Thursday, June 29, 2006

All quiet on the musical front

No word from either of the two companies from which I am trying to obtain music licenses. I guess they just don't want my money. But then again, what would you expect from a company that sues people for parodying songs that are in the public domain.

Happily, I have discovered that copyright law makes granting certain kinds of licenses mandatory. So I can't use the original recording, but I can hire a band to record a cover version for me. Cool! That will almost certainly cost less, and might even sound better. (I've always wanted to tweak one of the lyrics in "Comfortably Numb". It should be "When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse/Out of the corner of my MIND.")

They all look alike to me

An extremist is an extremist is an extremist.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The stupidest leaflet ever

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or in this case, five. This leaflet was actually included in a box of medicine. Go figure.

Music licensing adventures continue

I wonder if the people at the music companies have been reading my blog. Here's the response I got from one of them today:

Dear Mr. Garret,
Further to your request for the use of BRAIN DAMAGE in the production entitled “Control,” please note that the song is not available for this use.
Thank you for the request.
Best Regards,

I'm bummed.

There are two interesting things about this. First, I asked for a quote on a performance license, which I know they do give out because the Lounge Lizards did a cover of Brain Damage. (It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard. You can find it on iTunes.) Second, why didn't they just tell me this up front instead of asking me for all the term and territory information?

I've sent the following response:

Hi Brooke,

Thanks for getting back to me.

Do you mean that it is not available for use in movies in general, or just not in this particular movie?

Is there anything else in your library with a similar feel that is available that you might suggest as an alternative?

How much is a performance license? (I know those are available because at least one band has done a cover version.)


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Music license quote quest part 3

The quest to wrestle a price quote from the music industry for a license to two Pink Floyd songs continues. I got an email today from one of the two companies involved. I was actually somewhat surprised that they got back to me at all. They said they needed more information, including the time period and the territory, which I don't know because the film I want to use the songs in isn't even in production, let alone in distribution.

I sent back a response asking for quotes for various permuations of periods and territories. Haven't heard back.

Still waiting to hear anything from the first company.

If anyone in the music industry is reading this and wondering why your business is in the toilet, it's very simple: your problem isn't pirating, your problem is that you treat your customers like shit. What could you possibly be doing that makes it take days or even weeks to generate a price quote to use a song in a movie? It's not like I'm the first one to do this. And even if there really is a reason for it to take this long, how hard would it be to shoot me an email saying, "Sorry this is taking so long, we have to do X and Y and Z, expect to hear from us in N days."

I can't help but wonder what it is the industry is hoping to accomplish by making it this hard to do business with them.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Beware of light bulb

Just in case you were running out of things to worry about .

Music licencing adventures, chapter 2

It turns out that the situation for licensing music is not quite as bad as I had thought once you know the system, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. There are two companies, BMI and ASCAP, that are the main gateways to the music industry's licensing machinery. Thay have searchable on-line databases that will give you the name and contact information for the publisher of most popular songs, including the ones I'm looking for.

From there the procedures vary by company. In my case I'm dealing with two different publishers, both of which require you to send in a written request for a quote by fax. Why they don't have a web page set up for this in this day and age is beyond me (but is pretty much in keeping with the music industry's general attitude of being too important for their customers). Maybe there's a business opportunity here.

One of the things I've been told is that the quotes for licensing music for movies vary by term (which is to say time period) and territory. Since my film isn't in production I have no idea what the term or the territory might be. We'll see how much of an obstacle that presents to getting them to name me a price.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 16, 2006

It shouldn't be this hard to get someone to take my money

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.

Has America gone completely insane?

I'm so depressed I can hardly bring myself to write about this.

The state of Washington is prosecuting a man for writing a blog about on-line gambling.

And the Supreme Court has ruled that the police don't need to knock before breaking your door down.

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland wants the Ten Commandments displayed in public buildings, but he doesn't even know what they are. (For those of you who share his confusion, the First Commandment is: I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." How anyone can say with a straight face that serves a secular purpose is beyond my comprehension.)

And last but not least, an old but still worthwhile read if the preceding wasn't enough to convince you that it's time to jump of a bridge.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Does this prove God doesn't exist?

This is so sad. Guess he shoulda stuck with snakes.

Oh, there's also this from a while back too. A clearer indication that God is unhappy with Christians is hard to imagine.