By Seb Kemp
The long-awaited and overdue release of ARRIVAL, Second Base Films’ latest and greatest movie, is set to go ahead this week. With the premier in Vancouver on November 27th November (Event details) and the movie released via iTunes on the same day, the world will finally be able to see what the Coastal Crew and friends have been working on.
The reason for the delay has been the prickly issue of music licensing. All it took was one song to hold up the whole movie. To find out more about the business of film production, music licensing and why they chose to do things the right way, Bike Magazine correspondent Seb Kemp visited the Coastal Crew at their paradise cabin editing suite on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. Read on for critical insight by Curtis Robinson and Kyle Norbraten, along with one of ARRIVAL's co-stars, Logan Peat.
BIKE: So, the movie is finally coming out, what took so long?
Kyle Norbraten: We had some major delays with getting all the music licensed. We had everything ready to go a while ago - submitted to iTunes, ready for DVD replication, you name it - and then we got word that we couldn't license one song that we had been waiting to hear back from for so long. We were told there was no possible way we could use that song, so we had to go back and find something to replace it and then wait for that one to be licensed and cleared.
Curtis Robinson: It was a lot longer than we planned.
B: How was it, re-cutting that one section?
KN: it was hard to find a song that matched the feel and vibe of that one segment. It's the first song of the Brazil segment, so it was hard to match it because it had a certain character. I suppose if you haven't seen the original then you wouldn't know. We found a good replacement in the end.
B: How is it organizing the movie, finding the songs you want and then acquiring the music licensing? How much money do you spend on that sort of thing and how long does it take?
CR: Well, you always want to use the best music possible, so we have a bank of possible music, music we like and think could work for something. Then you find a song that matches the section and has the right feel, but you have to submit it to your music advisor who handles it from there on out. He goes to the record labels, the artists, the musicians, the publishers, and gets the OK for it. It's a really long process sometimes. They are obviously busy people and deal with huge operations, so it takes a lot of time.
B: It's hard getting answers sometimes though.
CR: All we are doing is trying to pay them so we can use their songs in our movie, which might help promote them as well as pay them. We are trying to do this the right way, but it takes forever dealing with all this.
B: So how much is it per song to license?
CR: The replacement song was the most expensive.
B: That must sting?
C: Yeah, totally.
KN: It delayed us, which cost us even more money in the end. It cost our business, our reputation, our sponsors…when something like this happens, it snowballs, and it's painful when it isn't in our hands.
B: So why not just rip off songs anyway? Each day most of the "edits" that come out don't appear to have licensed music, why do you bother?
CR: Yeah, but we want everything to be legal and professional. We have a business we are running, so there's a lot on the line. If we did go ahead and use a song that we didn't have the rights to, then all of a sudden we could be facing court and a major lawsuit. That's something we don't want, at all! If it takes the extra steps, like it has now, then that's what it takes. It's too bad because we told everyone the movie was going to be out and it's not. At least we know it's worth the wait and we are happy we the product we have come up with. It's 100 percent stoke factor on our side. This is a project we are proud of. We are totally happy with what we have done when it's all said and done, because it was done right.
Logan Peat: This music rights thing seems to be new. A few years ago it didn't seem to be the problem
CR: Well, now there are so many artists and there are only so many car commercials that will get them paid. There are so many more artists doing major commercial jobs that small mountain bike films mean nothing to them. It's hard for us to get in the door.
LP: Look at the Deadline movie. There've been BMX movies coming out unlicensed for years, years! Then the first one got caught this year.
CR: Really, which one?
LP: Deadline, Garret Reynolds' three-year project. His own section had two Pink Floyd songs in it. The music companies caught wind of it and now the video part from one of the most kickass, influential BMX riders just won't get released.
B: That's the difficult thing, someone like yourselves or Garret Reynolds, are doing something very small, in terms of the big picture. It's not a Ford car commercial, but at the same time there's that one person who created something that you find value in enough to use in a film, which makes your film better and perhaps will help you profit from it. The culture we live in dictates that everyone get paid fairly for what they made. What about if the shoe was on the other foot and someone was taking from you?
KN: Yeah, exactly. If someone took footage from us and used it in their video, then it's the same thing as filmmakers using songs illegally.
CR: That's why we want to respect that.
KN: You could say, 'Oh great it's getting broadcast to a new group of people and getting exposure' but then the song isn't being credited or paid for.
B: Yeah, they might get exposure from having that song in the video, but it's not getting paid for when you will get paid for your final video…
KN: You get back what you worked for…
LP: …it goes way deeper than it looks at first.
KN: …everyone is working…
CR: Everyone works hard to get back something of what they put out. One thing, though.... it's crazy how different some record labels are. Some record labels don't want anything to do with action sports films at all, ever again. Boom, door closed!
CR: Yeah, it's what happened with the Santigold song we wanted to use. Santigold have had a lot of songs in riding videos - New World Disorder, NotBad, other Anthill videos - and then we try get the use of that song and she has straight up decided that she doesn't want her music in any action sports movies anymore for some reason.
B: Now, that might seem peculiar. You might not be big players, but you are offering that artist some money to use the song - be it $1,500 or $4,000 or however much it is - you'd think they'd be happy to take the money that's on offer, money they wouldn't otherwise get, wouldn't you?
CR: They are looking at the big, big-ticket money from the huge studios.
LP: They probably don't want the song being played out. Instead they're saving it for the big deal she might get from Ford car commercials.
B: Commercial use is a relatively new revenue stream that has really risen in importance for musicians in recent years. With the importance of Top 40 single and album sales disappearing, because people just rip off the songs from the internet, the importance of merchandising, tour revenue and commercial licensing increases.
CR: With the internet being what it is today - being able to steal any photo, any video, any song from the internet, it must make it hard for artists. They need to make up for what they lose. It's hard for us keeping our films off YouTube or downloaded by kids for free. It's tough, we put a lot of work into our projects and we need to be able to get something out of it so that we can continue producing videos in the future. If our videos get stolen, it makes it hard because we can't afford to make them.
ARRIVAL will be released on iTunes on 27th November but can be pre-purchased HERE.