Can I use music in a client slideshow or marketing?

Can I use music in a client slideshow or marketing?

Can I use music in a client slideshow or marketing?

Understanding copyright law can be about as clear as mud.  When you are creating marketing materials or client products, you must have an understanding of what is proper or isn’t.  

Some examples include:

  • slideshows for business promotion 
  • use of music during a sales presentation
  • background music in a client slideshow for purchase
  • music on Snapchat/Instagram videos
  • any other unlicensed use that is in furtherance of your business

The danger comes when the proper commercial license has not been acquired.    In fact, so many social media platforms are on this infringement fight by creating automation to kill/remove videos with unlicensed music.


Itunes is NOT a commercial license

The most common example of unauthorised use is Itunes  being used in a commercial activity.  Unfortunately, iTunes terms are for personal use and not commercial use.  

Anytime that you go and you purchase a song (or even a template!), you need to be mindful of this licensing so that you are following the legalities and the terms that the seller has put in place so that you don’t get in any hot water in marketing. It doesn’t look good when you put out an awesome slideshow with music that you are not licensed for and then you get in trouble for it.

If you are still stuck on the difference in commercial versus personal use – take a look at this example for photography.  The same ideas translate to music.  

Rule of thumb: If it’s being used in the course of your business – get the proper license!

As creatives, we need to be more respectful, understand the difference between personal licensing and commercial licensing.  You need to take a look at the license and determine whether or not you have the permissions to use it the way that you’re intending to use it in marketing.


Getting A License Or Permission

Be respectful (and legal) by purchasing the proper commercial licenses, using music that doesn’t have copyright protection (such as Free Public Domain music), or get permission from the artist.

Side note: The same goes for when you have headshots taken for use in your business, acquire a commercial use license and not a personal print license, that way you can use it in the course of business.


Where can I get songs for use?

Paid Sites:

Triple Scoop

– Will cost you about $60 per song

The Music Bed!/

– About $50 per song (though some are less)

Song Freedom

– From $20-40 per song. Lots of current music even!

Ear Candy Digital

– $25-$40 per song OR $199 for a one-year membership.

Red Beard Music –– $30 per song – Lyrical music only.

Stock 20 –

– $30 per song. Red Beard’s sister site. Instrumental music only. Think “on hold” and “elevators.”

Renee & Jeremy– Used to be no cost to photogs, but you can find them on The Music Bed now.

Tim McMorris

– As low as $14 per license.

Free Play Music

– Not as “free” as they say. Most of the songs will cost you at least $75 to use ONCE.


– Single tracks starting at $50.


– 99 cent tracks. Yes, you read it right. That’s only 99 cents per licensed track.

With Etiquette

– Personal use is $49 (1 use), client use is called a wedding lisence and is $99 (5 uses)

Premium Beat

-About $40 per song

-They say you buy once and can use it forever.

Brace yourself for TRULY FREE MUSIC:

Free Public Domain Music

– Exactly what it says. Free music that is within the “public domain.” Anyone can use it for any purpose, without having to credit an artist or pay for a license. That said, there’s not going to be something here to fit every need.

Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech)-

– You have two options: 1) Give him credit in your piece (as directed on this page) and pay ZERO dollars for his music [Thanks to the Creative Commons License!]. OR 2) Pay $30 for a song and not worry about giving credit. From Mr. MacLeod’s website, I found more music that was TRULY FREE, composed by people that are actually still alive, and that doesn’t (all) sound like it is meant for car dealerships and supermarket PA systems. All thanks to the Creative Commons! 🙂 Just please remember, if you use this, to credit the artist!

Tom Cusack

Anthony Kozar

Jason Shaw


Josh Woodward

The Tune Peddler


Need more help?

Check out Marketing Madness  – Rachel Brenke’s online marketing workshop with in-depth information to successful market on a budget, as well as how to stay legal doing it!

Photography Marketing Is Much Like Holiday Traffic

Photography Marketing Is Much Like Holiday Traffic

Photography Marketing Is Much Like Holiday Traffic

Holiday traffic is a bummer. Especially when you live in large metro areas with lots of cars.    Living on the 95 corridor is an experience – to say the least.  You have to gauge even your trip the mall based on rush hour traffic, but when holiday/summer traffic comes along – watch out. You may as well just stay home.


Well, I didn’t listen to this advice. 


I decided to get myself out in it because I “had to have” this marinade for steak. Had to – and no replication or substitution was going to do.  I was solely focused on this one. And I had failed to plan ahead.

