Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Of theme songs and lawyers
I know you've been waiting anxiously to find out who the finalists are in our search for 360's political theme song. Frankly, the suspense has been killing me.

But we've run into a bit of a problem. You may have run into the same problem. It's called lawyers.

I'll explain by using Starship's "We Built This City" (voted one of the worst songs of all-time) as an example.

So let's say that '80s artifact makes it to the final round.

Great. Once that's settled, we have to find out who exactly owns the publishing rights to "We Built This City." Our search starts with the artist and the record company.

Assuming Starship (Or Jefferson Starship or Airplane or whatever name the band is currently taking) gives us the green light, we need to negotiate the rights to use it on air. And believe me, it's not cheap.

In fact, it's way more than we thought. Our budget only allows for limited expenses like paper for the copying machine and pizza on Fridays.

So, until our lawyers iron out a deal that our bosses deem financially acceptable, we're in music limbo.

Sorry, and stay tuned.

-- By Gabe Falcon, "360" Writer
Posted By CNN: 6:06 PM ET
  28 Comments
Hi Gabe, thanks for the update. I was wondering about the status of this. I contributed about 5 songs. LOL! Good luck with the lawyers and negotiations.

Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 6:19 PM ET
Hey Gabe

Thank you for giving us an update. We can wait to hear the finalist if we have some sort idea what is going on so thank you again for keeping us posted.

Good luck with the lawyers you'll need it :P
Posted By Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada : 6:26 PM ET
Hey Gabe,
I was wondering about that. We worked hard for you guys. Would it be cheaper if you guys performed the song?;-)
Anderson showed many times the clip of how his team can party on!!They could be the band,the back up singers and of course,the lead singer would be The Coop himself in leather pants singing his head off! LOL! that would be something....or not! ;-)

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 6:28 PM ET
This would be a great opportunity to open this up to unsigned artists. Maybe you can use their music for free...I'm sure they'd want the exposure. May I be the first to suggest the band Solarcade?
Posted By M. Wong, Van Nuys, CA : 6:29 PM ET
Hello Gabe,
oh hell. We all know about attorneys. Nothing is permanent until they screw you to your desk. . or chair or whatever.
Just keep movin' and grovin' and rockin'. Yeah, I've got the moves right now!!! Can't touch this!!
"you have to make your own kind of music, sing your own special song, make your own kind of music even if nobody else sings along" Mama Cass Elliot~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 6:32 PM ET
Gabe:

Sorry to hear the news. I knew the exact problem with the song when you all made the announcement about the delay. It is called music rights monitored by BMI and/or ASCAP.

For those bloggers that don't know how it works, go to www.wikipedia.com and key in music licensing. It is a fairly accurate description of the legal run down on broadcasting music.

So next time you go to a Broadway production or see Oklahoma at the local performing arts center in Topeka, KS understand that someone is making money each and every time that song is being sung.

It is really a fascinating business model. Music rights are a legal part of a person's estate.

In another 360, some reporter made a comment about the CNN petty cash or something being $5,000 and Anderson just laughed about $5,000 being a lot of money.

I just laughed and thought Anderson, it's going to cost you all more than $5,000 to play the political songs.

Good luck, Gabe, should we send CNN some cyber-cash to get this thing going?
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 6:38 PM ET
Looks like what the Beatles sang for the theme song idea - "Hello, Goodbye".
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 6:39 PM ET
Dear Gabe,

Thanks so much for letting us know all of our “hard work” was not done in vain! I also contributed a number of song suggestions. I was happy to hear one of them, “Our Country,” by John Mellencamp used during the Your Tube preview.

Like everyone else, I will be anxiously awaiting your final decision, or should I say the lawyers’ final decision!

Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 7:03 PM ET
Gabe:

Who would have guessed a political theme song would raise such political issues.

