20 Years with Videomaker

A well earned congrats for 20 great years!

We’ve been with the magazine from the first issue and it’s been a really fun ride. We’ve seen the birth of desk top video editing, the emergence of the DV format, the ups & downs of web streaming video (first as all hype in 2001 and now as reality), real-time video editing and DVD burning for everyone. Now we are on the brink of perhaps the biggest technology revolution of them all — HD!!

Over the past 20 years Videomaker has evolved with the industry and remains one of the most important publications in it. Kudos to Matt York and his vision of democratizing video. Here’s to another 20 great years ahead!

Gary Bettan

Videoguys.com aka The Electronic Mailbox

Can I Use Commercial Music?

I read every issue of Videomaker cover-to-cover — several times. The info is top-notch, and is always useful.

Can Videomaker do an article on the "ins and out" of getting permissions to use snippets of commercial music? You hear these snippets in commercials and TV programs (i.e., CBS’s CSI programs each use a different song from The Who).

I am working on some short video segments for commercials and really want/need to use pre-recorded music. But, even after visiting the ASCAP and Harry Fox sites — it’s more bewildering than informative. Especially if you’re new to this segment of audio. Any light that Videomaker can shine on this subject would be greatly appreciated.


David W Orr

Phenix City, AL

Good questions, David, and let us tell you first off that we do have some stories planned for the near future on using commercial music in your productions. We are also looking into more articles on buyout music and music creation software, so watch for those soon.
Regarding your commercial use question: Bottom line, for any production that is going to go on the air, or in a money-making venture, even a tiny snippet is not allowed unless you subscribe to BMI or ASCAP rules. We put your questions to our "Sound Advice" contributing editor, Hal Robertson. His response follows:

It’s actually quite messy (and usually expensive). Sometimes, in advertising production, the license fees are blanket-covered by the stations they air on. This only applies to local stuff, not regional or national ads. The big boys usually contact the publisher directly to negotiate a license. If you’re a non-profit, and have a cause that the publisher/owner loves, it’s possible to get a free license for their music. Possible, but not probable.

They will want to know your "views per spot" — or how many potential viewers and how many times the spot will air. They may want to know what part of the song you’re using (verse, chorus, etc.) and what lyrics you’re associating with your advertised product. Even then, permission/license may be contingent on approving a final edit of the commercial. Geez! Just depends on the artist-agency-publisher. Maybe they won’t even care! Maybe…

Finally, there are companies who specialize in re-creating famous songs just for advertising and promotional productions. You pay to use their version, then a mechanical license fee on a per-view/listen basis. Usually, it’s much more cost-effective and WAY less of a hassle.
Hal Robertson
Robertson MediaCraft

Hope this helps, David. We know that it’s very frustrating, and we have access to companies that are trying to help this last holdout on the "middle man production" and will share that information with our readers as it becomes available.

We’ve also witnessed a trend in buy-out music libraries providing tracks from world renowned artists at reasonable prices. If these companies can prove to make their business model work, we might see more libraries composed by professional film composers and pop culture music icons. So, there may be a day when you can actually purchase a compilation by U2.

The Editors