SF MusicTech Summit – December 2010 – Morning Session

Last week I attended the SF MusicTech Summit at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. I learned a few things..

Morning Sessions: I picked Music in Film, TV, & Commercials featuring:
MOD: Brooke Wentz; The Rights Workshop
Mat Kearney; Recording Artist
Todd Porter; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Raj Ramayya; Strawberry Hill Music

This was probably my favorite panel of the day, Brooke Wentz was a great moderator and it felt more relevant to have actual artists on the panel. My gems:

  • You’ve heard it before and they said it again – there is now more money in music placement than in actually selling CDS. Record labels that actually still exist today spend a lot more time on “special markets” (aka anything that makes money and is not just straight up selling CDs).
  • Mat Kearney illustrated it best when he said something like (rough quote) “you need to sell like two million records to recoup” but with placement you actually get that money in your pocket. He acknowledged that he really got put on the map when his song was placed in a key scene on the then wildly popular Grey’s Anatomy. He became “the cool thing to license” for a minute.
  • In the past, film and TV would pay to have music scored to their projects, but now it is much cheaper to just license tracks.
  • At one point companies would pay “a lot” of money to license tracks, but today the market is literally flooded so rates have gone down considerably.
  • Lyrics are important to TV shows and films. There are artists today who don’t gig much and instead write songs specifically to try to get them placed. They use universal terms like “breath” and their songs don’t mention specific names or places, they work in increments of :30-:60 seconds. There is an entire art around crafting these “non-songs”.
  • There are more and more product companies looking for artists to brand their products.

All the professionals on the panel admitted that they NEVER use placement firms like TAXI when searching for new music. Instead they rely on personal contacts, trusted sources (blogs, friends, etc.), and… TWITTER! Yes, you can find music placement opps on Twitter – just follow all the music supervisors. One company that did get a favorable review was Jingle Punks.

Everyone did mention how much they like placing indie artists whose music they believe in (it is always more fun to give money to a deserving starving artist). So technically indie artists without major representation can get placed, but  you need to:

  • Be out there playing music and connecting w/people so that you get on the radar of cool people who do things like place music in films. Connecting with people also means going to conferences like SF MusicTech, MIDEM, SXSW, etc.
  • Use social media in a smart way (like following music supervisors).

Notes on the afternoon coming soon..

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