Visiting DVD Music license issue?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by MarkWK, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. MarkWK

    MarkWK Agent

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    Hi folks,

    I am a fairly new subscriber to the board. Mostly I just read the post's by the very informed members here. I have a question that I am hoping that someone can answer concerning the music licensing that is so hard to get on DVD's.

    Why can't the studios that produce these television shows get an agreement during the initial production run of a show that basically states "If we use your music in the show, there is a good chance that it will be released on a DVD in the future".? I mean this seems like a win-win situation for all involved. The studio gets to use an artist's music to enhance their show. The artist get exposure to their music that is used on the show. I am sure that artists who had their music played over episodes of say Dawson's Creek, were happy for the exposure. I would think that it would lead to more CD sales in the long run. If by chance the artist balked at having their music on future DVD's, then the studio could just say okay and go on to the next artist they are interested in. I can understand the difficulty of getting releases to DVD of such older shows as WKRP, but newer shows in the future and perhaps even in the last four or five years should have had agrrements in place for this. Am I out of my head on this idea? What do you all think of this?
    Thanks for reading,
    Mark
     
  2. Katherine_K

    Katherine_K Second Unit

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    They do so now, music clearance issues usually hold up shows that were produced before the age of TV on DVD or even VHS. Take China Beach, which came up in the Warner chat. It's a great show, and they know it, but it used a lot... a lot ... of period music that was integral to the show and can't be removed. But it was created in a period where the only show that had a VHS release of episodes was Star Trek. It was simply not forseeable before about 2001 or so that there would be a home video market for most shows, so it wasn't written into the original contracts. Because of that these things have to be figured out on a show by show basis. Some of them are easier than others.
     
  3. michaelHAR

    michaelHAR Extra

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    Mark,

    You are correct in your thinking. I think that the primary problem is with older shows such as the 70's and 80's shows(Happy Days & Tour Of Duty for example). By no means are the older shows the only ones that get caught up in this issue, but they consititute a majority.

    I think that with the popularity of TV shows appearing on DVD, most new shows have this issue worked out initially. For Paramount and the other studios to go back and negotiate for a show produced 25-30 years ago, it can get ugly.

    Michael H.
     
  4. Elena S

    Elena S Supporting Actor

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    What about shows like American Dreams? It's a recent show, yet there still seems to be a problem with licensing the music.
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Joseph DeMartino

    They can do that, and they probably do. The problem is that the music rights holders then say, "You're right. There is a good chance that the music will end up on DVD. So we're going to charge you three times as much to include the DVD rights - which you're going to have to pay upfront, whether or not you ever do release the show on DVD. Otherwise you can have the network broadcast only rights (which won't even include the syndication rights) for the original price."

    Now the studio (or the production company, or both) has a decision to make. The show is probably already costing them more to produce per episode than the network is paying in license fees, and their only chance to turn a profit is to sell it overseas or in syndication. (And now on DVD.) But in the meantime they're losing money week-by-week while the show is in production, and they need "x" number of episodes in the can before they can syndicate it (or sell it into many overseas markets.) How much more do they want to lose now against the chance of someday using the music on a DVD release? Especially when chances are that having the music won't affect the eventual DVD sales very much at all. (They might lose a few marginal sales if they substitute something else for the original music. But keeping the music isn't going to get them a single sale that they wouldn't have had otherwise.)

    On a cost-benefit basis it is not always clear, even with a modern show, that paying big bucks for the music now is necessarily the smartest move. I frankly think the studios would be much better off to tell the producers to lose the lazy habit of letting pop music montages tell their stories for them and just use more original scores to underline emotional points in actual scripted scenes for a change. Blending pop hits into dramatic TV shows is nothing more than a stylistic fad, like straight-down helicopter shots of cities. Both have simply become TV cliches that long ago wore out their welcome. Apart from 'historical" shows that want to establish a sense of the time period there is really no good reason for using contemporary music in a TV show. (Which among other things dates a show even more than cars and clothing, and will just make it seem old in a couple of years in reruns, in a way even shows from the 60s seldom do.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  6. tommyST

    tommyST Auditioning

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    That is why the first season was $20 more expensive than it typically would have been (MSRP $79.99 instead of $59.99) to offset the cost that was paid out to license the music. Only it backfired because of the higher MSRP less people bought the set.
     
  7. RoryR

    RoryR Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know if Scrubs Season 2 (and 3) were music change free because back after Season 1 the producers realized it would one day be on DVD, or if the great sales of Season 1 prompted Disney to make it music changeless or maybe a producer did? I would guess the first since if Disney can get big sales with music changes, why bother paying more?

    So, some studios are listening.
     
  8. Mike*SC

    Mike*SC Second Unit

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    Everybody -- absolutely EVERBODY -- wants to release the shows with the original music intact. Nobody -- but NOBODY -- wants to have to replace it.

    But clearing music for DVD is not simply a matter of asking for it. The rights-holders, as Joseph says above, will want more money up front for that. Now this is always a negotiation, and sometimes you can bargain them down, just as you can when you're buying a car. (And it has all the nonsense drama of that transaction, too.) Budgets are finite, and especially if you're just getting a new show off the ground, spending more money (i.e. losing more money) hoping for an eventual DVD release can seem like you're financing a pipe dream. Schedules are crushing, and if negotiating for DVD rights is threatening to hold up actually finishing an episode for air, it's likely to be the thing that has to be dropped.

    It's not a matter of not listening to fans, or not caring, or being foolish, or lazy. Really.
     

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