Thanks for the update. Hope the issue is resolved sooner than later, but remember it may take a bit of time. You are working with lawyers.... Good Luck
Posted By Vicki, Long Island : 7:26 PM ET
yeah, well, try making a little indie movie and get the rights! I always think they should be so lucky they get the free exposure.
I'd say f...orget it and move on without a song.
I was always wondering if you guys have to pay for the right to shoot on location or if you just "shoot and ditch"....the latter I guess?
Posted By Minou, New York,NY : 8:23 PM ET
Hey,360!

So, once again the porkers want their pound of flesh?! All that fat isn't good for anyone anyway.

What's wrong with just using something we know we can? Doesn't matter does it? A goodly portion of what we submitted wasn't exactly politically related anyway.

I still enjoyed the competition! That way they get NO money and maybe we can still work it around for a later time.

Great try, greatly appreciated!

Maggie
Posted By Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 8:32 PM ET
Hi Gabe and Anderson,

Welcome to the world of copyrights, owner rights, publishing rights etc.

I think it is "Jefferson Starship." It would have been easier to have Hillary Clinton to put a good word into Celine Dion's new song from the beginning and send the entertainment lawyers on the run. Just have Anderson pay for it out of his pocket, he is the one who has been obsessing about this song-contest.

I am ready to settle for MUZAK, that is cheaper and I sure your music operating man has it. I heard they have increased their music selection: you might find an instrumental version of Jefferson Starship there, you never know.
Posted By Ratna, New York, NY : 8:48 PM ET
I totally understand how things can drag out when lawyers are involved but now I can't help but ask the question, how did Hillary do it then?

Perhaps money wasn't an issue with her? I'd be curious how much money we are talking here. If it amounts to something substantial, then forget about it. I'd much rather see the money be spent on something more worthy. Good Luck!
Posted By Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 10:01 PM ET
Hi Gabe,
Lawyers and money and rights..Oh MY! I think you may need a Wizard to rescue you from this one. "Somewhere over the Rainbow" an answer to your glitch will come, I'm sure of that. If it doesn't, then maybe the Friday pizza deliverer will be an out of work actor "between jobs" and you could tap the talent for a modest fee. P.S. New Orleans or Gulf musicians looking for a break? How about using one of them! Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 10:45 PM ET
Oh goodness. Well, you could always choose an old song that has already fallen into the public domain.

What about "I Like Ike?"

"I like Ike. You like Ike. Everybody likes Ike for President. Hang out the banner. beat the drum. We'll take Ike to Washington . . . "

Catchy right? And I bet you wouldn't have to pay a lot to use that one! You could easily tailor it to your needs. Just slip in the name of whichever candidate you're covering in place of Ike: "I like Mitt, You like Obama . . ." You know, in the words of Tim Gunn: make it work.
Posted By Michele Jackson, Northridge, California : 11:06 PM ET
Hey Gabe, I agree with M. Wong of Van Nuys. This can be a great opportunity for upcoming artist who simply want to popularize their music. And what other way to do it than by one of the most watched news networks in the nation? Not to mention, you guys will still have for paper for your copy machines and pizzas on fridays, maybe throw some new staplers too.

Janet B.
Colton, Ca.
Posted By Janet : 3:57 AM ET
I had suggested using my song LEAN, which can be heard at www.myspace.com/janetgoodmanmusic

The songwriters own the publishing and are easier to talk to than attorneys!
Posted By Janet Goodman, Miami, FL : 11:43 AM ET
Oh forget the song. The fun was in dusting off all those old album covers. Spend the money on the Planet in Peril series; there'll be no more music if we don't take care of our planet.
Posted By Sandy, Calgary, AB, Canada : 11:55 AM ET
Thanks for explaining that if the top songs you choose are not licensed by ASCAP and BMI, then cnn would have to track down the copyright owner and deal with lawyers. I worked in music licensing, and it's slightly less money if you perform it live, but still have to pay to use the songs even if it's done by a "cover band".

