As I turn my attention toward the upcoming PowerPoint Live in San Diego in September, I am thinking about fine tuning those presentations which I will be giving as an instructor in Photography and Image Editing.
When speaking in public, many presenters like to have some music playing in the background during the time in which the audience is filing in and taking their seats. Often, when I am presenting and showing a series of photographic images. Occasionally, I set the mood with music.
One of the things I like to do is shop the location for vendors selling CDs of local musicians performing music with a regional flavor. You can often find these musicians selling at clubs where they are performing or small gift shops or cart vendors in the touristy areas. Where ever possible I like to buy directly from the artist. That way you can discuss your future use of the music and any copyright snags you might encounter.
Last year at PowerPoint Live, I lead a group of 15 intrepid photographers down Bourbon Street. The next day we edited the participants photographs live during a conference session. During the intro to the session, we played a Cajun tune from a CD purchased out of the guitar case of a local street performer. The uniquely NOLA music added greatly to the sense of place and complimented the photographs greatly.
"The United States Copyright Law defines a public place as any place where persons outside of "a normal circle of family and friends" are gathered. In other words, even though your event is closed to the general public, the members of your industry, in attendance, do form a public. They are not an informal gathering of family and friends. So, exhibitor booths, general stage presentations, cocktail parties and banquets, as well as other ambient music use, require the appropriate music licensing."
~ excerpt from BMI Web site
Whenever you play copyrighted music in public you may be subject to royalty fees. It is important to know what your rights are and how they intersect with the rights of the songwriter, performer and in some cases the record label. This web site has some great information, albeit presented from the draconian view of the music publishing industry, on obtaining license to exhibit music in public at a meeting, convention, trade show or exposition.
If you plan to use music as a part of your presentation schema, it is important that you understand exactly when and how music may be played in public and when you are subject to nominal fees for doing so-if you have purchased a license to do so. Base fees start in the $135.00/year range. If you build presentations for clients it is important for you as a presentation professional to make your clients aware of licensing so that you can hopefully mitigate liability on your behalf.
I am an artist. A significant portion of my income comes from my visual art. Respect copyrights! They are the tenuous thread of income in many artists lives. Quality future content depends upon responsible use of intellectual property.
Software to the Rescue
To this end, I turned to other avenues for providing music to augment my video and picture production. One solution is to use something like "Smart Sound" that come with various video editing packages. I use Pinnacle and found some Smart Sound to provide background for my short film "Swans of Monticello" For a short film or presentation, it can provide a pleasing background that wears well.
If you don’t mind, I’ll do it myself!
The other thing you can do is create your own music. I purchased a Yamaha YPT-400. With no formal training in keyboard or music really, I was able to leverage the automated and manual functions to produce a little background music for a time-lapse project I did for Badlands National Park. The video, Clearing Light, albeit short, shows how a little original music and some multi-track recording software can yield reasonable results.
Three solutions. Pay for the music, use canned music or create your own. In any case, you are adding depth to your presentation by incorporating appropriate, tasteful music to your visual offering.
Rikk Flohr © 2008