Feature

Music: How to find the track

Personal service vs online search: London Calling is one of a new breed of synch specialist challenging the digital model.

TRACIE LONDON-ROWELL MANAGING DIRECTOR, LONDON CALLING

- Briefly describe what your business does.

London Calling opened earlier this year. We represent a variety of artists and music catalogues for all forms of synchronisation, some of which are already signed to record companies and publishing companies but who retain us as their dedicated synchronisation consultants. We provide ad agencies and film and TV companies with a music research facility into an artist roster that includes Blur, Sia, Grace Jones, Gorillaz, Robbie Williams, Morcheeba, and Pete and the Pirates and publishing catalogues that date back to 1913.

- What is its USP?

We know our market and our music. We provide a professional and personal free-of-charge service to our advertising clients, from the creative music search stage to the negotiation of fees and terms and licence stage. We are not a faceless website, nor are we a third-party licensing company; we are a music consultancy with direct contact with the artists we represent and more than 20 years of music industry experience, unlike most of our competitors.

- Why is it the best model for agencies/advertisers to use?

Our knowledge of the market, our artists and catalogues is essential. Too many companies collect catalogues like badges of honour. Politics play no part in our approach. We are a creative company offering a bespoke service. We only represent artists we believe in and we have a roster big enough to cover every genre, every budget, and every brief. We offer a free-of-charge music research facility into continually growing catalogues. We have a quick turnaround and cut out all the red tape that ad agencies hate dealing with.

- How do you make money?

We generate revenue from the music and artists that we represent. There is no charge to the advertising agency other than the synchronisation fee for the music usage.

- What are the biggest challenges facing the music business today?

The perception and value of music has never been at a lower ebb in consumers' eyes. This has created fresh challenges for labels, publishers, managers and artists. It is a time of change and also of exciting possibilities. In advertising, we need music to be recognised as an art form and respected for the great benefits it can offer. Music connects on an emotional level. This should never be forgotten, nor should its worth be devalued.

- What are the biggest challenges facing advertisers in finding music for campaigns?

A flooded market, for one. When I started in this area 15 years ago, music companies were more reactive. My proactive approach is now the model. There are hundreds of consultants but a lack of knowledge and experience causes confusion and expensive mistakes. It is not just a case of finding the right track. You need to know about the different rights and be able to negotiate usage within the client's budget and timeframe. I am often brought in to rectify mistakes.

- How will business partnerships develop between music and brands?

Respect for each other's art is all-important. It is essential to be open-minded and listen to not only what the other party is looking to gain from the relationship, but also what they can offer in return. With the current financial climate, there has never been more of an incentive to work together successfully. Ask not just what your product can do for us, but what our product can do for you!

- What's been your biggest rock 'n' roll moment?

There are so many ... dancing with Prince, dinner with Bono, backstage with The Killers in Vegas!

RICHARD CORBETT FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE, RICALL

- Briefly describe what your business does.

Ricall is a unique online platform that facilitates music licensing for any music user by connecting them directly to the relevant copyright owners, saving time and money. Agencies and advertisers can access three million-plus tracks from 25,000 copyright owners covering hit and back catalogue music, production music and unsigned music. More than 8,000 companies are registered users, submitting thousands of license requests to date. The value of active music licence requests on the platform as at 30 September was £18.7 million.

- What is its USP?

We cut costs significantly for agencies and advertisers because our platform is free to access, free to research music, free to listen to every track in full, and free to license music directly from the relevant copyright owners. Our cutting-edge music search engines democratise music research and enable anyone to find music at every price point to fit any budget. The platform eliminates fees charged by traditional middlemen and processes music licences faster, cheaper and in greater volume than anyone else.

- Why is it the best model for agencies/advertisers to use?

Given today's economic climate, agencies/advertisers need to cut costs without compromising creativity or impact. Creatives can use Ricall's free platform to search across an unparalleled breadth of music and then pass their chosen tracks on to the relevant producer, who is able to submit music licence requests direct to copyright owners and maintain overall control of the music budget. Agencies/advertisers can use the platform to eliminate unnecessary music research and licence negotiation fees and manage their music licensing activities effectively.

- How do you make money?

We make money by charging our copyright owner partners a fee when our users transact a music licence. Our agreements with copyright owners ensure they cannot mark up the cost of a music licence to offset our commission, so the cost of the licence is the same as if the agencies/advertisers negotiated the licence offline. Subsequently, our copyright owner partners actually make more money, given the increased licence volumes we deliver to them from our significant and diverse user base.

- What are the biggest challenges facing the music business today?

Declining volumes of consumers paying for recorded music. The solution, in my humble opinion, might lie in charging for ubiquitous access at a price point that makes music feel free (and actually growing the size of the music industry in the process).

- What are the biggest challenges facing advertisers in finding music for campaigns?

The sheer volume of both new and catalogue music makes music research a daunting process. We built a music search engine that lets users navigate by the sound/mood of the music they have in mind, to open up an entirely new music perspective. Because finding a great track is only half of the problem, we also built a unique digital licensing platform to remove the traditional music licensing headache and deliver music at every price point to fit any budget.

- How will business partnerships develop between music and brands?

Quickly, if the economics make sense for all parties. Slowly, if not.

- What's been your biggest rock 'n' roll moment?

Either playing lead guitar at a gig in Cincinnati to more than 2,000 people or having dinner with Lulu (which my mum thought was pretty rock 'n' roll).