Pump Audio’s Re-Titling of Songs for Publishing

6 Oct

A reader sent me an email recently asking: 

When you/I sign a contract with e.g. Pump Audio, does this “re-title publishing” come automatically with this deal or do they send some other deal to sign?

Does this “re-title publishing” end at the same time after the year or so as the normal contract ends, and what happens with the publishing deal info they’ve made with e.g. ASCAP?

My response was:

“I am not a lawyer, but the way I interpret the Pump Audio deal is that the re-title publishing is included automatically in their contract. They do not explicitly elaborate on it, which is no doubt intentional.
 
The publishing registration with the performing rights organization (ASCAP) is indefinite, because publishing royalties are generated not from the sale of a license but from the use of the music in a public context. By registering your songs under different titles, they are staking a claim to a percentage of future earnings that may occur if your music is used down the road by those who purchased the licenses. Most other organizations only take a piece of the initial license, in which case you receive all the publishing royalties.”
Here’s a screenshot of Pump Audio’s licensing agreement:
As it states, you are giving them permission to register your songs with performing rights organizations (PROs). Since most musicians will already have done this themselves, this means Pump changes the titles of your songs as registers them as new songs, with Pump as the publisher. They don’t mention the word “re-title”, though. 
 
Also, the agreement states that they will “pay over to you your share of any resultant performance monies…”
 
“Your share” is quite a nice phrase, as that could mean just about anything. Including ZERO, I suppose. 
 
Oh well. Enough about Pump. I’ve brought this up several times now, but I’m not sure how much it really matters. To most of us, a small percentage of something is better than a large percentage of nothing. 
 
If anyone from Pump Audio wants to response, please do!

22 Responses to “Pump Audio’s Re-Titling of Songs for Publishing”

  1. Stan 08. Oct, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    Well, I think it matters.
    The cornelian dilemma of either dealing with Pump or, let’s say Rumblefish, is hard to solve.
    Should I/anyone better try my luck with Pump which has a massive selling power through gettyimages film stock among others, and be screwed a fair share of publishing rights or go for the ethical, honest way of not be screwed and deal with Rumblefish?

    I’ve been asking myself this question for the past week and am really hesitating. So thanks for today’s post, it didn’t offer a solution but confirmed it’s worth thinking more than twice.

    Any suggestiont/philosophical reactions?

    Best,

    Stan

  2. brian 09. Oct, 2008 at 9:30 am #

    Wow, a “cornelian dilemma” indeed. First time I’ve encountered that phrase, which is appropriate for a snobbish site…

    One music licensing pro suggested to me that you use places like Pump Audio, but just don’t tell anyone! Hahahaha. His point was that Pump’s model really commoditizes and cheapens music. They do a huge volume by offering vast libraries at very low prices.

    His suggestion was that, yeah, you might be able to make a few extra bucks with them, but if you tell people you’ve gotten licensed through it, they will know that your music can be obtained cheaply, and you will lose prestige and leverage in the unlikely case that an actual music supervisor wants to negotiate a license for one of your tracks someday.

    The same thing can be said for publicizing your placements…According to him, lots of bands publicize placements on MTV, which obtains music from Pump Audio for next-to-nothing. If a supervisor sees that you’ve licensed a song they want to MTV, then they will know that it can be gotten very cheaply.

    Food for thought…

  3. Foreigner 28. Nov, 2008 at 2:34 am #

    I also think it does matters.

  4. Paul Grenier 08. Jan, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    On Pump’s website, in the FAQ section I found this tidbit of info for those interested. They do in fact tell you that they will Re-Title your material, but they just don’t say it in the contract. They tell you in paragraph 3 below. And they also take 50% of the publishing.

    __________________________________

    P.R.O./Royalties/Administration

    What if I’m not yet a member of a performing rights organization (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc.)?
    Please list “No PRO” on the Signature Page (pg 12) of the Agreement. You can submit to Pump Audio and join a P.R.O. (like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, e.g.) later on. When/if you do sign up with a PRO, please email artistrelations(AT)pumpaudio.com your PRO affiliation, member number and CAE/IPI number. We do strongly recommend you join a P.R.O. at some point so that you’re eligible to collect performance royalties.

    Will I receive performance royalties (i.e. ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc)?
    Any use of your licensed material in broadcast, cable or certain Internet transmissions, as well as a number of foreign broadcasts and exhibitions, will entitle you to certain performance royalty payments from your respective performing rights society such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, if you are a member of one of these performing rights societies.

