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Music Licensing: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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When Alexandra Patsavas gave the Keynote at the Billboard Film and TV Music Conference, the Hollywood Reporter proudly publicized her as someone who “championed the work of independent artists in TV and feature films.” This sentence, when read on a muggy LA morning, stuck in my proverbial craw. It seemed to corroborate some iterative journalism I had read earlier that month on Wikipedia, which stated that her “ongoing search for suitable songs often leads to unsigned or non-mainstream performers.”

Why was I stalking Patsavas on the Internet? The answer is simple. I was curious why she was held on a pedestal as an industry gatekeeper for breaking independent artists. And further, what artist has she plucked out of obscurity and put into the end credits of the O.C.?
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Fast-forward a month and a music video lands in my inbox, one that has been floating around YouTube all summer called “Alexandra Rhapsody.” Besides the extremely catchy nature of the song, the reason I really loved it is because it vindicated what many independent artists feel. Hallelujah! I imagined that most of the independents would appreciate knowing someone else is a bit put off by how synonymous her name is with breaking new musical talent.

Truth is, half of the people placed on Grey’s Anatomy are on her label Chop Shop Records, which opened and partnered with Atlantic Records (not an independent label I might add) in 2007. It seems major label subsidiaries posing as independent labels are more commonplace today than not. Do the research and find out for yourself.

So along comes this independent artist, Joe Treewater, who provides a more beautiful protest than I could imagine by making a really great and catchy song, aimed directly at her, and it is obviously not licensable – a satirical plea to get a song placed on a television show disguised as a love lament. Hasn’t someone thought of doing this before? Sadly, no.

When the music industry was first born, people used to write songs that would end up being used in film/TV. Now the placement of music is so crucial to artist’s success that some are writing music about not placing their songs in film and TV! That may just be a weird sign of the times or a warning sign of a mercurial industry that has ignored the real underdog for far too long.

The target here may be Patsavas but it is quite obvious that this is simply a micro of the macro. When press starts proselytizing the virtues of these people and how they are always open to new, unknown music, things start to really get blurry.  The system seems to be a bit broken.

To be fair, I did contact Chop Shop twice for comment on the above song and no answer was to be had. Surprised?

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About Mike Olinger

I am mad about music. Especially music with vision, uniqueness and soul. If you do too, then follow me, Modern Visionaries – I won’t lead you astray. – Mike O. Owner & Operator: Modern Visionaries Currently a contributor to: Blahblahblah Science IMR ZME Mezzic The Doughnut Blogcritics
  • Karen Shaw

    This is a good observation on the current dilemma of the music licensing business.

  • Guitar Addict

    I hate this business!

  • Yadgyu

    Still trolling, eh?