In our work brokering sync licences for brands, Resilient has regular contact with client-side Procurement teams. Their role is to empower Marketing colleagues to execute brand campaigns in conjunction with smart cost management, particularly in production spend. Whilst some critics may claim these goals are diametrically opposed, I’d argue they can be mutually beneficial. Indeed, creative agencies often say creativity flourishes within the confines of a tight brief.

Alongside Procurement, independent production consultants provide expert support, encouraging discipline and rigour in the sourcing of all key vendors. Central to this theme, especially for the engagement of video production companies, is triple bidding. Resilient is a strong advocate of competitive tendering and has always argued for its use when sourcing licensed, aka commercially-released, music for brand campaigns.

When considering a specific track, I’m often asked “What’s a fair price to pay?”. This is common in discussions with Procurement who primarily manage the purchasing of commoditised goods and services. In our What Part Of No blog, I explained why licensed music is different from many other spend categories. It’s not commoditised, there is no fixed rate card and the vendors for each song or recording are monopolists (i.e. you can’t buy a licence from another party). Each music title is unique and priced accordingly by its rights owners. Whilst Procurement teams want licensed music benchmarks, comparing one track or artist with another, is like comparing apples to oranges. In this context, there are multiple cost drivers which interact in complex ways, as I explain in Section Three of my book Music Rights Without Fights.  Understanding this landscape will empower brands to achieve better commercial outcomes.

When advising our clients, we always stress the importance of the first approach to the rights owners of a particular track. These may include a record label and one or more music publishers as explained in our Demystifying Sync Licensing blog.  Our recommendations include:

  • Always have at least two back-up tracks to your hero track
  • Due diligence on each track and artist to establish current stature and market position
  • Consider “who needs who?” How could the campaign help the artist in the campaign market?
  • Consider “where is artist in their career arc”?
  • Work with creative agency to define deliverables
  • Work with media agency to define usage (term, territory, media) per deliverable
  • Consider exclusivity, geo-locking and options to extend term, territory or media
  • Have a clear and detailed timing plan

Having prepared all the above, the golden rules when approaching rights owners are:

  • Summarise deliverables, usage & timing requirements and don’t change them
  • Make low-ball offers, don’t ask for quotes

In following the above, you are more likely to arrive at a fair price rather than deciding on one hero track and asking “how much?”.

Understanding cost drivers is difficult and complex. You can learn more by reading Section Three of my book Music Rights Without Fights or get in touch with me on richard@resilientmusic.com.