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Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

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Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Old 09-22-10, 02:20 PM
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Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

What (or who) determins how much it costs to license a song for a movie? Some examples:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Gilliam has said that they couldn't afford to license Sympathy for the Devil but they could afford Jumpin' Jack Flash. Why does Sympathy cost more than Jumpin'? What "sets the market price"?

I am Sam: The retarded Sean Penn movie. Couldn't afford to license Beatles songs so they used a dozen covers by famous artists. I've heard many times that the Beatles are extremely expensive to license for films. Who sets the price? Paul McCartney

Children of Men: Used a cover version of Ruby Tuesday. I assume the Stones original was too expensive.

Almost Famous: They licensed several Led Zeplin songs, but could not license Stairway to Heaven. They also had to change Wayne's World because of Stairway.

There are many examples. I assume the popularity of the song has something to do with it, as well as the ownership. Is early Stones more expensive becase of the Abco thing?
Old 09-22-10, 02:22 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Greedy Bastard Record Companies.
Old 09-22-10, 02:38 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Supply and demand?
Old 09-22-10, 02:40 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

In some cases, the artist might just not want the song used in a film.
Old 09-22-10, 02:46 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

I was just reading an article on GQ.com today about Goodfellas, and they mention how it's one of the most expensive soundtracks ever because of all the licensing they had to secure.
Old 09-22-10, 02:51 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

it's like a fast food menu, there is a list of songs and they all have different prices depending on the popularity
Old 09-22-10, 02:53 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

But could the difference in popularity between Sympathy and Jumpin' be so great that Fear and Loathing could afford one and not the other?
Old 09-22-10, 03:00 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
But could the difference in popularity between Sympathy and Jumpin' be so great that Fear and Loathing could afford one and not the other?
Sympathy is an iconic song, Jumpin' has a good riff. I would expect to pay more for Satisfaction than I would for Moonlight Mile.

I want to know how much the price for Tiny Dancer went up after Almost Famous. TD wasn't one of Elton John's big catalogue songs, but now it's huge due to that scene.
Old 09-22-10, 03:04 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

It's all arbitrary. Artists, managers, labels, and anyone else who might make a cut can throw in their two cents, while the manager negotiating for the other side is always trying to both get the lowest price while making sure everyone is happy. Throw in various other types of usage, such as DVDs, streaming, etc. and it can become very tricky. Plus, these people might not even be communicating with each other, so at times people are unsure of each other's intentions or desires.

This type of work is a component of my wife's job ...
Old 09-22-10, 03:10 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Originally Posted by sauce07 View Post
I want to know how much the price for Tiny Dancer went up after Almost Famous. TD wasn't one of Elton John's big catalogue songs, but now it's huge due to that scene.
"Hold me closer, Tony Danza..."
Old 09-22-10, 03:12 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Originally Posted by sauce07 View Post
I want to know how much the price for Tiny Dancer went up after Almost Famous. TD wasn't one of Elton John's big catalogue songs, but now it's huge due to that scene.
And perhaps the price for Jumpin' Jack Flash went down due to the Whoopi Goldberg movie.
Old 09-22-10, 05:42 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

That is why the day I make a movie i would use original songs, maybe songs from struggling artists too. Of course that would be never
Old 09-22-10, 05:44 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Wasn't there a big struggle to use "In Your Eyes" for Say Anything? Essentially, Peter Gabriel wanted more than was in the budget.
Old 09-22-10, 06:39 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

I don't know. I know he wanted almost nothing for a song featured in The Chocolate War, another song off of So in fact. I think he did it for $1 and a big card in the credits that said he supported Amnesty International.
Old 09-22-10, 06:47 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

For I Am Sam, didn't Michael Jackson own their rights at the time?
Old 09-22-10, 07:44 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

I wish music wasn't so expensive to license for film sometimes. It's not that I don't want artists to receive a fair cut, it's just that I wouldn't want limitations as a film-maker due to budget. If I ever get around to making a movie, be in one ridiculously low-budget or only merely low budget production, I hope I can find some good indie bands or labels to be willing to have music be featured without making the price for the songs skyrocket. Either that or find someone willing to compose some original music (which in most ways would actually be my preference).
Old 09-22-10, 08:06 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Gilliam has said that they couldn't afford to license Sympathy for the Devil but they could afford Jumpin' Jack Flash. Why does Sympathy cost more than Jumpin'? What "sets the market price"?
I never knew that. But at the shame time, I read/heard that it was an artistic choice by Gilliam to use the Big Brother/Holding Co. song instead of Sympathy because it had the right kind of kick that he wanted to open the movie with.
Old 09-22-10, 08:10 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Originally Posted by Mondo Kane View Post
I never knew that. But at the shame time, I read/heard that it was an artistic choice by Gilliam to use the Big Brother/Holding Co. song instead of Sympathy because it had the right kind of kick that he wanted to open the movie with.
I believe Depp and Gilliam argued about that too. It was in the commentary. I'm in the editing lab right now so I don't have the DVD...can anyone confirm that?
Old 09-22-10, 08:12 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Questlove of The Roots give a good rundown on licensing music for TV/film, with an emphasis on walk on music for talk shows:

http://beta.twitlonger.com/show/5553e
Old 09-22-10, 08:17 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

The Devil's Advocate had licenced "Sympathy for the Devil" a year prior and was a huge hit, that could have easily driven the asking price up.

In the case of Children of Men, I think those were artistic choices as they had a Beatles cover but an actual Lennon master track.
Old 09-22-10, 08:50 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Isn't it the publisher who sets the licensing rate? I'm pretty sure the individual artists have nothing to do with it. IIRC the Zeppelin catalog was sold to Atlantic Records for $25 million back in the early 80s.
Old 09-23-10, 09:02 AM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Originally Posted by Hokeyboy View Post
Isn't it the publisher who sets the licensing rate? I'm pretty sure the individual artists have nothing to do with it. IIRC the Zeppelin catalog was sold to Atlantic Records for $25 million back in the early 80s.
I think there's a mix. I remember hearing that Zack Braff worked out some deal to get "The Only Living Boy In New York" cheap from Simon & Garfunkel for Garden State by appealing to one of them. And the cast of School of Rock filmed a video pleading with the members of Zeppelin for "Immigrant Song."

And I'm pretty sure the anti-gun message of "Bowling for Columbine" was have played a part in getting "Happiness is a Warm Gun" cheaply, likely through some deal with Yoko.
Old 09-23-10, 03:47 PM
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Re: Explain the cost of licensing music for a film

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
Almost Famous: They licensed several Led Zeplin songs, but could not license Stairway to Heaven. They also had to change Wayne's World because of Stairway.
If you listened to Cameron Crowe's commentary on the DVD, he never even asked them if he could use the rights to "Stairway to Heaven." He was so grateful that he could use three of Zeppelin's songs in his film that he didn't want to risk it and ask for Stairway to Heaven.

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