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Preserving TV Shows, “Why Don’t Some TV Shows Sound the Way They Used To?”

Preserving TV Shows, “Why Don’t Some TV Shows Sound the Way They Used To?”

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  1. Honestly they need to make short clips of popular music just 100% fair use. You can already show trademarks and other copyrighted material under any circumstances.

    For example, a bar scene is going to have a lot of liquor company names and trademarks shown. It should follow that some background music is also allowed as long as the song meets some criteria like is a sold for general consumer consumption (it’s not like generic made for TV music) and/or an average viewer would find the music suitable for a bar setting.

    I don’t even get why the music industry is so stingy besides being butt hurt that it’s been in decline. If the show switches music then you get $0 and no more free exposure. You keep old songs popular by making sure they stay culturally relevant.

  2. This is why you’re never going to find Murphy Brown on a streaming service. Soooo many episodes revolved around Motown hits that they absolutely cannot watched without them.

  3. The music industry has too much power. It’s long past time to strip some of that away.

  4. Had this happen with Daria. Thankfully someone on the internets reencoded all the episodes with the original music. I love them for that.

  5. Wife is still salty about the Roswell DVDs having completely different music.

  6. Hm. This has me thinking, if I’m a new viewer of a show, how will I know if the songs are different? There should be a website where I can look up the main songs

  7. WKRP was a show hit hard by this and almost never made it to DVD at all because of all the music issues and the music was so important to the show.

  8. For me trying to watch the latest DVD set/streams of “[Married With Children](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUhikyvcR54)” without ‘Frank Sinatra’s – Love and Marriage’ was as traumatic as watching something as infamous as [Friends](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLisEEwYZvw) opening with [This](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ) as the theme song.

  9. I noticed this with the ‘That 70s Show’ episode where Fes meets Caroline.

    In the original airing and much syndication, it’s Cheap Trick’s ‘Oh Caroline’ that plays on the jukebox. When I watched it on Netflix, it was a different song.

    I thought I was nuts until I tracked down an older video file.

  10. watching the daria restoration project feels SO MUCH better than the dvd releases. the music just fits better.

  11. There’s an episode of Quantum Leap the one with Tamylin Tomita where she’s psychic and the first person he encounters who knows who Sam is, and he falls in love with her.
    The episode is Season 4 Episode 13 “Temptation Eyes”

    There’s a montage which if I remember correctly ends with them in bed. The background during the whole montage played “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. One of the most beautiful songs in existence.

    And the home distribution version replaces that song. I have yet to find a digital copy with the original music.

    Edit: actually now that I have done a search it seems that nearly all of the episodes had music replaced. Absolutely sucks balls.

    Edit 2: wow, some people have it with the Foreigner song. My guess is for the DVD it was not licensed but then they licensed it again for the BluRay!

  12. This why musical performances get cut from wrestling and variety shows. WWE Network cut so many of the music performances, Chappelle’s Show cut a lot of the music when they released it on DVD

  13. The one I immediately think of when this comes up is Tour of Duty which had the Stones’ “Paint it Black” as the opening theme. The DVD set doesn’t have it and the intro just isn’t the same without it.

  14. The same licencing issues also killed Conan’s promise of making all previous episode online to stream. It’s very upsetting

  15. At least it’s still available, in the case of Marvel Vs Capcom 2 for digital stores, when the license to use those marvel characters expired, it was completely removed to purchase from the Xbox 360 and PS3 storefronts, which is the only way to easily play the games on semi recent consoles. In fairness, it is grandfathered for users who’ve already purchased it, but still.

  16. A friend of mine licensed a song for a movie but it was for a cover version of his song performed by another band. When the movie went to DVD he bought a copy and popped it in. His version started playing over the main menu. Whoopsie. Some phone calls later he bought a new house with the deal he struck for payment – it was either a new deal or recall all the DVDs and make new ones.

    Bottom line: movie people know very little about music rights so get yourself a good lawyer and triple check everything – on both sides of the deal.

  17. Same thing happened to a show called Fastlane. I had recorded the episodes back in the day and rewatched it. Lately I “borrowed a friend’s dvd copy”, and the music was different. It was weird, and definitely not as good. The opening seen with the killers playing wasn’t the same. So much of the music I heard as a teen I would download and listen, since they were great tracks. The dvd version had none of those songs 🙁

  18. I always noticed in the movie Weird Science. When Lisa was walking through the mall it used to play Pretty Woman instead of the Weird Science song.

  19. Skins is one that drives me nuts with changed music. And some of the top gear specials. I have to set aside quite abit of hard drive space for just those two.

  20. As usual, copyright harms the experience for people paying for content, effectively encouraging piracy

  21. Surprised House isn’t mentioned. The new theme song is trash compared to Teardrop.

  22. The Super Mario Bros Super Show was also very music heavy and there’s a big preservation and restoration project for it that’s had a ton of effort thrown into it. Things like splicing DVD releases from from various regions to get the right sound to getting the best picture to preserving the bumpers for Mario, Zelda, and Captain N.


  23. /r/scrubs was butchered by the licensing issues as well. That’s the worst case that I know of, since I didn’t watch the other shows mentioned in the article.

