NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic

Putting a postive spin on a cr@p situation

Posted on: February 5, 2010

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?

18 Responses to "Putting a postive spin on a cr@p situation"

Great topic this….
One thing that has always bugged me, well two things actually
is that NZ commercial radio (More FM to be exact) play some songs to death when they are released – Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Flo Rider (right round) for example and they tend to play these songs 4-5 times a day for weeks until they get stale… then these songs might get picked up by LMI and get used in as many programs as possible – so just when you think you’ve had enough of say Kelly Clarkson for example, you go to the next LM release and that song that has annoyed you for weeks on end is now in your favourite LM program! AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!! LOL

the other thing I hate is using the same song (e.g. Right Round) in the different LM programs – surely the powers that be at LM can here a song and say “This track will be great for Body Combat” and once it has been used in a LM program that’s it.

There are millions of great songs / artists out there that LM could be using, but they seem to use the same old artists like Scooter, Cascada, Nick Skitz….. (I actually quote like Scooter & Nick Skitz though funnily enough!)
So it will be interesting to see some other artists music appearing in LM programs

Hahahaha I was just about to type in that ‘Use me” by Hiroshi Free in BC42 (which I affectionately call the laundry basket song – think about it – to do with the sweep kick lol) was a great example of how close they can sound to the original – which in this case is the band Hinder (I like it better actually). You beat me to it!

Me too regarding Kelly Clarkson’s ” I do not hook up”. I yelled out in pump class during the squat track “What was there a discount if we used her song for more than one release??” (As it’s used in BC42 as well..

I think LM should change ALL their tracks to covers. The more they do it, the better those tracks will become with experience.

I know LM has a suggestion section for us to suggest songs for tracks and this if used properly could be invaluable for some kick arse covers..

I’m bemused that Roger Whittaker is in the ‘large clearance fees will be required’ section. Does this mean we will get the slowest ever Muay Thai track to the strains of ‘Comfortably Numb’?

One option available to LMI is to licence songs from unsigned bands. Those artists would be very keen to get the sort of exposure a new LMI release brings and more amenable to allowing editing to ensure the song fits the choreography (not to mention charging a lot less in fees). If LMI set up an online store (or used iTunes and the like) with this new music then they’d probably sell more than a few copies.

Everyone wins. Except the PPNZ. But that’s life.

@Nick – I agree with you – I cant remember a back track that wasn’t cascada, e-type or Liz Kay! (oh ok bp73 & 74 maybe!)

@Annie “laundry basket song” <– love it!

@Graham – I think I recall reading in Rev magazine that LM Australia was setting up an online music store?? Though that could be instructor only I'm not sure… great idea though!

All I can say is YIKES!!!

And yes… Know Your Enemy, though fun… it was… eh… “not the best” quoting you 🙂

Cheers mate! and thanks for all you do!

[…] aber scheinbar auch unumgänglich! Ins seinem Blog gibt Glen ein paar Vermutung und Thesen zur Cover-Mania bei LesMills preis. Meine Meinung und ein paar übersetzte Ausschnitte findet ihr hier: At the filming of […]

Thank you so much for addressing this as I’ve been wondering what is going on with all of the covers. Do you know if they have to pay to reuse a song in a different quarter? For example, in BC 35 they used “The Pretender” by The Foo Fighters and in RPM 46, which I just got, they have probably the worst cover ever of that song. Same with “Burn it to the Ground” by Nickelback – we had it in BC as the original but had a cover in RPM. But then they used “Right Round,” “I Do Not Hook Up” and others in several releases. Just curious if you know what that’s all about 🙂

Thanks again!

A related question: old releases are difficult to obtain for new instructors because the licensing for the music means that only a certain number of CDs can be pressed. Would LMI doing their own versions mean this restriction would be lifted?

@Sarah I can only guess but perhaps they chose a cover as they wanted to speed the track up or alter it in some way… or, perhaps they’re just moving towards covers full stop.

