Feature

The Insider's Guide to Production: Cleared for success

Independent music libraries alleviate the need for advertisers to get rights clearance through traditional channels, so enabling nimble marketing.

More than merely the current buzzword of broadcast media, 360-degree commissioning is a reflection of the changes in the way audiences now consume content. TV programmes are now non-linear multiplatform experiences, from Big Brother's companion programming through to audience voting, websites, branded events and publications. With Kudos' new production for ITV, Echo Beach, and Moving Wallpaper set to become the epitome of all that is 360-degree commissioning, this is a trend set to stay.

Having spent the past five years working with TV producers on the distribution of their content across all platforms and territories, it seems there are clear lessons the ad industry can learn on how to approach the opportunities and challenges of 360-degree media consumption.

Changes in audience behaviour are allowing advertisers to engage with consumers across all channels - from broadcast sponsorship credits through to dynamic banner advertising, ringtones and push video messages. However, in the same way that a broadcaster has to deliver a consistent editorial standard across all platforms, advertisers must produce marketing collateral that can deliver a consistent message across all media. Thus, all third-party rights in the material have to be cleared for all media and all territories - easier said than done.

One of the key problems for advertisers in creating this library of fully cleared content is one of music clearance. Traditionally, advertisers have chosen between existing recordings, either commercial or library tracks, or specifically composed music. From Levi's use of I Heard It Through The Grapevine, through to McCain's use of Food Glorious Food, music is an integral part of the campaign.

However, in a world were the content has to be used across all platforms and in all territories, which is the best solution? Each option has its own creative and commercial problems and advantages. Specifically, composed music can be costly and complicated to produce, especially if the composer is being asked to clear all media and territories. That said, a consistently applied, strategic approach with a music track or sound, which is exclusive to the brand, can have all the advantages of a well-marketed logo.

Pre-recorded commercial music allows the advertiser to associate its brand with a recognised track, delivering the benefits of secondary brand associations. However, commercial music can be very expensive, complicated and slow to clear; it requires separate multiple Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, record company and Performing Right Society agreements to clear both the recording and the musical work for individual territories, platforms and purposes.

Finally, library music has a key benefit of being cleared through one organisation, the MCPS. While this carries the same problems of multiple platform and territorial licences, at least the song and recording can be cleared with one licence. Nevertheless, library music has often been overlooked because of its ubiquitous availability. Marketers have also been reluctant to identify their brands with tracks that could be easily adopted by other advertisers.

The MCPS's role in clearing music for use in advertising is key to each of these music options. When a producer only had to worry about the use of advertising on TV - in a clearly defined territory - it was relatively easy to litter the content with commercial tracks through MCPS licences. However, with the advent of video-on-demand, mobile and online distribution, and concerns over geo-restriction and data protection, the clearance of commercial and library music is problematic.

The response of the MCPS to these changes has been to offer the producer a patchwork of music clearance licences. Each licence clearly defines the permitted use, platform and territory, and requires the producer to go back to the MCPS to pay additional fees for any incremental use of the music. This is often time-consuming, expensive and limits the creative distribution of the marketing message - restricting the opportunities for a brand to reach its target audience as opportunities emerge. This is creating a void between the consumption of media and a brand's ability to make that content available across all platforms.

This has clearly been the case in the broadcast space, where the inclusion of commercial music has limited the use of content across emerging platforms. The licences offered by the MCPS have struggled to keep abreast of developments in the media landscape, and the cost is often prohibitive for activities which offer incremental revenue for the producer.

As the need to resolve these problems has become more pivotal, there has been increasing pressure on the music industry to find answers. A significant development is the birth of independent music libraries such as ours at Audio Network. These libraries do not give the MCPS the mandate to license their music, so avoiding the restrictions inherent in the MCPS model and making the licensing process quicker and easier for the advertiser.

Media owners including the BBC, All3Media, RDF Media and Red Bee Media are making use of such libraries in the UK and now advertisers such as Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Budweiser and British Airways have caught on to the advantages of having music of all styles pre-cleared for cross-platform and international use in perpetuity.

For these clients, the solution is an opportunity to unlock the potential of their marketing collateral. Without any of the limitations imposed by commercial or other library music, producers, broadcasters and advertisers alike are free to use the content whenever and wherever they so choose. This allows a client to be opportunistic, exploiting emerging ways to communicate through high quality content that delivers a consistent message.

Gone are the days when a broadcaster would schedule the audience's entertainment time and litter it with ad messages that would be diligently absorbed by the target market. However, the ability of an advertiser to reach viewers with a consistent message at every point of contact in a truly integrated marketing campaign requires a library of flexible collateral that is fully cleared for all opportunities.

The Audio Network model is unique in this space: a simple solution that facilitates a 360-degree approach to advertising. By providing music fully cleared for all platforms and all territories - in one simple licence - it allows advertisers to be innovative and creative in the distribution of their marketing messages.

- Jason Langley is the commercial director at Audio Network.