So off I went.  Going there was easy.  I drove along with windows down, sang along to music, and completely blind to the crawling traffic in the other direction.  Got my marinade. (Geez, what a thrilling life I lead! Ha!) Headed home.


On the way home. Dead stopped traffic.    


I settled in, knowing it was going to probably be an hour drive as opposed to the standard twenty minutes.  Didn’t bother me. I put myself here, and nothing I could do about.

I sat and watched many swerving in and out of lanes, believing they have this strategy to get ahead of the gridlock.  They end up expending lots of time, energy, and stress (along with a higher potential for an accident) but don’t end up farther along on their journey.  In fact, this one maroon car was causing such road rage in himself and backing up traffic because he was SURE he was going to beat us all – guess what happened? I ended up way far ahead of him. 



Because I stayed in my lane.  


I strategically chose one lane because I’m a local and the travelers passing through didn’t know that when the road slightly curved ahead, everyone slammed on breaks. Even more than the existing gridlock was already causing.   I had strategically entered this lane knowing the traffic patterns and driver reactions.

Further, I didn’t get distracted by the other cars around me, or try to strategically cut people off.  I was strategic in keeping my windows down, the music on, and my focus on the stop and go in front of me. 

And because of this, I got further ahead. Less stress. Less gas spent. More Taylor Swift lyrics were being sung at high off-key volume.


So how does this relate to business? 

I am now primarily a referral-based business (meaning I only take clients that are referred – and I have so many I end up referring out)– with minimal investment in paid advertisement.  The exact same strategies for a low-stress drive home mirror what I’ve done in my businesses (yes plural, different industries – they all work).   Let’s break down my driving example and connect it to some marketing actions that help me to stay on cruise-control with marketing (see what I did there?)


Choosing a lane

Choosing a lane is probably one of the most foundational and critical aspects of marketing a business.  By knowing who my ideal client avatar is (how they act, respond, preferences, desires, fears, etc)., I know specifically how to act.  I know which lane to choose to get in their path.  SOOOO (yes capitalized with lots of O’s) many business owners, especially photographers, are like the maroon car guy.  They get on the highway and think about the end point – or they just have a goal to get through the traffic. 


But they aren’t mindful of the cars around them, unaware of traffic patterns and driver responses, and allow frustrations to drive their actions instead of a plan.   This will lead you targeted marketing that gives a better return on investment of your time, energy and money.  It will also qualify the clients for you – to help reduce the potential for getting into business with someone who isn’t your ideal client avatar.


Giving help 

Giving help to others around you is another foundational cornerstone to navigating the madness of marketing.  Give help to other business owners. To organizations. I’m not saying give completely of yourself without a return.  But giving of you and your business to get known by others in the community.  These can be done with business partnerships (#2 way I’ve grown my businesses into referral based), expos, fairs, and other events. 

 There is always a great return that comes back.  I’ve seen in traffic when an out-of-towner (highlighted by their license plate) has rolled down the window and asked a local for directions.  Local gave directions.  Out-of-towner was able to exit and find a new path.  Both win – the local achieved one less car on the gridlock (not a big difference, but some nonetheless), and the out-of-towner got insight into a new and quicker path.


Keeping a map

Keeping a map (read: marketing plan) keeps you focused on where you’re going and what you should be doing.   Nowadays, most of us are using our smartphones or car GPS to help us – and these often have traffic reports or re-calculating options.  This technology will automatically do this for you without much action other than responding to it.


But maps/plans should always be reevaluated.  Marketing plans don’t typically have this re-calculating measure. You must commit to frequent analyzing of metrics and feedback.  These analytics will help to adjust your actions (that will ultimately adjust your trajectory).



This seems to simple but communicating with client avatars properly (think back to choosing a lane) makes it for an easier ride.    This is two fold – with other drivers and with your client avatar.


First, there is undoubtedly going to be other business owners in your lane targeting the same client avatar.  THIS IS OKAY.  There is plenty of road and destinations for all of us.  The key is communication with one another. Make it a two-way street of communication and referrals. You both can’t take on all clients at one time.  Service the community properly, service one of another properly, we all win.


Second, communicating with clients is important.  Not much unlike billboards that are set up every X amount of miles on the highways.  Repeated messages and specific calls to action pull these drivers into attractions and dining establishments, you should be doing the same with low-cost and high-return actions (think email marketing, social media strategy, etc.)  Narrowing on your communication properly and not just what everyone else is doing (read: quit making your IG feed look like every other IG feed out there).  Get focused on the communication that truly speaks TO your client avatar, and not AT them.


