“I sometimes joke that we’re the only publisher that can help you in Chicoutimi and Los Angeles,” says Patrick Curley, entertainment lawyer and president of Montreal-based music publisher Third Side Music.
The synchronization-focused licensing company recently launched a second office, in Los Angeles, to help service its film and television clients. Curley first became interested in music licensing after his band The Whereabouts had a couple of songs placed in the film Home Team in 1999 and he saw his SOCAN earnings jump from about $4 to about $500 in one quarter.
“I thought, ‘If I’m able to do this with my own small indie rock band that nobody’s heard of, what could I do with a real catalogue?’” says Curley, whose company now handles a repertoire of more than 20,000 tracks by about 1,000 different acts.
Third Side Music was born when Curley’s publishing operations (initially called Plateau Musik) merged with the North American operations of one of his legal clients, Ninja Tune Records, in 2005. The Ninja Tune catalogue still represents “easily over half” of TSM’s business. Though the company handles master use licenses and collects mechanical royalties (for Bedouin Soundclash and Lisa LeBlanc, for example), it mostly works in synchronization (or “synch”) licenses.
“Music supervisors are looking for the hot new thing, so we try to provide it for them.” – Patrick Curley, president of Third Side Music
Curley’s not sure what TSM’s percentage is for successful pitches (from five up to 15 percent), but estimates that the company’s three-person licensing team secures between 50 and 100 individual synchronization (or “synch”) licenses a month. One of the challenges, as the company grows by its own estimate of 25 to 30 percent a year, and the catalogue expands, is making sure that the licensing team of the eight-person company is familiar with the music that they’re selling. “We have search tools that we use, and a tagging system,” says Curley. “But to a large extent it’s done just by virtue of my team really knowing their shit.”
Third Side recently placed Jenn Grant’s song “Gone Baby Gone” in a TV ad for El Jimador tequila in Mexico. At press time, the staff were excited about Toronto’s Wildlife, whose song “Lightning Tent” they placed in a Corona beer TV ad that aired frequently on Hockey Night In Canada, and accumulated more than a million views on YouTube. At the time, the band had another song due to be featured in a Miller beer TV ad in the States.
“For a new band, that’s a lot of visibility,” says Curley. “It’s really helping with their album campaign.”
Curley says that the briefs TSM receives from music supervisors typically come with a price range, as well as a description of the kind of music they’re looking for, which provides plenty of opportunities for emerging artists.“Music supervisors tend to see themselves as the new A&R,” says Curley. “They’re looking for the hot new thing, so we try to provide it for them.”
Is there any particular kind of music that TSM itself is looking for? “We basically find music that we like,” says Curley. “It’s got to be awesome.”