So, you’ve gotten through post-production, picture lock, and you’re ready to start promoting or distributing your film project. Before you start planning your outfits for the red carpet premieres, there are still some things that will need to be taken care of to ensure that you’re ready for the next stages of your project.
Make sure your cue sheet is correct and submitted to ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Whether you have a music department handling all music related aspects of the project or you’ve handled music clearance/production yourself, you want to make sure that the cue sheet has been submitted to the performing rights organizations (PRO). It’s extremely important that due diligence is done on this because artists depend upon the royalties they will get from the showing/distribution of the film. If you own some or all of the original/composed music in the film then it’s also in your best interest that this is done properly so you aren’t missing out on royalties too.
Make sure all of your musical assets are properly registered. This means making sure that they’re registered with the copyright office, Harry Fox Agency, SoundExchange and PROs.
Make sure that all of your agreements are fully executed. I know this sounds like a no brainer but it’s easy to get caught up in the happenings of post-production and distribution and forget to execute all of the paperwork.
Make sure that all of your license expirations have been marked on your calendar. I give my clients a 45-day notice before their license expires to 1) give them time to finish up any exploitation of the rights they’ve secured and 2) give them a chance to renew any licenses they wish to renew.
Make sure everyone has gotten paid. This is especially important when you’re licensing music. Your ability to exploit the music you license depends on the stipulation that the rights holders received payment for that exploitation. So the sooner they get paid, the sooner you are able to use the licensed music.
Are you prepared for the production of the film’s soundtrack? Hopefully, you knew ahead of time that you wanted to do a soundtrack for your film and terms for a soundtrack were negotiated along with the rights to use the music in the film. If not, then it’s important to figure out what kind of advances (if any) and terms of the agreement with the rights holders. It’s also important to know what countries you will be releasing the soundtrack album in as some countries will require you to have an extra license to release the new album. You also want to make sure you’re either equipped to handle the accounting that comes along with royalties or have a company in place that can assist with this.
Did you get all of the distribution rights you needed? Hopefully, this was negotiated by your music department prior to this point, but it’s normal in the indie world to not have distribution figured out by the time picture is locked. So, if you’re realizing you are going to need additional rights, now is the time to secure them.
Did you get all of the rights needed for marketing the film? Sometimes music from the film gets slipped into a trailer or promotion for the film without having these rights secured. It’s important to double check that you have these rights secured if you’re using any licensed music in the promotion of your film.
It’s true what they say about a piece of art never being finished. Like a sketch or a painting, the music in your film and how it’s used will continue to evolve and change over time. Like any other asset that a company would own or manage, you have to keep up with and adapt to the changes that come with your project evolving and how that affects the music in your project.