As you can see, navigating the roads of marketing can be madness.  But if you take each of these points and use to cultivate your plan – you will be farther ahead than maroon car guy.  You’ll get to that beach faster.  Under that umbrella faster, and hopefully a fruity drink with an umbrella in one hand or playing an intense game of beach Frisbee with your family.


Accompanying Resources

Please take these points and get them going in your business.  While we are coming up on half year, YOU CAN STILL TURN AROUND 2016.    There’s a 45 minute video here that expands on these topics.


I just opened enrollment for Marketing Madness – a 6-week web course with yours truly that walks through much of what I talked about above and more.  Lifetime access, fully downloadable.  Videos, handouts, transcripts.  It’s all yours for the taking and using. 

My goal is to get you through the madness so you can get on “cruise control”.  Because once you hit that stretch of highway with no gridlock, you’ve chosen your lane – you can switch that baby on since you’ve done most of the heavy work.  From here on out, it’s only minor changes and revaluations.

See y’all inside – I’m closing enrollment Friday!



5 Free Marketing Ideas for Your Photography Business

5 Free Marketing Ideas for Your Photography Business

5 Free Marketing Ideas for Your Photography Business

Marketing your photography business can be difficult and overwhelming when you feel like you’re slamming money and time into actions that aren’t working.  I grew my photography business from a corner of my bedroom into multiple studios and an all referral business.  I did this by bootstrapping as I didn’t have a lot of money to invest.   Bootstrapping is to get yourself out of a situation with existing resources.  If you are starting our, or have hit a rough financial patch, financial resources may be extremely limited.

To this day, even with a larger marketing budget, I still stick to the basics of the bootstrapping and cost-effective principles.   I use what I call my 3:1 Ratio to determine which actions will be used.  Before I take any actions, I ensure that I’m going to have three benefits to every single drawback.


Business relationships

Have you ever noticed when you’re out in public that crowds tend to gather? Traffic backs up for no reason in certain spots? This is because humans are creatures who naturally want companionship. If you look around the world you’ll see natural pairings and companionships in various places. Even most animals approach life together in schools and flocks.

This is because everything is safer and easier in numbers. Going at business alone can be dangerous. You run the risk of burning out, being overwhelmed, and/or going slower than you would with a companion.
I know I know, many of us are business owners and entrepreneurs because we desire to run our own business – but let us be honest: even working in an industry where we work with people, it can still be lonely. We want that companionship. We fear failure, and crave a safe feeling of companionship. Sitting behind a computer (or camera) for hours on end and working through paperwork can feel very isolating. You start to wonder if you are the only one going at it. You wonder if you are the only one struggling with feeling overwhelmed.

Companionships are just the tip of why affiliations with local businesses are critical to the mental and physical health of your business (and you). Business affiliations are good for the mind and soul – but even more than that, they open up a world of new paths to clients. In marketing, your goal is to get in the target client’s path. They are running along – and you want to be right there with them to tell them about your products and services. But you have to find where they are. This, in and of itself, is overwhelming – so why try to manage it alone?

I attribute business affiliations as one of the key cornerstones to business success. (You thought I was gonna say being legal huh? Well that is part of it, but that’s not the be-all end-all.)Without business affiliations to open up new fields of potential clients with whom you can develop relationships and learn new market penetration strategies, you’ll be left behind. Alone.
You may be thinking that it’s scary to reach out to other businesses.

There’s a fear of rejection.

A fear of letting them down.

A fear of failure with someone else watching.  

Let me tell you, fellow business colleagues will not think less of you. In fact, they will see and speak more highly of you for putting yourself out there and trying. If you try then fail – then you do.

Here’s all you gotta do: identify partnerships that make sense, propose an affiliation, get it in writing, and make business!

Email lists

 Quit relying on social media – wait…we can’t rely on it. Why? Because social media platforms have their own agenda.  They have their own reasons for delivering specific content over others. What if yours doesn’t fall in the category that is being delivered up to potential clients? 

This is the reality that many of you are facing.

The best part is – you do have a platform at your fingertips that can help you with this. You can avoid the social media dart game and hope to catch a client.

You can get in their inbox. 

Being in an individuals’ email inbox you’re more likely to have the marketing delivered (hey, sometimes spam filters may act up!) and creates a more direct and personalized connection to the individual you’re seeking to acquire as a client. 

You should be regularly emailing to potential clients and clients.

