SONGSTUFF by Cary Ginell: Music at political rallies- What to choose and where? (Part 1)

So you’ve been hired to work as an advance person on a candidate’s political campaign. One of your assignments is to select a venue and provide music to precede the event, to announce the candidate’s appearance, and to accompany the aftermath of the candidate’s speech. What do you do?

The first thing you have to is clear the music you wish to play, whether it is performed live or on a recording. If it is a recording, you will need to secure two licenses: one from the publisher (for the underlying composition) and the other from the record company that owns the master (the recording itself). A political rally is not considered a “fair use” performance and music must be licensed just as it should be done if it were used in a television program, commercial, or motion picture. Before securing these licenses, you will need to check with the venue itself to see if it has a performance license with ASCAP, BMI, and/or SESAC, the three performing rights societies in the U.S. Most public venues already have these licenses, but if they do not, you will have to add this element to your laundry list of requests from the publisher and the record company that own the music.

Working with a company like Megatrax can save a user a lot of headaches since we control both publishing and master rights for our music and the layers of bureaucracy that you will avoid by doing “one-stop shopping” can save a lot of time as well as money. It makes a lot of sense to consider adjusting your priorities for the sake of expediency and frugality! Although production houses such as Megatrax rarely control top 40 hits, they can provide music that will satisfy the emotional or thematic requirements of your event. Remember that the music is not the message, the message is the message.

If you are still intent on using commercially available music that is familiar to the public, you should ensure that your music choices dovetail or support your candidate’s message. This has proven to be problematic due to a variety of circumstances, such as music not being properly screened, songwriters and recording artists objecting to the use of their music (even when they do not have the legal right to do so), and the placement of the music within the event. There are some tough questions that you will need to ask yourself before selecting music. Do you include different songs at different times of the rally? Do you use one song as an overriding theme and play it repeatedly? Do you vary the moods, instrumentation, or genres? What risks do you take in alienating certain audiences by playing songs that communicate a specific message? Or can the styles of particular kinds of music create the wrong impression? In my next blog, we will look at specific ways music has been used at political rallies. Some proved to be effective while others ended up being nightmares of legal threats, embarrassment, and negative publicity.

More tomorrow!

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Megatrax Megatrax Production Music is the leading independent music source. Megatrax is dedicated to creating, licensing and delivering the finest quality production and custom music and best customer service in the industry. At Megatrax, our philosophy has always been to stay ahead of technology and to create exceptional quality music. Our commitment to excellence is evident in both the music we produce and the carefully selected catalogs that we represent. Our staff is dedicated to serving you in every way possible and our service team is focused on your specific production requirements. We have a list of products and services that are unmatched in the production music industry and are constantly evolving with your changing needs.

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