Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Music Licensing Hell

We are handling our deliverables on Not Since You right now and realizing that due to the sad state of the indie landscape right now, our music is too expensive. Last year when we chose the songs, our sales projections were higher and our future seemed brighter. 

But, as we all have noticed, the indie world is sliding down into a neglected, sorry state. And the buyers are taking full advantage. It is definitely a buyers' market right now and we sellers are feeling the pinch. From firsthand experience I am seeing sales diminish and interest in indie films plummet. My foreign sales agent even said that buyers would rather have a bad movie with big actors in it than a great one starring actors with no name value.

Our sales projections in one year have dropped by 75%. That is huge! I'm going to go cry in the corner right now. 

So now that we have to pay for the music licenses, we are determining that it's better for the project and our investors if we trim the fees. And this means replacing some songs. It also means opening up the sound mix (which costs money) and then re-mixing the new songs into the film. This is usually something you want to avoid at all costs but unfortunately, we couldn't. It's cheaper for us to replace the songs than to pay the licenses that were negotiated last year. 

And we have a deadline for the deliverables so we are racing to source and replace the songs and then create our master tapes for delivery on time. Our deliverables also include paperwork from the show. I will be spending tomorrow going through all of the contracts and scanning the necessary ones to a CD. I am trying my best to save trees -- though my agent said they need to print the paperwork anyway. At least I can feel good that I did my part in saving the world, one piece of paper at a time. 

Hopefully I will be out of music licensing hell next week. That's our deadline so we can stay on schedule. It's coming up fast! Wish us luck!


Schmucks with Underwoods said...

Your film looks really good. When is it released?

Anonymous said...

Good luck. I'm sure that once the songs are replaced, you'll forget the other ones were ever there. That's the nature of film, for better or worse. This stuff always happens when directors fall in love with some temp track and then find out they can't afford it, or can't get it. I know that's not what happened with you, but it's the same effect.

I can't believe you can't renegotiate the old songs. It's not like musicians are making money anywhere else these days. They should be happy to get anything!

Unknown said...

Ditto on if we can help...

Brandon said...

It's a shame that large labels and publishers are make it difficult for indie films to have a real chance. I know that you probably considered it already, and dismissed it, but you can find some really effective stuff that is new and original and sounds great at Could save you a ton of money in this market. Just a thought.

Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects

Phantom of Pulp said...

Jane, I really feel for you. I'm in production on a low budget indie myself and had to reduce forecasts and music requirements, too.

The indie industry is in the toilet at distribution level and will not recover ever to its former state. New distribution models do exist, and they will be the phoenix that rises.

My latest feature will be internet distribtion only via a dedicated server and web interface. For me and the brave investor, it's an experiment, but I'm confident the result will be encouraging (not overwhelming). "Encouraging" will be enough.

Many indie bands and musicians have been very helpful and understanding of the present climate (because they are in it, too).

Unfortunately, as you well know, international and domestic sales agents are incredibly conservative and about three years behind the big technological breakthroughs, so you're dealing with a thought process that has not yet factored in the big changes.

Only pornography has taken the bull by the horns (no pun intended) by establishing profitable internet models. The rest will follow the leader when utter desperation dictates it; won't happen before that.

Good luck with your feature!

Jane Kelly Kosek said...

Thanks Schmucks! Not Since You is premiering at the Hollywood Film Festival at the end of October (10/25 at 5p at the Hollywood Arclight to be exact). I hope any local blog readers will come! I'd love to meet you.

And thanks to the rest of you for the well wishes. We should leave the music hell in about a week. Fingers crossed.

Schmucks with Underwoods said...

Thanks for the info Jane. I am based in Europe so unfortunately I won't be able to make it. Good luck with the screening!