Licensing arrangements largely happen behind closed doors. With the exception of well-established artists who own their own catalogs, most musicians don’t have control over what happens with the songs that they write or release for public consumption.
Companies own those licensing rights and ultimately determine who can play a song at a political rally or in the background of a television commercial. Licensing the right song can give your advertising more viral appeal and can make your brand far more memorable. It has also become common practice for modern musicians and artists to license other works and sample them in a new song. This nostalgic approach to music has become very popular recently.
However, your company could also face embarrassment if there is some kind of licensing controversy related to a song you choose to sample. How can businesses avoid embarrassing debacles related to the music that they select for advertising or creative purposes?
Consult with the artist and other creative professionals
Over this last summer, there was a major social media debacle related to the release of a pop musician’s upcoming album. There were allegations that the musician sampled a song from another singer originally released more than a decade ago.
Although the production company had taken the necessary steps of securing permission to sample the song and ultimately chose not to include the sample when releasing the album, the musician who released the original work had no involvement in the deal and reacted negatively in a public forum to the announcement that there could be samples of their music on the album.
Many people called out the artist releasing the new album and the recording company involved for failing to communicate with the actual artist and instead only interacting with those who owned the legal right to the music. Artists can and sometimes do speak out about their lack of licensing control and publicly shame those who use their works in a way they do not deem fit.
Taking the proactive approach of communicating with the artists while securing licensing rights from the necessary business interests could help you avoid such a conflict.
Is there such a thing as bad publicity?
There are some marketing experts who will insist that there is no such thing as bad publicity or bad public awareness. However, with consumers increasingly choosing what artists and brands they support based on ethics, complaints about licensing practices and other creative policies could harm how people view your business and could undermine your sales.
Taking the right steps when licensing original works of music in the entertainment industry or for advertising purposes can protect your company from the consequences of a social media callout.