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The Neverland Rancheros Offer Royalty Free Rights to Tracks from Love Letters & Death Threats
Michigan rock trio The Neverland Rancheros have expanded into the world of royalty free music sales, boldly going where most rock bands don't really feel like going.
The term "royalty free music" is typically associated with 30- and 60-second instrumental clips that are available in a variety of styles, moods and genres. These clips are used as the soundtracks for television and radio advertisements, or as lead-ins for news pieces and talk show segments. Royalty free clips are often "elevator music," stereotypical blues riffs, or cheesy hair metal arrangements. Regardless of genre, royalty free music clips are generally very forgettable and very sterile. Traditionally, these clips are made by professional composers and studio musicians--not by "real" rock bands.
"Real" rock bands with "real" songs rarely ever license their music on a royalty free basis. In most situations, if a filmmaker or advertiser wants to use a popular rock song in their work, they have to buy a one-time license--for a hefty fee--from the record label or artist. Such licensing agreements generally involve a structure by which royalties must continue to be paid so long as the secondary work (the film or video game or whatever the song is being used in) is still making money. Royalty free licenses, on the other hand, are purchased with a one-time flat fee that allows unlimited commercial use of the song.
"I consider it a win-win situation," says Leo Siren, guitarist for The Neverland Rancheros and mastermind behind the band's venture into the royalty free market. "It gives independent filmmakers and local advertising firms easy access to our songs. It makes sure any producer or advertiser who wants to use the Rancheros in their work has easy access to our library. It also lets us set our own up-front price for the licensing. Basically, the royalty free scheme is pretty sweet because it means that everybody can get what they want without dealing with stuff like royalties and contracts."
The Neverland Rancheros are offering these royalty free licenses through ProductionTrax.com, a major player in the online stock music sales business. Producers and advertisers can simply log on to preview and buy the royalty free rights to songs like "Ethel," "Gotta Get Drunk," and "Love Song for the Fat Girls" with a few mouse clicks for $25.99 per track (for unlimited usage.) The royalty free license to many "professional" 30-second spots can cost $50 or more.
All the licensing details can be found on the ProductionTrax website. There is also a special non-commercial licensing rate for anyone who wants to use The Neverland Rancheros' music in a not-for-profit project.
The Neverland Rancheros have also made it easy and affordable for production and advertising professionals to purchase the royalty free rights to all thirteen songs off of their debut album Love Letters amp; Death Threatsat once for a bargain price. The rights to use the entire album on a royalty free basis will cost only $249. (To buy the commercial rights to each song separately would cost over $300.)
"Basically," says Siren, "somebody making a movie or a videogame who thinks the Rancheros would be a good fit for their project can lay down a little bit of cash up front and basically have the rights to do whatever they want with all of our songs for the rest of their lives. That's what I mean when I call this a 'win-win' situation. A custom soundtrack in Hollywood costs thousands upon thousands. Love Letters only costs $249. Getting the rights to real rock music from a real rock band is something that you couldn't really do on a royalty free basis in the past. The Rancheros, we're putting ourselves out into that market. We're saying, you know, 'let's see what happens' and stuff."
Plans to use ProductionTrax to create and release custom 30- and 60-second edits of select tracks from Love Letters amp; Death Threats are also in the works, according to Siren. These edits would be non-vocal, and specifically geared towards the advertising segment of the royalty free music market.
When asked if there's any shame for a rock band to enter the royalty free market, Siren responds, "I'm a twenty-four year old man working in a call center. Nothing is shameful to me anymore. If you want to do the whole selling-out debate, it's not really relevant... the whole idea behind the Rancheros was to sell out the first chance we got anyway."
When asked what his goals were for the Rancheros' royalty free business, Siren said that he just wanted "to hear the Rancheros in a used car commercial. That would be a pretty special moment in my life, you know?"