“Everyday I Write the Book” — How To Buy Music Rights Without Fights

We  recently reviewed the Richard Kirstein book on Music Rights Without Fights (Rethink Press). Richard is a professional musician with experience of marketing/agency side too. His book is highly recommended for anyone involved in this area, including procurement practitioners involved in marketing services procurement, marketing and brand managers, agency people and the music industry people themselves who want to sell their music into the marketing and business world.

Last week we attended the book launch at the very apt, private members The Hospital Club, in the heart of Covent Garden, and we got to dip our toes into a slice of Richard's world. The club is for members of the creative industries (music, film, writing, entertainment) and is used as an environment to actively encourages members to create, connect and collaborate. It's not a world we have a lot of dealings with, and of course nobody knew who we were -- here is a picture of Peter Smith being suitably ignored by members -- and rightly so! (Seriously it was a great evening, plenty of good food, drinks and interesting people.)

The launch gave us an insight not just into the content - which we have already talked about -- but into the reasons why he decided to write the book in the first place and why it is an essential tool for the industry.

There was a Q&A session where Richard answered questions posed by Juliana Koranteng, Editor of MediaTainment Finance -- it went roughly like this:

Q: What was it that made you decide to write this book and why do you think it's vital for the Advertising Industry to understand music rights?

A: The book draws on all my experiences working with different parties over the years. I realised that every day, over time, I could see a pattern emerging - the same stories were coming up time and time again. I could see a culture clash over the way deals are made. And I noticed a wide variety in types of deals and how differently they are negotiated.

When speaking to clients I found that often I had to explain how Rights work and the complexity involved. There are right and wrong ways of dealing with buying music rights, and if you choose the right way you will have a better outcome. So I wrote this book to educate anyone who needs to know about the brand world.

Q: Why do they need to strike better deals?

A: I've seen many instances of brand deals going wrong -- whether through payment discrepancies, or people feeling bullied into things, or one side of the deal feeling unhappy with something. The two sides (agency/brand) don't always have mutual respect and often the approach can be adversarial. So I felt that I was often playing the part of mediator, to get the deal done, and it usually ends up with compromise on both sides.

The book highlights what can go wrong, and its there to help you.

There's a well known example with the Beastie Boys. Where the will of one (deceased) member stated that he didn't want his writing used for brand advertising. A big drinks company had to pay them $1.7m in damages and a further $700,000 in costs. Advertising had not approached them for permission (there are reasons for that we wont go into now) and if they had -- it would have been denied. There's a lot of money at stake if you don't do it properly.

The music licence approval process takes time, you need to understand that and plan accordingly. The book explains the chain, and how it works. And it's important to understand that some artists will just say No! That's their prerogative.

But in my opinion, artists/writers are becoming more proactive and willing to work with brands. The whole process is becoming more complex and online and social platforms need to be defined -- the book does this.

Finally, don't forget our quiz - still time to enter here and win a copy of Richard's book!

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