  24. Regarding the Dawson’s Creek example, the Jann Arden track was the intro music used in the UK when Channel 4 broadcast.. in fact, for the longest time the wav file that was floating around on the internet was the one I recorded by holding a boombox up to the TV to record onto cassette and then to record via the line-in on my PC in another room (I could tell by the clicks and noises right at the start of the wav file). I recorded it for the Dawson’s Creek online community to hear the different version back in the late 90s.

    I still have that original wav file kicking around somewhere.

  25. Aaarrrrhhhh… Att least these shows got released at all…. My fav TV show of all time “Ed” hasn’t ever been released, not even after Julie Bowen made it big in Modern Family… *Sigh*

  26. Music licensing in the UK is different than the US.

    Top Gear uses a lot of popular music but the DVD releases replace it with generic music which can often mean you don’t get the jokes or references. Playing “Born in the USA” in Vietnam or when they say “And cue the music” while they start a build and then the A-Team theme song plays.

    I liked the Vietnam War show Tour of Duty from the 1980’s and they used a lot of 1960’s music in the show including the Rolling Stones “Paint it Black” as the opening theme. The DVDs were replaced with generic garbage. The UK version of the DVDs included the original music so I bought those too and the show is so much better because of it.

  27. I noticed something odd as a younger me with the release of “Las Vegas” on dvd. You can for sure tell one song is much cheaper than the other 😀

    Original TV Intro

    DVD Intro:

  28. The same happened to the tv show “wonder years”. Very music heavy, streaming wasn’t a thing yet, and the dvd release had many of the music changed.

    I can remember a long forum thread with people searching for the original tv release. Someone then found a “dvd release” on a tourist market. The pictures of the dvd case and screenshots of the dvd menu, looked pretty decent. The thread even went so far to fix mistakes made by the counterfeiter, like an audio sync issue on one episode. Imagine being obsessed with a tv show, searching every inch of the internet and then finding dvd copies of the show on your (iirc) Bermuda holiday.

  29. This is one reason why I like to get shows and movies on dvd. Especially the older versions. You get the show as the creators intended it to be. No one can alter it short of a swat team kicking down my door and confiscating my dvds. Furthermore, it justifies the archival side of my data hoarding. I can start a torrent seed giving the whole world a chance to see the original version, despite the efforts of film and music studios.

  30. In case link is pay walled, text below…

    Why Don’t Some TV Shows Sound the Way They Used To? This is a factor to consider as you refine your TV show collection. The link is about music licensing for for TV Shows.

    Licensing issues have gutted the soundtracks of many beloved series on streaming services, resulting in bewildering music cues and missing theme songs.

    “Dawson’s Creek” had much of its original music changed for distribution on services like Netflix, including its theme song.

    For years, whenever Paula Cole’s phone started lighting up, it usually meant one thing: “Dawson’s Creek” had arrived on another streaming platform.

    The hit teen drama, which aired on the WB from 1998 to 2003, is synonymous with the singer’s beloved theme song, “I Don’t Want to Wait.” On home video and on streaming platforms like Netflix, however, the series has had almost all of its original music replaced, including, most conspicuously, its theme song. Instead of Cole’s tune, episodes of “Dawson’s Creek” now open with “Run Like Mad,” by Jann Arden.

    Audiences have not taken this change lightly. “People really care and are really upset about it,” Cole said in a phone interview from her home in Massachusetts. “They tag me in every post — so much tagging on the socials, fans tagging Netflix and Sony. It’s prolific.” (Cole’s song does play before the two-part series finale on Netflix, thanks to a deal Sony Pictures Entertainment, the production studio and distributor, made for a special 2003 DVD release.)

    “Dawson’s Creek” is one of many classic shows that sound different today than you probably remember. Stream it on Netflix, and most of the pop music it included when it originally aired is absent. It’s a bewildering transformation — and one that is surprisingly widespread across streaming services in North America.

    Why does it happen? As it turns out, it’s mainly a problem of foresight.

    All shows have to pay for the rights to use existing songs in their soundtracks, and the process of licensing popular tunes can be prohibitively expensive. Before the early 2000s, in the days before DVD box sets and streaming, producers didn’t think much about the long-term future of these programs — as they saw it, they would air live and possibly for a few years in syndication. Many opted for a compromise to get well-known songs onto their shows: limited, short-term licenses, which allowed them to land big artists on the cheap.

    “At that point people didn’t think further,” said Robin Urdang, an Emmy-winning music supervisor who has licensed songs for such shows as “Broad City” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” “‘We’re airing the show for a year or three years or five years, and then it’s going away.’ They didn’t think they needed the music longer.”

    The upshot is, once the licenses expired, many shows wound up on streaming services with their music replaced. This can result in some unusual and frustrating viewing experiences.

    In an early episode of “The X-Files,” Agent Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, interrogates a serial killer who claims to have psychic powers. She doesn’t believe him, but as she goes to leave, he sings a few bars of Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” — a song she heard the day before, at her father’s funeral. Scully leaves spooked, and the audience is left to wonder whether the killer really does have psychic powers.

