Friday, 2 October 2015

'Music Licensing in Film & TV' by Diona Devincenzi

The following is an article written by Diona Devincenzi, a songwriting acquaintance of mine I met through the A&R company TAXI.  It is taken from her website blog, which can be found HERE. 
I wanted to share it as I feel it's not only practical and informative, but well written and inspiring.


Five platforms where music can make money
PLATFORM #1:  Film & +TV

There are five platforms where songwriters can make money with their music. In Part 1 of this series, we’ll explore the first platform: Film & Television.
The following is an excerpt from my e-book, How To Explode Your Income By Licensing Your Songs.  You can download the complete book here.
Let’s look at some of these opportunities in a little more detail.
These are the dramas, comedies, reality shows, entertainment, sports, news programs, news magazines, daytime soap operas, infomercials cartoons and specials.
This is the most highly competitive space. These are what the major record labels, publishers and reps are pitching to. A lot of major artists get songs placed here, but there are many indie acts as well.
Examples: Netflix, Showtime, FX, BBC America, Amazon
Also competitive. The number of opportunities afforded by the music users has totally exploded in the last 7 years due to the digitization of television. Even YouTube, Amazon Google  and Netflix have jumped into the content creation game. They all need music for the vast amount of content being created.
Examples: Bravo, MTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, OWN
These networks do blanket deals. This means they supply a hard drive to the music supervisor, who does a deal with a music library for a lump sum. In return, the music supervisor gets a disk full of songs they can use without limit for a year. These opportunities do not pay an upfront fee. They pay strictly backend royalties. (See more on backend in the Getting Paid chapter. ) The only way to collect on these revenues is to have royalties flow straight to their publishing company and they re-title them for that process to happen.
This is a great use for your back catalogue and instrumental tracks, as well as your B & C tracks.
This is the space where most everyone is living that’s not a major label artist.
These are produced by the major movie studios in Hollywood; the big budget stuff. The best way to get your music in this space is to get in touch with indie filmmakers through bulletin boards at colleges and universities.
You can also go to film festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, or local ones in your city. Get on their mailing lists so you get notified about mixers and seminars. Go meet people making films.
For every film or T.V. show made, there is a promotional piece or trailer created to promote it. This kind of placement can make you some great upfront money, but there are no backend royalties (more about that in later chapters). The music has to be at a very high quality. Since there are so many more screens and places to show movies, tons of content is needed in order to promote them. It has become a huge market. So much so, that there are music libraries and production companies that specialize only in providing music for trailers and promos.

This has been an excerpt from my e-book, How To Explode Your Income By Licensing Your Songs.  You can download the complete book here.
© 2014 Diona Devincenzi, Savvy Songwriter, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Diona Devincenzi is an multiple award winning singer-songwriter and music producer. She writes for the jazz, rock, pop and country genres and has had many of her songs recorded by independent artists and placed in film and t.v. projects.

Copyright on Cover Songs in the USA

Did you know that under USA copyright law, if you give your recording of a cover song away for free (either download or hard copy), you are liable to pay the copyright holder/publisher the statutory 9.1c copyright fee for every single copy you sell or give away ?
As per a quote from the IMRO website:
"Copyright is an intellectual property right. It allows the creators of original works to control how their work is used and to benefit financially from its use. Copyright in Ireland is regulated by statute (The Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000)."
If you live in Ireland, like myself, the copyright on your music will expire 70 years after your death.  It will then go into the Public Domain, meaning anyone can record it in any way they please, with nothing owing to the original composer/publisher.
So if you cover a great hit which is not yet in the public domain, and it goes viral on YouTube, the copyright holder can, and usually will, get YouTube to 'monetize' the video with adverts, the proceeds of which will go to the original copyright holder.  Alternatively, they can have the video removed without notification to yourself.
I recently read this short article on this subject on the cdbaby blog, 'The DIY Musician'.  It details the rights and wrongs of copyright law when you record and release a cover song in the USA.
One thing I had not realised, is that even if you give the song away for free, you still owe the publisher/copyright holder the 9.1c (in the US) required by law for each download or hard copy created.
Click on the link below for more important details regarding recording and releasing cover songs in the USA.
The DIY Musician cdbaby blog:  Cover song copyright in the USA

