Licensing Open Thread...
Anyways, this reader has a particular issue, where the music director of an ad agency has contacted him saying they'd like to license a particular song, and rather than provide him with a dollar amount, they have asked him to name a price. If you're not an established artist, this can be a fairly sticky situation to be in. You don't want to scare off the MD, and thus lose both the income and the promo, by naming too high a price. Neither do you want to lowball yourself.
Personally, I'm of the opinion that the licensee should provide you with a figure from the outset. I think it is fairly bad form for them to come to you and ask you to come up with a figure, especially since the money for music licensing was set aside in the original budget (and probably got chewed away at to pay for the catering or car services anyways) and they have a set dollar amount to work with.
In a situation like this, when they ask "how much do you want for Song X," I would just reply with "what's your budget?" and leave it at that. It's worth mentioning that I'll usually not turn down a licensing opportunity, no matter what the money involved, as long as I'm not morally opposed to the project, especially with television, as the ASCAP checks are my bread and butter. In this particular corner of the Business, relationships are everything, and we have found through long experience that the more relationships you have, the better your chances of getting your material licensed.
So while you're stewing on that, here's another question to ponder: the normal practice would be to charge more for a song with a proven track record (e.g. chart position, previous licensing, etc.) but in this day and age, when most MDs can find music for free with a little legwork, there's a real danger of pricing yourself right out of your own market. That's just my opinion, and I haven't, as yet, actually found myself in a position where I had to negotiate a dollar figure.
So, anyways, those are my brief thoughts on the subject. This is a licensing open thread. Have at it.