Music Licensing and Making Movies

Making movies and securing music for a soundtrack go hand in hand. Indie filmmakers and indie music producers are starting to connect more. This is a really cool thing happening right now. Indie filmmakers want quality music for their project and indie music labels want to get their artists more exposure. Cross-promotion is what really makes working at the independent entertainment level thrive.

The reality is an indie produced movie is not going to be able to swing the cost of music licensing to use a song from the Rolling Stones or Jay-Z on their movie soundtrack. Every indie filmmaker out there I would bet has thought how bad ass it would be to use a certain song in their movie. I personally would love to use the Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil in the horror movie Psoro as a producer.

That's just not going to happen on an indie movie budget. This is why indie filmmakers and indie record labels are starting to pull together. Being greedy at the indie level makes no sense to me. It is night and day between working on studio backed movies and indie driven movies fueled by sweat equity. That's why I like to go to the street so to speak to find music for movie soundtracks.

Reaching out to music artists and music producers that have indie labels is a good way to get killer tracks that add production value to your completed movie. It works the other way when music artists reach out to indie filmmakers with their creative goods. The truth is that we all need exposure in the entertainment business. Without it your career ends up in a ditch bloated with flies hovering around it and some kid poking the corpse with the shitty end of a stick.

For filmmaking purists that might be reading this I'm not touching on scoring a film. That's another wild animal to me entirely. This is focused on already completed tracks that can be used in opening and ending credits, plus in certain scenes like Quentin Tarantino does in his movies. The music sometimes has as much impact as the visuals. Music licensing doesn't have to be complicated or empty your pocket.

When you're an indie movie producer you need to make things happen. It feels damn good to get a movie shot and start post-production. It feels better to have music licensing agreements in place before you cut one scene. Movie editors can vibe off certain tracks you're going to use. This makes your finished film the best it can be with the resources you used to make it.

If you come across an indie record label or artist hit them up with an email about using one of their songs in your movie. It could cost you some money or not. One thing for sure is won't come close to anything the Rolling Stones or Jay-Z record labels would charge for music licensing. There is always a flip side to the entertainment business. It could be you're approached by a record label or artist that wants to submit their music to be used on the movie soundtrack.

That works. To keep things even and straightforward do what you say you're going to do as a producer. Send them the music license agreement terms upfront. Let them know that their track might not be used at all. Shit happens during editing of a movie that can change where their music was going to play. When their music is used give them proper credit that includes written by, performed by and any other information they want known regarding the track.

Times are changing. It's not always that an indie filmmaker has to pay the music label. I've been learning of a shift where sometimes the music label has to pay the production company. It's like product placement. The best music licensing agreements to me are the pay it forward type. No money is exchanged. What is exchanged is a good faith effort to cross-promote the movie and music. I would love to see a new music artist get exposure off a movie that I produced and vice versa.

I'm not in the entertainment business to screw anybody over. I don't want to get screwed over. Writing, directing and producing movies is a passion that will never die as long as I'm here. I appreciate what music adds to each and every scene in a movie. I'm working on finding completed tracks for the horror movie Psoro soundtrack. Director Wayne Daniells and visual artist Paul While are working hard to deliver shocking gore. I'm working to deliver the music that makes this a cult classic. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing cue music licensing.