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Old September 7th, 2006, 09:02 PM   #1
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Demo Reel questions

Hey guys,

I've recently started to gather my material to make a demo reel to send out to companies. I was wondering what are certain rules I need to follow that I may not be aware of?

For example, what kind of music can I use? Can I use copyrighted music from say, Metallica (bad example...how about Sepultura)?

Should I stay clear from using copyright material for my demo reel? If need be, I can compose my own music. I am a guitarist and I use Acid to make my drum patterns and whatever else I need.

Anyway, can I or should I use copyrighted songs for my demo reel?

Thanks in advance.
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Old September 8th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Rosales
Hey guys,

I've recently started to gather my material to make a demo reel to send out to companies. I...

Anyway, can I or should I use copyrighted songs for my demo reel?

Thanks in advance.
With some minor exceptions copyright law doesn't care what use you're putting the material to. To use copyright music in your demo reel you must license it from the copyright owner just like for any other use. Write your own, use royalty fee music, or license the tunes you use.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 02:45 PM   #3
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Hi Steve,

Does this qualify under those minor exceptions? Do employers normally ask for proof of licensing? Will it really affect my chances at getting the job I apply for?

How does one go about licensing big name songs and it is possible without any money or for a small fee? It's not like I'm going to mass produce this and sell it so would they be more leniant with the price tag?

-Roger
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Old September 9th, 2006, 04:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Rosales
Hi Steve,

Does this qualify under those minor exceptions? Do employers normally ask for proof of licensing? Will it really affect my chances at getting the job I apply for?

How does one go about licensing big name songs and it is possible without any money or for a small fee? It's not like I'm going to mass produce this and sell it so would they be more leniant with the price tag?

-Roger
Roger, one goes about licensing big-name songs by paying HUGE licensing fees to a performing rights organization like BMI or ASCAP. I doubt a potential employer will ask for proof of licensing, unless they work for an interested party like a label or a PRO.

You might think twice about doing it, though. Going to the trouble of making your own music for your reel will speak volumes about your talent and integrity as a business-minded artist.

Some people consider it amateur or lazy to use copyrighted music without permission (I've been put in my place before). Others, like industry people, of course loathe the idea.

At the very least, it could unintentionally send a message that you don't know any better, which is still not a good impression to make on an employer. Keep in mind this is only my opinion. Good luck, show us the reel when it's done...
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Old September 9th, 2006, 05:04 PM   #5
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Roger,

There is a wide variety royalty free buyout music available at reasonable prices. If you a serious about what your doing, why not do it the right way and the professional way. Check out sopersound.com, music2hues.com or a host of others.

Regards
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Old September 9th, 2006, 05:31 PM   #6
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I don't think you realisticly need to license anything unless your getting paid for the work. There's a difference between a demo reel shocasing what you can do and an actual production that your trying to sell for cash.

I wouldn't worry too much about it.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 05:54 PM   #7
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I my self have used popular music in my personal demo reel...and I have made countless company, director, DP and actor demo reels using popular music. It isn't an issue. People don't care what music you use, as long as it matches the mood of the demo you are showing. No one yet has said "we aren't hiring you because you used popular music in your demo reel."

And I have been on the hiring end too and don't care what music choice is made. Except for swear words...avoid music with swear words.

This is the attitude in Los Angeles, at least. it is a demo reel, not something you are selling for a profit, showing in front of a large audience nor airing on TV.

You are fine with popular music.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 07:23 PM   #8
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Just remember that "popular music" is also "someone else's work" and copyright laws & licensing exist for a reason.

It's true that no one will probably sue you. But when you use someone else's music, especially very big-name artists, realize you're borrowing the power of that song and all the cultural meaning and baggage it carries with it. That's not very satisfying to me, personally, it just seems too easy; anyone can do it.

If it's a really well-known song it can overwhelm your work and push it in the background. I don't think that's conducive to showcasing your work. Just one opinion among many.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 09:23 AM   #9
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I think Benjamin makes some very good points.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 02:04 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the advice guys.

I'm going to go the more complicated route and create my own music. I just want to avoid any hassles of legality and the like. Besides, if I can score my own flicks, why not score my own reel? heh.

Thanks for all the advice guys. Very much appreciated.