Since you are already paying a blanket fee for bumper music, can't cnn just check the master list the licensing agencies has to see which of the nominated songs are already included in their catalog? You'd have to eliminate some songs nominated, but at least the contest would still go on.
Posted By DH, Lake Barrington, IL : 12:11 PM ET
Why not just use the MUZAK version of We Built this City and call it a day?! ;)
Posted By xtina - chicago IL : 12:30 PM ET
How about taking the money your bosses are willing to spend on a song and put it towards a charity picked by AC 360 viewers? Don't get me wrong, I loved the song idea, I just think you guys could find something better and more meaningful to do with your money.
Posted By Meagan, Alpharetta GA : 1:06 PM ET
Gabe/AC360:
It is hard to believe that an artist or a music industry executive would not jump at the chance to become part of the AC360 political soundtrack!

Oh, that's it! An AC360 Political CD Soundtrack!

But seriously, copyright laws are there for a reason. I understand the industry's need to try to collect royalties. After the music download revolution, it is hard for an artist to receive money from his/her creative efforts.

AC360 should consider finding a starving songwriter and a garage band.
Posted By Sharon from Indy, Indiana : 2:41 PM ET
Hi, Gabe--

Just wanted to add that I can totally empathize with what you all are going through with licensing the songs.

I grew up with a mom who was a copyright administrator for lots of well-known artists and songwriters and saw first-hand how expensive licensing a song can be.

To answer Jolene's question, the cost CNN may be facing can vary from a few hundred dollars up to $1 million, depending on the song and the representatives for the artists and/or songwriters of these songs.

Just to put things in perspective, my brother was playing a video game many years ago and there was a song in it on a level that the manufacturers didn't think very many people would ever get to. However, my brother did and the song is very famous and was by one of the songwriters my mom represented.

She contacted the company that made the game and asked if they had licensed the song for inclusion in the game. They hadn't. Long story short, they had to pony up big bucks to avoid a lawsuit from the songwriter and the representatives in question.

As for the Muzak suggestion, you still have to license the music in question, so it's not like it's a freebie, but hopefully, far less than for licensing the real McCoy. But, not as much fun, in my humble opinion!

In the end, I would hate to see AC 360 have to forgo copier paper and pizza on Fridays. It's been a blast 'journeying' back into the past and reliving all the great and 'what were they thinking?' music.

Keep us posted on the outcome!

Best...Carolyn
Posted By Carolyn, Washington, DC : 3:42 PM ET
Good thinks take time, especially with laywers! Thanks for working so hard with this. It has been fun finding songs and fun hearing the songs you pick to play!
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 5:18 PM ET
Jeff Morris-Saugerties NY Said:

Hey Gabe, I'm kind of new here, but considering your problem with the lawyers, I'd like to nominate a song from the late great Warren Zevon......Lawyers, Guns, and Money....It seems appropriate and, what could be more American?
Posted By Jeff Morris : 8:55 PM ET
Thanks for the update. I'm really disappointed in the music industry now. I was sure these songwriters would be avid AC360 fans and just let you use their song for free. Whoever it is, let us know and we won't buy their CD's anymore.

I guess we should have picked older songs, like Bach or Beethoven. They aren't around to be greedy anymore. Besides, I wouldn't want to deprive anyone of their pizza; no music is worth starving over.
Posted By Christina, Windber, PA : 7:34 PM ET
Personal to Gabe --

I sent my suggestion for maybe getting around some of the lawyer stuff by using a Radiohead string arrangement -- you'll see what I mean at www.thesectionquartet.com -- to the Instant Feedback.

But upon re-reading your post, I noticed something I hadn't before -- you guys get PIZZA every Friday?! Man, I've worked at newspapers for... well, let's just say I was in the class behind Stephen Colbert and you can do the math if you must -- but the only time we EVER got pizza was on election day! Ditto for the web news outlet I'm now working for. CNN sounds positively posh!

Cheers!
Cathy
Riverside, CA
Posted By Cathy Maestri : 3:14 AM ET
All I can say is, if the winner is something of the caliber of "We Built This City," they should pay you to play it, not the other way around. And now that I'm thinking about it, either they or you should pay us not to hit the mute button. Really.

I hope you chose wisely, and I can't wait to find out the winner!

Andi
Posted By Andi, Washington D.C. : 10:42 AM ET
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