Music Rights: What's the Big Deal, Anyway?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ethan Riley, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    We've all read and participated in endless posts about this or that series being held from dvd because of music rights. But in looking at certain releases, it almost seems to be a non-issue.

    Case in point: 3rd Rock from the Sun. I have finally viewed through the entire 2 seasons: it's absolutely LOADED with pop songs. Endless songs. Sometimes these songs become a major part of the story, such as the time when John Raitt led the cast in a full production number of "Oklahoma!" And not only that, but some of them weren't even terribly important to the storyline, in that they were simply hummed, whistled or otherwise barely sampled by different cast members. Other times, popular songs are heard when characters are listening to the radio, or bits of songs are played at the tail end of episodes, their titles pointing out the "moral" of each story.

    In the dvd episodes, I've noticed at least 40 different songs used, probably more. And yet, the 3rd Rock sets aren't terribly pricey.

    Even other, minor recent releases seem to have their fair share of pop songs. "Wild Palms," a dvd cheapie, is also loaded with classic 60s rock. I had viewed and videotaped the original mini in the 90s; all the songs I remember from that mini are on the dvd, (5th Dimension, Supremes, Dylan, etc.) Obviously, MGM had to clear and pay for all those songs, yet the dvd only retails for about $15. Hardly an indicator that MGM went broke retaining the original tv series soundtrack, as it was intended.

    I'm asking for all of your opinions here: Are the dvd royalties paid for popular songs overstated? Is is way less of a big deal than it's rumored to be? If seeing's believing, the 3rd Rock producers had NO problems gathering and clearing all those songs. The fact that the sets aren't very expensive says to me that the royalties weren't very expensive either.

    So why is it often said that Ally McBeal will never make it to dvd because of its heavy usage of music? Or the rest of American Dreams? Or dozens of other recent shows? All I'm saying is, if 3rd Rock can do it, why not the rest?
     
  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    The problem with music rights is that they are negotiated on a case by case basis, and pertain to certain, restricted uses. If a home video release, which may include a remix to multichannel sound, was not included in the original contracts (and there are good reasons why they wouldn't be - cost being the big factor), then the rights may need to be renegotiated.

    It may be that the producers of 3rd Rock had home video licensed, while others don't. Without knowing the details of specific contracts, any debate over whether music rights are a big deal or not is purely speculative, and therefore without much value.
     
  3. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    Oh, then I'll just shut up from now on.
     
  4. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Well I didn't mean for you to get all bent out of shape, it's just that discussing why one show may not have issues while another does, without all the facts, is rather meaningless.
     
  5. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    Okay, I stand chastised. Since I have been outed as a meaningless poster, I hereby withdraw from participation. Bye, everyone!
     
  6. David Rain

    David Rain Screenwriter

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    Let's just say it this way. Every single DVD release has it's own issues and potential problems with regard to music. Some of these issues might be cleared up easily and allow all of the original music to be used. In other cases there are problems that are going to affect what songs can and cannot be used. Sometimes this leads to a release being delayed for a while or simply impossible to do. Comparing one release to another is a waste of time since one TV show or film has nothing to do with another.

    Every consumer has a choice. If you do not like how the music rights have been handled on a release then you have every right not to buy it.
     
  7. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    Oh, so now my thread is not only meaningless, but it's a waste of time, to boot!


    MOM!!!!
     
  8. Mike*SC

    Mike*SC Second Unit

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    This is not true. I know people involved with those releases. They would be very amused to hear that their hard work (which should, they would freely admit, be invisible to the consumer) was NO problem! And in fact, some songs from that series have been removed.
     
  9. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    I might be in the minority at HTF, but music rights aren't an issue with me for TV/DVD's. In other words, I'd buy a TV/DVD set that I'm wanting regardless of whether the music has been altered or omitted. I realize that, to some, this is an important issue. If the choice is altered/omitted music content, or no release. I'd vote for the release. Of course, I'd prefer the set to be released as it was originally aired (then again, who wouldn't want that [​IMG] )
     
  10. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    Mike, the fact is, the 3rd Rock releases were really quite wonderful. I was thrilled to see that all the songs I remembered were still in there. Especially, when removing songs means removing entire scenes: in many cases, the cast members were actually singing those songs, as opposed to hearing them on radios or simply having the songs played as part of the soundtrack. Please inform your friends over there that their hard work went unnoticed because it was so good. If some songs are missing, we're not aware of it; they were probably "soundtrack-only" songs. I think my whole (meaningless) point of this thread was that if 3rd Rock can do it, everyone can do it, and I hope to see other show releases have as much hard work put into them.
     

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