Trust me, you want to get an email marketing strategy down. This is probably the one (next to business partnerships) that I credit my growing business success to.


Asking your clients for referrals

This is is relatively simple.  Ask your clients to refer you.  You can do this witha  formalized program, or informally for more organic referrals.

However, for the prompts of referrals to work for you – you must work with the client psychology of your avatar. Who is it that you’ve attracted to your business?

Are your current clients truly the avatar you want to continue with? If yes, great – push forward for their similar avatar friends. If not, what can you adjust?

Do you really want a referral from a pool of individuals that may not be your avatar?

What if you don’t want to lose that pool, how can you do better to filter out the non-avatars?

All of this comes together to create an request for referrals. It’s a bit more than you thought, huh?


Cross-marketing your current clients

This one is kind of a cheat one. It’s a way to make more money without truly having to market!  

Look at your past clients and see if you can cross them over to another niche. example – I have lots of commercial clients throughout year – I am able to cross them over to family sessions in fall- that is the ONLY time I take families.

I don’t typically photograph them as my main course of business as I find a better return and enjoyment elsewhere- but I already have spent the marketing dollars and time building the buyer confidence on these people – it’s EASY to get them in the door for family work.

Another example would be if you’re a senior or newborn photographer – move them into family pics.

Use the marketing dollars and energy you’ve already spent on them – maximize it. Avoid seeking for new clients this close to end of year – marketing takes a good two to four months to work on clients – use this time to get those who already know you to come back to you. It’s especially easy if you’ve been email marketing them at least quarterly.


Real Life Example:

Client comes into the studio for commercial work (headshots and marketing images) in April.  Killer custom commercial quote – make my money – we are all happy.  I did my follow-up and quality control check on her 2-3 weeks after delivery of product All was good.

November rolls around, and it is time to “cash in” on the work I’ve already done. Call client. Get her booked with a pre-sold collection. Have session. Process and deliver. Follow-up. Boom!


Bottom line: $5500 order for less than 2 hours of work

Reviewing client file: 5 minutes

Quick phone call follow-up to client to pitch a family session: 15 minutes

Presold : $3000 collection (paid for before session – buyer confidence baby!)

Driving to session: 10 minutes

Shooting: 30 minutes

Driving home from session: 10 minutes

Processing and uploading to gallery: 20 minutes

48-hour phone call follow up: 20 minutes

Follow-up sale with album + 2 canvases: $2500 a la carte items

COGS: $600

Total client value: $6500 commercial session + $5500  portrait session = $12,000 client value

The Client Value is actually going to increase because she has 2 pending referrals to me for commercial work with local business owners + 1 referred client that was photographed in July.


As you can see, marketing doesn’t have to be crazy complicated or expensive.  We’d love to hear some of your bootstrapping marketing techniques in the comments!


Marketing Madness is now open for enrollment. I go through all of my free (or low cost) methods of marketing that will get you a return.  I grew my businesses from nothing to six figures in the first year and it has steadily grown since.  I want to personally help you grow your business so you can be and do what you want.  Only $99 to get enrolled in Marketing Madness. Limited spots available.

What if my client asks for copyright?

What if my client asks for copyright?

What if my client asks for copyright?


“My client emailed and wants me to release copyrights of my work! What do I do?”  

This is a super simple process that we should walk through so that you understand the best method to evaluation, your rights, and help you to make a better decision.  

I don’t recommend jumping on the “I refuse to listen to my client’s request” train, as I see in many online forums.  Instead, research through this article and make the best decision for you.


Examine the request

First, let’s get it right off the table that not all clients are out to get us.  Many have been burned and the stories are rampantly shared in online forums and it puts everyone on the defensiveness.  This does no good.  It’s like smacking the hand before it does anything to you.

Whenever a client has a request in your business – STOP! LOOK! and LISTEN!  That sounds too simple, right?


  • Inquire to what their purpose for the copyright ownership is. 
  • Research to see if you’re “ok” with this
  • Formulate a response
  • Stand by it

The goal is for collaborative problem solving.  Many times clients aren’t aware what they are asking may be a “faux pas” simply because they haven’t been educated. Now is your chance to be that person. To educate our clients and raise the industry bar a little bit more!


Is it truly copyright they want?

The thing is, most clients believe they must have copyright ownership of their images in order to print.  That is not always the case.  They can possess a print license (image use license, etc. it can be a called a couple of things – the importance is the language within the release). See Copyright versus Print Release.  

