Christopher Sebela

writer, wronger, rearranger

Don’t think about using a Minor Threat song in a killing-spree scene, for example, and be prepared to pay up. “The general policy is that we clear most independent productions as long as the context isn’t offensive or demeaning to the artist/song in some way. Major studio stuff gets a lot more scrutiny—we insist on ‘most favored nations’ agreements—which means if The Rolling Stones are getting $50,000 then so is the Dischord artist.” He adds, “each band has different criteria for what they do or do not accept—Fugazi pretty much only works with indie productions, Minor Threat accepts more stuff but insists on clearing the context, etc. It’s a mixed bag.”

What do companies say when Dischord asks for fair pay? Sometimes they back off, sometimes they don’t. But “There is often a notion that independent artists should be kissing the ring of anyone willing to give them ‘exposure.’ The fact is that major studios often seek out ‘cool’ indie music because (1) it helps give street cred to their projects and (2) they have to pay next to nothing for it. Obviously we reject this notion.”

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