, "If they're charging you for your work it falls under "vanity project" or "sucker born every minute". Take your pick. And you're also right on this: These threads are not the place to "market your wares". It just becomes a self-absorbing exercise in "if you my music and encourage me, I'll like yours and encourage you." It's a lot like "songwriting groups in cities". They're filled with neophytes and illuminated neophytes who are generally marginally or flat-out unsuccessful songwriters who gain some sort of enjoyment from being perceived as successful and telling others "how it's done."
These "societies" rarely produce anything but "good feelings" for all involved - regardless of the reality of their questionable talents or the concept of actually making money - which is at the end of the day what makes one a professional.
Fran Leibowitz (the famous Rolling Stone photographer) once made an amusing comment to the effect of: "the arts would be a lot better off if the majority of people didn't attempt them." I just bastardized that quote so bad that I've actually created an original, and I'll keep it! LOL Anyway the "arts" are littered with, strangled with so many tons of unimaginable garbage (and believe me - EVERYONE loves their own "art" no matter how inconceivably horrible it is - that's just a strange fact of existence) that it is no wonder that most real players hide, lock their doors and have a labyrinth of layers and very stringent safeguards in place. The last thing they want to hear is more unsolicited "amateur hour" material. There's literally trillions of tons of it floating out there like turds in a cesspool. That's why the real deal guys batton down the hatches and barracade the doors.
Oh well. The human spirit must "create", as well as stubbornly, deludedly insist to itself that what it did create is the greatest thing since ice cream was invented. Adrian, I can't begin to tell you how totally "spot on" your comment is. If it were only regarded, it would vacate a lot of these groups. AND it would also collapse 95% of the music industry; that seemy side consisting of sharks and predators that exist solely from agreeing with people that a piece of sh.t is a diamond, all while extracting every last cent possible from the witting victims wallet - again and again and again I might add. Talk about a bunch of slimy vultures out there, perpetuating the production of millions of "songs" that will never sell a copy - vanity vampires all~ (Hey another coinage!) ;) :)
Adrian Brigham "With the net in general being open and free to all, the real insiders J. refers to do indeed lock the doors and shutter the windows. The real deals for placements, concerts, bookings, recordings, etc. are done through networks of agents, agencies, lawyers, marketing and P/R professionals who know and trust each other. Indies like to think there is a conspiracy against them and that the big guys are greedy SOB's that just want to keep everything for themselves. Not true. They want new and good material, they're just hiding from the 95% J. refers to that would waste all of their time and annoy the hell out of them.
Last year we launched a new radio promotion program through one of our two companies and to kick it off we decided to audition and "pre-approve" a number of indie artists. (PLEASE don't anyone send me stuff because I'm telling this story now, we're one of the ones hiding behind those locked doors) We went through a couple of the appropriate formats on CD Baby just listening to various artists to see who we would send the offers to. I personally listened to over 1500, and out of that I found a little over 30 that were good enough to be considered. It got so bad in some cases that it turned into a joke in the office when someone would yell out "oh man, you gotta come hear this one!" After a couple of weeks of doing this we gladly gave our ears a rest and abandoned the plan. Now we work only with known artists and agents.
There is an all too common mentality in this new digital world of "post it and they will come!" Like I said, free and easy! Friday I got a call from a friend of mine who is a producer who wants to purchase an exhibit booth at an upcoming casino management convention that will have an entertainment section. He thought it would be a good opportunity to showcase his artists to some talent buyers and wanted to invite us to share the booth with him. I quickly and politely declined. That's nothing more than a live version of the "post it" mentality. If I have an interest in booking any of our artists at the venues whose talent buyers will be attending I'll call them directly and deal one-on-one with them. That's how it's done in the real world. Handing out a brochure at a convention with thousands of attendees walking through a thousand exhibitors isn't going to accomplish anything.
One last thing Indie artists should know and understand is that you will be taken much more seriously (and get better pay) if you have an agent and a publicist. That makes you look much more professional and earns you trust even if the buyer hasn't heard of you before. Agents and publicists also network and share opportunities. The "insider" thing again. We recently had one of NYC's top clubs call wanting to book one of our artists because a publicist they know made the recommendation. If they know they're going to get good press they get really interested really fast!"
"J. Frederick Millea • Once again, you are kind and wise. It's nice to run into a true pro around here - be it ever so seldom. I will state one caveat: There are forums with Tour Personnel and other "down in the trenches", "nuts and bolts" guys that are the "real deal". These are true pros who interact with each other, welcome in newcomers etc. Unfortunately, the "artists" side is, by virtue of its nature, doomed to fail for the most part, in any event. Because you can't "pretend" to run a big FOH board, or set up giant stage shows.
The truth is that if any of these guys got a hair up their ass and had a recorder and a "beat box" program on their computer and said, "hell, I can express myself as well as these self-centered, self-absorbed jerks in the band" and started putting out their own little brand of garbaggio and then went to the forums and posted it - well, you'd have what we have on the majority of these "artists" forums. They do have plenty of web communities for musical "hobbyists" fishing for kudos, recognition, encouragement, and it's a nice, tightly wound circle of self-satisfaction. It works, they basically do the odd rituals of recognition, please and appease each other and leave the rest of the world alone.