Industry standard is for a print release that provides personal printing rights to a portrait client, however, copyright transfer is not unheard of.  

Note: If you’re not in America, be sure to check your copyright laws about ownership and transfer.


What if I’m okay with selling copyright?

It is also industry standard, or so it seems apparent on the Internet, to jump on the train of refusing to sell copyright.

Before you scroll past this section, I want to consider.

  • What is the market value for images of a private, unknown individual?
  • What can you truly make off those images later?
  • What is the purpose of retaining the copyrights for the images?

Sure, they could end up being a huge superstar and you captured an intimate moment before they made it big. But it is false to believe that because you have the copyrights now that you couldn’t be restricted from use in future (i.e. privacy laws, etc.)

All that being said, if you are okay with selling copyright ownership, you can do this. It is your prerogative.  TheLawTog® recommendation would be to at least ask for a license back for use of those images in your marketing.  If the clietn declines, that isn’t always the end of the world.  

Often times clients just have private matters at hand that could have been settled by allowing them to decline a model release, but others insist on the copyright sale and transfer.   Be sure to price appropriately and utilize a copyright transfer agreement

Just be sure to understand, that unless otherwise agreed to, the copyright owner can utilize the images in the fashion they see fit.  This client who purchases the copyrights could potentially turn around and sell or use these images in other manners that a photographer may not see fit. (While others may not care!)


What if I’m NOT okay with selling copyright?

Then you aren’t okay, and it is simply okay to tell your client no.  In America, unless contracted otherwise, or in a situation where the intellectual property would be owned by another individual or company (such as an employer/employee relationship), you retain the copyrights and have the decision-making power. 

I recommend that you are adequately understanding the situation and confident in the decision you’ve made without blindly responding due to colleague pressures.


What about shared copyright?

This is absolutely a “thing” and can be done.  There are many issues than can arise, that lend itself to its own article another day.

But if a client does request shared copyright here is more reading for your pleasure.


How much should I charge for copyrights?

This is such an arbitrary question to ask.  Much like pricing in general – it depends on a variety of things.  Market research will reveal the industry standard crossed with your local going rates.  Then we have to throw in the fact this is a personalized service and you also have your own skill, talent and artistic value.    

The bottom line is that the amount to charge should be more than print release/license amount.    It will also boil down to whether you’re going to have loss of marketing rights, or if the client is willing to license that back to you.  All of this works together and should be examined to come up with an adequate copyright transfer of ownership fee.


Now you’re equipped to move forward with copyright transfers, or retaining your copyright if you so wish!

When is a Crowd Release Notice needed?

When is a Crowd Release Notice needed?

When is a Crowd Release Notice needed?


Photographing in a public venue can seem like fair game for photographers, but it gets tricky when there could be potential claims by the individuals photographed EVEN IF they had no expectation of privacy in the area.  What happens when you’re using commercially or the individual wants to be compensated? This is where crowd release notices that are either placed in the terms of a ticket sale, registration confirmation or posted at the event can work in the favor of the photographer.  Let’s go through names, likeness, the notices and some top questions to help acquaint you with this unarguably grey area of law.


Name & Likeness Guidelines

Consent is typically not needed to use an individual’s image or likeness that is not recognizable or identifiable.  However, should they be recognizable or identifiable and to be used in a promotional or commercial nature, a written release is typically needed.  

This gets tricky in an environment of a large event when releases are generally not required from people who may be recognizable or identifiable in a street or public place provided that the individuals are not the focus of the photograph and photograph is reasonably related to subject matter.  

All of that being said, while a release or a notice may not be required, the use of a crowd release notice may be added protection for your photography.


What is a crowd release notice?

This is a notice posted at a venue that (should) work to put the individuals in the area on notice of the following:

  • they may be photographed or otherwise recorded
  • images with them in it may be used in specific manners (many notices are written generally for irrevocable worldwide use in perpetuity)
  • release of claims for compensation by the individual


Why is this notice needed if there is no right to privacy?

While entering into a public venue often brings with it no expectation of privacy.  However, having a notice within a registration form, terms of purchase or posted at an event can add an extra layer of protection.

 Obviously, a large event with many guests would be difficult for the photographer to acquire a release from each, therefore, having this notice in these methods works to eliminate the claim by the individual in the image that they had no notice of these actions and possible use of likeness.


Does the crowd release notice release other parties?

NO. The crowd release notice would only release the photographer for the event and would not release a third-party who has snapped an image of another.


Feel free to comment with questions/comments – I will update this article as more come in!