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Why use Indie songs in your project?

December 19th 2010

As an Indie artist and an early adopter of the Internet, I receive missives about the arts from many sources. Much of what I get are useless spam and are quickly relegated to the electronic trash heap.

Occasionally, an item of interest hits my monitor, and I'd like to share a recent one with you - a blog entry from Canadian publishing house Nightingale Music, written by Caron Nightingale. A link appears below, but I've also included the body of the message in this entry, as I consider it not only interesting, but also valuable.

Why use Indie songs in your project?

By way of disclosure, I have a song under non-exclusive contract with Nightingale, which you may stream and/or purchase elsewhere on my site:  "A Packrat's Mind".

Why use Indie songs in your project? (Blog by Caron Nightingale, re-produced with permission)

Aside from the obvious – ‘that you’re giving a chance to the underdog’ or ‘you’ll save a lot of money’ (which I’ll come back to), there are huge benefits to using an Indie song over a well-known song.

First of all, Indie artists are not entirely underdogs anymore.  Many choose the “indie” route of representing themselves because they like to be in control of their marketing and careers and don’t want to risk being just a ‘number’ on a major label – getting bumped for  the new flavour of the month. Many Indie artists have a large internet fan base and are making a good living with downloads of their music.  They may not be household names yet but just because they are representing themselves doesn’t mean that they aren’t as good or better than what you’re hearing at the top of the charts.

OK.  Here is a list of great reasons to choose ‘Indie’.

1.TIME. Most producers need the music on short notice. Getting a song from the major labels can be a huge task, taking anywhere from one week to several months. First, you need to get a Sync quote (this is the quote for using the song in synchronization with the picture). Next, you need to get the Master quote (the right to use that particular recording) and many of the record companies who own the masters won’t even start a request until you have obtained a quote for the Sync license first.  Finding the right owners to start with, often requires great sleuthing skills. Indie songs are usually easy to get a quote on.  The Indie artists however are typically a ‘click’ away from an email and are incredibly quick to respond.  Many of them now have publishers who represent their music specifically for licensing and are equally quick to respond. They typically control both the Sync & Master side of licensing and can and give licenses in as little as 24 hrs.

2. RIGHTS. You can get pretty much all the rights you want from the majors for a well-known song, but you will pay dearly for them and the contracts still tend to leave out the rights for formats that may be unknown at this time. So, for example, if you had the rights once for video cassettes, you may not have the rights now for DVD’s which are in essence the same thing, but just a different format.  You may think you have all the rights, but one day you may be called upon to pay additional fee’s for your ‘all –in’ contract that you thought you had.  Indie Artists and their publishers, are typically more flexible and will usually grant you all-in rights, and at a much lower cost.

3. PRICE. Ok. I’ve alluded to this a few times now, and I don’t think it’s a secret.  You will almost always save huge amounts of money using an Indie Song.

4. OVER-EXPOSURE. Using an Indie song is a benefit to those who want a song that hasn’t been over-exposed and used everywhere, for everything.

5. SURPRISE POTENTIAL. When you select a great Indie song, you are buying into an investment for your production for very little money.  Some Indie artists will become household names and at that point automatically raise your production’s value.  I worked on a film where one of the Indie songs we placed went top ten a week before the film was released! But it works both ways.  If your film is successful, you can help launch a career for the artist. That’s why they are usually willing to place their songs with you for less.

6. FREE MARKETING.  Not many people think of this but Indie Artist and their publishers are very resourceful and talented when it comes to promoting themselves. If you put their song in your movie, they will be making that information viral to their fan base, through their websites and email campaigns and a lot of them have a big following.  You don’t get this with the major labels (unless you are a big film) because they are simply too busy and have too many licenses to really promote any one film or project.

7. WIN-WIN. So, yes, you’re giving a chance to the small guy.  Not the biggest or best reason to do this, but certainly a nice one.  You’ll not only get the song for less money, get broader rights with free marketing and promotion, but you may end up with a hit song in your film after-all.

If you have questions, please feel free to write to me.

Caron Nightingale