-Roger
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Old September 10th, 2006, 03:09 PM   #11
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The oft quoted beliefs that you don't need licensing if it's not for commerical purposes or you don't make any money on it or it's only a demo, or you only make X number of copies, or if you give away the copies without any money changing hands, or if you bought the CD, etc etc etc, some of which several posters in this thread have suggested, are all untrue. The long and short of it is, if you don't own the copyright or have the necessary licenses from those who do, you can't use it. Period. End of story. The only exceptions are spelled out in the "fair use" doctrine which absolutely and positively DOES NOT apply here.

As for using it for a demo reel sent to prospective employers, consider this. Even disregarding whether you're likely to get caught making an infringing copy, would YOU hire someone to work for you producing work that you are going to protect with copyright yourself, knowing that person is a copyright scofflaw and would have no qualms about appropriating your property for his own use without your permission? Kind like going into a job interview with a spiffy new briefcase and bragging to the interviewer about how you got away with shoplifting a sharp outfit so you'd look your best on the job when he hires you LOL. If you're seeking a job in broadcasting or entertainment or film/video production, or music production, or whatever where intellectual property rights are considered a vital part of the business assets, you want to convery the impression that you're the consumate professional in that as well as the technical and artsitic aspects of the business.

There are a lot of decent sources for royalty free music whose licensing fees are very reasonable, well within the tightest budget. If you don't have the chops to write and perform your own (I certainly don't!) using them will more likely convey to prospective employers that you are a savy professional who understands the business more than would using obviously "borrowed" music.
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Old September 11th, 2006, 12:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
The oft quoted beliefs that you don't need licensing if it's not for commerical purposes or you don't make any money on it or it's only a demo, or you only make X number of copies, or if you give away the copies without any money changing hands, or if you bought the CD, etc etc etc, some of which several posters in this thread have suggested, are all untrue. The long and short of it is, if you don't own the copyright or have the necessary licenses from those who do, you can't use it. Period. End of story. The only exceptions are spelled out in the "fair use" doctrine which absolutely and positively DOES NOT apply here.
The fact remains that no one is going to sue you if you use an unlicensed song in your demo reel that your not getting paid for and if they did I doubt any court would hear it.
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Old September 11th, 2006, 12:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Kelly Harmsworth
The fact remains that no one is going to sue you if you use an unlicensed song in your demo reel that your not getting paid for and if they did I doubt any court would hear it.
True, but it could prove costly to find that out for sure. another question though, wouldn't the clips you are using for the reel already be scored with appropriate music? or are you talking about putting some music under slates etc? and if you can produce the music yourself do it! show off all your talents.
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Old September 11th, 2006, 01:44 PM   #14
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The fact remains that no one is going to sue you if you use an unlicensed song in your demo reel that your not getting paid for and if they did I doubt any court would hear it.
You might not get sued, right away, but since you're circulating that demo reel to people who by and large are VERY protective of their intellectual property there's a very good chance one of them will bring your reel to the attention of a copyright holder of some of the material you've used and you'll soon be getting a cease and desist letter that requires you to go and retrieve all the copies you've sent out or else you'll be sued, not to mention creating a very bad impression among the people you want to have offer you work. And courts DO hear those cases all the time - the fact an individual doesn't hear about them every day doesn't mean they're not going on. There are several people on this very forum who are themselves IP attorneys, or report their spouses are, who's full time job it is to seek out and prosecute precisely the sort of infringment that you think nobody is going to notice.

I once read a posting from wedding videographer who didn't worry about using copyright music since none of his work was ever distributed beyond the wedding couple so how're they gonna know, right? Well, one of his client couples showed their video at their first anniversary party and guess what ... the date for the evening of one of the party guests just happened to be an IP attorney on the staff of the record company that owned the rights to several of the music pieces he had used. By noon the next day a process server had handed him a cease and desist order. You just never know when cutting corners is going to turn around and bite you on the backside.

Consider who are you sending the demo and resume to asking them to hire you ... broadcasters, film studios, corporate communications departments, advertising agencies, training organizations, etc. None of these media professionals are likely to touch a copyright scofflaw with a 10 foot pole.
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Old September 11th, 2006, 11:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House

I once read a posting from wedding videographer who didn't worry about using copyright music since none of his work was ever distributed beyond the wedding couple so how're they gonna know, right? Well, one of his client couples showed their video at their first anniversary party and guess what ... the date for the evening of one of the party guests just happened to be an IP attorney on the staff of the record company that owned the rights to several of the music pieces he had used. By noon the next day a process server had handed him a cease and desist order. You just never know when cutting corners is going to turn around and bite you on the backside.
This kind of trashyness doesn't surprise me coming out of the recording industry these days. I have little respect for an industry that sues it's fans.
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