TV music at bargain prices

"Grey's Anatomy."

Jeremy Hobson: Here in Los Angeles, the Emmy's have wrapped up. And now, it's time to focus on the fall television season. There will be plenty of new shows -- and to go with them, new music.

But buying the rights to use that music means TV studios will have to think far into the future, as Blake Farmer reports now from WPLN in Nashville.


Blake Farmer: TV shows may start on the air, but they can have a lucrative afterlife on DVD.

It wasn't always that way. Remember following Kevin Arnold through puberty in "The Wonder Years"?

Gord Lacey: Which was a wonderful show, but unfortunately used tons and tons of that period music.

Gord Lacey is the founder of tvshowsondvd.com. He says we can't relive Kevin chasing after Winnie Cooper on DVD because the show only licensed the music for broadcast.

Lacey: DVDs didn't exist. Why would you want to pay money to license music for something that doesn't even exist yet?

Shows like "China Beach" and "WKRP in Cincinnati" may never see their way into the digital domain because licensing the music now would make them unprofitable. Today's legal agreements throw in everything.

Ron Proulx: The terminology typically is all media, now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Ron Proulx is one of the people who finds the perfect songs to put behind high-emotion moments. Increasingly, music supervisors find themselves working with relative unknowns.

Indie artists Amy Stroup and Trent Dabbs have had placements all over primetime, including on the last season of "Grey's Anatomy." Ron Proulx says TV studios see a bargain.

Proulx: Indie is another word for inexpensive.

The to-infinity-and-beyond licensing deals mean tens of thousands of dollars for a major label name, instead of a couple thousand for someone like Amy Stroup. And she says there aren't nearly as many lawyers involved.

Amy Stroup: There's a lot less doors to open. 'Can we use your song? Yep. There you go.' And then the independent artist is going 'yes, this is awesome.'

It's unbelievable exposure for artists who often play in the corner of a bar. And the exposure doesn't stop. It can live on -- with the DVD box set.

In Nashville, I'm Blake Farmer for Marketplace.

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