'Our Side Of The Sun' ft Robbie Hancock

I was recently lucky enough to co-write with Robbie Hancock of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
The amazing result was "Our Side Of The Sun", a sunny summer love song to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
The song was originally written for the Facebook GYAWS song-writing group, but as we liked it so much we decided to produce it fully for film & tv licensing.  I also have to say that Robbie is a sheer joy to work with - very easy going, encouraging and positive at all times.  Hopefully there will be many more songs where this one came from !
If you are interested in licensing this song, please contact Robbie Hancock Productions at, or Amanda Anderson at
The lyrics are posted after the SoundCloud widget.
Verse 1
I like the way you nestle in to my mind
Your smiling eyes they draw me in so tight
So here we are with all this warmth in our hearts
Livin’ love on our side of the sun
Verse 2
You let the breeze into my sun-kissed soul
Leaving room to only usher out the cold
So here we are with all this warmth in our hearts
Livin’ love on our side of the sun
oooh aahs
Livin’ love on our side of the sun
Verse 3
I'm so in love with you loving on my cloud
I hope we float up here and never come down
So here we are with all this warmth in our hearts
Livin’ love on our side of the sun
Livin’ love on our side of the sun
Livin’ love on our side of the sun

Accepting Imperfection

''Accepting the world as imperfect, unfinished, and transient,
and then going deeper and celebrating that reality,
is something not unlike freedom.''
Author: Richard Powell, author of 'Wabi Sabi Simple: Create beauty. Value imperfection. Live deeply' (2004)

Songwriter Slumps

If you are a professional songwriter or musician, you will know that there are far more low periods than high peaks in your career.
And it's those long, low valleys that sort the men from the boys, so to speak.  Sorry ladies for the sexist analogy!
Today I happened upon the following article, which talks about this sea-saw effect, and how to hang on and not give up.
Hope you find it as encouraging as I did.

'Walk Away' ft Bamtone (Briand Melanson)

A recent co-write of mine, entitled 'Walk Away', was accepted by a top Canadian Production Music Library within 2 days of being completed.  Made my month !  Well almost, because my very first grandchild was born mid February.
'Walk Away' was co-written with the ultra talented Briand Melanson aka Bamtone, who is himself from Toronto, Canada.
I really enjoyed writing the lyrics and working on this song with Briand - it was a lot of fun and the process wonderfully smooth.
Thank you Bam !

The Outsider

I wrote this poem, called 'The Outsider' in January 1999, whilst living aboard my boat in West Cork, Ireland. When you live on a boat at sea, people, in general, make almighty assumptions about you - who you were, who you are,  where you came from, you must be weird, you're homeless, you're a dropout, you're totally nuts, and far worse.
Others never really know the truth about us, which in my case was that I felt this way before I left land to float away.  Living on the sea gave me freedom and taught me to survive, no matter what life threw at me...  and it threw with a vengeance.

The Outsider
There are worlds of people everywhere,
A life that is not mine.
I’m swimming through the mud and dirt
Of life’s floor
Feet heavy
Head high
Trees are my conversation,
Whispering mass sweet nothings in my ear
And shouting out so loud that
They are alive.
The sky holds me in
Keeps me grounded,
The pale blue ceiling of my life.
The air cleans and freshens my breath and
The ground gives me stability
Where nothing else can.
The flowers that decorate my world
Are the icing on the cake.
They sleep in drifts of scent upon ethereal stalks of life.
Rather like me.
Most of all I love
The wind on my skin,
Brushing away the death of cells
I no longer need.
Or want.
The outsider
Lives alive yet not alive.
Living but not
Without that which life really needs.
Copyright @ Amanda Anderson West 1999
Maybe there is a song in there...