    At least, that’s what the audience might have wondered in 1994, when the episode aired on Fox. If you watch it today on Hulu, you may wonder what the killer is referring to. Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” is no longer heard at Scully’s father’s funeral. Instead, we hear “La Mer,” the French-language jazz standard with a similar melody, by Charles Trenet. As a result, the killer’s taunt is now more bewildering than portentous. (The title of the episode, to add to the confusion, is “Beyond the Sea.”)

    An episode of “The X-Files” replaced a piece of music that figured into the plot. Some changes are less subtle — the music for shows like NBC’s “Scrubs” and Fox’s “Bones” has been dramatically altered, as fans have been quick to point out online.

    When TV producers want to put a song in a scene, even a small portion, they have to clear its use with the song’s composers and publishers and pay them a hefty fee. The costs are considerable — between $30,000 and $40,000 on average for indefinite rights to a popular song that has played on the radio and that most people would know, Urdang said. Network and cable TV music budgets, meanwhile, are sometimes barely half that per episode.

    “I worked on a show called ‘Burn Notice’ years ago,” Urdang said. “Our first season, the budget was ridiculously low — about $20,000 per episode. The following year it went down to $19,000.”

    For “Burn Notice,” Urdang pursued music by unknown independent artists — “songs that nobody knew,” which were therefore more affordable, she said. But for showrunners and music supervisors intent on using hits, limited-use licenses were a cheaper workaround.

    “A lot of times you realize that, say, putting an Abba song in a scene is really key,” said Thomas Golubic, a music supervisor who has worked on “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead,” among other shows. “Well, Abba is incredibly expensive, and nobody is looking to cut you a deal.”

    In order to afford the song, a show might have paid a lower fee for fixed-term use under certain conditions — for one year, maybe, or five. The licenses could be restricted to broadcast TV, not for DVD or online. As shows headed to streaming platforms, these limited-use deals had to be worked out all over again.

    “Now they have to renegotiate for an Abba song for this incredibly long use, and Abba is able to charge whatever they want,” Golubic said. “They now have to ask themselves: Do we pay for the Abba song, or do we replace it with something else?”

    “It’s very hard to do this job, and when you get it right, it’s an exciting experience,” he added. To have to later swap out favorite selections over rights issues “can be heartbreaking.”

    These limited, temporary licenses could be as low as five percent of the cost of licensing a song in perpetuity, Urdang said. That enabled shows with low budgets, like “Dawson’s Creek,” to pack their episodes with recognizable tunes, even if only briefly — no one would be interested in watching these shows in a decade’s time anyway, the thinking went.

    Now producers know better, and whether on streaming, network or cable, in-perpetuity licenses are the norm. “I don’t know anyone that would allow any kind of limited option anymore,” Urdang said. “We have to get rights forever.” Music budgets tend to be higher now to accommodate these needs, she said.

    “Freaks and Geeks” returned to TV earlier this year via Hulu, with its vintage soundtrack intact.

    Buck Damon, a music supervisor on song-laden series like “Freaks and Geeks,” which aired on NBC, and the WB’s “Felicity,” has experienced both sides of the licensing issue. The producers of the beloved period high-school comedy “Freaks and Geeks” have prioritized securing whatever clearances necessary in order to preserve the show’s soundtrack on digital platforms. (The creator Paul Feig has said he wouldn’t allow it to be shown with alternate music.)

    A new round of deals allowed “Freaks and Geeks” to return to TV earlier this year, to widespread exultation: When you watch the show on Hulu, its evocative mix of vintage hits by bands like Styx, Rush and the Who remains intact.

    “Felicity” was a different story. The charming college drama, created by J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, was music-intensive by design, featuring hit songs by popular artists of the time like Lauryn Hill, Damon said.

    “There was a lot of great music in ‘Felicity’ that was cool and happening in 1999,” he said. “But with such small budgets, the only way to make that work was to license the music for five years.”

    When it came time to re-license the music for DVD and streaming, the distributor, ABC Studios, opted not to bother. If you stream the show now, Damon’s song choices have been replaced with cheap-sounding Muzak and tracks by unknown bands.

    “It’s kind of ridiculous, if you think about it,” he said. “Why not just pay to keep that great music?”

    Fans of such shows are often vocal about their distaste for the altered soundtracks on Reddit and social media. One “Felicity” fan has even cobbled together a guerrilla edit of the show with its original soundtrack painstakingly restored.

    This kind of outcry may have produced at least one victory: Sony has apparently conceded to “Dawson’s Creek” fan pressure about “I Don’t Want to Wait.”

    Cole, who is set to release her 11th studio album, “American Quilt,” on May 21, said that she has recorded a new master for the song and that over the past year, Sony has negotiated with her publishing company to restore it as the series theme.

    If all goes according to plan, Cole said, “I Don’t Want to Wait” will soon reassume its rightful place at the start of “Dawson’s Creek” on streaming services. (Sony representatives declined to comment or confirm this development.)

    “It’s wonderful to have waited this out,” Cole said. “I feel like it’s not just vindication for me, but for the fans, and for all artists.”