The Ins and Outs of Music Licensing


Licensing a piece of music can be difficult and complex. Here’s what you need to know to make it easy and manageable.

Music licensing is a multi-step process that involves determining what permissions are needed, ascertaining and contacting the owners of the music, negotiating the appropriate license and administering written agreements in order to use a song in your production.

The process can be complicated because many people are involved in the creation of one piece of music, therefore it is necessary to get every individual’s permission. Whether you are using an entire song or just a small snippet, the following steps must be followed.

The first step of the music licensing process involves determining who to contact in order to get licensing permission. This will most likely include both the label and the publisher. The label owns the actual sound recording, and represents the people who recorded the song, including the singer, musicians and back-up vocalists. The publisher represents the song’s composer and/or songwriter, who own the actual copyrights for the song. In order to determine the writers and/or composers, resources such as BMI and ASCAP can be extremely helpful.

The next step involves contacting the individuals to gain both publishing rights and master rights to the song. Publishing rights are the rights that the writers hold, and you may have to contact multiple publishers if the song has multiple writers.

For example, EMI could own 33.3%, Warner Chappel could own 33.3% and Sony could own the final 33.3%. All publishers will require a separate license, and they must all agree on the same terms and fee, which is then split based on what percentage of the song each writer owns.

Next, unless you plan to re-record the song, you will also need to get master rights. Master rights are the rights held by the label, and covers the actual recording of the song. Often one song is associated with many labels, so it is important to make sure you are licensing the correct master that the client wants to use.

All labels are under parent companies, as well. For example, Atlantic and Rhino are owned by Warner. Once you find the correct label, they will have all the information on where and when the song was recorded, and who all the vocalists are.

The last step of the music licensing process, and possibly the most complicated, involves negotiating and making sure every party agrees to the same set of terms. When it comes to licensing a piece of music, there is not much room for negotiations. It is also important to know that most publishers and labels will not agree to exclusivity for internet. However, be sure to add exclusivity to your request, as getting a ballpark fee is very important.

When licensing music, there are steps and potential issues that you can run into. But if you understand the process, you can significantly decrease your chances of a potential problem. Although there are many potential roadblocks in music licensing, including the recent skyrocketing of prices, there are also ways to decrease the cost, avoid the pitfalls and obtain the rights to the perfect piece of music for your campaign.

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Celebrities in Character for Celebrity Marketing


When looking for the right celebrity to capture the identity of a brand, sometimes a character is a better fit than an actor.

In general celebrities, but especially actors, have a higher awareness than their character counterparts, however some characters are more recognizable and appealing than their actors, and could be a perfect choice when they better fit the brand’s identity or campaign.

There are a few situations where it may be better to use a character, such as when the character is more recognizable, reaches a different demographic or has a higher appeal.

E-Poll is a great resource when determining the appeal, awareness, or any other demographic information about characters or their actors. This information includes 46 attributes, such as talented, stylish or rude, which can be attributed to any celebrity or character.

E-Scores allow marketers to understand how the celebrity or character resonates with a target market, and by using it we can determine how a character matches up to his/her actor.

One case where it may be better to use a character is if the character is more well-known or recognizable than the actor. There are instances where characters will have more exposure than actors.

For example, Harry Potter, Karate Kid and Kramer from Seinfeld are all more recognizable than Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Macchio and Michael Richards.

This heightened exposure often occurs with television characters or exceptionally popular, character-driven films. Most often, characters will have a similar level of awareness with their actors.

The actor’s image awareness drives up the total awareness of both, yet characters score more consistently with name and image recognition.

It is also possible that a character reaches a different audience or demographic than his/her actor, and thus may be a better fit for your brand. An obvious example would be that Joy, the animated character from Disney’s Inside Out, would be better to target children than Amy Poehler.

However, it is not always such a clear choice. Most characters don’t score as high on awareness and appeal than actors, but they can score higher on certain attributes.

For example, both Han Solo and Indiana Jones score higher on “approachable” than Harrison Ford. If specific characteristics are important in a celebrity for a campaign, some characters may score quite a bit higher than their actors.