What Do Feelings Sound Like ?

Music is what feelings sound like...
This is why I love to write lyrics for film and tv.
I can make the listener feel what I am feeling, or what I want them to feel...  deep down inside themselves where it is real, for a moment, where it brings back a memory or a feeling or a thought, and makes it real again for a minute or two...
Well I try !

Art vs Craft - A Songwriting Perspective

"You're my love, you light the sky when angels sleep at night
You're my light when morning dawns, bringing sun into my dreams
You're my life, my love...
My first breath in the moonlit pre dawn light"
(Copyright @ Amanda J Anderson 2014)
What do you do when you have the makings of a chorus you love, but the verses don't want to come out of the closet ?
Do you force the door open ?
No.  Whenever I try doing that I end up with something that sounds 'constructed', rather than flowing and natural.
In the case of the above four lines, which I am very happy with, I have decided to just keep them on the side table until I know the moment is right.  Then the rest will flow as easily.  I hope !
When I say that I am willing to put something aside 'until the moment is right', I may have created an inaccurate image of how I normally write.
Most of the time when I am writing, I feel inspired.  I have a very clear process that works, for me, 95% of the time - it consists of inspiration, technical crafting and knowing the business.  Obviously I am not a long time expert at songwriting, in the large scheme of things I am not much higher up that a novice.  The technical crafting and current music business knowledge is an area that I am learning more about every day.
But I do write every day, and I do craft my work as I go.  Re-working the basic draft, changing rhymes, moving lines, altering the rhythm here and there for 'singability' and so much more.  I aim to write something that I can hand to a composer/singer, who can then immediately feel the rhythm and the emotion, and this takes crafting, on top of the inspiration.
The 'craft' of songwriting is where I have so much to learn.  Probably a life time of learning I suspect.
Time to head back to the writing pad now...

Never Doubt Your Creativity

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”    -  Sylvia Plath.

I find the above quote incredibly powerful. And personally life changing.

To doubt yourself unduly, is like living in a negative bubble.  You will never have that sharp point of self-confidence that can burst the bubble, letting your true creativity out into the wider world.

TAXI TV - Synch Licensing University

Just about the biggest part of my songwriting education has been through TAXI, a Californian A&R company whose attitude towards its clients in simply incredible.
Not only do they have extremely useful feedback on all songs submitted and $20 complete song critiques for members, but they have several facilities for non members too - all free.  This includes a well run forum and the amazing TAXI TV.
The forum is extensive and the people using it very friendly, and so willing to help new members and each other. As long as you take part and contribute, you will get as much help as you need or want.  The experienced songwriters and musicians on that forum have helped me in more ways than I can count, and continue to do so.
And the icing on the cake.... TAXI TV , which is amazing !  It's on every Monday night at midnight BST (UK & Ireland), in the USA that's 4pm PDT or 7pm EDT.  Each week there's a different topic, many are client based, where you can listen to and ask questions of experienced and successful TAXI members.  Other episodes have visitors, such as music supervisors, producers and so on.
All episodes are broadcast live, with a live chat room where you can interact with the show's host, Michael Laskow, and any visitors. All episodes are also available to watch at a later date and time, if that suits you better.  Personally I like the live aspect, as it means you can ask questions that come up and get personalised answers.
TAXI TV is broadcast through UStream - you will need to sign up for membership prior to the show, which is very simple.  Also, it pays to use some kind of ad blocking software, as ads can be incredibly annoying at vital points !  I use AdBlock Plus which is perfect, and I get zero adverts !  As an extra bonus it also gets rid of those irritating YouTube video ads too !
Most of all, TAXI TV is always great fun and incredibly useful !
Songwriting is a muscle that needs to be constantly worked in order to stay strong.
Quote from the Educated Songwriter blog
So stretch it daily !