It was towards the end of a long, cold, 2 month tour around Europe promoting my new album, just about to head to Portugal to finish off and enjoy a bit of sun. I got an email from a fan in Switzerland saying something like “Hey, check out this video, it’s pretty cool but the best part is the music ;-)”
I clicked the link and it lead me to a video on Eurosport/Yahoo Europe. The video was by Red Bull and was of a guy called Daniel Bodin doing an amazing 220ft jump on a snowmobile, from an Olympic ski ramp. The music behind it was my song “What Am I?” from my second album “The Rooftop Recordings.”
I was very flattered that they had used my music and so posted the video on all my social media sites etc. Then I found the same video on Youtube, which had already garnered an impressive 250,000 views and noticed people in the comments asking who the song was by.
Why didn’t they know who the song was by? Well because Red Bull hadn’t mentioned me in the credits, nor in the Youtube description box. I called my publisher and he knew nothing about them using the music and assured me they had not asked for permission.
That’s when it dawned on me…. Red Bull had stolen my music!!!
I had to do something about this. The video was getting thousands of views a day, had already been up a week and I needed to get some kind of promotion from all this. So I sent a mail to everyone my mailing list asking them for a favour, explaining what had happened. I asked them to go to the YouTube video and leave comments with my name and the name of the song, so at least someone who was interested in the music could find me and/or my albums.
Well they really came through for me and throughout that day around 25 comments appeared on the video thread, some very angry that Red Bull hadn’t given me credit nor paid anything. This seemed to work as Red Bull promptly put a link to my album on iTunes and my name in the video description.
This certainly helped things along as that song shot up to being my most played song on Spotify the day after and downloads from iTunes went up a lot too. BUT, just imagine how much promotion I lost from the beginning! Eurosport.. Yahoo… 250,000 YT views! Yes, Red Bull had really screwed me over good and proper.
My publisher is still in talks with IODA/Orchard about what, if any, legal action to take. They also put in a claim for the YouTube video to be monetised on our behalf… I’m still waiting to see what happens.
You can see the YouTube video here. Feel free to leave comments for Red Bull! ;-)
So what are the lessons to be learned from this little story?
1. Don’t be complacent. It’s easy to think “Aaah that won’t happen to me” and not bother copyrighting your music. Well it could happen to you and it could be a huge multinational company like Red Bull. Get your music copyrighted so you stand a flying chance of doing something about it if it does happen to you… these people have no scruples.
2. Build a loyal fan base and communicate with them. Gone are the days of the aloof rock star. Your fans are your best friends and the more you communicate with them the more they will be inclined to communicate with you. In this case this fan alerted me to something pretty damn important. Reply to their comments and questions of Facebook/Twitter etc, talk to them after shows, take time to be human and forget all that “hard to reach” rock star rubbish.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask your fans for help. This follows on from point 2 in that, once you have a good relationship with your fans then they will be more inclined to help out. Mine attacked Red Bull’s video thread and got me some well needed attention which resulted in downloads, Spotify plays and general attention for my music.
If you can think of any more important lessons to be learned from this, let us know in the comments and watch your back.. these people will screw you if they can… “just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you!” ;-)
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