A couple of weeks ago, my mom tags me in a post on Facebook. She says my music is used in the soundtrack to this video she randomly watched on a popular site that collects good news, Animal stories, science articles, etc. She explains that as she started watching this video of the rescue of an abandoned pit bull, she thought the piano sounded familiar. Then she thought the voice sounded familiar. Then she realized: "this is Hilary!"
At first, I was thinking no biggie, as many people on You Tube have stolen my music as the soundtrack to their home videos or whatnot and never asked permission, paid me, or even given me name credit. It completely sucks when this is how I am trying to make my living - ! - but it is unfortunately nothing new. However, that complacent feeling turned to angst when I was informed that the video had already gotten over 750,000 views! I started thinking about how if even only a percentage of those viewers had known it was my song and decided to download it from iTunes that I would make a decent chunk of change and gain some exposure. The song was my version of John Hiatt's "Have a Little Faith in Me." My covers tend to get a lot of hits on iTunes, and then they lead people to discover my original music, so covering other peoples' work is an important piece in the songwriter's arsenal. I made some noise on my Facebook pages and immediately my loyal family, friends and fans started reposting the video and then mentioning that I was one of the uncredited musicians on the soundtrack. A photographer friend of mine, who has had her intellectual property stolen and knows how hurtful and frustrating it can be, sent me a link to the Facebook page of the video's creator. At this point, I had no clue that this is one of the most esteemed and reputable dog rescue organizations in existence: The Bill Foundation. My friend told me she was posting on the creator's page and encouraged me and others who knew me to do the same.
I posted something to the effect of: I am touched and honored that you chose my song as part of the soundtrack for something so important as the cause of pit bull rescue. I think music is definitely an important aspect of how effective this video is in getting views and donations, and as an independent artist, credit for my work is very important to me as well. I said it differently, but you get the gist. ;)
Well, within minutes, Annie Hart - the video's creator - had friended me, messaged me, asked for my phone number, and personally called me. The amazing story unfolded:
Annie loves music. Annie also loves dogs. When Annie got involved in filming the dog rescues she is involved in and sharing them with the world, she said music was always the most vital part of The editing process for her, because music sets the mood and brings the stories to life. Most of her videos had major label artists' music in them. Major label artists are easy to track down and gain permission from if the they support your cause, and luckily most people are for animal rescue and adoption. One day Annie was watching a You Tube video of a young girl doing ballet, and someone had set it to my version of "Have a Little Faith in Me". She said the song greatly affected her and stayed with her. She knew she would likely want to use it in a rescue video one day, but there was no credit given to the performer of the song. She started to search, enlisted the help of friends, but searching for one recorded version of a very popular song of which there are hundred of versions, is not that simple. Add into the mix that the internet doesn't help with the Hillary Scott/Hilary Scott spelling differential between me and Lady Antebellum's lead singer, and always shuffles people towards her rather than me, and it gets more convoluted. (But Annie knew this wasn't her voice, yet she couldn't find me). She saved the song for 18 months, but she knew when Gideon's story was being made that my song had to be part of it. She could have gotten permission to use many other artists' versions of this song, but she wanted mine.
We chatted for about 20 minutes, and Annie immediately edited the video to include my name and website and purchase points for my song. Since the video was still going strong (and we now have over 1,000,000 views) it was on Huffington Post, had write-ups in the L.A. Times and many
international news sites, was on the front page of Yahoo and so much more, her quick action really helped get some awareness of my music out to some more people. We have talked about future collaboration, which I hope we get to do, because I believe so strongly in educating the public about pit bulls and making the world a better place for these loving animals that are too often abused and abandoned. How fortune smiled on me and paired me with this great cause through one woman's love of my music is just phenomenal. For the past several weeks, we have been running a campaign to
donate a portion of proceeds from downloads of song and my album Indigo to The Bill Foundation. Amazing things have come out of this, and I think more wonderful things are to come.