My P.O.V. on Connect Music Licensing (formerly the AVLA)

Ladies & Gentlemen, I seldom wade into the topic of the AVLA (now Connect Music Licensing). This will be the most you’ll ever get from me on the topic. Take what you will, leave the rest. Just know that my points of view on this matter have been essential in allowing me to focus my time and energy where my business needs it most.

Many… many… MANY… people waste far to much breathe on the matter of what is now known as Connect Music Licensing. I say this, because I sincerely value your time. Maybe more then you do. I believe your time is far to valuable to write thoughts all day long (although some have been writing about it for years!) on something that, if most people stop and take the time to really think about, they *might* actually support (and if not, can at least be indifferent about).

As someone that I hope carries some respect with a few of you, please humour me as I share a few thoughts on the matter.

I make my living, in MASSIVE part, because of someone else’s incredible creativity & talents. Specific creativity & talents that I don’t have. Without them, I AM NOTHING (and neither are you for that matter). I’m ok paying a little extra for my music because of that. How little exactly? The fees I pay (2 computers = 2 licenses) are about 0.21% of what will be my gross revenue this year. For something that I couldn’t exist without, that seems to be a pretty decent return on investment. Argue that, and respectfully, you’re a fool.

I don’t care if they enforce it. Honestly. Because I’m ok with paying the fee as noted in the above paragraph for the above reasons. Get over it (0.21%… remember?!). The true cost of proper enforcement would be in the millions upon millions of dollars for which absolutely none of you wants to pay for. Really? Do you?

We’re currently getting about a $25,000 renovation done to our house. When I called a guy I knew and asked him about getting it done, he came over to my house. We talked about what needed to be done, he offered us some really great design ideas, showed us some photos of his past work and then we hired him. As he drove away in his truck, I noticed he didn’t have a Makita logo on his truck. I immediately called him and said that unfortunately, we weren’t going to be able to work together after all, due to his lack of being Makita certified.

With potential clients that I’m fortunate enough to sit down with, I sell them on the results of what they’re wedding can be like. When I’ve done a good job communicating that, then they agree to pay me a liveable wage to help them produce the results they’re after. My having a license to legally operate my music library — for the purpose of deriving substantial personal income — has no bearing on the results that I will help them create. ZERO. For that reason it is seldom, if ever brought up. And no, I’ve never had anyone ask me about it. The only reason someone might is if another DJ told them to.

The story about the Makita guy is false (the renovations are happening though, tile goes into the porch today!). I made that part of the story up. I did so because it’s preposterous to think I would have based my decision to hire a contractor on the basic tools he uses to get the job done (next time you’re in to your dentist, ask him what brand of teeth hacking equipment he uses, some is better then others you know). 😉 (please note the sarcastic winky eye)

Remember when 20/20 did the wedding expenses exposé about a year(ish) ago? DJs slammed ABC for producing such garbage. Many cried foul… “How dare they expose a DJ industry that un-professional in North America?” Well, with the onslaught of negative messages they received from DJs all across the country, I daresay their image of DJs may have only been re-enforced.

There was so much bad blood associated with the AVLA, I’m glad they re-branded. If I was in charge of their PR department, I would have done the same. What saddens me though, was some of the comments and negativity that were poured onto their Facebook page earlier. In case we’ve forgotten how to have a meaningful conversation with someone, it helps to start off positively (which didn’t happen with the 20/20 situation as mentioned earlier either).

A lot of the messages to them on their FB page have been really great, so let’s continue to do so, but keeping a balanced tone (as many did) with constructive criticism will go a long way VS the knee-jerk reaction that has been much of the tone. Much of their responses have been decently well written though. They’re certainly trying very hard on that, let’s try equally as hard to listen.

Now before anyone jumps all over me for being an AVLA/Connect Music Licensing lover, know these things.

– YES, they could maybe have communicated this a little better (as some that posted to their page could have also). But it is their business, and we’re only a small (and sometimes not a very co-operative) part of it, so it’s entirely up to them what to call themselves and when to do it.

– I’m truly sorry that many of you have AVLA branding all over your printed materials/vehicles/etc. Leave those materials alone though, they’re still as good as new. Serious. Simply do this: talk about RESULTS with your clients, not the generic tools that you’ll use to create those results (the exemption being whatever processes that are unique to you that WILL directly impact the results you can help them create). Very few clients will, but IF they ask about, tell them there was a recent name change but nothing to do with that will effect their cost with you or the success of their event. Easy.

– EMBRACE the fact that Connect Music Licensing has taken the first step to more public dialogue with the world via Facebook. Don’t destroy it before it gets the chance to come alive.

Donny Lovering, Rob Kalmar, Dave Hastings & Norm Shaw all shared some very insightful thoughts that many of the commentators writing here today can learn from. To those with more negative points of view then positive (many of you are my friends, please don’t take offence, I say this because I love you), please for the sake of your business, use your time in a more valuable fashion. Hating on something you A) can’t control B) won’t change C) has so little effect on your DJ business it’s crazy! won’t do you a lick of good. In fact, the emotions we feed off of when discussing this might be costing us more money then we know (that’s a full topic for another day though).

WELCOME to Connect Music Licensing. Time to turn over a new leaf. Here’s to hoping that both sides (us AND them) will be mature enough to realize that in the big picture, we all mean relatively little to each other… and that it makes zero sense to expel more energy on this topic then you do on honing your talents as DJs & MCs for yourself and your company (unless you could give a damn about putting your time & energy into positive growth). 🙂

Remember, for 0.21% of total revenue (your % may vary), in order to exploit someone else’s incredible creativity & talents for your benefit?! That’s a big win for us, no matter how you slice it.

From a respectful colleague, thank you for reading.

Written as originally posted to the CPDJA online Facebook group on March 7, 2014.

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