By Jeffrey and Todd Brabec

The Importance of the Advertising Agency

When an agency is hired to create a radio or television commercial, it must first decide whether the campaign demands a new song chosen or whether the use of a past or present hit song is preferable.

The Jingle

If a campaign requires new music, the advertising agency consults with its client as to its ideas concerning the theme and direction of the campaign as well as the outlines of the overall creative budget, including the music budget.

The agency, if it does not have an in-house music department, then usually hires a jingle production company, which specializes in advertising music, to write a song and produce a demonstration tape tailored to the planned commercial. Such a jingle production company is normally a self-contained unit that can (through its staff writers, producers, and in some cases, ownership of recording studios) write the jingle and produce a finished demo The agency and its client are then able to hear a reasonable facsimile of the commercial and, if it is what they are looking for, proceed to a finished version. If an agency has an in-house music department, with a staff of songwriters, lyric creators, and producers, it will often develop and produce many of its clients' jingles without going to third parties.

Another alternative is to contact an independent songwriter, explain the theme of the campaign, and hire the composer to write the jingle. Without his or her own production facility, however, the probability of securing the commercial assignment is slim unless the writer has a successful track record for writing hit songs or a reputation in the jingle business as a successful commercial writer.

Creation of a Jingle and the Monies That Can Be Earned The fees payable to a writer for creative services related to the writing of a radio or television jingle can range from minimum compensation to well over $250,000; the amount being dependent on the type of campaign being planned (e.g., national, local, test), the music budget, and whether the writer is an independent contractor unaffiliated with an advertising agency or a jingle production company, is signed to a production company or owns his or her own firm, is an employee of the advertising agency, has a hit song that the agency wants to use, or is a successful writer/recording artist who will create and perform advertising music.

The Independent Writer When an agency contacts an independent writer, the fees for writing a jingle may range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the music budget and the extent of the campaign being planned.

If the agency is dealing with a superstar writer-recording artist, however, the total creative fees can easily range from $250,000 to over $4 million if a multiple-year arrangement is involved

The Jingle Production Company It is common for the writer to own, or be signed to, a jingle production company. In such cases, the fee paid by the advertising agency to this 1-source operation includes the monies for the creation of the jingle, the costs of the recording studio, the arranger's fee, and the salaries of the musicians and singers who perform at the session.

Based on the wide range of services and expertise provided by these production companies, the amount of money paid by the agency is much greater than that paid to an individual jingle writer. For example, the value of a 30-second commercial to a production company can range from $5,000 to well over $50,000, depending on whether the commercial is to be aired in local markets or is the centerpiece of a national campaign.