At some point, the "barbarians" (amateurs) attacked the castle walls (linkedin) and have caused such a huge breach in the structure that it will unfortunately never, ever got back to business as usual. Pretty soon, it will just become this vast self-congratulatory subset, ignored by everyone but themselves and life will continue. The trouble is that it cheapens what Linkedin was originally created for.
On the other hand, if so much of the sheer "garbage" that makes it as "art" (rap and hip hop caused the biggest singular violation of intrinsic artistic merit in the history of commercial music in my opinion - and that's saying alot, because the majority of music before this foolish phenomena also constituted "stink bombs" deluxe. Collapsible castles, I call it, run it through radio, make as much money through payola and "favors" and let it die just as the stink hits the collective audiences already fried noses But rap and hip hop upped the ante. Hell, who needs to sing and compose actual melodies when you can distill philosophy into one grand round of idiotic braggadocio, demeaning women and screaming drugs, murder and all around mayhem - what the hey, what self-aggrandizing young punk or slut doesn't want to jump on that overripe banana boat?
Oh well, as long as there is Fillet Mignon there will be hamburger - it's just a fact of life. When one slaughters the beast, it's simply human nature to try to capitalize on all the parts - no matter how totally gross and obviously inedible. It's just a fact of consumerism that if you fry it and add a little salt there's always some strangely ignorant soul who will eat it, "enjoy" it - and pay for the "privilege".
P.S. Perhaps this "meat" analogy will also explain why I'm a committed vegan of many years. :)
Adrian Brigham • Also I too often forget to recommend one of the best educational and networking sources there is for musicians; the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS, or as most know it, the Grammys). I think most musicians/artists, especially indies, think of NARAS only in terms of the annual awards show. That's really just a tiny, but glitzy, part of what they do. They have many great programs to help their members, and their local chapters usually host a lot of very informative lectures and seminars designed to cover industry issues. Our Chicago chapter had a great one last year where they brought in a panel of advertising and placement execs to discuss specifically that issue. These kinds of programs also provide wonderful networking opportunities with the insiders who really count.
I highly recommend looking into joining NARAS and attending as many of their local functions as possible!
One additional note on NARAS. There are two membership levels. Full members can vote for the Grammy awards. Associate members are non-voting, but get all the other benefits. If you aren't interested in the voting aspect, save the money a just be an associate. By far and away the biggest benefit is if there is a local chapter within a comfortable driving distance. Each chapter plans and puts on their own programs. I can't speak for the others, but the Chicago chapter has been very good about presenting these. The chapters do rotate their management each year, and some teams are better at producing events than others, but overall I've been quite impressed with ours.
I suppose while I'm at this I should also plug the American Federation of Musicians. Yes, it's the union, but we've had some good experiences with our local chapter. Because our recording and performing projects tend to be pretty big we feel we have to use union musicians, and yes that costs a bunch more, but we're always assured top quality musicians, and more importantly a thoroughly professional work atmosphere. Beyond that though we have found the union management very supportive and believe it or not, very cooperative and helpful in our projects. We ran into a licensing issue last year for one of our songs that was going to be used in a radio commercial and they were very helpful, cooperative, and even waved some of the fees to help us secure the deal. I know they work hard to find opportunities for their members, they are also a great place for networking, and often they have rehearsal spaces available too. Again I can't speak for every city and local chapter, but the one here in Chicago has proven to be a very good ally and source of support. For what it's worth...
J. Frederick Millea • First off, I once again think that the point is that very very (read: miniscule) few people can compose "great stuff", and the production - well, that's another story. Generally, the tidal wave of mediocrity (mediocrity, by the way, doesn't cut it anywhere or in anything but "fast food" and all of its ancillary outlets) and the vast majority of "compositions" are really caricatures of mediocrity! Both the composition and production of most amateurs are so blatantly amateurish and derivative of their "favorite" artists - hence the caricature aspect.
Add to this the strange psychological concept of falling in love with the personal process of creating (whether it's horrendous or not does not enter into the "reality" of the typical daydreaming creator, in fact it is generally indistinguishable to them) and one has an entire subculture of creative narcissists, drunk by their own self-satisfied accomplishments and you've got a recipe for the type of disaster that Adrian and his associates are plagued with - a tsunami - tidal wave of "creative" garbage that just wants to hit landfall at their collective harbors - thus the permanent "batton down the hatches" that long ago developed and will always be.