    As part of the agreement with Pump, (or if you have an older contract and signed up for our administration service), you give Pump Audio your permission to register your songs in the form licensed by Pump with performance rights societies. This means that for Pump uses (and Pump uses ONLY), your songs are re-titled with the PRO and administered through Pump. This does not affect any other use that doesn’t come through Pump.

    Pump then administers the performance royalties owed on the publishing share, of which you will receive 50%. You will receive 100% of the writer’s share directly from your P.R.O.

    Pump does not take any permanent ownership in your material as part of this process. Pump only administers the uses/licenses that Pump places. This does not affect any other use of your music or the ownership of your songs in any way.
    _________________________

    So there you have it. I’m still on the fence with this one and have still not sent my CD and signed contract.

  5. brian 16. Jan, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Thanks Paul. It’s kind of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for artists these days. The proliferation of sites like Pump is decreasing the market price for all licensed songs, because they’re so available and there are so many unknown artists looking for any opportunity. But it’s also democratized things a bit.

    I wouldn’t hope for too much either way. Submit your music to a bunch of companies and don’t wait around for checks to start appearing…

  6. Paul Grenier 16. Jan, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    Hahaha yeah I think you have a point about not waiting for the cheques to start rolling in. But there don’t seem to be a lot of avenues for independent self published artists unfortunately. I think it all comes down to luck. And, of course, WHO you know. That’s what this business is really all about from my experience. Doesn’t matter how good your stuff is… if you don’t know the right people, you’ll remain at the bottom of the food chain. Getting that proverbial “foot in the door” can help, as it has for me in the past, but even then, the door sometimes slams even after the fact and takes your foot off at the same time. I guess it’s just a matter of doing your best at trying to promote yourself and getting your stuff heard.

  7. Steve 07. May, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    Ha! Today I receive an `Important Message’ email from Pump Audio. They’re reducing their licensing royalty down to 35% for the artist, while they keep 65%.

    Great.

  8. brian 08. May, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    Yeah man. Terrific. I’m with you there. I got an email yesterday from a guy about the same thing, and am posting about it in the morning. Thanks for the heads up!

  9. brian 08. May, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    Having recently been going back and forth with Pump Audio’s artist relations person about their recent decrease in artist royalty payments, I asked about this re-titling stuff. Here’s the lowdown:

    “Section 2 of the license agreement addresses the right of Pump to exclusively administer publishing of the Song and Master once placed in a Licensed Use. Pump renames your original track and gives it a Pump Audio number (ie: Pump Audio 12345) solely for purposes of ASCAP/BMI, and only administers and collects with respect to the particular use. Any other exploitation of your tracks is not subject to Pump’s administration. In a sense, the Master exists separately from the track that you submitted to Pump, therefore we have only exclusive publishing rights over Pump Audio 12345, not the original track.”

  10. blindkarma 12. May, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    I too just received Pump Audio’s new fee announcement that changes the split to 65/35 in their favor. This was obviously a unilateral decision on their part. How do people feel about that? The announcement is rather arrogant, stating basically “no one can stop us” and “we are on the verge of taking over the music licensing world.” It literally says this is going to help them grow much faster. No sh_t.

    So what about the artists? The ones who submitted music to the library because the creators of Pump Audio claimed they were musicians looking out for other musicians? Oh yes, that’s right… they sold the company to Getty Images, the big corporation. Now that corporation is reducing the artist fees unilaterally. Sound familiar to anyone?

  11. Paul Grenier 12. May, 2009 at 5:18 pm #

    To me they have no legal right to simply make such unilateral changes to a signed contract without your consent. My contract with them states 50/50 split… period. Signed sealed delivered as they say. I have yet to receive any notification from them regarding their “new terms”, but once I do, I’m pulling out due to breach of contract. You simply cannot sign a contract with someone and then go and change it one or two months later just because you feel like it and without agreement and a signature from the other party. I’m not a lawyer, but I know enough about contracts to know what you can and can not do. Has anybody contacted anybody for a legal opinion on this? As I’ve said before, if they do this without my permission or notifying me, and they make use of my material and collect monies, I’ll sue them. And everyone else signed with them should threaten to do the same. It’s your right.
    I just signed with Musicsupervisor.com and they charge NOTHING, take only 50% of the licensing fee, and don’t re-title or touch your publishing revenues. And they shop your stuff like crazy. I suggest everyone take a serious look at them as an alternative. I think they’re less of a corporate machine than Pump, so you get a better feeling dealing with them.

  12. Arp 28. Jul, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    I’m going to give Musicsupervisor.com a look-see, along with YouLicense. I haven’t signed Pump’s amendment yet, and I was *not* aware of this bullshit. If there’s any hint of a class-action suit, I am down.

