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The Soundtrack

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Soundtracks have been a healthy obsession of mine since I can remember. I used to carry a variety around with me when I was little. I had a brown teddy bear back pack filled to the brim with CD soundtracks to some of my favorite films at the time (Practical Magic, Men In Black and 10 Things I Hate About You to name a few).

So, naturally I get excited when a client comes to me wanting to do a soundtrack for their film. I currently have two projects that have a strong possibility of doing soundtracks, so I thought it would be a good topic to address in case any of you creatives out in cyber space are toying with the same idea. A soundtrack album isn’t right for every project, but hopefully the information below will help you make the right decision for your project.

Why Do A Soundtrack? What Are Some Benefits?

Soundtrack albums can be an additional revenue source for the filmmaker. Singles can engage a broad audience for the film. Alternatively, the audience experiencing the music during the film can encourage the sale of the film’s soundtrack.  Choosing and creating the right music for your project can create a memorable and lucrative extension of your production.

Additionally, both the distributor and the filmmaker can reap the benefits of a marketing campaign for the soundtrack, especially if it can tie-in with any other campaigns, artist releases, etc. to penetrate a wider / new target market.

The Score Album

The Score Album is made up of music from the score of the film, whether they are as they are in the film, or they are re-edited together to make longer compositions.

The agreement is usually between whoever owns the rights to the score (most of the time the Production Company) and the Distributor. Basic agreement points include an advance (if any), royalty points, conversion costs (for re-editing, re-mixing, etc.), re-use fees, creative fees and credits.

Songs from The Film / “Inspired By” The Film

This may include some or all of the songs that appear in the film. Usually the agreement is between the Record Company and the Production Company / Distribution Company.

Basic agreement points include an advance, royalty points, marketing funding, singles (including tie-ins and any hold back periods), guaranteed release and ownership.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • You will have to account for royalties regularly (royalties include performance royalties and mechanical royalties).
  • The licensing process can get complicated when you’re releasing the film in various countries (some example: it would be easier to get worldwide rights in the same country that the film is released; some countries require a statutory license before you can release a record in that country).
  • Licensors may also insist on included a MFN (Most Favored Nations) clause in their agreements. This requires that their licensed track is licensed on the same terms as the best terms granted to any other track (i.e. if you have a song that’s you paid $5,000 for but paid $1,000 for every other song in your film, you would be required to pay $5,000 for this new song that has an MFN clause in the agreement. A Music Supervisor will be able to guide you through negotiations and secure the best deal possible for you.

Most filmmakers discover very quickly how complicated licensing can get and find it difficult to navigate all of its nuances. You will want to build the right team and have a Record Company on board who can bring their expertise to your soundtrack project as well as trouble shoot any issues that should arise. For more information about soundtrack albums and licensing topics, check out StraightUp Music Supervision at www.straightupmusicsupe.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.