Frankly, I'm puzzled. Having just read your "Letters" column in the August issue, I question your recommendation that every station have "a good selection of 30 or 40 sound track albums on hand".
Do the words "copyright infringement" sound familiar? Not to sound too much like a weasel lawyer, but I have argued with sales types and clients about using songs from records/movies/tv. Not only is it not a good idea because of the "distraction" factor, but it has always been my understanding it is quite illegal. In fact, one station in this market refuses to accept any pre-recorded spots that utilize these beds.
Once and for all, could you back me up in my skirmishes with the sales types or let me know it's really OK after all to use these pieces of music for commercials?
Many thanks and keep up the good work.
WOWW-FM, Pensacola, FL
Thank you for bringing up an ancient question. We are glad to say you are absolutely correct! It is an infringement of copyrights and a station can be sued for it.
We spoke with representatives at BMI and ASCAP and we all agreed that this misuse of music has gone on for decades and continues to go on. We asked if any station had been sued for copyright infringement and neither representative could recall a particular instance, but this is not to say that it hasn't been done. We just don't know of a case.
We will retract our statement that stations should misuse music this way and revise it to simply state that it is done. If your station adds the new Joe Blow single and you use the intro of it on a commercial, it is unlikely Joe Blow will sue you for it unless he wants you to stop playing his record. On the other hand, if you use the same music on a national spot, you'd better have permission to do so. It is our "opinion" that the extent to which you infringe upon the copyrights is more the issue than whether or not you do it.
For many small stations with no money for production libraries, this is the only source of production music available; and until the artists (who NEED radio stations on their side) begin to complain about this misuse of their music, the crime will probably continue. If the day ever comes when stations everywhere start getting sued for using music this way, you can bet there'll be one big party, and the producers of production libraries will be throwing it.
Thank you for the article on the selling power of emotions ("Research Blows Holes...," July edition). I hope you can do a follow-up or two, and put them on the front page. I'd like to add, though, that I think my best stuff is when I can get the listener to think AND feel. Emotion without reason is sentimentality: schlock.
I like the Cassette, but after a while (a short while), all the promos sound the same. Do Production Directors around the country really think the listener is amazed by the amount of effects we can stack together? Whatever happened to good copywriting? Credible delivery? Even good grammar, for heaven's sake! The "sizzle" factor is fine, but if there isn't a steak under there somewhere, your listener will eventually feel like you've lied to him. I feel like many of my colleagues have stopped trying to communicate and are just playing with their expensive toys.
RAP, keep up the good mag.
Corporate Production Director
Mortenson Broadcasting Company
We agree. If you can get the listener to think and feel, you have a more effective spot. You've got the listener using both sides of their brain. The topic is a good one and related articles are slated for future issues.
Your comments on copy vs. "sizzle" are similar to a letter in last month's issue. If the promos on The Cassette sound alike to you, that could be a result of what programmers expect from a promo. It seems creative copy is found more often in commercials than in promos. Good commercials can be cute, funny, sweet, touching and even informative, and the programmer and client are happy; but those promos had better stand out. They need balls! Give me some zaps and explosions! Give me dramatic copy! Sample every other word and make it sound like a rap song! Yes, there are a lot of toys being played with, but turn The Cassette over and see what these same colleagues are doing with commercials. (Aren't the toys fun, though?)