Using Unlicensed Music – A Cautionary Tale

Updated 4-21-14 (from 12/12/11) with a link to an article about a Colorado Springs establishment that has run afoul of music licensing law. The comments are either priceless or pathetic, depending on your point of view.

unlicensed music

The use of music, in its various form and situations, is one of the most misunderstood activities in the wedding industry. This can include use of background music on a website (an inherently idiotic idea for reasons other than licensing).

Music might used in presentations, performances, and the like. In this example, the culprit is use of unlicensed music as part of a wedding video music bed. Almost any music can be licensed, if you jump through the proper forms, pay the piper, and comply with the limitations of the licensing agreement.

From a practical standpoint, major music and publishing companies can’t be bothered (or charge enough money) to allow proper use of songs from their catalog to accommodate a videographer and their client.

As an industry, we are well past the point of simply viewing wedding video clips on our own DVD or VCR. We know about scads of social media platforms, especially the big ones, such as YouTube.

Publish a video, featuring unlicensed music, and one takes a serious risk. A good outcome would be having your video deleted. A bad outcome would be having the video go viral and then receiving a bill for the money owed to the licensor.

The linked blog is a cautionary tale of mega-proportions. And should you think it can’t happen to you… well, you’d be dead wrong.

This is a MUST READ!!

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

GMA on Saving Money on Weddings: Misinformation

An Open Letter To Good Morning America:

broke-brideLast year it was 20/20; this year it’s GMA – Good Morning America. What do they have in common? A lack of research or understanding of weddings, and absolute trivialization  and over simplification of the planning or execution of the event.

My name is Andy Ebon. I publish the Wedding Marketing Blog, targeted to wedding business professionals, and speak to the same audiences at seminars, conferences and conventions throughout the year, across North America and beyond.  Prior to my marketing and speaking career, I spent 26 years in DJ Entertainment. Suffice it to say, I have enough direct wedding experience with brides, grooms, and wedding industry to qualify my comments.

Rather than refute the advice outlined in your series, I prefer to take a different approach. The most misused term in wedding planning is the word budget. Without the services of a professional wedding planner, it is the rare bride that has itemized a realistic budget. 

When bride refers to a ‘budget’, she really means the amount of money she has set aside for the wedding an reception or funds ‘at her disposal’. What different levels of service cost and their relative impact is an item by item decision. If the overarching goal is to ‘SAVE MONEY… as much as humanly possible, on all fronts’, there will be failures and lots of them.

Saving Money

I take no condescending view of couples with limited funds. My wife and I paid for our own wedding, and experienced many of the same difficult choices on saving money. In retrospect, there are a few things I would do differently.

In making wedding decisions, the reality is: The choices may have disproportionate impact on the overall event. These decisions may have no relationship to the money saved or spent.

Selecting an officiant is not a big-dollar expense, but if they call the bride the wrong name or forget that her father passed away and are somehow expecting him to walk her down the aisle, it’s  a painful experience. The money saved is no longer the issue. The ceremony and reception are tainted at the outset.

In the digital world of the last 20-30 years, virtually everyone has music, photos, and video at their fingertips. That does not make anyone who owns a smart phone a professional disc jockey, photographer or videographer. The knowledge, professionalism, and decision making is born of training, continuing education, and years of experience. It is the height arrogance and ignorance to suggest that anyone could be both bride or groom and simultaneously and DJ their own wedding.

It is just as unrealistic to be so overconfident as to expect that one might make hundreds of correct decisions on the first try, rather than look to professionals for their collective wisdom.

Whether it’s the nuances of decor and floral design, catering or baking, among so many others, it’s important to know the limits of one’s own expertise. In the end, a wedding experience can succeed at any price point, provided a bride and groom understand the important questions to ask, what the answers mean, and the interrelated importance of each decision.

Most people will tell you experience of their wedding day is second, only to the birth of their first child.

It is a shame that GMA has provided little quality information to help brides and grooms make superior decisions in planning their wedding.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Social Media: Weapons of Self-Destruction

Social Media
Social Media – Weapons of Self-Destruction

Social Media can be defined and characterized in many ways, including a plethora of permutations. Taken in its entirety, there is positive value, negative value, and no value. Simply ‘killing time’ and other uses may fall into more than one category.

Part 1: This essay has not been fully mapped out, but it will be an extended discussion, in multiple parts.

I have my own quotation, which I first used, in reference to unnecessary gadgets on websites.

“Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

Andy Ebon

Years later, the quotation has become a more universal reference in my lexicon, both high-tech and low-tech. Social media appears to be at center stage in my repetition of the quotation.

