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Monetizing Your Musical Assets: For Filmmakers and TV Producers

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With technology constantly changing it’s important to keep up on what’s current and can help you to make the most out of the assets you’re creating for your projects. I have mentioned in past articles a few ways you can monetizing your assets (i.e. original music written/composed for your film or TV show). Now that we are officially in 2019, I wanted to share a few ideas of how you can monetize on the music created for your projects after it has been completed and released.

The ideas listed below are specifically geared toward filmmakers and those in television who commissioned to have music created for their projects and they fully own the rights to that music. The following ways can definitely be utilized by those who have licensed music in their productions but some additional permission and steps are required to do so depending on the scenario.

Making Music Available for Licensing

It’s fairly simple to get your music ready for licensing, especially if the film has been released, most of the work should be done on the technical side (i.e. making sure that the tracks are ready for distribution). One extra step on the technical side would be making sure your audio files have Metadata inputted into them (Metadata includes the track name, artists name, album name, genre, recording / release date and, for the extremely organized, contact information.  The next step is to select tracks that are what we call in the biz “licensable”. This means music that has an immediately identifiable feeling or mood, is catchy or has a memorable melody and that includes instrumentation that sounds / feels cinematic.  It’s good to have a mixture of songs and instrumentals available for licensing.

Once you have selected the tracks you want to start licensing, next is to choose a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) that will collect and distribute your royalties on your behalf. U.S. PRO’s include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SoundExchange, Pro Music Rights, Global Music Rights and ACEMLA.

After getting organized you are ready to make your music available in whatever way you choose. Whether it be selling your music through a digital music platform, actively pitching it to other film’s / TV shows (via a music library or music publishing company) or selling the music directly from the film’s / TV shows website.

Soundtracks

So, let’s say you have finished your project and you either have composed music or wrote songs for the project, and all of which you completely own. What do you do next? Is that music destined to live on your computer for all eternity? One viable option is to put together a soundtrack album with your music supervisor. The typical length of a soundtrack album is similar to a regular album released by a musician, which has about 12-15 songs (although some soundtracks can have up to 20 songs).

Your music supervisor’s job is to guide you through the production, distribution, and marketing of your soundtrack album. This may mean connecting you with a record label that can assist with all three for a negotiated share of the album’s profits, or connecting you a music producer, distribution company / platform and music marketing company. Your music supervisor can also assist with the marketing plan for your soundtrack album.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Need to consider how the release of the soundtrack will coordinate with the release of the film
  • Remember to register the music with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) so that royalties can be collected on your behalf. In the U.S., the three PRO’s to choose from are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC
  • Releasing the soundtrack through a record label vs a self-release: when working with a record label to release a soundtrack, the deal that you would make is similar to that of a recording artist. The record company would pay you / the film production company an advance and royalties on the soundtrack album’s sales
  • Since you hold the copyrights to the songs on the soundtrack you will receive publishing income (performance and mechanical fees)
  • Music inspired by the film but not actually in the film can be included on the soundtrack
  • Score soundtrack albums can sell just as much as original soundtracks or soundtracks with licensed music on them

Streaming Services

Whether it be a soundtrack album or you have a select number of songs you that you think could be monetized, utilizing online streaming sites is not only a great way to gain royalties but it’s a fantastic way to raise awareness for your film while generating revenue. Some of the majors / well known platforms to choose from include Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Music, Pandora, and Bandcamp.

Digital music platforms have offered content creators a more opportunities to create multiple revenue streams and expand their market reach (including lifting geographical limitations as well as being limited to certain platforms that cater to specific genres). Most have simplified the payment process and make it easy for artists to receive their royalties.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Whichever platform you choose make sure you are aware of how that platform makes its money and how that can have an effect on how your music will be discovered, streamed, and purchased
  • Having your music on curated playlists will increase your music’s visibility within the platform (ex: Spotify is one music platform that has curated playlists)

Not all of these options may be right for your musical assets but as I tell my clients, taking a few extra steps or investing a little extra money in monetizing their music can lead to steady income where there wouldn’t be normally. If you work in film, television, advertising, or any new media and have questions about creating new revenue streams off of music you have lying around, contact my office to set up a consultation to discuss what would make sense for you. Connect with me through my website at www.straightupmusicsupe.com or by email at musicsup23@gmail.com.

Rosie Howe

About Rosie Howe

Rosie Howe is an L.A. based music supervisor, licensor, and entertainment administration manager. Her clients include filmmakers, producers, film & tv production companies, advertising agencies, tech companies, as well as brands in various industries. Rosie advises on music selection and original music production, licensing strategies, artist relations, and serves as a proficient arbitrator. Rosie is an active member of the Guild of Music Supervisors and the California Copyright Conference. She has a background in music performance, legal administration, peer education, customers service, and sales. As a firm believer in social investment, Rosie spends her free time providing helpful feedback and educational resources to people starting out in the entertainment industry through workshops, panels, and one-on-one sessions. She has been featured on Behind the Music podcast, panels for Music Biz Mentors, and is a regular contributor to the magazine style blog Ms. In The Biz.