Putting a postive spin on a cr@p situation
Posted February 5, 2010on:
At the filming of BODYCOMBAT 44 last week one track in particular caught my attention more than the others for the strangest of reasons. Without getting myself in trouble for spilling too much information, it was a cover of an artist on the PPNZ’s “clearance will not be given” list – that is, a list of eight bands that, quote “do not allow their work to be used under any circumstances.” (I only know this as my day job is in marketing and I’ve tried to get clearance on one of these bands before – obviously to no avail!) PPNZ is the organisation that licenses the public performance of music (in places such as fitness centres) – so when I heard this track in BC44 I was surprised as obviously they would never allow it to be used – however the important fact here is that the version used was a cover – not the original track.
I’m having trouble making my point here so some background first. You may or may not be aware of a fairly hot topic in the fitness industry right now; The proposed increases to music copyright tariffs to fitness centres by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). Without getting bogged down in details, the PPCA (the Australian arm of the PPNZ) is currently proposing some MASSIVE increases in the music licensing rates for fitness centres/gyms. Fitness Centres in Australia currently pay $0.968 per fitness class per week to the PPCA, with an annual capped maximum of $2,654. The new proposed rates balloon to $4.54 per member per month – regardless of whether those members participate in group fitness classes or not! To put this in perspective an average sized fitness centre would go from paying $1500 per year – to over $80,000.00! Large gyms would go from $2,654 to over $200,000.00! It’s a massive threat to our industry and obviously a major concern as it could set a new precedent worldwide.
Now, this is just my opinion here – I literally have no inside knowledge about what Les Mills are doing – but, as far as I can see you only have to look at your recent Les Mills releases though to see that they’re preparing for the worst. When LM creates their own music they are able to side step the PPCA tariffs. I grabbed one of my combat releases from 2008 (BC37) and took a look. Not one Les Mills cover track on it (easiest way is to look at the back and you’ll see © Les Mills Music Licensing Ltd under the track). As a comparison I grabbed BC41 and took a look – just a year later – half the release is LM covers. Pump 67, 68, 69 – not one cover. 72 – I think has 3 and Pump 73 as far as I can see has six!
Now, obviously covers aren’t ideal. Heck, for years LM sold themselves as being head and shoulders above the other group fitness systems (like Radical) as they used only original artists. But, times are changing and before too long we may find that our releases are exclusively covers. Which brings me back to my original point – and the reason for the post; Putting a positive spin on a cr@p situation:
Let’s say you’re a Programme Director and you hear a track on the radio that you think would make a phenomenal track for your programme. In the past – you’d have to go through all the proper channels, jump through a whole raft of legal hoops to possibly be able to get that track licensed (it’s not an easy process – and personally I was only trying for NZ – let alone the entire world!) – and that entire process takes time and when approval finally does come through (if it does) and you’ve filmed the release and then it hits the streets 4 months later… well let’s just say it’s more than likely that track would have had its day in the sun and we’ll all be sick of it! On top of that being an original track it can’t be edited – the PD has to make the choreography fit to the music – not the other way around (which in an ideal world would be better). But… that’s what has to be done as getting original tracks/artists is always much more preferable to using a cover version.
But – due to all this PPCA carry on – imagine the ability to use original artists is now out of the question (obviously this would be a massive shame but I’m trying to be glass is half full here!) Now, under those circumstances when a PD hears a track they rush into the office and get LM Music to whip up a cover – mixed exactly as they’d like for their class. Sped up, slowed down, spliced, whatever they want really! On top of that – there’s comparatively next to no messing around with legalities or licenses – a quick session in the studio and its done (obviously the process isn’t quite this easy but you see where I’m going).
Which brings me full circle to my opening paragraph. As I said the track that got me thinking about this from BC44 is from an artist on the “clearance will not be given” list. That is, when LM only used original artists this track could never have been in combat. But now – a whole raft of new musical opportunities open for us. Granted – they will be covers, but some of the Les Mills covers are really good (Use Me in BC42 was almost indistinguishable from the original) – some in my opinion aren’t the best (Know Your Enemy anyone??) .
As such, we could now start seeing some exciting new music that we’ve never seen before in our releases. And that, could be a pretty cool side effect of a rather cr@ppy situation don’t ya think?