The New American Idol

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By Todd Brabec & Jeffrey Brabec

A  new American Idol series is coming to the ABC television network which will create opportunities to not only earn synchronization income but performance income as well.  Because of this it is essential to understand the primary considerations which are involved in the initial licensing of a song for use in  this series.

1. Timing and Use
First of all, the initial synchronization fees themselves for the use of a song on the music and dance centric television series are often based on either timing or manner of use in a particular episode.  For example, the new “American Idol” uses three (3) timing categories for use in the  standard episode (“up to 0:30”, 0:31-1:00 and “over 1:00”), but also has another  category for “ recaps in subsequent episodes” (“up to 0:30”, “0:31- 1:00” and “over 1:00”). It should be mentioned that all of the  categories have different fees with the prices for the initial standard episode use larger than the uses in the subsequent episode category mentioned above.

2. Music Cue Sheets
Because of the various timing and manner of use categories in the  synchronization agreement, it is very important that the music cue sheet for the particular episode be checked since all the life of copyright back-end performance royalties (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GMR, foreign societies, etc.) are dependent and based on the descriptions and information contained in the cue sheet.

For example, you might have designations such as “preview from upcoming episode on-camera performance by _________________,” “tease on camera performance by _________________,” “recap from episode ___ on-camera performance by _________________,” “recap of episode ___ video clip of relative performing song,” and “on-camera performance by _________________”.

Thus it is essential that, if your song is used on this program, that you receive a copy of the music cue sheet from the production company and check not only the timing and type of use but all the other information such as title, writers, publishers and performance right affiliation.

© 2016 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised 7th edition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business" written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).  See also