Finally, the character may have a higher appeal than the actor. While this is not often the case, it does happen if a character is done well. For example, Ron Burgundy, Walter White, Jason Bourne and Carrie Bradshaw all have higher appeal than Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Often characters who have higher awareness will also have higher appeal, such as Harry Potter, Karate Kid, Kramer and Gandalf. In this case, it could be better to use these characters, as they are often viewed as more likeable and have higher scores for “want to see more” among audiences and fans.

It can be difficult to decide whether to use a television or movie character for a campaign, but there are instances where the character is a better fit, while he/she also has higher appeal and/or awareness.

There are many cases of successful campaigns that used celebrities in character, and it is a great way to tie-in popular TV and film characters to your brand.

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Thanks to Randy Parker, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at E-Poll Market Research, for helping with this post.

Celebrity Marketing and Negotiations: Phase Four


Superior project management comes from a very simple and overlooked strategy.

Upon completion of the contract and negotiations in Phase Three, a single point of contact in the day-to-day execution and management of the contract is crucial. This will ensure the celebrity partner and his/her affiliated management keeps the details of the campaign at the forefront. By having someone who is committed to efficiency and your brand remaining on the campaign until its completion, you can be sure your objectives from Phase One are successful.

Although it seems as though a marketer’s job ends once the ink has dried on the contract, in many ways, finalizing the contract is only the beginning. All relevant points of the contract must be monitored closely to ensure all requirements are being met throughout the campaign. For example, it is important to maintain the set timeline and be sure the celebrity partner attends all service days that were decided upon in the contract. In doing so, your brand can be sure the contract is executed properly.

Managing and overseeing the various elements of the campaign is very important. These elements include the logistics of the campaign, such as schedules, service days, travel and “glam,” such as hair, makeup, wardrobe, etc. It also includes approvals, such as program assets and press-related content and outlets. Once again, overseeing these elements of the campaign will ensure that everything runs smoothly and all aspects of the contract are executed correctly for your brand.

After the shoot, agencies and brands have a tendency to take a deep breath, relax for a moment and move on to the next project. Going back to putting out fires elsewhere causes campaigns to stall or fail because no one is working on approvals and logistics ahead of time.

Finally, if the campaign goes well and your brand feels the celebrity’s participation in the campaign had the desired impact, discussions can begin for the next step. If your brand decides to continue the relationship with the chosen celebrity partner, we can then move on to renewing the contract or executing other options for the partnership. Otherwise, we can restart the process with a whole new set of celebrity recommendations for your brand.

After completion of all four phases of the celebrity marketing and negotiation process, your brand should have a successful celebrity marketing campaign. Through pre-planning, research, negotiations and execution, structure and stability is created in an otherwise unpredictable and chaotic process, thus creating successful results.

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Celebrity Marketing and Negotiations: Phase Three


Contracts and negotiations ensure that both parties agree to and abide by the same set of terms throughout the deal.

Once the ideal celebrity candidate has been chosen and agreed upon in Phase Two, the third step of the Burns Method involves contracts and negotiations. This phase includes drafting the contract, making an offer to the celebrity and negotiating the contract until both parties agree on a final version. This step makes certain that all terms of the deal align with each party, and there is no confusion about what the deal entails.

The first step of the contract and negotiations phase involves drafting an offer. In this phase, marketers work with their agencies and legal teams to draft a well-balanced agreement that is fair, but does not venture too far from the originally discussed scope of work from Phase One. The first version of the agreement should be generated based on the original deal points, and should not put all the cards on the table in order to create leverage during the negotiation process. The agreement should also include added value opportunities that expand relationships and minimize cost, including a pre-negotiated option term, additional usages, territories and media opportunities, charitable tie-ins, sponsorship opportunities and internal requests such as shout-out videos, autographs and memorabilia.

Once the first version of the agreement has been finalized, it must be sent to legal counsel for review. Upon approval, the paperwork can be shared with the appropriate talent parties. Up to this point, the potential celebrity’s agent, manager or publicist should be aware of the project. Regardless, the first proposed offer almost always results in a counter-offer from the talent. Because of this, it is important to know your budget parameters. Making a first offer can be intimidating, but always go in low without being offensive.

