I frequently get asked by artists how should they proceed with getting their music in the GFM Catalog. Really its not about how you should proceed, its about what to consider before submitting your music to a music publisher. Though this post is mainly about how Grimm Factor Music is operating at this moment, I believe that this info can cover a broad range of companies like other music publishers, music libraries, and music curators. Even if you wanted to go right to the source and omit the middle man, these are still important things to consider.
What Grimm Factor Music does, at this moment, is sub-licensing. Think of Grimm Factor Music as a liaison. The agreement you get from me simply states that I will place your music in the GFM catalog for at least one year. Should your music get licensed from the catalog, GFM takes 50% of the licensing fee only. I will market the catalog itself to whomever I contact concerning licensing. I do not market or promote the artists in the catalog. That's a service I offer outside of the publishing and its not free. I do not collect any royalties as part of this liaison agreement. That part you have to do. You keep all rights to your music, I'm just a middle man.
I do not place importance on one song or artist over another. There's no point in working like that in this industry. Music publishing and licensing provides material that fits the needs of the person finding music for their projects. If a music supervisor contacts me and asks if I have a song that fits a scene where someone betrays a friend, I will check my catalog for that kind of song unless I know the song off hand. If you and a different artist gave me songs like that I will pitch those songs to that music supervisor. I can't guarantee that the music buyer will choose your music. They may choose it then decide not to use it if something about the project changes, like if that betrayal scene was taken out before release, or if they find music from somewhere else that better fits their needs and budget.
As far as royalties go, in order for you to generate royalties you should have your music registered with the US Copyright Office and you have to have your music registered with a PRO. I wrote about that in a previous post. If you are not with either ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SoundExchange, or any other Professional Performance Rights Organization in the world, I won't offer you a sub licensing agreement. Even though I am not going to collect royalties, you must have your publishing setup. So pick one and join them as a writer or a publisher. The reason why I say that you must join a PRO is because the people that license your music will need that info to pay you royalties should there be a commercial release of the project. Sometimes there will be projects that have no budget or pay no royalties but will offer you credit for having your music in their project. I will only accept that in cases where I feel the project will get the right kind of exposure that benefits the musician.
Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to offer co-publishing, exclusive publishing, and sole publishing. This honestly depends on how much Grimm Factor Music has developed over time in this industry. I want those agreements to be more beneficial to every musician before I have anyone sign on the dotted line.
Suggestions For The Musician
A few things you must keep in mind about the music you make for this industry:
- Your music cannot be too specific - Songs with names, dates, or places are usually the first skipped over. Your music should be a bit more general/specific and be able to cover a broad range of subjects. General/Specific means that you can write a song about a cheating lover (general/specific) but not mention any names, dates, places or very specific situations. There are times when a song can be placed that is very specific but the more general the concept, the more opportunities your music can pull in.
- Diversity helps - People that license music aren't looking for you to break the mold or come out with the next hit song. Tracks should be diverse. There are over 8 million stories that can be told. How many of them can you write about?
- Write with purpose - Your songs should be written for a purpose. You should be asking yourself where do you see this song being placed if it does get licensed? In a commercial, for what brand? In a movie as background, soundtrack, or theme music? In a video game of what type, a shooter/adventure/sports/action/puzzle/etc? On a Tv show? Maybe highlight reels? How about a web video or company slideshow? What about retail stores? There are plenty types of media where your music can be placed.
- Learn To Describe Your Music - Is it edgy, bouncy, aggressive, pensive, flaky, sexy, gothic, exciting, boring, angry, dull, tempered, etc? Is it hip hop (East Coast, West Coast, Gangster, Party, Dance..whatever), R&B, Soul, rock, reggae, new world, trance, trip hop, experimental, dub step, euro, folk, americana, alternative, etc? Figuring how to describe your music accurately almost puts a DNA like marker on your material. Music buyers need to reference those descriptions to quickly pinpoint music they feel best goes with their project. That doesn't mean they will pick your song, but descriptions help. I will be adding a new post very soon with an extreme list of words you can use to describe your music as a reference.
- Mixes and Breakdowns - Do you have clean versions of a song (clean words, not just editing the bad ones out) with explicit lyrics? Can you provide the song separated into a lyrics track and instrumental? Can you provide the track with just the hook and instrumental, or maybe a clip of the song? Is the song mixed properly? It doesn't have to be mastered but your mixes should be easy on the ears and people should be able to hear the proper balance of music and vocals.
- Songs with samples or derivative works from established artists are a no no - If your music is littered with samples I, for one, will not catalog it and most music buyers looking for indie music will not license it. Even if you have permission to use the sample chances are most music supervisors will not license it if they do not have the budget to cover the expenses.
- Try making cover songs - Cover songs are great ways to get placements. You don't need permission to create or even sell a cover song. You just need to know who wrote and published the song. You can remake an old song into something new if you wanted to. Many project managers or producers have a famous song in mind to use but do not want to pay the huge licensing fee that comes along with the artists who made the song so they look for cover songs. A good cover song can create an awesome fan base as well because the really famous songs already have huge amounts of listeners.
- Intellectual Property Rights - Who owns the rights to your music? This includes the master sound recording, the lyrics, and the composition (or instrumental). If you're already signed to a record label of any size or have an exclusive agreement with a music publisher, you may not own the rights to your music based on the terms of your contract. If you're in a band or group or have collaborated with other artists/songwriters then it helps to have all the particulars about who owns the rights to the song worked out. My catalog is focused strictly on indie music owned by the artist/musician and my exclusive tracks since I own all the rights to them.
- Prior obligations and agreements - In the case of bands or groups, do you have an agreement setup between you and other artists or writers involved with a particular song? You're agreement with others involved in your work should clearly state song rights, main representation (who acts on behalf of the group), and financial obligations. Once you sign the agreement with GFM, you are bound to those terms and conditions as well as any other artist signing that same agreement. If you are the only representative on the agreement then you must have your stipulations set up with other songwriters. I will not be obligated to act on their behalf financially or legally. This goes double and triple for agreements you have made with other music publishers and record labels. If you're locked in exclusively to a music publisher or record label, I wont offer you an agreement.
- Be Patient - This business may not move fast for lesser known musicians compared to established indie musicians, commercial artists, and the people searching for music. If you're just starting out, then you have to be patient. Like I said above there are no guarantees that your music will get placed at all. It depends on how your music is created, distributed, marketed, then there's timing, and the needs of the music buyer. Also, your publisher should have or be developing the type of relationships that can increase your opportunities of getting placed. If you are involved in non-exclusive agreements (like the one I give out), then find more publishers that can help you put your music out there to increase your chances of getting placement. Don't keep all of your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes.
This part of the business can be lucrative for you as an indie musician but you need to have everything in place. The easier it is for your music to be licensed, the better your chances of getting placed and paid. So long as you have all factors in place as discussed above, you should have a relatively smooth ride in this industry.
If you want more information regarding the type of agreements I offer then please use the form on the contact us page. I will send you a document that discusses the advantages and disadvantages of my agreements.