I’ve just received BP73 today and I was pleasantly surprised by “most” of the covers… I Gotta Feeling, Release Me & Evacuate The Dancefloor were all good IMO. DOA was horrible though.

@Graham I have no idea actually but that would make sense. Also, I know for a fact that at the “official” Les Mills gyms here in NZ the instructors are only supposed to go 10 releases back when mixing. This may have something to do with the music licensing too – though thinking about it if this was the case then you’d think it would be policy worldwide.

It’s an interesting subject and soon LMI will have to make an “official” statement about it, especially as the whole PPCA determination is due out soon….

Appreciate your comments 🙂

@ Sarah – from what I’ve been told LMI have to pay the same fee every time they use a song in a LM program
e.g, if they have to pay say $10,000 to use Flo Rida Right Round in Body Combat, if they want to reuse the same song in Body Pump or RPM they still have to pay the same fee ($10,000)

This is why I wonder why LM often use the same song in different programs – if they are paying the same fee – why not choose a different song / artist?

@ Glen – I didn’t know there was a policy about instructors only supposed to mix back as far as 10 releases?
Our 2 BC instructors often throw a track or 2 that is Pre Dan & Rach… on Monday Matt did ‘Rising up?’ (eye of the tiger – Rocky theme), and last week Kirst did ‘Blow your whistle’…

I prefer the ‘newer’ (BC35 +) tracks myself, but the odd ‘oldie’ thrown into the mix is always a good surprise!

This whole thing should fail based simply on the greed of “artists”, it’s a pity we will be combatting, pumping and balancing to what I regard as knock off music.

The application to the tribunal went in over a year ago though and I can’t find much info on progress one way or another.

Either way, memberships will undoubtedly be hiked 😦

Take a look at this Facebook group if you want more info about the situation across the pond:

It’s a really screwed up situation here, so much so that Fitness First has declared that they will be using non-PPCA music completely as of June 1. Les Mills International are also moving to completely cover music as of Q2 releases.

I live in Sweden and have been doing Bodypump for almost 10 years now. I don’t like this cover trend. At all.

I had a first taste of BP 73 yesterday (5 tracks) and I lost all focus on the actual workout because the covers were so bad. The I’ve gotta feeling cover just made me angry. This was one of the best songs in 2009 but that cheap cover was so lame. It had nothing of the edgy sound that David Guetta made in the production. And the cover of When love takes over was only slightly better. The girl who sang is nowhere near Kelly Rowland.

I don’t mind covers in general but I think they always should put a new spin on a song. Or re-vamp an old and forgotten song. These covers were just sad attempts to make an identical version of songs that have been recently really popular.

[…] like we’re all going 100% non-PPCA licensed music which means a tonne more covers – read here for more info in the meantime) – and this track is a cover of the original Motley Crue track and- well, as […]

I live in the UK and with a few exceptions the covers are usually awful. It is distracting when it is a song I like. Maybe the answer is to use unknown music instead of covers of pop songs.

Funnily enough we were discussing this before our combat class started last night – Deb (My GF Manager) was telling us that if a gym or an instructor is caught using original tracks (IF this ruling comes in – I am living/teaching in Nth Qld) they both can be fined up to $10,000 each! Really puts you off even trying to sneak one in! Don’t really know why the PPCA are doing this, but it seems to me that its all about the revenue gathering!!

I’m in the US, so we’re not facing this issue (yet!). You would think however that those who license the music would be aware of the huge potential to sell MORE records by allowing more liberal use of their material. I cannot tell you how many songs I have enjoyed and then purchased on iTunes after hearing them in BodyPump or BodyCombat. Stuff I would never have come across any other way – now they get to make money off of me. Also, I actually had to giggle a bit when I read that “eight artists” list. Some of them you can imagine would be on there: Elton John, Pink Floyd, the Stones. Some left me perplexed thinking “Get over yourself!” – Karajan? Tool? Vangelis? Pah – lease.

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