So, you’ve brainstormed your perfect production, you’re in the process of sourcing out footage and images and you even have a rough edit as proof of concept. To get an idea to what your finished production is going to feel like, you choose a track from your personal playlist to demo to the client. Of course, this song emotes the perfect feel to support the ideas that you are trying to communicate. This track is also popular enough that you know your client will have heard it before and will have an easy time connecting to your concept.

You may want to consider a couple of things before taking this approach.


The first is that popular music can be really expensive to license especially if the copyright is tied into a music label and/or publisher. When looking to license popular music through a label or publisher, thousands to tens of thousands is a conservative place to start. Bear in mind that the license price will be based on restricted run-time for your project and will most likely require subsequent royalties to be paid for further broadcasting or distribution of your production.

Secondly, if you cannot acquire or afford the rights to a piece of music that you have already presented to your client in the development stage, you will have to present a new piece of music that you can acquire the rights to. At this point, your client is already familiar with the track and you have demonstrated how this particular track is the right way to stage their message. It is a huge let down when you tell your client that they need to change that element of the production. The new music you choose can be just as compelling and work every bit as well as the first one but they are likely going to feel like they have had to compromise or are settling for second best. This feeling is sometimes referred to as demo envy. The client has already internalized the production so it becomes hard for them to hear anything else that is good enough to take its place.

The solution to this is simple.


Don’t use music that you cannot deliver to your client at any stage of demonstrating your production. It is far better to use a piece of music that you can afford to build your production around. Any serious royalty-free vendor will allow you to download a low resolution or watermarked comp to use as demonstration for your client.

This allows you to build your project around a piece of music that your client loves and that you know you can use. If you work this way, you can always tell your client that Yes, they can have music that sounds like X popular song rather than telling them No, you can’t. There is a huge difference in these two approaches. One has you trying (and failing) to live up to a perception that you planted in your client’s head and the other has you delivering exactly what you said you would.


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