Someone wrote me the other day and said, “Aaron why don’t you include samples of your music more often in your posts?” Although this site is more about you and how you can license your music than it is about me and my music, I thought I’d share a recent story that’s relevant to you as you’re pursuing your own licensing deals.
I recently got word that my song, Headed Home, is going to be played in movie theater lobbies across the USA next January as a part of a 16 song playlist featuring up and coming indie artists. I’m pretty excited about that. I love going to the movies and the thought of people buying hotdogs and popcorn while they’re getting ready to see the latest blockbuster, while my music plays in the background, makes me smile. So I thought I’d share the news with you and also use this post to highlight a couple important points to consider when pursuing licensing deals.
Have A Production Strategy – It’s really important that you have a consistent plan in place to record and produce quality tracks that will compete in the music licensing marketplace. This is an idea that I elaborate on in my course, “Advanced Music Licensing Strategies”. When I was younger I was a lot less consistent in the production quality of the tracks I pitched to licensing opportunities. My results were a lot less consistent too.
I used to have a wide variety of approaches to production and engineering. Sometimes I would produce my own tracks, sometimes I would go to professional studios and pay an hourly rate, sometimes I would recruit friends to help me who had their own home studios and so on. I was all over the place back then with production and a lot of the material I was shopping around was simply not strong enough for licensing purposes .
These days I have an approach to production that is consistent and reliable, that I can afford to do on an ongoing basis. It’s really simple. I record and track all the basic parts in a home studio and then I send those tracks to my producer, Gary Gray, to mix, master and in some cases arrange. Since I’m working with the same people, in the same studios, I know what the costs and results are going to be like every time.
To give you an idea of this process, here are the before
and after versions of my song, “Headed Home”.
The initial tracks cost me about 80 dollars to record, if I recall
correctly. Here it is:
After I recorded the basic tracks, I sent those to my
producer Gary Gray, who then worked his magic on the song. He spent multiple hours on this, I don’t
recall exactly how many hours he logged, but it’s evident when you hear
everything he added, that he put a lot of work into the song. Here’s
the final version, after having submitted the song to Gary.
Notice how much better the second version is after all
the additional mixing, mastering and arranging. The song really comes to life!
The first version is simply not good enough for licensing purposes. But by tracking everything in a low cost home
studio where I only pay 20 dollars an hour, I’m able to keep the overall
production costs down. For years I used to either go all in at really expensive
pro studios and spend way too much on recording costs or try to do everything
myself and come up short in the production.
By using my current strategy I can afford to consistently write and
record material that I know will stand up to the competition.
The other point I want to highlight, is the importance of keeping ownership of your copyright. A few months ago I was offered a deal for this song and several others, that would have required me to hand over the ownership of my copyright in exchange for my songs potentially being used on a few reality tv shows. I turned down the deal, and wrote a blog post about it at the time, which you can read here, or if you prefer listening to me speak, check out the youtube video I posted here. I knew that if I gave up my copyright I wouldn’t be able to pursue deals like the one I made for “Headed Home” and that my hands would be tied.
I rarely would suggest even considering giving up the copyrights to your songs, unless you were being offered something amazing in return, like a lot of money for example, or if they’re songs you simply don’t care about and have no plans for monetizing through other channels. Just remember, if you give someone ownership of your copyright, you are giving them ownership of your song, not just the right to publishing/licensing. Think very carefully before signing these types of deals.
If you haven’t already, check out the courses I created with Gary Gray.
Here’s our production course:
Here’s our mastering course:
To contact Gary directly about his services, email him here.
For more “Advanced Music Licensing Strategies” check out my courses:
Advanced Music Licensing Strategies:
How To License Your Music In TV And Films (Video Course):
In : November 2014
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