5 Good Reasons to Decouple Music Purchasing from the Creative Process
The recent publication of Music Matters revealed how the finding and securing of music is “unmanaged, unmonitored and under-funded by all parties”. It would seem that on a daily basis, music and sound are one of the most stressful aspects of campaign creation.
For an element that constitutes almost half of the final product, this area of production is now coming under close scrutiny. For the first time in over 30 years, Brands and Agencies are seriously exploring the cause and effect of how music is chosen, how the wrong music is having far reaching and expensive ramifications and how they can begin to create investments from music rather than a cost.
At both the ANA and ISBA, decoupling the procurement of music from the creative process is a hot topic. Our presentations to both organisations proved to be extremely productive sessions, which identified some compelling benefits that offered substantial rewards for both brands and their creative partners.
Benefit 1: Decoupling Helps Define Roles and Creates Clarity
Creatives want the very best out of every aspect of their creative process, often working on intuition. The challenge is that encapsulating the exact ambitions and emotions in a music brief is hard to nail in words.
This makes the job of the TV producer, which is already tough, much harder. Their job is to find the best suppliers on every aspect of the production and often without a clear music brief – this is far from straight forward to do.
When music procurement is removed from a producer’s remit and centralized to one nominated buyer of music, you can create realistic filters and instigate objective and informed controls on availability and fees.
In addition, centralised buying should mean that all information on the journey to every final track can then be logged and aggregated. Nothing is lost. This is what we at soundlounge affectionately call ‘exhaust data’ – facts that have been historically misplaced and or ignored.
This information can be forensically analysed and given as feedback how people are thinking over a series of campaigns which can be used by the Planners and Account teams. This not only builds a picture of brand buying habits but also brand sound, which is based on agency insights, intuition and hard facts.
In this way, nothing gets wasted. Result – a win-win situation.
- Producers and creatives can explore ideas to their hearts’ content knowing that the responsibility of the filters and checks is being managed elsewhere.
- Rights Owners are clear about the chain of command and authority in the negotiations, which means that commercial relationships can be leveraged
- Both agency and brand account teams and planners get real insights on what has been used and working enabling them to write clearer music briefs for Music Supervisors.
- Each and every person in the team are working to their strength.
- Clearer conversations and clarity as to what music is needed
Benefit 2: Decoupling Improves Cost-Savings, Enhances Strategic Thinking and Liberates Creativity
Monitoring data over a period of time starts to form patterns. These patterns then drive improvements in both cost and creativity efficiency and effectiveness.
- You can monitor the amount of money spent, with whom and when, which puts you in a much stronger position to negotiate cost savings.
- Brands that have decoupled music from the creative process are making savings of up to 35%, which they can then reinvest in the creative process.
- Having a clear landscape of what music has been used also delivers greater scope for benchmarking effectiveness. Correlating fees against ROI and the musical elements that contributed to the success or failure of a commercial means that brands know what works and can be clearer about their future music choices.
- It ultimately means clearer music briefing from planners to creative so you can concentrate on what works, explore ideas with real potential and avoid wasting time traipsing down blind alleys.
Benefit 3: Specialist Buying Delivers Process Refinement and Optimisation
Although introduced early into the planner’s brief, music is rarely more than a footnote – ‘Music Throughout’. Time passes and at some point, usually once the storyboard has been approved, music then seems to reappear on the agenda
The Music Brief includes words like uplifting or energetic. Creative Directors frequently say ‘ I will know it when I hear it’ which is a truth but not constructive when uplifting meaning so many different things to as many people. The process of finding a temp track(s) that supports the animatic can be a drawn out affair and very often a case of Chinese Whispers, because it’s rare that creative teams will sit down with a Music Supervisor directly and discuss critical elements like context or messaging.
Worse, despite the hard work that goes into sourcing music, achieving brand approval, and then pre-prod testing, only approximately 8% of temp tracks make it into the final cut of a commercial. It is not unusual for brands and agencies to be locked in an editing suite a few days before play out trying to identify a new track that can be cleared and licensed in time.
However, imagine a less chaotic environment where a brand understand what elements of music affect their ROI, tracks that work on all aspects are tabled early, fees are established with less of a mad rush at the end to achieve clearance.
Decoupling of music ensures the process of sourcing and licensing music is less time consuming, erratic and tense because everybody is clear on what is to be achieved.
Benefit 4: Centralised Buying Creates Leverage with Rights Owners in Music Negotiations
On average 10 different parties are approached to help agency producers create playlist ideas. Each music supervisor will then provide approximately 25 ideas.
It’s not unusual for the brief to change 3 or 4 times. This usually results in about 750+ music ideas for one film that are actually put on the table.
Whilst it is good business practice to ensure availability and costs are researched before presenting any ideas, currently this means that 750 random calls are made with Rights Owners creating confusion and doubt as to the seriousness of the brand.
Decoupling the music buying from the creative process means an ongoing series of checks and balances can be implemented by the nominated central control who will advise on all aspects of feasibility as ideas are being generated.
When conversations about fees and clearances are from one source, it gives the brand gravitas in the negotiations and lays the foundation for a more solid working relationship. It also opens the door to conversations about tracks that may have traditionally been out of bounds.
When Rights Owners know that the enquiry is serious ,they are more likely to make that call earlier to obtain the relevant permissions. All parties are then working together to provide real and practical solutions to questions which always arise at an emotional time in the process, 2-3 days before play-out.
Benefit 5: Decoupling Music from the Creative Process will Provide Greater Protection
Few things cause sleepless nights than the clearance of music rights and the threat of a ‘cease and desist’ order arriving on either the agency or brand director’s desk.
There are Heads of TV who have confessed that they do not rest until the campaign has been on air for over 6 weeks and the coast is clear.
Insurance companies know that it’s not unusual for these infringements to be cleared before it gets truly litigious with settlement funds sometimes in the region of £250,000 coming out of agency profits.
Professional Music Procurement companies carry full PI on a global scale. It makes them diligent and demands they follow clear and transparent processes every time when quoting and clearing rights.
It also means they can extend that protection to their clients, which spares everyone insomnia and ensures that everyone gets what they want all rights cleared, on time and on budget.
Genre: Music & Sound Design