Today we’re continuing the series of case studies from the exposure vs. value post. In this post we’ll be looking at someone who is self-published and has licensed music across a couple MTV series.
First, if you’d like to check out the origination of this series, you can do so here.
Also, here is a link to the first case study. Caught up? Man you can read fast. Nice work. Here we go.
I like a lot about Andrew’s story because he’s done two very smart things (which is 2 more than most people do); First, he’s acting as his own music publisher, and second he’s outreaching directly to a music supervisor. Here’s what Andrew had to say about his experience:
“I am new to the licensing side of music and when I first decided to give it a shot I was really surprised at how hard it is to get someone to listen to material! But after lots of research, emails, calls, and follow up emails I got in contact with the music supervisor for 16 and Pregnant. He listened to some of my twin brother and I’s material and liked it (and more importantly he liked us) and decided to use 6 of our songs for his shows! It was amazing!”
Pretty awesome right? Here’s a guy who literally just boot-strapped his way to some placements, represented his own catalog, and got a really nice result. Here’s what he has to say about what he gained from the experience:
“I hear a lot of people say MTV doesn’t pay much for their music but for us the amount we got up front was pleasing.Â On top of that MTV soundtrack was tweeting our twitter handle and song name every time our song played on the original air dateâ€¦We Also got the opportunity to be the featured artist on MTV soundtrack website and with that we got extra tweets and Facebook shout-outs.
I will say that the number of fans we got wasn’t as good as the money we got from the licensing fee and royalties for being the songwriter and publisher. Over all we gained some fans and got credible placements that generate royalties! We also got to establish a solid relationship with someone who can really help us.”
This is awesome and you can probably see why this is one of my favorite stories. Let’s do a brief recap and then I’ll offer some insight of my own to see where Andrew might start setting himself up for more big wins like these.
Value Gained: Andrew got the best of many worlds. Multiple placements that paid him out fairly, royalties, exposure as featured artist and lots of twitter activity.
The Doc Brown Advantage: Like Lauren I asked Andrew what he might do differently were he given the chance again:
“Well one thing i found out is that it’s a very long process. It took me well over a year to get those placements and in that time I learned a lot. One thingÂ I learned and will always do is to build a professional relationship. These guys get thousands of songs every single week so it is very important to stand out and be memorable, if they get an e-blasted email addressed to them and every other music supervisor I know for a fact they wont bother to read itâ€¦.The reality is that i have tried ALL of the sites where you pay to submit songs for big deals hoping that it will get used in something. The most important thing I have learned is if you want something to happen you have to make it happen yourself.“
IMHO: There are three highlights I’d like to make about Andrew’s situation. First, since he was representing songs he had composed, not only is he directly negotiating his own fees & terms, BUT he also gets to keep ALL of the money generated from the license. He keeps the sync fee, the writer’s share, and the publisher’s share of the performance royalties. Generally speaking if you’re using a library or placement service, you’d get ONLY your writer’s royalty. If you had a typical publisher, you’d get half (or less) of the sync fee plus writer’s share. What a HUGE difference it makes to do it yourself. More work? You bet. But I think it’s totally worth it for a number of reasons.
Next, let’s not overlook the value of the relationship he established with the music supervisor. Yes, the placements are awesome, the upfront money and royalties are great, and all the social media attention is nice. But probably the MOST valuable takeaway from this experience in my opinion, is his music supervisor relationship. That person could go on to work on many more shows, films, at an ad agency, you name it. If Andrew periodically checks in with the music supervisor, it could mean YEARS of placements, royalties, and heck, even a new friend. This is why I constantly stress being professional and building connections in a genuine manner. It just works better for everyone.
Finally, Andrew REALLY worked hard to get these placements. One year is not an atypical amount of time to securing your first placement (sometimes it can be longer)! Remember to keep on plugging away, stick to your goal and follow your plan. Stay in touch with the good connections you end up making and let yourself grow with them. I’ll talk about this more in my upcoming book which I think you’re really going to love.
If I were to offer advice to Andrew, I would tell him first and foremost to keep following up with that music supervisor. Ask him what new shows he’s working on or even if he wants to grab coffee sometime soon as a thank you. Second is to reflect on that year of research and outreach and try to hone in on the processes that worked. What did that music supervisor respond well to? Was it a particular email or phone conversation? What were key talking points with him that might be relevant elsewhere? Use it as a starter-template to start outreach to new connections. Finally, Andrew had a lot of social media attention but it seems like there’s more opportunity there to engage fans and potential fans. What about creating an email list sending a free single to anyone who saw his music on the show?
I hope you enjoyed Andrew’s story as much as I did and Andrew, I hope you’re really proud. You did excellent work and I’m really happy it paid off for you. You’ve all heard my opinion, what about yours? What would you tell Andrew to do as far as social media goes? Have any of you found really effective strategies for capitalizing on quick bursts of activity online? I’d love to hear about it so send me an email!
We’ve got a couple more case studies to review and I think you’ll find them equally as interesting. Also, please do me a huge favor and check out Andrew’s band Ratham Stone online as a thank you for sharing his story, ideas, and thoughts with us: