Depeche Mode: Part 2

There’s actually nothing more to say about Depeche Mode.

However, we are pusuing Keith Green’s “Glory Lord Jesus” and possibly a few of Larry Norman’s songs.

Should be easier than Depeche Mode, right?

After all, I have Melody Green’s (Keith’s widow) e-mail address. She owns the publishing rights to his music. She’s Christian and Keith was adamant about free music–e.g. free concerts, letting his fans determine the price of his CD (Keith Green did this in the late 70’s, yet Radiohead was on the cover of Rollingstone when they did this a couple of  years ago…….hm). I wrote her an e-mail today after calling her office a few times today and yesterday. We’ll see how this turns out…

But even if she agrees, that’s only one hurdle. I would still have to clear the master recording from Sparrow records, a subsidiary of, guess who, EMI! Bands like Switchfoot are on that label. Somehow, I feel that they’d be less approachable than Melody Green.

On the upside been on the phone with a music supervisor, Bruce Rabinowitz of Feedback!, based in Los Angeles. Really nice guy. Gave me a lot of useful advice.

Music supervisors  definitely have a job for a reason. It’s a complete pain. Paper work. Negotiation. More paper work. I don’t exactly want to do that, nor do I think I should.

But here’s the problem:

Bruce would charge us $250 to clear a song (all things considered, this is a GREAT DEAL). That’s just to pay him for doing the work. He can’t guarantee that we’d get the rights for free, which means that we’d pay him for his services and pay the publisher/record company for the songs.

Within the two clearances we need to obtain–master and synchornization license (see Depeche Mode: Part 1)–we need to clear festival and broad rights. Festival rights grants us the use to exhibit the film with the song in festivals. Broad rights are for television, theatrical, DVD, etc–what brings in the money (there’s also trailer rights, but I don’t want to discuss that right now).

Bruce thinks that we might get festival rights gratis. Chances are, they’d be $200 ($100 for master, $100 for sync). Max, they’d be $500, or so Bruce thinks. Keep in mind, these are all pretty arbitrary numbers. A label will charge this much for a low-budget film, but for a big budget film, these numbers will increase. Essentially, they’ll get what they can.

Another tricky thing is the most favored nation clause. Sounds like world war III, but all it really means is that the party that gets the higher rate sets the rate for the other party. Hm, confusing sentence. I think I need to revisit The Elements of Style. But, okay, here’s an example: Say Melody Green offers us the rights gratis, but Sparrow demands $200. Now Melody gets to say, “Oh well, I’ll have to charge $200 as well.”

Fun.

Then, broad rights. These will probably be $1000-$3000 for us but can be $25,000, $50,000, etc. A distributor usually picks up this cost. Distributors usually want to know if a film’s music has clearance. The rate is the clearance and enough to satisfy a distributor, who will then pay for the song to obtain the license. While clearance can be in the form of an e-mail stating the rate, licensing requires paperwork. Again, that’s why music supervisors have jobs.

So, decisions.

Here are my options:

1) Pursue “Glory Lord Jesus” by myself

Pro: I wouldn’t have to pay $250 to Bruce and would only pay for the licensing fee.

Con: They might not even talk to me, like EMI, which means I wouldn’t pay for the song, but there’d be no song to pay for

2) Hire Bruce

Pro: He’s way better equipped to obtain clearance and handle the licensing in a fashion to prevent us from getting sued

Con: He charges $250, which would be fine if we got the rights gratis. But if not, then the song would cost anywhere between $250-$650 (or maybe even more). We can’t exactly afford $650 for the song. Well, we can, but it’s probably not worth it. If we don’t ultimately use the song, we’ve spent $250 for nothing. Going with Bruce might leave us in a lose-lose situation: $250 for nothing, or $650 for the song. Nothing isn’t worth $250 and the song isn’t worth $650.

The funny thing is, I can bemoan our low budget all day. But even if we had a big budget, this music situation will still be a challenge.

Well, we’ll find out what happens in Depeche Mode: Part III, Part 3

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2 Responses to Depeche Mode: Part 2

  1. Spring says:

    don’t get a razzie don’t get a razzie don’t get a razzie….

  2. why not have your composer or a songwriter custom compose a song for your film?
    (Or are you too steeped in the sofia coppola school of dropping in songs?)

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