After the formal offer has been made and countered, the new agreement will be reviewed and the negotiation process will begin. At this point, the marketers and their associated legal and agency teams can accept changes where agreeable and push back on terms that are not. The new version is then sent back to the talent, and this process continues until a final version is agreed upon by both parties. It often takes multiple rounds of negotiations to reach this point, but all deals vary and timing can be difficult to determine.

Although completion of the contract and negotiations seems like the final step, a marketer’s job does not end once the contract is signed. In many ways, it is only the beginning. Although the terms of the contract have been finalized, the execution must be monitored closely, which moves us into the fourth phase of the celebrity marketing and negotiation process: execution and management.

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Why Brands Should Use Twitch for Influencer Marketing


One of the most up-and-coming websites is ripe for brands to seize competitive advantage.

Twitch is a video streaming platform where users can broadcast their gaming to the world, and is currently fourth in U.S. internet traffic, only trailing Netflix, Google and Apple. It has been a blossoming site since its launch in 2011, so much so that Amazon spent almost a billion dollars to acquire it in 2014. With 9.7 million active daily users and over 2 million unique streamers per month, there is no denying the reach Twitch has as a social network platform. Twitch has a huge growing audience and brands should take advantage of it, especially if they are looking to market to gamers and millennials.  It is interactive, uncut, live, and genuine, something that millennials crave from influencers.

One of the most straightforward ways brands can utilize is to hire a gamer for a sponsored stream. There are plenty of celebrities on Twitch from actors to athletes.  Twitch also has plenty of “Twitch famous” gamers with vast and loyal followings.  Gamers love the concept of playing a video game with one of their favorite celebrities. When sponsoring a gamer on Twitch, brands can broaden their audience because they are reaching the gaming community as well as the celebrity’s audience.

Another way to sponsor a stream is to have your brand logo on the stream and in the stream’s title. This option is a great opportunity for product placement in the gamer’s camera throughout the stream.  For example, Jack Link’s sponsored three gamers known to have lively outburst, so it aligned well with their “hangry” campaign. Also, a brand could create a special tag associated with the brand or product that would pop up when certain achievements or frustrating fails occur, such as sponsoring a big play in a game.

E-Sports are also a unique sponsorship opportunity for brands. E-Sports is like a professional league of tournaments for gamers, and has really taken off in recent years.  Brands can take advantage of the large viewership of this new phenomenon by sponsoring these big tournaments.  Twitch hosts these live tournaments on their site where people can watch and play, so brands can get online advertising as well as brand integration and real life advertising at the event.  For example, Totino’s hosted a Call of Duty tournament that averaged 30,000 live viewers and handed out pizza rolls to the fans at the tournament.

With Twitch, there are many opportunities for brands to sponsor celebrities, streams and tournaments in the gaming world. This unique streaming site allows for brands to reach a new audience, specifically male gaming millennials. Twitch is also currently working to expand their user demographic, branching out from gaming to include cooking, painting, beauty tutorials and more. This allows for a variety of opportunities for brands to take advantage of this growing platform and reach millennials in a new and exciting way with influencer marketing.

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Celebrity Marketing and Negotiations: Phase Two


Conducting extensive research determines your campaign’s fate.

Upon completion of Phase One, the second step of the Burns Method involves conducting research on potential celebrity spokespeople and creating a list of recommendations that fit the brand. Through channels such as the Burns Celebrity Vault, E-Poll Market Research, general industry expertise and more, we are able to generate all the best candidates in addition to identifying those who may not be the best overall fit.

The first component of the research phase involves identifying a number of potential celebrity candidates based on factors related to the campaign. Some factors considered during this step would be:

  1. What is the creative messaging of the campaign?
  2. Who would fit within the specifications?
  3. Who is the brand’s ideal celebrity candidate?
  4. What criteria is the brand looking for in a celebrity?
  5. Who does the target audience relate to?

