Stay Local – A Music Licensing Story

This is a guest blog post by Lucas Shogren of the music group “Clocks & Clouds.

There is a very unique art to matching music and a video together. Music can emotionally enhance a film as well as serve to tie the story together as a whole.  We have all seen many movies where the score is practically one of the main characters and makes the movie come alive.  Where would Jaws be without the  two note theme? How would we know Darth Vader is approaching without his famous march?  How would we know we have reached the Shire without the sweeping melody in the violins? Our emotions are manipulated in these masterpieces largely because of a perfectly placed music cue. These cues happen a lot easier when you have John Williams, The London Symphony Orchestra, and Abbey Road Studios.  But what about the rest of us?  I wanted to share my story as a musician and composer and my journey into music licensing.  My hope is that this compressed version of what I’ve gone through will benefit your future projects.

I got into music as a cellist and have done everything from touring with a classical string quartet, to playing on stages with several rock acts, to being a studio musician.  All this performing led me to start an instrumental group called Clocks & Clouds (See more about our project below).  We are a group that writes original music that combines rock and classical.  Think Muse meets Beethoven.  From the very beginning of us forming, one comment we received many times is how our music should be in movies.  We started thinking about our future with music licensing and went to work on sending emails off to music libraries to publish and sell for us.

We didn’t know if there would be any interest but compiled an email along with all our material and sent it off.  We were eventually overwhelmed with responses and had several contracts sent to us.  Many publishers felt we were exactly what they were looking for.  We decided for our needs and our comfoert to go with a music library called DittyBase, which is also affiliated with The Decibel Collective.  We have been with them for a year and have been picked up for some projects and have seen some income as a result.  We’re very happy with their work and would highly suggest you contact them for any music needs.

One of the many reasons we went with DittyBase is because they gave us freedom to still pursue using our music in other projects as long as we don’t publish with another music library as well.  We have several friends who do independent films and we would prefer to work directly with them, so this was very appealing to us.

I hope this next section is where the story is helpful to people trying to find the perfect music for your project.  I mentioned I have several friends who are into videography.  They are often in need of music and come to me regularly for already created music, or for me to compose original music for them.  I am in the place where my primary goal is to get my music heard by as many people as possible, in as many different mediums as possible.  At times I have given friends already recorded music to use in their productions and the only thing I’ve asked in return is to please put me in the credits and spread the word about Clocks & Clouds.  Other times I have composed original music for my friends for a very cheap cost.  This is a win-win situation for both the musician and filmmaker.

Here is my suggestion as a musician when it comes to music cues in your video project: don’t automatically pull up your trusted GarageBand loops for your music needs.  Instead, make a connection with a local unsigned musician.  See if he/she would be interested in letting you use some of their material in your next video production.  Musicians need exposure and you’re willing to give them free publicity to a completely new audience.  You then would get original music that is so much better than Apple loops or the royalty free options.  I think it is so worth time invested into finding musicians that you relate with.  Besides, you never know when someone is going to need a music video!

A few final thoughts.  I would guess that most musicians aren’t actively trying to get their music into video projects, but they probably could get excited about the prospect.  With that knowledge, seek them out with all the social media sites.  If they are wanting something out of it, you could easily barter your time.  We musicians are always in need of good promo material and YouTube can be gold for a musician.  Get creative in bartering.  Also, make sure that you get something in writing in which the musician gives you the right to use their material.  This will make sure you don’t get into any legal trouble down the road.  Next tip is to not expect any musician to write, record, mix, and master a song for you for free.  Time is money and this would take a lot of time to do well.  Your best bet is to use already recorded music that is ready to go into your production.  I hope these tips help and I hope you work on staying local.

Lucas is a founding member of the group Clocks & Clouds.  They are finishing up a Kickstarter Campaign for their 2nd CD.  They need some extra help finishing the project.  Please take a few minutes to click on the link and watch our first music video to see what we’re about.  I really hope you will consider supporting us as it would be very much appreciated.

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One Response to “Stay Local – A Music Licensing Story”

  1. Great post Lucas! These guys are good friends of mine and I gotta give them a plug, myself along with a handful of others just participated in the 48 Hour Film Project a couple weekends ago and C&C did an original score for our little movie, we have JUST been nominated for “Best Original Musical Score”, these guys made our movie. They produced the music for the trailer too, watch it hear: http://lwf.lt/48hrtrailer

    The full film will be released this Friday, you gotta hear the track they produced, incredible.

    Don’t forget to check out their Kickstarter project! http://lwf.lt/kick

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