Inside View: Omnimusic
Doug Wood, Founder/CEO – Omnimusic • Port Washington, NY • (www.omnimusic.com)
by Christine Bunish
Markee: As the head of one of the world’s leading production music libraries, what are some of the chief issues you’re dealing with today?
Mr. Wood: “There are always new producers coming along and, for newcomers, copyright and legal issues surrounding music are kind of a black hole – they’re very complex. The copyright law creates a bundle of different rights: ‘mechanical rights’ to make copies, ‘synchronization rights,’ which permit synching a copyrighted work with a video, visual images or other audio sounds, and ‘performance rights,’ which allow a TV station or cable channel to broadcast the work. No wonder people getting into production for the first time scratch their heads!
“It’s not unusual for people doing corporate presentations to say, ‘We’re only using 30 seconds worth of a song and we’re not using it to sell our product, so we can go ahead and use the Beatles, right?’ Of course, that’s not true. Another frequent misperception is that a non-profit organization is exempt from copyright laws. While non-profits may qualify for discounted licensing rates, they are not exempt from copyright laws. People also believe that if they have ASCAP and BMI licenses they can use any music they want in their productions. Those licenses are only for performing rights, not the ‘synch rights’ needed to synchronize the work with content.”
Markee: That does sound confusing. What does Omni do to help?
Mr. Wood: “We do a fair amount of hand-holding and helping clients sort through the maze of legal entanglements to get all the rights they need with just one stop: We’re kind of a cross between a music publisher and a recording company, so we control all the rights to the compositions and the sound recordings in our catalogs.
“Clients may not realize that getting rights to hit songs can be really expensive. It can take five figures just to get the conversation started. But, in many cases, you can find the same flavor or feeling in a piece of our music that doesn’t infringe on anybody’s copyright. In fact, sometimes it’s better not to use a song everybody knows. Well-known songs come with memories and baggage. Music has the power to go right to the subconscious of the audience in ways you can’t defend against. Our tracks use this inherent power of music to orient the audience to exactly the message you’re trying to convey.” (Read Doug’s blog about music, media and copyright at: www.omnimusic.com/copyrightqa/)
Markee: What are some of the latest trends you’re seeing in music, and how is Omni responding to them?
Mr. Wood: “Sounds change and tastes change over time. There’s always a need for new music and, besides, it’s fun to hear what young composers on the scene are doing.
“One of our newest libraries is called Music Outside The Box. It’s contemporary concert music that probably no other library would dare put out! We hope it will inspire new ways of thinking and encourage clients to be more creative.
“When TV dramas started to use songs as background music I didn’t think it would work – I thought it would interfere with the story. But, of course, now songs are standard in TV programs. Our new Spice collection contains fresh and powerful songs for film and television – there are some terrific visual images in the lyrics.
“Today, Omni covers pretty much every musical genre and style you can think of. There’s almost nothing someone can ask for that we don’t have. It’s a nice feeling.”
Markee: Is there anything new on the music distribution side of the business?
Mr. Wood: “Omni was one of the first music libraries to offer full-quality audio as well as MP3s for download. We have a very, very fast system for searching, audition and download. So now it’s a matter of constantly fine-tuning our system and improving its functionality so people can find the music they want quickly.”
Markee: Where might we see new developments in the industry?
Mr. Wood: “The past hundred years was arguably an era of unprecedented creativity in films, TV, music, art – and the United States has really led the world in creating intellectual property.
“But now, with all the new methods of distributing content, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at copyright laws. We need a more streamlined system that will protect the creators and give clients an easier way to access their work. We want the next hundred years to be even better for both creators and users!”