I'm humbled and proud to be teaming up with Aaron Davison on his launch of How To License Your Music.com premium, a new member’s only, premium site featuring exclusive content about the music licensing business -- and beyond -- for musicians.
As you may have heard, Aaron has been working hard for close to two years in creating, as he perfectly describes it, “A Netflix or Amazon Prime for professional musicians.” I’ve been there for Aaron as a sounding board and creating content, but this is his baby all the way. And I must say, it’s brilliant!
So, with this, my first blog of 2018, I thought I’d give you a taste of some of the content and services I’ll be providing you as you take full advantage of the many features of HTLYM.comPremium.
The Holiday Season that just finished, has typically been a slow time for income. Most of the industry seems to leave Los Angeles and head home. Lots of “automatic vacation emails,” cell phone voicemail messages, and empty desks.
So, it was with surprise and relief that I picked up the phone to hear what I first thought was a prank phone call.
“Is this Gary Gray?”
“I’m calling from 20th Century Fox. I’ve been referred to you by one of your clients, the head of licensing at The Disney Music Group. Can you come to our offices in Burbank to discuss working for us as well?”
Thank God I didn’t laugh, or hang up, or say, “C’mon. Who is this?”
“Yes. Absolutely. . .“ So, off I went to the 20th Century Fox Backlot in Burbank, California.
Gary Gary at the 20th Century Fox Backlot
Among several other sources of income, all from doing music full time, I’ve been able to forge one particularly interesting niche in the music industry: Re-Records.
The definition of a Re-Record (pronounced like “record my guitar,” not like “listen to this vinyl record”) is: a Brand-New recording, produced from scratch, which sounds just like an original master recording. Quite a challenge.
There are certain laws and regulations governing the publication and licensing of major motion picture soundtracks. To make a long story short, suffice it to say that, in many cases, it can be extremely cost prohibitive for record labels or major film studios who own the master recordings of a music soundtrack, to license those musical recordings. It can be crazy expensive for everyone involved. So, labels and large movie corporations sometimes have a master recording re-recorded. The resulting re-record can then be licensed much more easily. When they own the master and own/control the copyrights, this is something they have every right to do and can do legally.
The niche I created, without even knowing it at the time, is being able to take any recording needing a re-record and, without the use of a score or lead sheet or stem files or any other elements - just the original MP3 or WAV file (and my ears) - quickly produce an exact replica of that recording from scratch. The specialized niche within the niche is that I can do it well, do it fast, and do it with extremely low maintenance. (I don’t ask for additional resources, and I turn in my recordings on schedule, without the need for changes).
This requires one to be on their A-game consistently, in every single aspect of recording, mixing and mastering. What I realized after producing my first few re-records for major companies such as The Disney Music Group and 20th Century Fox, is that I’m getting paid to thoroughly study the best composers, writers, producers and engineers in the business - hands on, note for note.
For my first job, I was given a six-minute full-blown epic orchestral piece to create. They mentioned a quick turn-around was needed. I told them 4 days. They said, “what?”
I thought by their reaction that 4 days was going to be too long. “You can do it that fast?”
They made funny faces and said, “Ok, wow.”
That was November 3rd. I delivered a six minute Master Recording and 30 Stem Files on November 7th.
To make the Holiday’s even brighter, I was immediately asked to produce a second job for 20th Century Fox, a 4:13 Heavy Rock/Orchestral track. Now, I know not everyone’s dream or goal is to create re-records. I love doing them when needed because they keep my production chops very sharp, they help me continually streamline my workflow, and they pay well.
And most importantly, they allow me to develop new approaches to teaching high quality music production techniques. I’ve been sharing these techniques with my private students. 1-for-1, each student is doing extremely well with music licensing. Many of these techniques involve music production ear-training exercises that I have developed.
Here are some great success stories that occurred in the last week alone:
Liz Cirelli, from Italy, is now scoring her first major film. Paul Armendariz, from San Diego, just landed his first major placement for a designer clothing line television commercial. CJ DeLeo, from Los Angeles, just signed a one-album licensing contract with a major player in the licensing world, Alcon Sleeping Giant, for his band Kicking Sunrise.
Getting back to Aaron Davison’s new Premium website; I’ll be there with Aaron, giving quarterly coaching sessions (annual members), and continually supplying you with updated content to help you increase your confidence and make more money. Speaking of which, here’s what came in for that second job:
So, that was $5,000 income in two weeks for 10 minutes of music! I guess Santa found out I was nice last year.
Aaron and I are looking forward to working closely with every member on the new How To License Your Music.Com Premium website! See you there!
Gary Gray, Los Angeles, Jan 31, 2018
p.s. Here’s a sneak preview regarding some of the latest content that will soon be available on the premium website:
I spent a full day with the entire post-production sound & music editing team at CBS for NCIS. Interviews, video footage and more! Amazing content.