No sacrifice of income in return for exposure, poll results

For the first few weeks of January this blog ran a poll asking for opinions on whether sacrificing income in return for a high-profile advertising placement is a price worth paying. Of the 489 votes cast, 81.2% said they would not give up all royalties to a track in return for its use in a major advertising campaign, with 18.8% saying they would. The question was prompted by a competition launched at the beginning of this month by the brand promoter and advertiser Ogilvy, which is holding a “music pitch session” later this month at the music conference MIDEM.

Royalties poll

Ogilvy was asking for artists to submit original songs that could be used in one of “several upcoming advertising campaigns.” Although the headline on the competition website said “win a chance to have your music featured in a Dove Men+ Care ad campaign!,” the actual winner, should the submissions be considered good enough, could be used in a number of advertising campaigns handled by Ogilvy. According to the brand promoter, the competition was as much about raising awareness with artists of how their music could be used in advertising as it was to find music for a specific advertising campaign.

No specific terms and conditions were provided for any possible sync deal as part of the competition’s entry process. The only terms were provided by Sonicbids, which created the competition website, and were applicable only to the website. However, Ogilvy told Music & Copyright that if a piece of music was selected, the author/artist would receive a sync fee for its use. The artist/author would also retain all rights to the music submitted.

Few could doubt the boost received by artists used in high profile advertising campaigns such as those screened by Apple for its iPod portable music player. The Canadian singer songwriter Leslie Feist received a massive sales boost in 2007 for her album The Reminder and single 1234 after the track was used to promote the iPod nano. The track went on to win several awards with Time magazine ranking the song at number 2 in its “10 Best Songs of 2007.”

Some competitions though do insist that an artist hands over publishing and performance-rights as part of the terms of entry. Although competitions such as these offer unsigned artists the opportunity to put their music in front of a big audience, there is a price to pay. In finding out how many artists would be willing to pay that price, the poll drew a number of comments that questioned such competitions’ real value. A collection of comments are posted below. Music & Copyright would like to thank all those that voted and took the time to express their views.

Every so often some of my clients will do “freebies” in exchange for getting credited. Sometimes it can be a good career move. If you decide to do something like that, I usually suggest trying to include a provision in the contract that provides that “the other side” is obligated to give you credit.
Paul Ungar

It’s a great question to ask [and] in most cases I would say no and that’s what I voted. But let’s say the music [was] for the next Bond film. They can have it, it’s in the post.
William Butler

Years ago… maybe 20 or so, I used to agree that this would be a good idea. But no longer. There are too many ways to beat the labels and producers in this game and make a good living doing what you love.
Scott Smith

This “opportunity” amounts to a kiss on one cheek and a slap on the other, and underscores the problem with the dilution and lacking respect anymore toward the value of music.
Bobby Francavillo

I have a very simple rule in situations such as this… If all parties involved are donating time, talent and no one is getting paid… we will consider the program. If the program is a good deal for everyone… then it is a good deal!
Rod Harris

Depends on the situation the artist is in. “Anticipation” Heinz ketchup,…think Carly Simon regrets that?
Brian Jaccoma

My limited experience with exposure of this nature is that most groups are not equipped to leverage it. You’d need to run a campaign towards supervisors, plus audiences in the countries in which it is running and ideally some PR. So it requires good contacts and some money to really reap the benefits (apart from the passive benefits of people managing to find out who you are).
Michael Leahy

No artist should ever give up a penny in exchange for exposure. I have been in this biz 40 years and…I have never heard of any artist giving away their love for exposure. Utter insanity.
Rich Unger

This is a personal choice, the discussion on the value of exposure is circular, so just pick the argument you believe in. There is no compelling data supporting either side. Personally, I believe that if you think your music isn’t worth anything, give it away. If it has value, then charge for it.
Stephen Hart

I think a big part of how you would feel about this is based on your career as an artist. If you are successful and lucky enough to make your living from writing music then I agree that giving it away seems a step too far. However if you are an aspiring musician recording songs in their bedrooms or doing loads of pub gigs and going nowhere what’s the harm.
Neil Dew-Gosling

Music & Copyright
If you like this blog then Music & Copyright might be just what you are looking for. It is a fortnightly research service covering global copyright and legal issues affecting the music industry. It is unrivalled in its coverage of this complex and fascinating area of the music industry. It is also why our extensive client list includes companies and organizations from all sectors of the music industry operating all around the world. But don’t take our word for it, please get in touch and we will send you the latest issue.

Music & Copyright is published by Informa Telecoms & Media.