Barsuk Records Prez: “Almost Nobody Is Getting Rich Off Indie Rock”

And he’s right.

The founder of Death Cab for Cutie’s original record label tells The Stranger about the disconnects that you’re already aware of.

Because so many bands submit music to editors and music supervisors at television shows like The O.C., Grey’s Anatomy, and The Real World, the amount that bands and songwriters earn from soundtrack placement is stagnating — or getting smaller.

In fact, there are so many bands that are willing to let Real World producers use their music (for perceived “buzz”) that the producers no longer have to pay anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone started charging folks to submit their music to the show’s producers.

Remember that soundtrack placement is one of your multiple streams of music income. It’s a good way to earn income, but it does not necessarily impact your audience growth. You will still have to balance out your work by pursuing live shows and direct sales to audience members.

Only by creating your own, deep connections with your audience can you build a network that will support you financially. Soundtrack placements can give you a little financial boost — but not the long-term support you need.

As manager Chris Nilsson says in the article:

A placement on The Real World will rarely, if ever, cause sales or exposure to increase dramatically.

[via Reality Blurred]

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3 responses

  1. David Hooper Avatar
    David Hooper

    I don’t know if Real World or any of those MTV shows has ever paid a licensing fee. I did my first deal with those guys back around 1997 or they definitely weren’t then…at least not for the bumper music.

    They use about 20 tracks per show, which is the dirty little secret that they won’t tell you, and that is why you see so many acts on there.

    As far as paying to submit, I have not seen that happen yet, but I think the production company had a booth at EatM in 1999 and was actively looking for stuff. And with so many of those type shows airing, I’m sure the need has only gotten greater.

    Actually, thinking about it, I used to submit music to some music production house. Have a feeling they were getting paid by the producers, but not sending it on to the publisher. So maybe Real World and the rest of them were paying something after all…at least on some level.

  2. I’ve had several songs placed on Real World, Road Rules, Soroity Life & Undressed. I never got an advance for any of the tracks used, but got decent royalties for airplay down the line. I’ll take the royalties even if I have to skip getting an advance (since I know the shows will air ALOT and the royalties will keep rolling in for years down the road). Not the best paying licensing I’ve done in the past, but it all ads up in the long run.

    Oh, the music I write is Electronica (stuff like the Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, Moby)… Only darker and harder 🙂

  3. Oh yeah… you really dont get much (if any) recognishion from fans… most people dont even know my tracks were used by them (unless I tell them).