To answer your question, everything depends on the size of the label involved.
A limited pressing of 1,500 copies is about the minimum for a CD release, and
is typical of very small labels. The budget for a pressing of that size is
around $2,000. In that case, I would think that $1,000 for master/sync rights
for an experimental film project is a bit steep.
However, if you're dealing with one of the "major" independent labels (e.g.,
Merge, Matador, Sub-Pop, DFA, Domino…) then they might be used to working with
ad agencies, in which case master/sync licensing fees are considerably higher.
To give you an example, if an ad agency wanted to use a tiny, unrecognizable
snippet of a song as a stinger in a TV commercial, they would pay a minimum of
$5,000. To use a recognizable chunk, the fee would be at least $10,000-$20,000.
Of course you shouldn't pay even close to that much! But if you're working with
a "major" minor label you might need to convey to them just how small the
experimental film world is.
If they're asking you to propose a fee, chances are they're as unsure as you
are about what's appropriate in this case. I would use the total production
budget of your project as a framework. Make the music licensing fee a
percentage of your budget--no more than 20%? 25%?
Again, everything depends on the size of the label and the initial pressing. If
you'd like to give more details off-list, I'd be happy to advise further.
From: zach vonjoo <zu...@yahoo.com>
Subject: [Frameworks] Fees for music rights.
Date: September 9, 2013 9:41:12 PM PDT
To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: zach vonjoo <zu...@yahoo.com>, Experimental Film Discussion List
I'm in negotiations with a musician and label at the moment, and they've asked
me to suggest a fee for music rights.
I don't have much money, but if pressed may be able to raise as much as
thousand dollars. Is this a "low-ball" amount? I've asked around and it's
been suggested that I try to get master rights for free, but I don't feel right
This is only for submitting to festivals, not DVD rights. It's an experimental
short, and unlikely to net me any funds.
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