Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Cost of Doing It Right

Last Sunday, our church celebrated 55 years with Gaylan Henry as our pastor. That was also the date of his retirement. 55 years is a long time, so we made a big party out of it. I filmed the worship service and the celebration service and my plan is to make a commemorative DVD.

Currently, I’m in the process of securing permission to use the music from that day on the DVD. There are also some images for which I need to secure copy permission. Individuals or groups sang or played songs on ten different occasions. There was also a slide presentation with music in the background. The congregation sang three songs. But some of the songs were actually medleys, so rather than one song they were two songs arranged in to one. And while our church often uses live instruments, we also make use of sound tracks for some of our music. For one medley, I’m not dealing with just one copyright holder.

Let’s take a look at who I’m dealing with. First, there is the person who holds the copyright to the arrangement. He had to add some music to get the two pieces to fit together. But he didn’t own the copyright to the original songs, so I have to get permission from those guys as well. Assuming all three will grant me a license, that gives me a right to use the piece, but only if we were singing and playing with instruments. Since we used sound tracks for the medleys, I need a license to sync the sound track to the video. Fortunately, the sound tracks are often produced by the same people who publish the arrangement, but that isn’t always the case.

It appears that I may need as many as thirty separate licenses to produce the DVD. For one license I saw, the example rate on a website was 25¢ per song per copy with a minimum of $20. Multiply that out and we’re looking at $7.50 per DVD just for licenses with a minimum of $600 for the project. Add to that about $5 for packaging and we’re at $12.50. I’m not looking to make a profit, but I’ll probably round up to $15 or $20. The difference will end up going to covering the cost of the minimum fees (I don’t expect I’ll sell all 80 copies) and my video equipment. I’ll be doing good if I break even.

On a related note, someone asked me about posting the video online. I told her it would probably cost more than the DVD. Based on the rates I saw on one website, licenses would end up costing me $1,800 for six months. That doesn’t even include the other costs associated with putting it online.