A Musician Responds to a Production Company’s Request to Use His Music for Free.

For some, years and years of practising and mastering the art of music doesn’t really amount to anything. Not to mention the thousands spent on our instruments and gear.

This needs to be shared on every musician’s blog.

Here’s a transcript of the response. See original screenshot of email response at the bottom of this post.


Hello Zoe

Firstly, there is no label – I outright own my material, so I’m not sure who you’ve been emailing.

Secondly, I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line “Unfortunately there’s no budget for music”, as if some fixed Law of the Universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget. So you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week – from a booming, affluent global media industry.

Why is this? Lets look at who we both are.

I am a professional musician, who lives from his music. It took me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard earned property. I’ve licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on Eart; from Breaking Bad to the Sopranos, from Cocoa Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.

Ask yourself – would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resume like that – and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing? Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.

Or would you walk into someone’s home, eat from their bowl, and walkout smiling, saying “so sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not. Because culturally, we classify that as theft.

Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession, leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question hey everyone connected to a shoot from the caterer to the grips of the extra even the cleaner who mocked your set and scrub the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.

Now let’s look at you. A quick glance at your website – http://www.betty.co.uk/category/factual-entertainment/[1] – reveals a variety of well-known, internationally syndicated reality programmes. You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognized company with a string of hit shows. Working on multiple series in close cooperation with Channel 4, from a West London office, with a string of awards under your belt. You have real money, to pretend otherwise is an insult.

Yet you send me the shabby request – give me your property, for free. Just give us what you own, we want it.

The answer is a resounding, and permanent NO.

I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to re-blog this. I want to see a public discussion began about this kind of industry abuse of musicians… This was one e-mail too far for me. Enough. I’m sick of you

NJ White

A musician's response to a production company