Last month, Flip Michaels put a little blurb in his column about an impending lawsuit that I had found out about between the Romantics, and several TV stations in Atlanta for using their song, "What I Like About You," in a commercial campaign. This info came from another industry trade paper, and there was no further information on the suit. Since then, however, I was able to find out more.
This is the beginning of a large lawsuit that the Romantics are in the process of initiating against their former manager, Anheuser-Busch, and several commercial agencies. Apparently, the band's former manager represented himself as owner of the song rights, and authorized the use of the song with several agencies for not only Budweiser, but several other commercial uses. According to the band, the guy took all the money for the song and never sent them one dime; and even though he "acted in their behalf," any contracts he signed are invalid because he kept the money, and they were not informed.
That is basically the band's side of the story in totally un-legalized terminology. Unfortunately, this appears to be one of those stories that we may never hear the outcome from as the regular news media seems to be completely uninterested in it. This one is also going to pose some interesting questions that will likely leave the music industry legal geeks beating each other up for the true definition of the question, "Exactly who owns this music?"
This also poses an interesting question for me, because here at WKLQ, we are running a commercial dealing with a special local Budweiser promotion. Anheuser-Busch's creative agency sent us copy for me to voice over their music bed which just happens to be, "What I Like About You." They produced the bed, not WKLQ. They say that they have the rights to use the song because they paid for it. Our General Manager says that the lawsuit is Budweiser's problem, and we can air the music bed until we hear otherwise from their legal department. Or, I would think, until we get named in the lawsuit, too.
Am I worried? No. Part of me would, obviously, like to pull the bed and go with something else, because being a former musician myself, I really can sympathize with the Romantics side of the story. However, as our GM says, this is Anheuser-Busch's problem, and given the way the courts are going these days, there likely will not be any ruling on this case until after the commercial's air schedule is over. Secondly, and more importantly, Anheuser-Busch does have the rights to the song. Whether it's the right people or not, they paid somebody for it, and they have the legal documenting to back it up.
Like they say, it ain't over till the fat lady sings. Besides, haven't you noticed how "What I Like About You" sounds extremely similar to Neil Diamond's, "Thank The Lord For The Night Time?" GOD I LOVE BEING PARANOID!!!!
John Pellegrini, Production Director
WKLQ-FM, Grand Rapids, MI
After reading the last issue of RAP, I felt compelled to write and say how much I enjoy your publication. I remember a few years back, getting an early copy, and thinking what a great idea it was that someone was publishing on the gut level of radio production and not the gloss.
I've had the good fortune over the years to work in several different markets and a variety of production facilities. Some were outstanding, some were mediocre, and some were horrid. I find it most interesting when good production is turned out, not from a production facility with 8 tracks, digital this and that and all the toys, but on equipment that most of us in the trenches have to work with. Not that I don't appreciate 44.1 kHz sampling and clean 20-bit D/A and A/D conversion, I do! But I believe that the majority of us in the industry still have to deal with worn out analog equipment and bailer twine and chewing gum engineering. Okay, maybe not the majority, but more than a lot of people realize.
So, after listening to "The Cassette" (June 93), I decided to send in a piece of production. One of our Account Execs came in my office, gave me the name of the business, and said (and I quote), "Give me something cute! And, oh, by the way, I need it by this afternoon!" So, like many production people, I got so peeved that I wrote, produced, and voiced a "cute" spot just to spite the brash AE.
The spot is in mono. (The GM is afraid of phasing problems with stereo! Is this 1993?) Here's the chain: The mike is an old AKG D-190 E, circa 1970. The processing is a Shure Level Loc, circa 1965. The board is a Urei broadcast board, circa 1973. The reel-to-reel is an old Ampex 2-channel mono machine (affectionately referred to as "The Tank") circa 1965. The spot was mastered on an ITC cart machine (mono) circa 1975. I'm told we'll be upgrading the production facilities soon, and I look forward to putting my two cents in. Thanks for a great publication!
Bryan Locke, Production Director
WBLG/WBGN, Bowling Green, KY
Thanks for the kind words and the spot you sent. We've put it on this month's Cassette. Considering the gear you had to work with, the quality of the spot was not bad at all -- good sign that you're using the equipment to its fullest potential. As far as the "cute" spot you had to throw together quickly...it works! It's creative and delivers the message! If you produce spots like this to "spite" your AEs, they'll be asking for "cute" and "by this afternoon" all the time! Keep up the good work!
I want to compliment you on another fine edition (May 1993) of RAP! I especially enjoyed the article by John Pellegrini, "How to Lie Convincingly." It was full of great tips in addition to being a good motivator. I shared it with everyone at KLLL who steps up to the mike. Combine John P's tips on acting with John Dodge's hints on freelancing and a person could be dangerous!
Debbie Parmley Norton, Production Director
KLLL FM/AM, Lubbock, TX