One of the things I've been doing on the side is writing a screenplay. It's a mystery thriller about a killer virus, and I've written two copyrighted songs into the script. I've bene toying with the idea of producing the movie myself, and so as an experiment I decided to try to find out how much it would cost to license these two songs for my film.
You'd think that the music companies would make this easy. After all, I want to buy something from them. Not only that, but the music industry is on somewhat of a crusade against piracy. Surely they would have things set up so that if someone actually wants to pay them for a song instead of pirating it that it would be easy to find out how much it costs and where to send the money.
Not so. In fact, it turns out to be nearly impossible.
The two songs I'm interested in are Pink FLoyd's "Comfortably Numb" from The Wall, and "Brain Damage" from Dark Side of the Moon. The Wall is copyright 1979 by "Pink Floyd Limited", and it was produced by Columbia Records. Neither company has any contact information on their web site. Dark Side of the Moon was produced by Capitol Records (now EMI), which actually does have contact information on its web site. I was even able to call the company and get the switchboard operator to put me in touch with someone in the licensing department, but of course this person didn't actually answer their phone and they haven't returned my call.
This is no way to treat your customers.
Not that any of this came as a great surprise to me. The music industry has a rather ignominious history of treating their customers like shit. For all the effort they spend on rootkits and legal action, I wonder if any of them ever once considered that they might make more money if they only made it easier for people to figure out where to send the check and how much to make it out for?
Stay tuned for future installments on this saga.
[Update: I finally found this page on the RIAA web site. It was well hidden.