How Music Licensing Rights Can Hurt Music Sales

from the you-don't-need-to-charge-for-every-little-thing dept

One of our regular readers, Rose M. Welch wrote in with an interesting story that reminds me of the mess concerning the show WKRP in Cincinnati. As you may know, the massively successful sitcom used popular music as part of its storyline about a radio station and its employees. Yet, the music itself was only licensed for the broadcast on TV, since in those days no one thought about any after market. So now, when DVDs and syndication of TV shows are popular, the show couldn't actually use the original music, and had to dub in some crappy replacement music, harming the overall quality of the show. It's ridiculous too, since it only harms the bands who have been "cut" from the show, and makes the show a lot less interesting.

Welch's story isn't quite at the same level but does a good job demonstrating how bands that focus on licensing their music and getting every penny for every use may be making a big mistake:
'House' is a very popular television show in America and the UK. I first started watching the show at the beginning of the summer. One of the things that I really liked was the beat of the into music. I did a search for it and found out that it was 'Teardrop' by Massive Attack. I found it on Amazon.com and purchased it. Woot!

After a few days, I went back and purchased more of their music, and some of the suggested music from groups like Thievery Corporation. I'm a rocker at heart, so this kind of music was really a change for me. I've probably spent about forty bucks on this kind of music in the last two months. I'm pretty into it and so is my hubby so I plan on buying more. Not to mention the people who have heard it in my home or vehicle and liked it.

So the new season of House has just began and it has a different but equally compelling theme song. I went to try and find it to purchase it. It turns out that it's not a full song. It's just a short clip called 'House' by composers Scott Donaldson and Richard Nolan, written specifically for the show.

Apparently, they'd had an awful time trying to license 'Teardrop' in the UK and said screw it. They made their own. It's now the theme for the US and the UK. And the next person to go searching for that neat genre will be disappointed because you can't purchase that clip and that clip doesn't lead you to any similar music. Not to mention the loss any of funds they would have received for the US show.
So, in attempting to make sure the musician got every penny for every use, the band has been cut out entirely, and replaced with a homemade snippet that isn't leading anyone to actually purchase new music or go see a concert or anything like that.
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Filed Under: house, licensing, music, royalties, wkrp


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  1. identicon
    MeMeMeMe, 15 Oct 2008 @ 7:20am

    My theory

    The RIAA actually doesn't want us to listen to any music at all. By trying to make it difficult to purchase/hear/sing/or otherwise we can't enjoy any music without paying for every note. It won't be long until they start pulling you over in your car for singing a song out loud. Radio will be long gone as it might damage a dollar the RIAA (note.. not the band/artist) might have made. Sound impossible? Think again.....

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