It's like the shy college guy at the bar who is extremely self-conscious and has way too many drinks along with his buddies, makes an ass out of himself with every hot girl in the place and he and his buddies marvel all week about how cool they all were and what extraordinary prowess they all exhibited, the stories growing throughout the week. The next weekend rolls along, the same scenario occurs over and over through the entire four year duration of their college experience, and they all leave with memories of how cool they are and what a bunch of bitches attractive, intelligent women are (half of them in the meantime becoming "functional" alcoholics for life unswayed by reality and its formidably daunting shadow, ever drinking, chasing and simultaneously insulting hot, high-end women - the other half disappearing into workaday America with their wonderful "memories" forever intact - to be occasionally brought out and paraded around at informal reunions). Well, hope you understand my mildly esoteric analogy. :)
The barricaded door bunch certainly does. :) As to the old "I've got a couple of great songs", maybe you do, maybe you don't. Who know's? What I want to know (no disrespect intended) is - just who told you you've got a "couple of great songs" anyone of real import besides your most obvious fan - yourself? Here's the catch-22 that every real industry player knows: if someone of any true import told you that you have a couple of "great" songs, what are you doing here? They would, by definition already have something going with you and you wouldn't need to be here - you'd be too busy with your songwriting career! Hmmmmm... food for thought (and I don't mean fast food. :))
Once again, no personal insults or slights intended here whatsoever. I wish all only the best in their quest to express themself withing the dictates of professional reality. Just wanting to make generic, sweeping points. If one has to continually assure someone how smart, strong, witty, or suave they are, perhaps they've got issues with cognitive distortion. People will derive those conclusions themselves - in fact your typical mature, mentally acute individual expects that prerogative and doesn't want to be subtly insulted with the idea that they have to be "informed" as if somehow they will "miss" or have already "missed" it.
Jacqueline Taylor-Adams • . . . use social media to mobilize and invigorate your fanbase. . .
Adrian Brigham • @Jaqueline - I was with you up to one particular point;
"use social media to mobilize and invigorate your fanbase".
Who ever sold you that one must be a very close relative of Bernie Maddoff. Marketing, sales and P/R has been my life, and I have sat back in disbelief the last few years as the lemmings have followed the Pied Piper called "Social Networking" to jump off the cliffs and into the sea. I read the advertising and marketing "trades" daily, and lately it has been a litany of major corporations dumping their long trusted MAJOR ad agencies because all of the "social media" campaigns they have bought from them have failed miserably.
Like everyone else, the big ad agencies and their clients worship "numbers". If there are a hundred million members of a website, in their eyes that "must be a good place to be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Problem is, if only 5 of those hundred million are paying attention to what you are hawking, that's REALLY not a good ROI, is it? Slowly, too slowly, marketing types are starting to look past the huge forest of numbers to realize that it doesn't matter how many people are at a specific location, what really matters is how many are listening. Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and now even Linkedin to some degree, etc., etc., are no different than a stadium filled with people all yelling simultaneously "hey look at me, look at me!" They're all too busy promoting themselves to pay attention to anyone else.
Two quick anecdotal, but relevant, examples. We know an entertainer who constantly brags he's reached the 5000 "friends" limit on his Facebook account and sadly can't accept any new ones. Why is it then when his birthday came only 6 of them wished him well? Another entertainer with roughly 3500 Facebook "friends" asked them directly to donate just one dollar each to cancer research because a friend had been diagnosed with leukemia. Only two did, and they were both very close personal friends.
For all of you out there who believe, or more likely WANT to believe, that social media is the toll free yellow brick road to success, ask yourselves this as a musician friend of ours did recently; "how many of the people on your friends list on Facebook do you really know?" How many of them who requested your friendship really know or care about you? Do you really care about where they had lunch? If not, why do you think they will care about your music? Especially if they're too busy bragging about their latest accomplishment.
Folks, when it comes to marketing, it ain't about the quantity of numbers, it's about the QUALITY of those numbers. If you think I'm wrong just go to an NFL game this Fall and after it starts stand up and start yelling out your website. I guarantee you the hits you get won't be the kind you want!
Adrian Brigham • Two things:
Yeah, talent to some degree, but we've all seen a lot of examples over the years of talentless musicians, artists, actors and actresses etc. that still become "stars" in the public eye. The truth? The real stars are their publicists!
"Stardom" comes from image and perception in the public's mind, and that is what public relations is all about. Always has been, always will be.
The second part is persistence. Once isn't good enough, or is the second, or is the 30'th. Years ago, when I wasn't too far out of college, I was working as a mechanic to earn enough to buy the parts for my race cars. We had a regular customer who was a member of the Chicago Board of Exchange who brought his Mercedes into our shop for service. He used to sit in with us during our coffee breaks, and one day he told me "if you want to succeed in life, become a salesman. When you work for somebody else, you will never earn more than they are willing to pay you and you will never be better than what they allow you be. When you are a salesman, your only limits are yourself!" It made sense! Today I live by that rule!
When it gets to sales, be it newspapers on your block, or albums sold worldwide, it is about marketing and public relations, and the persistence it takes to reach your goals! When my wife was performing in clubs there was one I really wanted on her resume. I went in there almost every week for six months but the manager would never give me an interview, it was always "just leave a demo". I kept telling him we didn't have a demo, he would need to see the Power Point presentation on my laptop. Finally he relented because I think he got tired of me bugging him. He said he'd give me five minutes. I got her booked in three.
Marketing and persistence!