By Mark Frieser
As the head of Getty Images Music, Melinda L. Lee leads the company’s digital music business focusing on business development, strategic partners including labels, publishers and artists and new digital platforms. She is responsible for the implementation of Getty Images Music’s growth strategy and development of strategic relationships both with existing and new customers.
Since joining Getty Images Music in April 2011, Lee has expanded the music offering by 30-percent by brokering distribution deals and partnerships with innovative music creators and content providers and started GUESTLIST – Getty Images Music’s high-end music offering and placement service.
Recently, Melinda took time out to give us her thoughts on the sync marketplace and detailed how Getty Images Music works with creators, rights holders, music supervisors and producers to foster deals in music and visual/interactive media.
MF: What is the evolution of business models in the sync market from your perspective?
ML: There are of course a lot of models out there, With the amount of competition that exists, we’re seeing the downward pressure in the marketplace leading to a decrease in blanket licenses – people are looking for more ways to monetize their content, and the market is reflecting this in terms of pricing and usage.
MF: And how is this reflected in terms of the ways that you see music supervisors and producers licensing music?
ML: It really depends on the usage case. We’re seeing more direct licensing and royalty-free licensing, and more licensing than ever from online platforms across all types of usage. In terms of brands and corporate video usage, we see a greater willingness to pay a premium based on the appropriateness of the track for the particular usage.
In general, the more central the music is to the particular usage – i.e., if the music is high-quality and essential to a particular usage, whatever the type of media, the higher the premium paid, especially with brands. If the music is more of a background usage, that puts downward pressure on the perceived value of the music.
MF: So what can an artist do to ensure that they properly navigate the changing sync market?
ML: It’s really an individual decision an artist has to take, to decide on how they want their music to be used, find the right agency that understands how to present their music to the right people, what the different licensing models and potential revenue streams are, then work with the artists to help them achieve their goals.
Sync artists should be flexible and model-agnostic to realize the greatest chance of success.
MF: And how does the GUESTLIST service play into this?
ML: We launched GUESTLIST two years ago to provide tastemakers and music supervisors with high-quality content from selected artists like our partner Joss Stone to fit specific needs not fulfilled by more general catalogue offerings.
MF: And what kinds of music do you find there is the most interest in from music supervisors?
ML: We’ve had a good deal of demand for rock, indie pop, and in commercial a lot of dubstep, which was one of the most searched types of music for about a year.
In general, we work closely with tastemakers and music supervisors to provide us with an idea of the types of music we should source, and then broker deals with the appropriate artists and rights holders to ensure the most appropriate content is available.