I Don’t Wanna Wait…

for our lives to be over!

If you’re of a certain age, I hope that the title of this post caused you to belt that one out. Man, the nineties and early 2000’s were a beautiful time (which is exactly what my Dad says about the 70’s).

“I Don’t Want to Wait” by Paula Cole peaked at #5 on Billboard in December 1997. In January 1998, Dawson’s Creek premiered, and of course, Paula Cole’s song was the opening theme through the entire run of the show and syndication (Not to mention many a teenaged memory) But, buy a DVD box set or stream “Dawnson’s” on Netflix? You won’t hear “I Don’t Want to Wait.” Instead, you’ll be greeted by “Run Like Mad” by Jann Arden.

Why?

Marketing and lawyers are the simple answer. Studio executives were keen to get hit songs on their new shows (notice the peak of “I Don’t Want to Wait” and the premiere of Dawnson’s) and cost to license the “Master Recording” of each song was, of course, a consideration. By licensing use of the Master Recording specifically for network television and syndication as opposed to network television, syndication, home video (DVD), and “any platform that may exist in the future” money was saved. (Note, at this point Mark Cuban’s Broadcast.com, arguably the first successful commercial streaming operation, hadn’t sold to Yahoo for $5.7B – and average home internet speeds were 56 kbps down. Suffice to say, streaming was a dream at that point and understandably overlooked). From the lawyers standpoint, nuance is key. By holding back certain rights to license the Master, the client (in this case, Paula Cole or, more likely, Warner Bros.) kept opportunities (for a larger payday) open.

The result of course, is jarring, at times. As you can see by this New York Times Article from over the weekend, Dawson’s is not the only show to fall victim to old licensing deals. The X-Files, among many others, have suffered the same fate (which is especially interesting if specific songs were chosen and woven into an episode).

One can only hope that future licensing deals understand the lifespan of a show beyond syndication – but technology changes – and its hard to have a crystal ball. Hologram anyone? Thanks for reading.

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