The second step of the research phase is eliminating celebrities that would not fit based on a variety of factors. Using insider industry knowledge, the Burns Celebrity Vault, E-Poll market research, social media numbers and more, we are able to analyze the potential celebrities and narrow the list. During this step we consider things such as:

  1. Any conflicts with the potential date of execution?
  2. An existing or recent partnership with a competitive product?
  3. Is the talent’s team difficult to work with?
  4. Could the product be controversial in nature, therefore unappealing to the talent?

Once the list of potential celebrity candidates has been analyzed, the client is provided with a list of detailed recommendations on appropriate talent for the campaign. The list may be as little as a few candidates or as high as 100, based upon the client’s needs. Within each group, we highly recommend one to three candidates. Information provided can include talent biographies, upcoming projects, knowledge of the talent’s staff, talent’s likes and dislikes, travel requirements, scheduling conflicts and charitable ties. The client and agencies will also be made aware of all cross promotion opportunities such as tours, albums, new shows, movies, product placement and more.

After the client has received our list of recommendations, it is up to them to choose the right celebrity partner. Some factors to consider would be:

  1. Is the celebrity believable?
  2. Is he / she overexposed?
  3. Will this celebrity achieve the key objectives?
  4. Will their “celebrity” overshadow the brand?
  5. Can the celebrity provide added value?

The research and recommendation phase is important to make sure all potential options are considered, and that every celebrity is evaluated for any potential conflict. Once we have come up with a list of celebrity candidates, the client can choose the right fit and we can move on to the third phase of the celebrity marketing and negotiation process: contracting and negotiations.




Innovative Celebrity Marketing Uses of Athletes during the Olympics


How Brands Cut Through the Clutter, and Made Their Olympic Spots Pop in the 2016 Rio Games

Nike and Under Armour posted and sponsored content leading up to and during the Olympics that caught the audience’s attention and created excitement. Using relatable story-telling, captivating visuals and utilizing non-Olympic athletes made their ads shine during the Rio Games.

Nike has always been known for their visual story-telling and airing their advertising at the most opportune time to pull on the audiences emotions.  This year in Rio was no different for Nike when they aired and posted origin stories of some of their top athletes.  The best example of this is a spot featuring Simone Biles, the star of the United States Women’s gymnastics team.  The video was thoughtfully planned out before the games showing Simone training for Rio and clips from her younger days, while her mother spoke about Simone’s journey to gymnastics greatness.

Nike got one of the most popular artists right now Chance The Rapper to write a song and star in a USA Basketball promotion.  The lyrics are inspiring, incorporating the U.S. National Anthem and Constitution, along with delivering a message of togetherness and unity, not only as a basketball team but as a country.  The video displays all of Nike’s basketball athletes, and projects them on houses and buildings in a city.  This visual really gives you a sense of “home” while pulling on the audience’s patriotism, especially when it airs and is posted right after Team USA just won gold in basketball.

Nike also highlighted their athletes on social media with short pre-recorded GIF’s, posting them to twitter while the athletes were competing.  These short videos were very aesthetically appealing to the eye, and featured Nike’s famous tagline, Just Do It.  These visuals were great at standing out on crowded social media news feed, and generating buzz because you were currently seeing the athlete on TV.

Under Armour (UA) had to think outside the box to create social media content due to the new IOC’s Rule 40.  One way they accomplished this was UA basketball star Steph Curry tweeting about fellow UA team member Michael Phelps on twitter to his 6.7 million followers.  He tweeted out emoji’s representing Phelps dominance in the pool with the Phelps Olympic hype video, and UA’s notable tagline “IWILL” which gained a lot of social traction.

Another innovative way Under Armour created content was with Anthony Joshua, a boxer on their team of athletes.  Joshua, current professional heavyweight, won the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, and was in Rio as a spectator at this Olympics.  UA live streamed an Anthony Joshua beach workout on their Facebook page, along with live posting his workout on their Snapchat story.  They kept the Olympic theme as he was in Brazil and used Rio Snapchat geo-filters without any copyright infringement, as well as echoing their message of discipline and fitness.

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