It was interesting reading all the discussion in last month’s issue [November 2004 RAP] about the new “Less is More” initiative from Clear Channel - and in particular how it will generally affect producers and writers.
The 30-second promo/commercial is a fairly common standard in the UK and has been for many years. We can occasionally go longer when creating audio for major station promotions, but normally have to write copy to fit this format. Whilst this can be limiting, it certainly forces you as a writer to identify the really relevant copy points rather than padding out 60 seconds with a lot of irrelevant information. One thing it does allow you to do is create a number of different versions of promos, either with alternate lines or a number of different ideas. This in turn creates a greater variety of promos — less chance of them burning so fast — and makes the boss think that you are creating more work.
I guess it will require a change in the mindset, not only of the producers, but more importantly of the execs and clients. Shorter commercials will mean less clutter in the commercial, which should hopefully allow the key messages to cut through more clearly. There will of course be some producers who feel creatively inhibited by this change, but if it leads to more listeners due to less clutter, then it should strengthen the market — and maybe help improve job security.
Brand Head of Production
Capital FM Regional Network
I wanted to reply to John’s article in the November 2004 RAP [Against the Law… If Someone Cares]. My name is Ron Goldberg. For over 14 years I’ve run sales and marketing for Manhattan Production Music, a production library that some of RAP readers should be familiar with. I also run the licensing for our record label, Chesky Records. I was appalled when I read this article and saw that the record labels, my so-called industry peers, have swept this particular issue under the rug. I wanted to make it clear that what happened to John’s acquaintance is NOT an industry standard. With today’s dwindling record buying environment the major and minor labels have actually been going full force looking at other revenue opportunities. At our company we’ve had a handful of instances such as these that have been brought to our attention, and we’ve acted on them immediately. Some of them have resulted in substantial settlements.
The problem John’s acquaintance had is more than likely a result of record label consolidation and bureaucracy. With several major mergers in the last few years, thousands of label employees have been laid off making it very difficult for outsiders to obtain information.
I also wanted to clarify one legal issue. Mechanical licensing that Harry Fox handles is defined as the rights to use music in productions that are sold to the general public, like CD sales. The rights that stations need to play music in commercials is actually called synchronization (synch) rights, which as Harry Fox mentioned, must be obtained from the music publisher or record label.
Manhattan Production Music