Which Recording Option Is Right For Your Campaign

Posted by Michael Welsh on May 12th, 2021

While licensing different kinds of recordings for your marketing campaign there are four options brands can choose from.

  1. Original Master
  2. Bespoke Re-Records
  3. Covers
  4. Sound-a-Likes 
  • Original Masters:Any recording made by a known artist getting enough sales or downloads is an original master, despite when it has popular versions. It usually is the first recording of a particular song partly or entirely written by a performer, singer, or band members.  

An ad campaign has a certain status and authenticity in licensing an “original” master where products banks on the artist's fame. This comes with a price that's decided by the owner of the track. Licensing famous recording associates its owner/ artists with an implied endorsement despite when there is no legal partnership going beyond synch licensing and master license. Partnership with an artist is a formal agreement with their label, agent, managers, outlining all the deliverables and expectations between parties. It further requires brands consider the lead singer of the track as using the track for commercial purposes can be prohibited. Product association of a track is relevant with licensing instrumental tracks too. Investing in a big artist/ recording requires a big payoff. 

  • Bespoke Re-Records: It's used when brands are looking to make a new custom recording with an original artist or any other celebrity who wasn't associated with the original recording - in most cases. Normally artists would record an original track or make a track they always wanted to make. It requires considering various factors. Recordings made by the artist, (regardless of who's the sponsor) belongs to the artist’s label (requires master license). Therefore, preparing a new version of the same song is suggested, brands may choose to only make it for 30 seconds or may produce the whole and discard the part that is not needed. In many cases, the label to forgo a master synch fee shows the value in the newer version for which the brands didn't have to pay. 
  • Covers: When artists, record an existing song by adds their impression to the recording. Mostly covers give a tribute to some known recording. Today it has become the greatest asset in campaigns, especially if the covers are recent. Using covers is the thing to do. Many songwriters won't grant publishing rights unless their original recording is used or if they are paid higher. It is then in the hands of the brand whether or not to make a cover of that song. 
  • Sound-a-Likes: Instrumental track or track featuring vocals that sound alike a popular recording is considered an “exact” copy of an original or popular recording that is its intention. The point of argument with infringement cases by copyright holders is the intention of making similar recordings where a recording sound alone could also be considered sound-a-like which can be subject to copyright infringement. Brands should never use sound-a-like be in their ads since it can lead to copyright infringement.

Most agencies have an experienced guild of music supervisors coordinating all the moving parts of the project, i.e. artist deals, label agreements, music producer/arranger deals, musician contractor, and course of the agreements. 

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Michael Welsh

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Michael Welsh
Joined: August 26th, 2020
Articles Posted: 13

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