Licensing is the gift that keeps on giving and it's one of the most sustainable areas of the music industry; it allows for a lifelong career. Without it, I would not have achieved creative freedom and financial security. I've licensed over 10,000 songs for films, TV shows, trailers, ads, video games, and more. I can help you do the same!
I'm here to help give you all the tools you need to License Your Music for Film, TV Ads, Trailers, and more so that you can earn a passive income and obtain creative freedom. In future blog posts, we're going to be having Music Supervisors, Music Coordinators, Producers, Songwriters, and all sorts of exciting things.
In this blog, I'll discuss how I went from a struggling artist, trying to get a record deal to earning $30,000 in one quarter from a music license I did, which changed my whole life and my whole career path around.
My name is Jody Friedman, and I was born and raised in Safety Harbor, Florida. My parents loved music and were originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but later moved to Florida, where I was born. My dad loved folk music, singer-songwriter music, and rock n’ roll; while mom was more into Pop music...basically whatever was popular at the time, that was her jam. So, that laid the foundation for my love for music, songwriting, and storytelling. Also, for pop melodies – and that is definitely my strength as a writer – I’m a melody guy.
Growing up, I would listen to all sorts of music and I was a child actor -- well, more like a child model. Nonetheless, that gave me confidence and the ability to get up on stage in front of anybody and just smile, joke-around, and sing songs. When I was 14 years old, I picked up the guitar. My grandmother gifted it to me because I wanted to learn how to play. I'll admit, the impetus for me wanting to learn how to play was because I wanted to pick up girls but after a while, the guitar really stuck to me and it helped me to escape from the day-to-day struggles of being a teenager and very much became my passion. I loved it!
At that age, I never really had lessons. I just listened to songs, studied them, and would try to replicate the sounds on my guitar. I would listen to Counting Crows, Nirvana, Bush, Indigo Girls, Sarah McLaughlin, Dave Matthews Band, and the list goes on and on. So, after that, I started playing at coffee shops, and I learned how to sing – not very well if I might add – but I did my best. I learned enough about music, guitar, and singing to be able to audition and to become ‘Youth Song Leader’ for my Jewish youth group called, National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY). The ‘song leaders’ were selected by the board and anyone who wanted the spot had to audition for it. But after lots of hard work and dedication, I was appointed ‘song leader’ for the Southeast Region of my Temple of Youth! I was in charge of bringing music to long weekend events, where we would be leading services and also leading song sessions. Sometimes, I even had to sing songs in Hebrew, but most were in English.
I began college when I was 17, so I didn’t really have a senior year of high school. My freshman year of college was my senior year of high school. While I was in college, I gigged around, played at open mics, and was in a couple of bands, but nothing really took off. At least, I was able to scratch that itch. One great thing was that I started songwriting a LOT! Truth be told, most of those songs were horrible, although some had some pretty catchy riffs. Over the years, I’ve even revisited some of those catchy riffs, with a fresh set of ears and I’ve been able to rework some of them to music that I’ve helped create today. I recommend that anybody who has written songs in the past, go back to them now, with a fresh set of ears, and say, “what can I take from this song and redo?” These ideas that you have when you’re a pure musician and are not tainted by any business elements are some of the most organic elements that make you shine as a musician. It’s important to go back to those original works and re-examine them.
Once I was done with my degree in TV Production at Florida State University, I got a job at CNN, in Atlanta, GA. While I was there, they had a talent show competition, similar to what American Idol was doing during season one in 2002. I participated and wrote a song called “The Prompter Song”. I ended up winning the grand prize of $12,000 for first place!
This was back in 2002, and it was definitely a lot of money, then. But one of the biggest perks was getting to meet the President of CNN. At the time, I was applying for a job at CNN, New York. The next day after winning the talent contest, he called me into his office to chat, and then before I knew it, I heard back from CNN, New York – so I think that got me the job! So, I went to New York.
One day, I bumped into the Executive Producer, from a show that I was working on called Nancy Grace. We started talking and he mentioned that he needed a theme song. So, I told him that I could write one for the show. Nancy became a big proponent of the song and really helped me push it through. Eventually, it became a theme song on the CNN show and eventually I quit my job in New York, to head West and be near family.
My wife, dog, and I settled in California in 2006. While traveling from New York to California, I received a $30,000 check from ASCAP – $15,000 for my writer's share and $15,000 for my publisher's share. Why was it so big? It was so big because it was a theme song and because it got surveyed and they went back retroactively for however many episodes that it aired for and paid me out. I got very lucky! That was the beginning of my journey in publishing.
Music Licensing and Music Supervision were booming! I got involved with meeting with Music Supervisors and started my licensing company in 2008 and started getting placements. My company began to grow and build; and I taught myself along the way, by studying contracts, reading and just doing. I had conversations with people and was really open and willing to learn. Technically speaking, I have been doing Music Licensing since ~2004-2005, with that CNN license of my song, being placed as a theme. But, I started Licensing heavily in 2008 and around the same time, I began Music Supervising. That happened because one of my friends from college, was directing a film and he brought me in to be his Music Supervisor.
Today, I own 4 record labels and two libraries – one is distributed by APM Music (Sony & Universal) and the other is sub-published around the World by various companies (BMG, Sonoton, Red Igloo, Media Music and more). I also produce music for movie trailers and collaborate with other composers, as well. I have a knack for getting songs where they need to be to get licensed and have had a lot of success doing that. It's one of my great passions and I simply love it!
Reflecting on my teenage years, I never realized how much my small artsy town influenced me. I think it’s important to take a moment and look back on where you came from, what created you, and what made you the artist you are today? What really is at the core of that inner desire, to become a musician or songwriter? I think Georges Bizet (the famous composer) said, “music is a jealous mystery, it’s constantly whispering in your ear, ‘come create, come write something’” – Ha! So, I want to ask you a question if I may:
Which types of fears do you deal with that keep you from achieving your goals? The struggle is real - we all deal with them. If you answered self-doubt, inability to compete, finding time, worrying about how you're going to get heard, and breakthrough, please stay tuned to this blog. We're going to be discussing all of these things that we all deal with, even things I struggle with still today. These are things that my colleagues struggle with and even the biggest superstars on the planet struggle with.
We're all in this together... it's a journey. We're going to learn a ton about Licensing Music and we're going to work through those fears! I'm so excited for this blog and thank you so much for taking the time to check it out.
Here's my YouTube video for "The Prompter Song (as seen on CNN)"!
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