The Trifecta Of Music Licensing


Films are 50% visual and 50% sound. Sometimes sound even overplays the visual.” – David lynch

One of the most underestimated aspects of film making, especially wedding film making is the audio components which accompany the visuals, these includes audio recordings and soundtrack selection.

Still to this day modern and contemporary cinematographers fight the “tacky” dated stereotype brought on by a slew of mushy love balled filled, over coloured and boring wedding films. Cheesy! Certainly advances in camera technology have brought the “look” of wedding films to a higher standard as now film makers don’t require huge shoulder lugging camcorders to shoot but can enhance their production with DSLR cameras, cameras that shoot HD, with depth of field, that can use a variety of lens and take advantage of a whole host of support gear for beautiful cinematic movements…. but what about the audio!

This is a huge topic of conversation so for the purpose of this blog let’s focus on the soundtrack element of films.

A little back story then? Gregg and I met in university way before we had our CineMate name, you might have thought we would have been involved in some sort of film course by what we do now but nope! Instead we both focused our efforts on music technology and individually we concentrated our final dissertations on film and audio projects. Here we were really able to delve in to the relationship between audio and visual work. It was probably the most important educational experience of our time at university as it has helped enhanced the most important skills of creating our films.

Focusing on film making and having knowledge was only part of the solution to what appeared to be a growing problem. Far too many just could not meld great sound with their great visuals but not for a lack of trying, especially with in the wedding film market, where nearly every individual or wedding film company believed it safe to use chart hits on their films with the thought that they would get away with it. Sadly this was not the case! With the economy taking its’ hit, record labels cracked down upon many of the largest names in the industry!

Phillip Bloom, one of the biggest names from the rise of the DSLR film revolution comments on this on his blog.

For years I have scoured the web looking for creative commons music tracks, bought bundled packets of licensed tracks, even used the pre mixed and supplied music in FCP Studios Soundtrack Pro. I would love it if I could choose a track at whim off the radio, but the horror stories are out there and the attitude of ‘it’ll be ok cause I’m just a little guy’ wont cut it any more. With physical record sales nearing extinction, record companies recognize that digital music is where all money will be made, and they have eyes and ears on the ground my friend, searching for unauthorized use of music so they can swoop down and take you away in the dead of night with nothing left behind but a pair of headphones and a court summons from a Mr I.O.Knew.”

Within the world of freelance, corporate and wedding film making a new phenomenon of music licensing was born… Wait… There was no music licensing! Well now there was! IS! A generation of film and music lovers, managing smaller but talented band who’s music ranged in genre and emotion, perfect for all film makers to take advantage of and use online.

Of this new generation of music licensing companies our favourite is “The Music Bed” and for a number of reasons. One! Their catalog of artists is extensive, guaranteeing music for what ever project. Two! The site is so easy to browse. Don’t underestimate this point as many other site are badly designed and hours can fly by without successfully finding “that track” that fits. Three! Cost. Four! You can create wish lists allowing personal cataloguing of tracks that might fit other projects. Five! The company is relatable. The Music Bed was created by film makers for film makers so they meet our needs at ever turn. Six! The general ethics of the company. They support artists so we support artists. We like that 🙂 Seven! They just released a rather great app. Portable, easy to use, fast, perfect! Eight! Nine! Ten! Eleven!…… Where do we stop!

As filmmakers ourselves, we were constantly searching for new music sources. We’d sit in creative meetings, dream up concepts for films, write scripts, cast talent, and then try to find the right music. But every time we placed a song, it seemed like we weren’t getting the feel we needed. It was as if the concept of the video was being held back by a music choice that we were forced to make from a limited pool.

Here at The Music Bed, we create opportunities for bands, composers, singers, and songwriters to legitimately make it as full-time artists. By partnering with them, we enable these artists to further themselves as musicians without worrying about how they’re going to make ends meet. And, as we hope you’ve experienced, our partnership ultimately assists and inspires the filmmaker.”

How do you select songs for each wedding film? It’s a question we get asked all the time by couples and it’s an important one. The question depends on a number of factors. Who’s our couple? What genre of music do they like? What film are we soundtracking?

Lets talk quickly about our songs then. The couple make their wedding film! That might be a little obviously to some but it’s so important to make their wedding film feel like “theirs”. Perhaps they’re more in too indie rock, or perhaps the bride likes chart pop and the groom like rock & roll. Well first things first! We find out what genre both the bride and groom listen to by ask for their top five favourite songs or bands…EVER. This enables us to select suitable tracks for whatever parts of the film we are editing. There’s certainly skill required in finding a track that matches the tone and emotion the visuals require.

We do not ask what songs couples want in their film specifically and this can be slightly difficult to convey to couples but it’s for their own good. We don’t ask because of the importance the soundtrack plays in the emotional telling of a wedding and as no wedding is the same, no wedding film should feel the same.

Now what films are we editing? Each package we offer contains three main elements: The trailer, the wedding film and the documentary.

As our trailers goes online we need to use tracks with a specific online music licences. The music bed and other sites like it are where we locate those tracks and again by knowing what genre a couple like we can select a song that fits them, their wedding and their trailer. With regard to the wedding films and documentary, we specifically licence through PPL and MCPS to allow the use of popular music from other record labels but these only allow use on disc and to a certain length of music.

Following this weeks feature blog post cover soundtrack selection be sure to make your way back here next tuesday as we list our track selections our all of our previous wedding trailers.


Simon & Gregg