Ask These 9 Questions To Get The Best Music Licensing Deal

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When evaluating the business decision of choosing between a non-exclusive or exclusive deal to represent your compositions for placement in film, TV, and advertising, I’ve had a number of folks reach out and ask a little more info.

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The great thing is, you can tweak or even use the same questions with ANY deal you are considering. Every case is unique and therefore, the goal should be to get as much information as possible. In that interest, I’ve created a list of questions that could help you spark intelligent conversations aimed to drive responses that will give you real metrics with which to you can better inform your decision-making.

While you certainly could email the following questions I would instead advise that you pick up the phone or meet in person, and have these ready to ask when it comes time to learn more about the company looking to represent your music. You will learn a lot more by speaking to someone in person than you will by reading their emailed response (if you get one).

1) Approximately how much synch revenue did they generate last year before royalties?

They’re unlikely to actually tell you a number, so a great follow-up to this question is….

Can I see a rate card or can you ballpark what you charge for the following usages:

National TV promo
National TV in-program
National commercial
Film Trailer (Worldwide)
In-Film Use (Worldwide)

2) Do they have a reel or 1-sheet that I can see?

This will give you a good idea of what their promotional materials look like, and also let you gage how much work they’ve done (ie: their reel shouldn’t just have placements from 1 show, or from many shows that are no longer on-air).

3) Do they take the publisher’s share of the performance royalty? Is this negotiable?

Most places will probably take the publisher’s share but some will let you negotiate how much. Always ask!

4) Can you give me a rough range of how many placements you land each month? year?

They should be able to tell you exactly how many they get to be honest, and it should be a point of pride. If they’re new to the game they obviously won’t have that many.

5) Roughly how many ad agency music producers do they know?

6) Roughly how many TV editors are they in contact with?

7) Roughly how many music supervisors do they know?

9) Ask them what channels of marketing they use to outreach to their client-base:

Generally, they should be doing email, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Some places will also do physical mailers and trade shows. You can also ask if they have a dedicated sales staff.

Hopefully these questions will act as an excellent spring board for more in-depth investigation and help you better decide what kind of pro-active music licensing a potential business partner is able to execute. For more info on how to get your music licensed, check out my blog here.

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Andy Lykens is a music branding and marketing specialist for Imagem Music, the world’s largest independent music publisher. Follow him here.

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