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Thursday
Apr252013

Red Bull DIDN'T steal my music. More important lessons for indie artists.

This is a follow up post to my post “Red Bull stole my music! 3 important lessons for independent artists.” which you can read here - http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/red-bull-stole-my-music-3-important-lessons-for-indie-artist.html
 
I’ll start this off by stating that it turns out Red Bull didn’t steal my music and did nothing illegal as I first thought. I’ll explain how it all happened in the following post and try and highlight more important lessons I’ve learned from all this. 
 
After I wrote the post I started to share it as I still hadn’t heard anything from Red Bull about the issue and it actually spread much faster and further than I thought it ever would. Blogs like Groove Loves Melody helped spread it and then Reverbnation picked it up, tweeting it a few times and that’s when it really started moving. 
 
Then I received an email from the heads of Red Bull Media House asking if they could speak to me to explain what had happened and to see if we could turn it all in to “something positive.” 


My record label also received an email from Red Bull Sweden along the same lines and also mentioned they’d be interested in hearing more of my music as they had really enjoyed “What Am I?” 
 
After a few emails we set up a conference call between myself and the two heads of Red Bull media. One was in the back of a taxi, stuck in traffic on his way to Hong Kong airport and the other in Austria. I sat in my rooftop apartment in Barcelona. I had only been back a week from a long tour but all this talk of international jetsetting was giving me an urge to travel again! 
 
The Red Bull guys were incredibly reasonable and friendly and it was actually great fun talking to them. They explained to me exactly what they thought had happened and it turned out to be true. It seems when I signed my music with my publishers, they were involved in providing music for a stock music service that did music blanket licenses called Getty Images. However, my publishers had pulled their catalogue at the start of this year, so when I called and asked if they knew how Red Bull could have gotten my music, it hadn’t occurred to them it could be from Getty as the contract had been terminated. They (and myself) were also under the assumption that any company using music from a stock service had to give the artist credit, but we were wrong, they don’t have to and almost never do of their own accord. 
 
So it turns out Getty Images took a while to erase the songs from their catalogue after the termination of a contract with them and Red Bull had gotten my song “What Am I?” from them. All totally above board and really with no one to blame. 
 
Should my publisher have known this? I suppose, but it is a very easy thing to overlook. Also, considering my publishers and record label (Black and Tan Records) are as independent as I am. It’s a one man operation done out of the love of music and they can’t afford expensive lawyers to go over every contract with a fine tooth comb. 
 
Should I have flown off the handle like I did? Probably not. I suppose I have been in Spain for too long and have absorbed that Latin “fire”. However, after not receiving a response from Red Bull I wanted to make sure this wasn’t left unseen and also wanted to make a stand for independent musicians in general. I’m sorry I falsely accused Red Bull of stealing however I’m not sorry I stood up for what I believed to be right at the time (based on the information I had) and also proved that us indie musicians aren’t as helpless and vulnerable as we may think we are. If nothing else, this whole episode has shown that with a small but loyal fan base and a bit of creative thinking, you can get big results.  
 
Should Red Bull have credited me for using my song from the beginning? Not legally, but it doesn’t cost anything to put a name in the video credits and I believe it should be made a stipulation when using music from music libraries like Getty Images. The way I saw it, and the guys from Red Bull totally agreed with me when I explained this to them, the only person who lost out on this was me. Red Bull’s name and logo were obviously heavily featured, the athlete Daniel Bodin (sponsored by Red Bull) had his name in there for obvious reasons. All this was set to my song but as it stood, no one had a clue who the song was by, nor who was performing it. Legal considerations aside, I still feel it is very unfair that the artist stays anonymous in all of this. Of course, this is something you should look in to before signing your music to a stock music library because of course, this isn’t about the royalties which are very small from internet videos, it’s about the promotion an opportunity like this could offer, if only your name was credited. This is something much more important than a few dollars in your back pocket as it will result in sales, downloads, video views, website hits, spotify plays and word of mouth promotion. These things are gold to an independent artist with no budget for advertising. 
 
What does this tell us about these blanket listening deals? Well, that if you opt in, a huge multi national, multi billion dollar company can use your music in a widely seen internet video, for a very nominal fee, without having to give you credit and thus without anyone ever knowing it’s your music therefore gaining zero promotion from it.  


I was lucky that Red Bull really does have a human side and works with musicians enough to understand why I reacted like I did and have been very reasonable about it all. They could have told me to go.. well you can imagine what they COULD have said as they were 100% within their rights. However, Red Bull has proven that they actually do care and maybe from now on they’ll credit artists for the music they use? I’m not sure how big a job that would be for them to actually do, but one can live in hope. Or maybe companies like Getty will make it obligatory to credit the artist? Again, fingers are crossed but my breath is certainly not held. 
 
What has the outcome been from all this? Well we have all learned some important lessons, I won’t be tarring all corporate giants with the same brush and Red Bull are actually in talks with my publishers about using another song of mine of something else they are producing. They have been very reasonable and understanding about this. I still feel this is a good case for standing up for your rights and not getting pushed around as a small fish in a big pond, however I do recommend keeping your cool for a while and finding out ALL the facts first, even if it takes a while. 
 
I’d finally like to thank everyone who supported me in the matter, my friends and fans especially. People jumped to my defense and really came through for me when it looked like I was being exploited and that is a wonderful thing to have as an independent artist.

 

 About the author - David Philips is a singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist and producer from Nottingham UK. His third album “December Wine” was released this February on Black and Tan Records. You can find out more at http://www.davidphilips.net

Reader Comments (5)

Wow, thanks for the follow-up. I had no idea that Getty was in the business of licensing music, too. I thought they only dealt in images. May I ask why your publisher saw fit to pull the catalogue from Getty?

Thanks again and I hope you’ll come out on top of it, with Red Bull considering using more of your work. Kudos for standing up for yourself!

April 25 | Unregistered CommenterKiki

Thanks for posting this. With so many negative stories about musicians being taken advantage of, it's good to read something like this. WAY TO GO RED BULL!

I hope this works out into more opportunities for you.

April 25 | Unregistered CommenterTJR

Yeah, and I wonder how much Red Bull paid you to clear the air.

April 25 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thanks for the update on this. Hind sight is always 20/20, so it is easy to look back and see that we could handle certain situations differently. It sounds as though Red Bull handle things better than I would have expected. I hope things work out between you both.

This is a good lesson about using blanket listening deals. We should really think about where we are in our career and if it is really worth it in the long run.

Continued Success!

May 1 | Unregistered CommenterTony

The blanket licensing deals aren't pretty.
There's no way we artist can profit from them, unless they're blanket deals for network television with a required cue sheet.
I too sold a song to Red Bull this way but unfortunately I haven't figured out where they used it so I couldn't even profit from the fun of showing people "this cool RB-video with my song" :).

June 11 | Unregistered CommenterChris Michols

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