When evaluating the decision of choosing between a non-exclusive or exclusive deal to represent your songs for placement in advertising, I’ve had a number of folks reach out and ask for more info.
Every case is unique but the general goal should be the same: get as much information as possible.
In that interest, I’ve created a list of nine questions that help you spark intelligent conversations and aimed to drive responses that give you real metrics which can better inform your decision-making. You can also tweak the same questions to make them relevant to ANY music business deal.
Also, while you certainly could email the following questions I would instead advise that you pick up the phone or meet in person. You will learn a lot more face to face than you will by reading an email response.
What to ask your potential music licensing partner…
1) Approximately how much synch revenue did they generate last year before royalties?
They’re unlikely to disclose this information, so to follow-up to this question ask….
- Can I see a rate card or can you ballpark what you charge for the following usages of music similar to mine?
- 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 (what they use to pitch their catalog)?
- 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 briefs do they get per month?
- Anywhere between 5 and 15 would be reasonable. You may want to follow up by asking which agencies they have the best relationships with.
6) Who are their go-to TV and Film Trailer editors or houses?
- This should get them talking about specific clients they have just to lend some credibility. If you’re talking to someone who isn’t on their sales staff, you may want to request she find out for you.
7) What are current film or TV projects for which they have been solicited for music by music supervisors?
- Do some research on Variety or IMDB before your meeting and make sure you know upcoming film or TV shows in production so you can gauge the validity of this answer. You might even have the name of the music supervisor on a given project in your back pocket so you can say something like “Oh, so you know _____ ” should they bring it up.
8) What channels of marketing do 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.
9) Can you send me an example of any marketing material you send out to your clients?
- This lets you see the quality of their marketing material. The impression it leaves on you is likely to be similar to the impression it leaves on their clients.
These questions will act as an excellent spring board for more in-depth conversation and help you better decide whether or not to go into business with a potential licensing partner.
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