How NOT to get screwed by video production companies

We got a message on Soundcloud from a video production company called Friday, who make videos for the likes of Red Bull, Billabong, Adidas, Casio and Oakley.

The woman -let's call her Alice, since that was her name- said they were interested in using our music in some of their videos. When a company uses a song in a commercial (read: money-making) project you'd expect them to pay the musician to use it, right? Obviously. It's called a licensing fee.

*IF* that video is played on TV, the TV station will also pay a small royalty to the musician. The amount depends on how much of the song is used in the video, how many times the video airs etc. Unless the video is played on a major TV station and multiple times, you'll end up with some extra pocket change. No problem... that's the way royalties have always worked.

These royalties come out of the TV STATION'S pocket and are not in any way related to a licensing fee. If the video is only used for internet marketing you'll either end up with no royalties or if you're lucky, a few cents from YouTube.

So we come back to the 'why'. Why would an independent musician let a company use their music in a video? Two reasons: 1) exposure or 2) because the company paid for it. Exposure might make sense if we're talking about an independent film maker with no budget using a song in return for listing the track in the credits.

However these Friday guys are getting paid to make videos for big brands using independent artists' music and not paying the musicians a cent. The musicians aren't credited either, so there's almost nothing in it for them. They're preying on the need to succeed that drives all indie artists and exploiting the ones who don't understand how music publishing is supposed to work. Shame on you Friday. If you need a reminder of how much value the music you're ripping off adds to your videos, trying hitting the 'mute' button next time you're pitching one to your clients and see what happens.

-Raj

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