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  • Radio station commercial for broadcast

  • Todd Perchert

    May 11, 2005 at 2:44 pm

    I’m hoping someone knowledgeable can help me with this issue. I am going to be making a :30 television spot for broadcast for a radio station. The best thing this station has going for it is its music – it’s AM and blah, blah… Anyway, I’ve seen many radio station commercials using music and album covers from their format. I don’t know what the legalities of this are. The spot I am working on, we’d like to use their music (and possibly album covers), but I am always leary of copyright issues. Anyone run into this, or any lawyers in the house???
    Thanks. TC

  • Mark Suszko

    May 11, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    IANAL, but my guess is the radio station’s license does not likely cover the video commercial.

    Methinks you have to buy the actual rights for the clips, both the songs and clips from the artists’ music videos. You don’t have to like it, it’s how the business is set up.

    But there’s another consideration. What is hot on their playlist at the time the spot is cut may well be dead and buried a week or two later. If the spot is to have “legs”, you will want to concentrate on visuals and music that don’t need to be updated every week… unless you can talk them into a maintenance contract for continual re-edit/updating (evil grin). Or maybe they only want a spot to run for one week and never again? Seems like bad business planning to me…

    Most times I see radio spots on TV, they use needle drop generic stuff that sounds kind of like what they might play, and visuals that are equally generic. If their on air hosts are a major selling point, then it’s almost all them.
    Don;t let them bamboozle you about the rights being cleared: it’s your butt on the line along with theirs if it’s not, so CHECK IT.

  • Todd Perchert

    May 11, 2005 at 9:04 pm

    >>>Don;t let them bamboozle you about the rights being cleared: it’s your butt on the line along with theirs if it’s not, so CHECK IT. <<< Exactly Mark, that's why I'm hoping someone may have experience in this area. Their playlist is Crooners kind of music (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin), the other station is 50s, 60s, & 70s rock - Lots of Elvis. So I don't need to worry about it getting old quickly, but I would love to use some of the old music and album covers. I've seen commercials for classic rock stations that do this sort of thing (Eagles tunes and AC/DC tunes), but I know there has to be some legalities to using this stuff. If I don't find out anything, you bet I'm not using the stuff. But I'm sure someone has some experience with this. I may need to ask in another forum... TC

  • Frank Otto

    May 11, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    I’m going to assume you’re just the creative on this and the station reps themselves and does the buys.

    Most audio tracks for “clip and montage” commercials use four bars of track…ad nauseum in many cases – take the last four bars of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – used by many AOR stations as the sting in their spots…all four bars of it. By doing that, you get around much of the legal issues of copyright. It’s what the rap and hip-hop world live on, that four bar use.

    By the way…don’t use any “Ol’ Blue Eyes'” tracks…the limited talent Sinatra family has a severe licencing deal set up and makes beaucoup dinero on it – claims the sound is sooooo distinctive that even four bars is an infringment.It’s not U.S. Copyright law, it’s California’s.

    As for images…that’s another issue. In some cases “Fair Use” can be applied, but that’s rare. In the case of album covers you have two issues…the rightsholder, (i.e.) the label, and if there is an image of the artist, the artist. California law (and most of them are CA residents or have a business address there) holds that the celebrity has sole ownership of their likeness.

    Generally, as Mark said it’s better to use a controllable human presence in the spot, vs. clips and covers. If you have to go with art, find historical images of the artists and secure the rights (try the official fan sites on the Net as a first contact). Visually, I’d go with large motion graphics over historical images…add an image of audience reax from an old crooner’s concert to break it up and take the viewer back down memory lane. It’s all about “remember when” for the AM’ers – think about finding a 50’s car or two and some car owners who like to play dress up. The hazy shot of couples in ballroom or hop attire entering a show is a time eater that’ll get you through half the spot. Y’know…the anti-Mtv style…slow and defining, rather than bombardment of images.

    It’s :30…that’s really only tracking four or five artists for two three bars each and a vo tag.


    Frank Otto

  • Todd Perchert

    May 12, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks Frank. Yup, I’m the creative. I was thinking about some old cars and having people dressed up. I’d like to be able to utilize the music… I’m not exactly comfortable with it, since I’ve heard from so many sources that using even a small portion of it is a no-no. And for good reason. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some more definitive answers from other sources.

  • Arnie Schlissel

    May 12, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    “In some cases “Fair Use” can be applied, but that’s rare.”

    OK, I’m not a lawyer either (nor do I play one on tv, nor do I edit TV shows about lawyers…), but I’m pretty sure that “Fair Use” & “TV Commercial” are mutually exclusive. You might want to check with a lawyer about that.

    Either find the $$ to get proper rights to any music & album covers that you want to use, or find some other music & visual that’s within the budget.


  • Todd Perchert

    May 12, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    >>>Either find the $$ to get proper rights to any music & album covers that you want to use, or find some other music & visual that’s within the budget.<<< Well - I thought (hoped), there may be a way to use a radio stations playlist to promote the radio station on television. I see it done frequently. I don't know if the producers of those ads purchased rights or not. This is what I would like to find out. I'm already working on alternative options. TC

  • Larry Melton

    May 13, 2005 at 4:46 am

    You need to depend on the station for this information. They have deals with BMI and ASCAP (or whatever groups apply) that allow them to play the music in exchange for royalties. Those deals may include the use of music for promotional materials. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV spot for a radio station (music format)that did not include clips of the music that they played. If you think about it, any music that you use to promote the station is actually benefitting the artists as well, because they make royalties on what the station plays, so it would make sense to allow the music to be used in that manner.

    The radio station management should be able to help you out with a clear-cut ruling on this.


  • Ron Gerber

    May 13, 2005 at 8:24 pm

    Dean is correct. All of the radio stations I have dealt with have a blanket license that does include fair use for promotional purposes. Check with them and ask them to have their promotions people mix a music bed for you – or even have them include a VO from one of their on air people. They should have no problem doing that as well as providing you with CD covers (most don’t have albums anymore – matter of fact a lot don’t have CDs any more – they are playing music off servers). Hope that helps some.


  • Bob Vick

    May 15, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    They may have such blanket rights to play the music, but that may not extend to others. Consider that they just play the music and don’t sync it to visuals. Sync Rights is another issue that most likely is not within their (radio station) licensing from BMI ot ASCAP.


    Bob Vick sr promo guy @ ch3 wwmt tv, kalamazoo, mi

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