CBS Resurrects CBS Music Because Starting And Running Your Own Label Is Cheaper Than Licensing Music

from the CSI-crime-lab-techs-need-cheaper-rock-and-roll dept

The film and TV music license negotiation process is a painfully convoluted & expensive one, to the point where legal infighting has resulted in problems such as the DVDs of classic television series being released with none of the music that made the original series popular. In an effort to get around this process, CBS has decided to re-animate the corpse of their old CBS Music label, which they sold to Sony back in 1988 for a cool $2 billion. The label, which was originally home to such greats as Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan, will be reincarnated as primarily a digital only enterprise. While they will offer some physical media through other labels and distributors, the move is aimed at farming in-house music in order to reduce licensing fees for music used in CBS programs like CSI. As part of the move, they've struck a deal with Apple to sell the music via iTunes, and will also offer music on the CBS website (albeit likely loaded with DRM). The deal should save CBS a significant amount of cash, a large number of headaches, and create a more efficient internal promotional engine -- but it doesn't say much for the existing music licensing system when the only way to solve a logjam is to create an entirely new company and keep everything in-house.


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  1.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 4:03pm

    The great wheel

    Things have come full circle huh? Next they will be employing composers to write music, musicians to play it and producers to record it again. It also shows that with so many levels of indirection the system can't support such a long food chain.

    Plus they can sell CBS MkII to Sony again in 10 years ! If Sony still exist.

     

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  2.  
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    Chris, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 5:15pm

    ...ya that or they'll outsource it somewhere to people who don't care about ownership over the prodcut, but who're just happy to get paid. And do it much, much much much, cheeper as well. Just give it time.

    The events in this article seem like they belong more on a Conan O`Brien "In the Year 2000" skit than they do actualy being acted out in the real world. However, considering all these decisions are being made by the most elite 2% of the population why would it be any different. They only know how to make money, and despite their buisness tactics, they're damn good at it.

     

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  3.  
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    Lyle Holmes, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 8:51pm

    music licensing

    The move by CBS is really a reaction to the challenges of music licensing than it is an effort to squeeze more bucks out of musicians. I just finished an indie feature film set in the music business. There are 26 bands from nine countries on the soundtrack. Forty-three songs in the film. For each song you have at least four different sets of rights that you have to negotiate with at these three different groups of rights holders. The contract is thick and the legal work is expensive. There will be disagreements down the road about exactly what rights were bought and for what use. Music is a nightmare. CBS will essentially eliminate a nightmare.

     

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  4.  
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    Mr. Jones, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    Maybe they'll develop the next iTunes for music licensing and inadvertently turn the industry on it's head causing all the others to loose money and then scramble to try and catch up.

    Wouldn't that be nice. Might be too much to ask for though.

     

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  5.  
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    BigJason, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 8:30am

    Greedy

    It is amazing how greedy the music industry has become.

     

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  6.  
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    Jeff, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 8:31am

    Your point misses the point

    Regarding:

    "-- but it doesn't say much for the existing music licensing system when the only way to solve a logjam is to create an entirely new company and keep everything in-house."

    All I can say is, Karl, you're a dumbf***.

    This is the same thing that myriads of garage bands are doing nowadays by skipping the music labels and going straight to the net. CBS here is acting not as a transmission medium, but as a content provider, and protecting its own interests.

    The difference is that unlike a garage band, CBS is already well-known and doesn't have to go back and pay dues it already paid in order to become a household name. Oh yeah, and it has that transmission medium to advertise its content.

    Oh yeah, and Karl, you're a dumbf***.

     

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  7.  
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    Brad Eleven, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 9:36am

    Chris, you nailed it

    "...considering all these [obviously short-term profit-motivated] decisions are being made by the most elite 2% of the population why would it be any different? They only know how to make money, and despite their business tactics, they're damn good at it."

    Yep. That's it. The source of my alternately frustrated/amused/amazed view of Just What The Hell Is Going On. It's the shrinking group of Haves!! Like a genetic pool, their ever-decreasing population is already starting to show up as monkey-assed-crazy. I attribute the acceleration of this effect to that nagging ultra-rich vulnerability: being able to afford all of the vice you could ever imagine, and then some if you have a decent-sized entourage. This is where reclusive types compensate for their inherent wackiness.

    So the world is in trouble, social *and* environmental, and it's being run (and broadcast) by a smaller number of people than usual, who are making even more obvious mistakes than, oh, the Gettys in the Seventies.

    But hey, they're making money, and the shareholders like that. Hey, Milton Friedman! I hope you're accurate, e.g., as long as the corporations are loyal to their shareholders, nothing can go wrong, right? Mr. Friedman? Hello? ... oh, that's right, you're dead. Never mind. See you soon.

     

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  8.  
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    Ethan B., Dec 16th, 2006 @ 11:07am

    "deal with iTunes"

    Hi Karl,

    Could you please go into some detail on what you mean by "a deal with iTunes"?

    Last time I checked, pretty much anyone can go straight to iTunes and get their music distributed. It worked for several bands I'm in.

    I don't see how there's much room for Apple to negotiate as they're basically taking a hit on every song sold.

     

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  9.  
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    Chris, Dec 17th, 2006 @ 7:52pm

    Apple has plenty of room to negotiate if they're going to be hosting the thousands of songs CBS has, as it will require their bandwidth. Im sure they agreed on a very nice settlement. Maybe even thorw up an ad or two for new shows comming out. Im sure someone ended up scratching up a nice hefty check.

     

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  10.  
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    npgmbr, Dec 18th, 2006 @ 10:13am

    Is it me or does it seem like the author of the article is saying that Apple's iTunes does not have DRM? Thats misinformtion if you as me.....or maybe im just missing something.

    "they've struck a deal with Apple to sell the music via iTunes, and will also offer music on the CBS website (albeit likely loaded with DRM)."

     

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