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Pandora Isn't Killing the Music Business
By: Mike Bush
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Flack Me isn’t, to the best of my knowledge, supposed to be a place to rant and rave about industries. However, when it comes to issues pertaining to corporate communications, sometimes a situation arises that requires, at the very least, an examination of both process, and the company (companies?) involved.
Pandora is destroying the Music Industry & Musicians Hate Pandora.
Those are the sentiments included in two very recent articles discussing a conundrum that I can only assume is fueled by record label PR. And there is a glaring omission included in all of these.

I’d like to present a thesis:

The record labels and other companies who control music licensing make it so hard to get permission to use music that artists are losing out because companies give up, rather than going through the correct motions.

The company I work for in my non-Flack Me day job operates a few call centers (among many other things). There are a couple of thought leader–type organizations that accept annual award submissions, and in many cases, these prestigious awards require some sort of corporate video (this can range from a video discussing a particular attribute, to as grand as a simple "tour of your facilities").

Understandably, many of the folks producing these videos are hoping to have music in the video (note to anyone else competing with me for the award this year — my video will have music).

So, in order to make sure our company is on the up and up, I reached out to a label, looking to secure permission to use a song. Two days later, I heard back. The response was that I needed to fill out a worksheet (fair enough), but that I also needed to loop in ASCAP, a second studio, and a third organization that does something (I’m still not clear).

In the three weeks that followed, I’d gotten permission from ASCAP (the event organizer where the video might be shown had handled this), received a form from a second studio, and gotten multiple error messages on the website of the random organization that may or may not exist.

Three weeks. Around 30 e-mails. Oh, and I STILL don’t have everyone’s permission to use the song I’m hoping for (maybe I should have posted this after the ordeal was over?).

I understand it’s easy to blame a company that takes physical goods and makes them digital for declining revenues. But sometimes, maybe one needs to look in the mirror (and at the process) before assigning blame and letting loose the cause-head attack flacks. 

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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