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Brett Ratner Teams Up With Music Licensing-Startup Jingle Punks to Avoid 'Killing My Budget'

UP: Brett Ratner
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The director, producer and mover-and-shaker is helping break the New York-based company into the film industry.

No budget for Bono?

Filmmaker Brett Ratner has just joined the board of the music startup Jingle Punks. He says that licensing music for films has just gotten too expensive and he needs some relief.

"Type in the band U2, and search through their server and ... hear a bunch of songs that aren't ripoffs of U2 but have the tone of U2, and the feel and the vibe of U2," Ratner told THR.

Jingle Punks launched in 2008. The company has some 40 employees including 15 in-house composers who specialize in offering pre-cleared independent music for TV, film, online and advertising productions via a searchable digital database of artists, songs and sounds dubbed the "Jingle Player," which filters material through keywords.

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"They've been very successful in the TV space," says so I thought that, you know, 'God, if this works for my films that I'm producing or directing, it should be available to other filmmakers out there," says Ratner, whose work includes Tower Heist, X-Men: The Last Stand and the Rush Hour movies.

The cost of licensing can be high. For instance, when AMC's Mad Men licensed the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" from their album Revolver for a reported $250,000, it was a rare case of where a TV show has used a master recording of the beloved band within an episode.

Jingle's composers have created original scores for such films as What to Expect When You're Expecting and the Morgan Spurlock documentary Mansome, as well as events such as Billy Crystal's intro to the 2012 Academy Awards.

The company has been made a mark in reality TV, working on shows such as The Voice, where it helps facilitate the "cues" to fill the sound that underscore Carson Daly's segues in between contestants' performances.

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"Many big-name composers are going to pass on these projects," said Jingle Punks creative director Jared Gutstadt.

Gutstadt notes most producers have small budget to license music and typically rely on production music libraries with a "poor quality" selection. Jingle splits profits with the licensor, but attempts to save them the overall expense.

As for helping filmmakers attain a U2-like sound, but not U2, Gudstadt insists "we've never been in the business" of copycatting.

The company has its sights set on film now and hopes to get there with Ratner's help.

"We hope that film is the next platform for us," he added, saying that Ratner will be instrumental in branching out further on the big screen because of his Hollywood connections and particular passion for the Jingle Player.

"It's not gonna take away from the composers that I'm gonna work with that are gonna do the big 'cues,'" says Ratner. "I'm talking about the little stuff that they don't want to do, or the stuff that 'I can't afford because it's killing my budget.'"