Tag Archives: license music

The Rights To Music Rights

“Today….music can sell just about anything except itself!.” Even Religion?

A good friend of mine, Dave Kaplan, who manages Brian Setzer and has a very cool indie label named Surfdog out of San Diego (yes they are real surfdogs) lamented that to me the other day. Think about it; just about every single consumer product you can think of has been defined or redefined with cool music, as MEGA helped establish with the original launch of the Cadillac Escalade driven by Led Zeppelin’s “Rock n Roll”. As I talk to artists about their careers, senior label and publishing executives and how they are faring in this transitional era where culturally and behaviorally, we are moving from ownership of music to permanent rental via streaming; the incomes of many artists, especially legacy artists is way down.

However here is a real world example of how music discovery is leading to fan status and more income for artists. Recently on one of my Spotify playlists, a new song, “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me” appeared; its by an artist named Blake Mills. Never heard of him but hey it’s Spotify; it does not cost more to check out any song so I fired it up and WOW…the song mesmerized me: incredibly well written, a haunting guitar sound (I call him the Count Basie of folk/blues) and in that moment I decided hell yea, let me see if this guy is a one hit wonder or has he depth? So, one click more and I had his latest album (such an antiquated format) streaming and like WOW…..Blake can really write and sing and that guitar sound of his is truly magical!. I had to see him live. So I did a quick google search a few days later and wound up at City Winery in NYC and delighted in an amazing gig. And yes, I bought the tickets.

Back to music selling everything but itself and people thinking that just because they can grab a song nearly free, they can use it to sell something else, for free? Not so fast. At MEGA, we receive dozens of calls from folks who really have no understanding that for each and every song there are two copyrights: sync (publishing) and a master. Both must be legitimately licensed if you want to promote a product including your faith or not-for-profit organization.

Join a streaming service; Beats or Spotify or whatever you’d like. Discover thousands of new songs that can motivate and inspire you to help commercialize or publicise a political campaign or a new road bike or a new social network. But do not mistake the fact that the song is owned and controlled by many people. It did not fall out of the sky even though it seems that way with digital music. Dream on but have the good sense to use music legally; even if it can’t sell itself well these days (and that will change as streaming goes mainstream)….have respect for the artists and people who help your ideas come to life. It’s good karma.


The Dawn of Digital Aura’s

The Beatles, Indianapolis, IN © CURT GUNTHER, 1964
The Beatles, Indianapolis, IN

Ever look at your screen when you are using Pandora, Spotify, or not look at the screen when using the incredible service @ www.soundcloud.com or the lately, un-amazing itunes? Why would you? Its pathetic.

The visual content is boring because its repeated over and over and over again. Of limited range and never curated directly by the artists, it’s usually a static mix of album covers, a narrow band of promotional pictures or legacy bios all served up to us over and over and over again. Until our eyes are numb….tune out and so everyone is kinda like; why look? there’s nothing to see.

The dirty little secret is its a mess and this whole music digital meta data business is ripe for disruption. The images we see on digital streaming services have been aggregated by some of the companies above who literally scrape it off promotional websites of labels or social media sites with zero intent to make it compelling or interesting or cool. They are doing the least possible, paying nothing to the artists or photographers. They are making a fortune, think millions of dollars licensing the meta data they aggregate to music streaming services we all use every day who otherwise would have no practical ability to put any images together for millions of artists.

The result is SUPER BORING….visually

Well now,  consider the notion of artists having an opportunity to curate their own digital aura’s; the composite visual images and stories that make up their “aura” on the www. Think it could get really compelling? I do.

Close your eyes and stoke your brain to recall the photographs of your favorite artists: jazz, classical, rock, pop, hip hop that span their careers taken by gifted pro’s like the ones in residence here at the legendary gallery The Morrison Hotel https://www.morrisonhotelgallery.com/new.aspx or from fans on social media  in whose hands there are now hundreds of millions of powerful cam’s embeeded in smart phones. Tweets and Facebook posts during gigs. Some are really fantastic.

Now imagine that some very clever bloke, serial entrepreneur and music fanatic friend of mine has decided to change the way artist’s digital aura’s are curated and served up to us….to make the experience of marrying dynamic images and music s digital devices, streaming media, simply… magical.

“Open Aura” is going to launch in the next few weeks. I’m beaming with excitement to be helping the founder as an advisor and stoked to see what the f’k happens.

Stay tuned for more updates on Kevin Arnold’s next big idea and hopefully if he and his great team get it right we can wake up our eyes to be in sync with our ears as the digital revolution enters another next bend in this amazing journey for us all.