Can I Use This Music?: Copyright for Kids Entertainers Part 2
In part 1 of this two-part article on music copyright, David Bilan answered questions on music ownership, penalties for infringement, and ways to legally use the tracks you need. Now he goes on to share more options that children’s entertainers have regarding songs and sounds for their shows.
Both the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music INC (BMI) say the same thing, and it’s simple. Here’s a direct quote from ASCAP:
“It is the venue, establishment, or promoter of an event that is responsible for public performance licensing, not the performer. Private events such as weddings, etc. are exempt from licensing.”
Keep in mind that recording your show for a promo video to post on your website puts you into all the complicated licensing issues mentioned in my previous post.
This gives you two easy choices:
- Don’t use the audio at all. Grab a production music background track and get a narrator to create a promo voice-over. The script can help sell the specialty of your show.
- Video-record your show using production music. This can be a challenge if your timing is based on the specific music you normally use, but it guarantees your show can be recorded and used by any TV show without having to change the music. (There are performers who have had this issue, finding out at the last minute that the station didn’t want to pay the rights to use a specific pop song.)
Speaking of voice-overs, my two cents is to find someone with the skills to sell your show to the audience you are seeking. You may not want to use the guy that does the monster truck shows (Sunday, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!!) when you are trying to convince a mum that you are a family entertainer specialist. However, you may want to use that voice for your intro.
I think many magicians dislike David Blaine’s style because it’s so low-key. “Hey, wanna see something?” Of course, the reaction shots are even more impressive against that laid-back delivery, but most us don’t produce TV specials and do the same effect 20 times to find the over-the-top reactions.
This is the reason for the costume, the encompassing body language, the broad facial expressions. It’s why the props are shiny and painted with odd symbols. It’s also why we often use the bad patter that comes with the effects instead of creating a script that reflects who we are (or who our character is).
Taking all the possible ways to make your act shine (good magic, production elements, script), and then practicing and rehearsing until it’s all muscle memory, and then channeling all your energy into each and every performance, is what makes the difference between an amateur and a professional.
Hard work? You bet. But watching all of Julian’s and Ken’s videos won’t make you a better entertainer unless you make a goal and figure out what it will take to achieve it. Then you have to act on it. Other than winning the lottery, being successful takes lots of hard work. If you love what you are doing, it may not seem like work at all.
If you work hard enough, long enough, you might find yourself an “overnight success.”