New Article on Music Clearances

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Jaime_Weinman, Apr 5, 2004.

  1. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    There's an article in Newsday, by their longtime critic Diane Werts, about the problem of clearing music rights for TV shows on DVD. WKRP is of course mentioned, as is "That '70s Show" (I hadn't noticed that that show used a whole lot of '70s music, but maybe I wasn't paying enough attention), and the work that Shout! is doing in bringing out music-heavy shows like Freaks and Geeks and SCTV. Interesting read overall:

    "Roadblock to a Boom"
     
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    According to Peter Staddon, "[in 1978], they didn't think about the need to clear [song rights] for home video, because home video didn't exist, let alone DVD."

    Yet some of us believe that years earlier, the producers of Kung Fu were already thinking of formatting the tv show for eventual widescreen release? I don't think so. [​IMG]

    Back to the topic at hand. I sure as hell wish that the studios would spend the extra time and effort to clear the original music. I for one will not accept substitutions, which is why Wiseguy, a tv show I like even more than Kung Fu, isn't on my shelf either. [​IMG]
     
  3. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    A good article, thanks for linking it Jaime.

    I suggest that everyone read it, especially given that it basically sums up a lot of the problems that some of us have been talking about on this forum for months, on why it might not be so simple just to get rights to even 1 song.
     
  4. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I just wonder why the Roswell producers didn't take the time to clear the music for DVD when the episodes were being made. Maybe they got wise later on and maybe we will at least see season 3 with all of the original music. If not, it will be a disappointment that some songs will have to be replaced.

    Be Seeing you,
    David Blackwell
     
  5. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Puts a good spin on the explanation for the cost of the SCTV set. If WRKP ever makes it, it's going to be v-e-r-y expensive...
     
  6. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I didn't see anything 'new' in that article at all. I still find it abhorent that a studio has to pay out money for playing songs that can increase the artist/group (whatever) wealth by customers buying their CD's later.

    Glenn
     
  7. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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    Clearing music rights has little to do with the record companies or, often, even the artists. The rights are typically held by music publishers who have their own interests. There have been cases where an artist was willing to grant the rights to a song but the music publisher wouldn't grant permission or was asking too much money to make it viable for a DVD company. It has little to with CD sales.
     
  8. JohnAP

    JohnAP Second Unit

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    It's one of those issues that sucks for all parties involved. Personally, I commend Paul Feig, Judd Apatow, and Shout! for recognizing the need to keep the music for Freaks and Geeks and I will gladly pay an extra ten bucks to have the show intact. I wish Fox had done the same with Roswell. I would have paid a little more to have the show as I remembered it, but have been hesitant to replace my tapes with the new set. It would still be a lot cheaper than say, the Star Trek sets, which have no music clearance costs.
     
  9. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    While it's clear that WKRP is still a long long longshot, here's the question that now occurs to me: if some company were willing to take the plunge and put it on DVD, would Fox be willing to license it out? (Fox has licensed product sometimes -- they're licensing some movies to Criterion -- but I don't know what their policy is on TV shows.)
     
  10. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

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    Is there some reason that the makers of these DVD sets can't work out some sort of a deal with artists and/or music publishers to pay a certain percentage in royalties for each set sold? I don't understand why music publishers are looking for one large lump sum payment in order to use a particular song or piece of music. It seems to me that everyone would benefit from just such an arrangement.

    That being said, I still really hope to one day see my favorite 80's cop show hit DVD... Miami Vice. THAT is my holy grail of television on DVD sets.
     
  11. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Part of the problem is though that in the case of some songs several people hold partial rights.

    One of the commentaries on the Simpsons season 3 DVD talked about how they wanted to use a particular song from Gordon Lightfoot but they couldn't because he basically left the song rights to all of his remaining family so in order to get clearance they'd have had to negotiate a settlement with all of them. I know that this wasn't for the release of the DVD but for use in the TV show, but it does illustrate a point. Some of the rights holdings of some of these songs have passed through multiple hands since they were originally put in to the show. You may not be negotiating with the same rights holders that held the rights back then. Rights may have been transfered to 1 person or 1 company or multiple parties and you have to deal with all of them.
     
  12. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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    There has to be something mischaracterized here. Gordon Lightfoot is very much alive, so I'm not sure why his "remaining family" would be left the rights to his songs.

    But you raise a good point. In the late '60s, Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues was a struggling guitarist/songwriter who, ironically, owed money on his guitar. Hayward sold the publishing rights for his songs to a man named Lonnie Donegan for a mere 250 pounds. (Donegan is most known to Americans for singing the song Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight.) One of those songs was Nights in White Satin, which was yet to become a worldwide hit. Donegan made more money off of that song than Hayward ever did.

    "It wasn't, in my opinion, a fair deal," Hayward once said. "It's like painting a painting and never being able to hang it on your own wall. I will take a kind of bitterness to my grave because the song doesn't belong to [his wife] Marie and my family. But I know I just have to let it go."

    The point: When Nights in White Satin wasn't included on the first volume of the Wiseguy DVD, the songwriter didn't even have a say in it. Some guy who made more money from music publishing than he ever did as a singer did--and his price (or his company's; Donegan died in 2002) was out of reach for the DVD's producer.

    That's just one song and one story. Multiply it by dozens for one season of a show like WKRP and you see what a nightmare it can be.
     
  13. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    The music clearance thing is nothing new: this is why it took so long for "Grease" to come out on DVD- Paramount had been chomping at the bit to release one its biggest and consistently popular titles to DVD, but it had to go through years of legal red tape over music rights! The same thing happened regarding Paramount's earlier VHS release of John Sayles' film "Baby, It's You"- some music had to be changed. If I'm not mistaken, it probably had to do with the use of a Springsteen song. I just hope that when it comes out on DVD, the original soundtrack will be used...
     
  14. Randy Gray

    Randy Gray Stunt Coordinator

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    Happy Days and Laverne And Shirley is supposed to come out later this year. Does anyone know if they've cleared all the music for those shows? I hope they have because they're two of my favorite shows.

    Randy
     
  15. Dane Marvin

    Dane Marvin Screenwriter

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    Perhaps the Gordon Lighfoot reference was actually meant to be about a similar singer/songwriter, the late Jim Croce? I don't know; I don't remember that commentary.
     
  16. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    Great article, very informative.

    That was the big problem with the DVD release of "The Real World: The Complete First Season" - music clearance. They just utilized a non-descript instrumental score throughout the set. For a music-heavy series like "The Real World", music plays an important part in setting the mood for the stories that were told especially in those first three seasons (the best ones, in my opinion). Let's hope that for future releases Paramount and MTV reach an agreement with the respective artists to get the music cleared, and the entire seasons are released intact and unedited.
     
  17. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I believe the story was this. It was the song, (I can't remember the name, not Sundown but the other song of his that is still played on the radio a lot) that I believe dealt with an incident on a ship where some deaths were involved. He donated the rights to the song to the family members of the victims.
     
  18. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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    OK, that does makes sense. It's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Considering that's 29 families (probably administered by a trust), it probably is a rights nightmare. Thanks, Will.
     
  19. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Thanks for posting the name of the song! Was driving me nuts
     
  20. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Supporting Actor

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    If this recent USA Today article is accurate, I don't get why studios can't work these rights issues out. There is potentially a whole new market for classic rock, they are teenagers/college students and they are very familiar with the DVD format.

    Allowing music clearance rights to keep a show like WKRP from coming to DVD makes no business sense to me.

    Peace,

    DM
     

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