“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.