Do Marketing Services Buyers Have the Best Jobs?

So what do you buy? Motor components? Carpet tiles? Wheat? Tungsten? Is it exciting? Do you leap out of bed in the morning shouting, “Hey! Another day buying Tungsten!” Or whatever.

I’ve come to the conclusion that almost anything is interesting if you really become invested in it. Many years ago, I was leading on a major purchase of carpet tiles for the new Dun & Bradstreet European headquarters. “Oh my goodness,” I thought. Has my career really come to this – carpet tiles?

Out of duty really, I agreed to go to see the factory up in the north of England where the tiles were made – this was in the 1980s, when we still had a U.K. manufacturing sector. I have to admit, however, that it was one of the most interesting manufacturing processes I’d ever seen in my life – really complex and clever, and actually the commercial elements of the “category” were not without interest either.

But if I had to choose a spend category to be responsible for, what might that be? Well, I recently met someone who has what might just be my dream procurement job. Richard Kirstein runs Resilient Music, based in London. It is a small advisory and (in a sense) procurement outsourcing firm that advises and helps their clients buy music rights. So when you see a TV advert, or some fancy YouTube viral video campaign for a trendy fashion or drinks brand, and there is some music playing in the background, someone has purchased the rights to use that music. Well, let’s hope they have, because otherwise, someone is going to get sued.

And that procurement task is not as straightforward as you might think. It’s even more complex than carpet tiles - there can be composers, the band, session musicians, producers, agents, record companies, and more, all of whom might have their fingers in the pie. The consequences of getting it wrong can be severe. Kirstein pointed out this example to us – the Beastie Boys winning $1.7 million in their copyright battle with Monster Energy Drink after one of their tracks was used in a promotional video without their express permission.

Kirstein has agreed to write regularly for us on the Spend Matters UK/Europe site, under the heading “A guide to buying music for marketing procurement executives.” You can read his first post here – titled “They’re playing our song – charge them!

As well as his own insight, I’m delighted that he quotes one of my favourite authors as well, the late lamented Hunter S. Thompson. Let’s leave you for today with that quote, which still makes me laugh every time.

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

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