Germany-based musician Philipp Weigl is a composer of ambient, electronic and downtempo music. His track “Save” is featured on my film A FINE LINE, during the “Dream Sequence” where Dave Graham is waking from another freaky dream about Libya and wandering the Idaho wastes looking for rock (was it just a dream?). The clip is available below:
I spent a lot of time fitting the soundtrack (available on iTunes) to the visuals in the film, and I sourced much of it through the online music licensing agency Magnatune which has a particularly strong collection of down tempo electronic music. This is where I found Weigl and his music. He is also available on iTunes.
The official soundtrack to A FINE LINE is available on iTunes as well.
It’s interesting to compare notes about content licensing with independent musicians. Photographers/videographers who “use” music on a regular basis often forget that they are in the same boat: working out a system for sustainable licensing is critical.
So back to Weigl:
Courtesy Philipp Weigl
TBM: First, A little about yourself, where are you from, etc and how did you get started in music, and in professional music?
PW: I was born in 1979 in a mid-sized town called Freising in the south of Germany. From an early age on, I was six years old at that time, I took lessons in classical piano. At the age of twelve I grew much interest in composing my own little pieces of music. I took a holiday job working as a harvester, and from the money I bought my first synthesizer-workstation (GeneralMusic S2) to realize my ideas. Later I continued my classical piano studies at the University of Music in Munich, Germany, but I’ve never lost touch composing my own music. In 2005 I had my debut EP (called ‘Common Cause’) released on the internet-label ‘Comatronic’. Those web-labels were widely popular at that time and after some more releases on different labels, I got a deal with ‘Thinner’, one of the biggest and most influential net-labels. The music there was completely free to download, which resulted in high download rates a wide-spread perception. With the rise of the Web2.0 a great number of net-lables (including Thinner) disappeared from the surface and I had to look for new ways to present my music and that led me to a label named Magnatune.
TBM: Licensing images in this way for example is a very tricky business unless you can work with a good agency. When did you start working with Magnatune (and other sources if so) to license your music?
PW: It was around 2009 when I first came in touch with Magnatune. It is a web-based label that offers music-licensing and membership-downloads for about 1200 albums through all musical genres. Two things were vital for me to get in contact with Magnatune: First they have a fair royalty system (artist gets 50%) and second they are constantly adjusting and optimizing their offers in that very difficult music business-sector.
TBM: Has this been a fruitful endeavor? Do you see yourself interested more in licensing music for commercial/film/documentary production or are you more interested in performance, or something else?
PW: Yes, I’m happy with my situation at Magnatune. Approximately 95% of my earnings come from music licensing (for films, homepages etc.). It’s a fact meanwhile that nobody gets money anymore from single music downloads or plays. Even Lady Gaga received only $167 from Spotify for 1 million song plays – that says a lot. So, because I’m not performing live, selling licenses is the most important factor for me at the moment.
TBM: Outside of working with a company like Magnatune, How do you price your music for licensing?
PW: Without a platform that promotes your music, it’s very difficult to get the people to know your music. I have only had one single licensing deal outside from Magnatune and that involved a classical piano piece. The pricings are moderate, the market dictates the prices. It’s a nice appreciation for your work but nothing to support a family with.
TBM: You have a family?
PW: No, I don’t have children. Like most of the musicians (and artists in general) I can’t live from my music.
TBM: What else do you do for a living?
PW: I’m working as a piano teacher in “real life”. And time for composing songs is sometimes very limited because I’m also doing additional studies in music-pedagogy at the University in Munich.
TBM: What is the scene like for indie musicians where you are in Germany?
PW: Honestly, I’m not so much a part of that scene. Music-labels are increasingly losing significance and the ways of music promotion and reception are changing rapidly. But you have now the opportunity to gain attention for your music regardless of where you live. Anyone can post a video on Youtube, which is blessing and curse at the same time. The good thing is you have instant feedback, the bad thing is that that feedback is in 99.99% of cases very poor, which can be discouraging.
TBM: As I understand it, everyone in Europe learns how to climb about the same time they learn to ride a bicycle. So have you ever been climbing?
PW: (laughs)Yes, if you live in the south, the Alps are very near. My parents took me on hiking and climbing trips from a very early age on. Later I did some (basic) bouldering in one the numerous climbing halls established by the ‘German Alpine Association’.
TBM: Do you travel to the States much for music?
PW: No, I’ve been only twice in the U.S. Once as a tourist and the second time with a student exchange program. But I sometimes get some very nice feedback from there.
TBM: Plans for 2012?
PW: Perhaps a new album (would be the fifth), I already have most of the songs finished. I recently also produced some songs in collaboration with a great singer from Geneva, maybe there will be a release. But I learned not to force things to much, it’s better to let them happen.