November 1, 2023 Sam Parvin

Planning 2024: How to Plan & Budget for Music

There’s a good chance you’re getting ready for planning and budgeting for marketing in 2024, and I wanted to share some simple tips to increase ROI on music licensing and to avoid emergency budget surprises.

The impact of the music used in advertising does not need to be left to chance. We can plan to have powerful, music-forward marketing that helps us grow the business, with ease. And it starts the same place everything else does: from the beginning.

Here are some tips for planning and budgeting for music for 2024.

There are three questions to ask yourself when you start planning.

1. What types of music does / will your brand use?

Does your brand license big, iconic songs for every spot?

Do you work with independent musicians to license their original songs?

Do you compose instrumentals, or buy music from online libraries?

And, importantly – Why is each route (could be a variety) relevant to your brand and consumer? **This is crucial to the planning process and to creating a consistent, meaningful brand.

Here’s a short worksheet to help think through that, if need-be.

Tip: NOW is the time to consult your music expert, IF they are able to discuss strategic routes with you.

Tip: For an original song by an independent artist, you might pay $40,000 – $140,000 USD (LOTS of factors go into this; this is simply an illustration.)

For a “famous” song, a brand in the US can pay in the $500,000 – $2MM range (heavily dependent on the factors below).

So knowing if you’re using Top 40 tracks, emerging talent, or a library track will make a massive difference in your plan.

2. Lay out all the potential places where you might want music in your content plan.

  • Social Media pieces
  • TVCs / hero spots
  • In-App, In-Venue, and other interactive executions, etc.

Tip: You may or may not want different music for each separate piece of creative. We’ve worked on some very powerful campaigns where we made two covers of the same song, used one composer to make slight variations on one main composition, licensed one track and cut it differently to different spots, etc. Of course, plan for more versus fewer, but know that there are many ways to get creative.

3. How long will you air the spots, and where?

The factors that determine music licensing costs are:

  • Brand
  • Song
  • Media
  • Term (# months)
  • Territory (countries)
  • Exclusivity

Tip: Licensing a song for half the period of time does not equal half the price. If you license a song for one year, it may cost you $120,000. That same song for six months will cost around $75,000. Equity, value, impact.

Now that you have an idea of what types of music work for your brand, how many pieces / kind of content will need music, and the factors that impact the budgets, you’re ready to get real about the money and partners you’ll need.

There are two ways you can plan and budget for music for 2024. Forwards or backwards. 😉

ROUTE F (for “Forward”): Make Strategic & Creative Music Choices, Then Allocate Budget for That

Ideally, what would the brand like to do with music this year? Then, what resources do we need to make that happen?

  • Money
  • Time
  • Music Partners
  • Other Partners

TIP: Most music partners would be happy for you to reach out to them to proactively find out how much your idea might cost, so you can allocate budget for it upfront… You don’t have to guess and hope later that it will work out!

Here I wrote more about different types of music partners with my friend and colleague Antony Demekhin.

ROUTE B (for “Backward”): Determine the Resources You Have, and Then Choose Music That Works with Those Resources

If you don’t have unlimited resources, the time, money, and team you have may determine parameters more so than your ideas. For (semi-)brevity’s sake, I’m going to talk about money primarily here; but know that time, team and expertise are the pieces that HAVE to be dialed in to get a good product for the budget you spend.

How much money IS a “good budget” for this project? How do I know how much to spend in relation to my other expenses?

Allocate a percentage of production budget for music.

  • Look at how important music is to the brand and creative. Then take a percentage of the entire production budget and set it aside for music.
  • Non-famous, original composition music might take about 10-15% of a total production budget.
  • A famous song might take up 30-60% of a production budget.
  • TIP: This range is wide; make your best judgement on the importance of music and the return you think it might give. You can ask some music impact questions in testing as well as rely on your gut.

AND/OR – Determine music budget based on the media budget.

  • Because the price you spend on music is based on how many people will see it and the potential for the brand to benefit from it, sometimes it makes more sense to base the budget for music on the media plan. This is often true for internet-only (or non-broadcast) content with a more “grassroots” production quality, or when influencers or users are creating the content.
  • TIP: Holistic viewing is always best. Look at both the production budget and the media budget, together with the role of music, and make a general call on percent that makes sense.

Most brands will probably work from both ends and meet somewhere in the middle.

Once you have budget ranges, check against what you’ve spent for music in the past.

WATCHOUT: Make sure the type of music, usage rights, etc. are comparable. A big mistake could be saying all original music will cost you $60,000, when one piece was for broadcast TV for a year and the other for internet only for three months.

The name of the game here is NOT cost; it’s VALUE.

I’ve seen brands spend $30k on music that created a cultural movement and solidified their brand as an icon. I’ve also seen brands spend $2MM for a :15 TVC where you couldn’t even tell what the song was.

  • Money is just one factor to consider.
  • Fame isn’t always going to give your project more impact. And it definitely isn’t always going to be a good investment.
  • The insight driving the piece has to be at the center.

**And the partners you bring on to help you align all of these priorities, review your options, and who are invested in making this project a win for your brand are critical.

I’d love to hear – How is your brand planning and budgeting for music for 2024?

Sam Parvin

Samantha Parvin - Owner, Parvin Music Over the last 13 years, Samantha Parvin has built three successful music for brands companies, has created and licensed music for the most recognized brands in the world, and has redefined what’s possible by connecting some of the world’s best musical talent with brands, globally. Samantha Parvin, Owner Parvin Music Her work in one of the best audio recording facilities in the US (Doppler Studios) and in Sales and Marketing at an international software company (Blackbaud Inc.) prepared her to accept a position as Global Music Consultant for The Coca-Cola Company at their headquarters in Atlanta, GA, where she helped “The Most Recognized Brand in the World” understand what’s possible with music, across the globe. Since then she has built two successful music licensing and original composition companies, has won over 30 internationally-recognized awards including two Cannes Lions, and has had the pleasure to support brands like GMC, Corona, Dos Equis, Maker’s Mark, Procter & Gamble and more. Now as Owner of Parvin Music, a music licensing and composition agency, Samantha is focused on working very closely with a small roster of clients to elevate creativity, advocate for the rights of independent musicians, and provide opportunities for the best talent to create art with brands.

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