Despite my fascination with technology, I am not an early-adopter. I don’t have the latest smart phone or laptop. On the flip side,  I’m certainly no technophobe. I’m far more interested in the communication of content; the messages transmitted, posted, emailed, texted, etc.,.. how they are perceived, understood… and the results (immediate > viral).

Social Media Dynamics

TRUTH: Nothing you post, email, text, update, etc., is private. Post it, and delete it within seconds; you are too late. There is a term for that: DIGITAL PERMANENCE.

TRUTH: The written word has no tone. There may be intended tone… humor, sarcasm, joking, political correctness, or seriousness are just a few. Which takes us to the next point…

TRUTH: No matter how clear you believe your message is, it will be understood by a person or persons. Even if it is understood, as intended, some people will agree, disagree, or just find the message uninteresting.

Yo! Facebook is not a Diary

LURKING: That’s the term for people who read your messages, but don’t necessarily answer or comment.

TRUTH: You  have no idea how many people are lurking on Facebook (for example).

EXCEPTIONS ARE: Those who click the LIKE button, post a comment, or answer you privately. The LIKE button is, at best, an imperfect expression of sentiment.

Today’s Observation

Those of us who use social media for business, often voice thoughts and opinions about business experiences. In a moment of anger, for good reason or bad, it is tempting to condescend, deride, or put down a prospect or client (I plead guilty to having done this and I know it’s not an exclusive club).

Our pointed comment may cause discussion, generate judgments about our comment and us. Though it’s the lurkers who may be most important. They may simply question our ethics,  judgment, self-importance, or a variety of other factors. 

You cannot measure how often they will repeat or share a spontaneous comment, attributed to you or me. Some who read it, won’t think anything of it. Others who know you, may think, “No big deal, that’s just Joe being Joe.”

And others may read your words and decide: “I was considering doing business with him/her. After reading such an inappropriate comment, I wouldn’t do business with them… period.”

People will judge you… thumbs up or thumbs down. The people who give you thumbs up, will tell you… even publicly. Of the ones who give you thumbs down, a few will post publicly, most won’t tell you; they’ll just go away. And if asked about you, are unlikely to give you a raving endorsement.

REPEAT AFTER ME: The written word has no tone. So your remarks may be interpreted in many ways; not necessarily as you intended.

OPINION: I am not the ultimate arbiter of Social Media Etiquette; however,  due to the nature of my business, I observe massive amounts of online behavior. Again, I am not immune from mistakes. None of us are flawless; however, fewer incidents of offending others, injuring our own reputations, or simply making noise with spammy comments would be a good thing.


Your comments, here… in agreement, disagreement, or presenting other thoughts (not expressed in this post) are both welcome and appreciated.

Do you know some who would benefit from this post? Please pass it on or share it on social media platforms that you use.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Griffin Mansions settlement returns meager funds to wedding couples

News, Analysis and Opinion of The Wedding Marketing Blog

Griffin Mansions SettlementGriffin Mansions, an event and wedding venue, near Las Vegas in Southern Highlands, closed abruptly, about a year ago. The sudden closure left many brides and grooms in limbo; some having to move their weddings, on the fly, having already spent their allotted money.

Though having operated for about years, Griffin Mansions had never been properly permitted by the Southern Nevada Health District.

“According to attorney Glenn Truitt, local officials knew of the problems at Griffin Mansion for years.”

News 3 Las Vegas

Citing many health violations, the mansions shut down, while continuing to sell future events, as though nothing was amiss. The mansions never reopened. Griffin filed for bankruptcy in July.

In February, NBC Chief Investigator, Jeff Rossen, followed up on this story, airing it on “The Today Show”.

Local News 3 Las Vegas, Michele Lopez, was responsible for a number of stories on this situation. The most recent, aired Monday, and showed footage of the owner, Anthony Lopez, leaving court. Lopez arranged a civil settlement through bankruptcy court, for about $175,000 over 6 months.

Bottom line: Estimates from sources close to the stories, project that couples will likely receive about $2600 each.

ANALYSIS and OPINION: The Wedding Marketing Blog is not privy to the individual losses of each couple, but it’s safe to say that $2600 likely represents a small part of their outlay to Griffin Mansions.

While the owner of Griffin Mansions has been found at fault, it also disappointed that the Southern Nevada Health District failed to catch these improprieties years earlier. This is NOT simply a business failure… it is a failure of awareness on the part of the Southern Nevada Health District, from a public safety standpoint.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog