It's been a problem plaguing the streaming era: Classic shows like Dawson's Creek, The X-Files, Scrubs and Felicity are missing the original soundtracks that made them memorable, replaced by generic songs because of licensing rights issues. When Netflix announced last fall that it would be adding Dawson's Creek, it had to apologize in advance for not including Cole's original theme song. Instead, Dawson's is streamed with Canadian musician Jann Arden’s “Run Like Mad." “People really care and are really upset about it,” Cole tells The New York Times. “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.)
Cole says she's recorded a new master of "I Don’t Want to Wait" and that Sony has negotiated with her publishing company to restore it as Dawson's series theme on streaming services -- Sony has yet to confirm its return. “It’s wonderful to have waited this out,” Cole says. “I feel like it’s not just vindication for me, but for the fans, and for all artists.” As The Times' Calum Marsh explains, "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." The replacement of generic music has even had an effect on storylines. One X-Files episode, tilted "Beyond the Sea," revolves around Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” -- yet the song was replaced on DVD and streaming services with “La Mer,” the French-language jazz standard with a similar melody. "Now producers know better, and whether on streaming, network or cable, in-perpetuity licenses are the norm," says Marsh.