Denying songs to Glee

6 02 2011

So Glee.

I don’t even have to tell you (or at least I shouldn’t have to) what the deal is with that show.  Lots of singing and dancing to songs.  And you may or may not have read how despite the large catalogue of music co-creator Ryan Murphy has had access to so far, he hasn’t gotten a “yes” from everyone.  A few months ago, he was upset that Coldplay and Bryan Adams had denied them access to their songs (both of whom, to my understanding, have changed their minds).

But just as everything seemed to be going smoothly again, I read another article last month about Murphy, who was once again pissed off — this time at Kings of Leon.  While it doesn’t seemed particularly hurtful that the band would deny Murphy the use of their songs, he seemed to take it personally, saying something along the lines of how kids and teens not only across the country but the entire world, really, would watch Glee and be inspired by Kings of Leon’s music, that perhaps it would make them pick up the guitar or start singing or to join a musical program at school.  He also called them some not-so-nice name which was censored on the article page, though the possibilities aren’t that many.

Murphy has repeatedly stressed the importance of arts education, something I strongly believe in.  It’s hard and disheartening to read about cut after cut of arts and music funding, particularly for high schools, where the opportunities for young people to become interested in so many things should be available.

In response to Murphy’s  comments, the band said he shouldn’t take it personally, that they reguarly deny TV shows and movies use of their songs, that it’s just a thing they do.  Meh.

The comments at the bottom of the page which mainly spoke about how Murphy should really calm down and learn that “you can’t always get what you want”.

And now we’ve finally reached the point of this blog entry!

While I do think Mr. Murphy may have crossed the professional line at calling them names, I completely agree with everything else he’s said.  I think he finds it hard that anyone would turn such a great and special opportunity down — an opportunity for the following:

1) Get your song covered and performed on an extremely popular show.  What’s wrong with publicity?
2) This would then lead to [really large number I can’t even estimate] of people downloading the song, buying it, finding it on youtube, watching it, etc.  More publicity!
3)  Reading up on the band, and gaining more fans.
4)  They pay you to use your song!!!!

What’s wrong with that?  It’s a win-win situation, as far as I’m concerned, and probably for Murphy as well.  And then there’s the most important part: arts education.  Think about the impact the show in general has on kids and teens.  How frickin’ cool is music?  The magic of Glee is that so many different people watch it, despite the fact that it is set in an American high school.  It has a much broader appeal than, say, High School Musical; it’s more mature (mostly), and it addresses, at times, some serious topics.  The show has the potential to really change people, to inspire people.

By letting Murphy and the other creators of the show use their songs, I see it as giving back to the world.  I think about how all these musicians first learned how to play their instruments, to sing — wouldn’t you want youth around the world to also be inspired?  To express themselves through music?  Sure, it’s not giving back in the traditional sense (ie.  giving a crap load of money to a high school/charity) but it’s the least musicians can do.

That’s why denying songs to Glee is like a punch in the face for Murphy.  He probably translates the refusal as, “No, we don’t want to inspire kids” rather than “No, we don’t want to license our song for you to use.”  And in that sense, it is personal.

Of course, I’m only speculating about the show’s real impact on influencing kids on arts education.  I haven’t done any research to find out what, if any, changes have been made to high school music programs or if more kids have been signing up for music lessons.  I certainly appreciate Murphy’s passionate message through his show.

Now if only musicians saw it the same way.



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