Clearing the Music for So You Think You Can Dance

I’m obviously a big fan of the music from So You Think You Can Dance. Otherwise, why would I list all the music from the show right? Well, in the process of posting all the music, I became acquainted with someone who works for a company that licenses music for So You Think You Can Dance.

I asked if they’d answer some questions about the process for clearing the music for So You Think You Can Dance and they thankfully obliged. I also tried to find out if So You Think You Can Dance isn’t available on DVD because of the music rights. Here’s the questions I asked (in bold) and this person’s answers.

What’s the process you go through to get the music cleared to be used on SYTYCD?
Anytime we own a copyright (or part of one) to a song the show wants to use, we receive a request from the [SYTYCD] music supervisor for that song and we enter it into the record we keep for the show in our system. Sometimes we can clear the song right away, but a lot of the time we have to seek approval from one or more of the writers on the song–it just depends on the type of publishing agreement we have with the writer. Once we get approval, we tell the show it’s cleared for our percentage. This can be 100%, or it can be smaller if there are multiple writers who are signed to different publishers.

How much notice do they usually give you to clear the music?
That depends. The show starts clearing songs long before the season starts, because it’s such a music-intensive show and they want to have a base of possible songs to choose from, sort of like a karaoke catalog. Then, once they start editing the audition episodes, they send more requests for songs they know they want to air, which usually gives us a few weeks to clear those. Once the performance episodes start airing, the time frame is obviously much shorter. Sometimes a choreographer will want to change songs at the last minute or something else will come up, and we need to get it cleared before the routines are chosen after the results show, so the kids can have time to rehearse. So that can sometimes be a day-of rush. Usually, though, we have a few days.

Is it true that the reason they can’t come out with DVDs of past seasons of SYTYCD because of the rights to the music?
I don’t know what the reason is for sure, but I do know that it would be very expensive for them to produce DVDs, because they’d have to pay for video rights for all the songs.

Do most artists want to have their music used on SYTYCD? Seems like it would be nice exposure for an artist.
We don’t have too many problems clearing, but we occasionally have writers/artists that are picky about it. We had a situation last season where a choreographer really wanted a certain song for a routine, but the songwriter didn’t want the song used. We tried hard to persuade them, because it would have been a great routine, but it didn’t work out, unfortunately.

How many of the songs you’re asked to clear get denied? What reasons do they give for not wanting their song on the show?
It’s a small percentage–usually just a few per season (when we clear hundreds). It can be anything from not wanting the song to be chopped and edited (like they have to do because of the length of the routines), to not wanting to commercialize the song by having it on the show. It’s up to them, though, so in the end we have to go with whatever they tell us.

Any other interesting tid bits that fans of SYTYCD might want to know?
Just that there is some awesome music picked out for this season! But they wouldn’t expect anything less from SYTYCD, would they?