  13. L. C. 18. Sep, 2009 at 3:06 am #

    For those musicians who have entered into an agreement with Pump Audio, and whose music has been placed in their catalog, there is protection from the revision to the original contract that Pump Audio is trying to force on current clients. Regardless of the fact that the aforementioned contract contains language which indicates it can “remove any music at any time,” the fact that they are threatening this removal “if the contractee does not agree to the new 65% / 35% split, is a punitive action which constitutes extortion.
    The key to this legality is the letter that Pump Audio sent out. The letter acts as an admission to the fact that Pump Audio are using punitive action, after the fact, to force clients into an unfair and unethical disadvantage. All be it a subtle form of extortion it is none the less illegal.
    In the letter Pump Audio states that they will “remove the music of anyone who does not agree to the new ration/split.” While they can legally enforce a new ratio scheme on new clients who choose to enter an agreement under the new terms, what they cannot do is alter an existing legal instrument without the consent of the musician with whom they are engaged in contract. Threatening to remove content due to a musicians unwillingness to accept new terms or amendments is punitive, is a breach of the agreement and is illegal.
    Again: The circumstances of removal of content are relevant. If they have already accepted your music, and entered it into their catalog, this serves as a good faith contract regardless of the, non-specific language they used in the original agreement with regard to using music at their sole discretion. Pump Audio is clearly indicating that removal of “previously accepted” music is based solely on a contractee not accepting the new licensing ratio. Thus, they are breaking the law, regardless of any alleged rights they claim to have. The cause of the removal is what stands as germane to this issue. Punitive action taken in order for a conglomerate to force a contractee into a particular financial arrangement is unethical, illegal and prosecutable.
    There is ground for legal action but the only way that will work is if everyone, who is signed with Pump Audio enters into a class action suit against Pump Audio / Getty Images. The class action can be certified on the grounds of specific corporate and contractual misconduct constituted by the punitive actions threatened by Pump Audio.

  14. Paul Grenier 20. Sep, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    You can count me in L.C.!!

  15. JILL Cohn 25. Sep, 2009 at 4:41 am #

    YES, it DOES matter, and if you haven’t signed up with this horrific company, i would reccamend to NOT work with them. They put your music on what they call a pump box, and then grant what seem to be unedning licenses to the music supervisors that they sell the box to. Meaning even if you terminate your agreement with them, they continue to grant new licenses, saying that they are “old” licenses, because they were granted several years ago, and so the music director can decide to use somethig, from the box, even if the intial license he got was several years old. THIS is how Getty Iages continues to license material from contracts, (like mine) that was terminated over 1 1/2 years ago,
    When i confronted them about now re-naming my songs, and listing themselves as publisher, when they NEVER did this WHILE they had a valid contract with me, from 2002 until 2008…,.. but now, in 2010 they have begun to re-name my song, and claim publising, eventhough I TREMINATED my ageement with them over 1& 1.2 years ago. They said something about ;perpituity right to do so.. but it SHOLUD ONLY be on existing licenses that they granted during a VALID term of a contract.. EVERY re-named and claime to my publishing has taken place 1 &1/2 years since I ENDED my agreement with them.. now they are saying it ‘could have been an older license’, and they have to check into it. Funny, but when i terminated with them, was when they “amended” their agreements giving them the rights to publishing & renaming songs. That’s when I BAILED.. and UP to the date that i Terminated, there were NO renamed songs nor claims to my publishing.. .so, why they are showing up over a year and a half i ILLEGAL.
    I”m putting together a LAWSUIT against Getty Images for unfair business practice & copyright infringement. I’m working with a Lawyer who SUED AOL for ARTISTS RIGHTS, and he won! WE WANT other artists who have been victimized by pump audio and Getty images decietful practices and unfair contracts, in which they continue to have right survive, long after the artes has wanted to Stop the contract
    thanks. this is a legitimate law suit.. WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR COMPLAINT. MY Lawer is working on retainer.. meaning, he beleives in this fight, and is willing to wait and get paid from the settlement.
    he beleives that this WILL be a FEDERAL COPYRIGHT CASE, and one that will CHANGE the way buisnesses like pump audio and Getty images take advantage of artist.
    IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOINING US, PLEASE WRITE ME
    THANKYOU!! JILL COHN JILLCOHNMUSIC@AOL.COM

  16. JILL Cohn 25. Sep, 2009 at 4:47 am #

    yes, we are putting together a Class Action Law suite. i have a great entertainment Lawyer and he want to take on Getty on behalf of the artists who have gotten screwed.

    put your stories together, and EMAIL them to:
    jillcohnmusic@yahoo,com

    and JhCLAW@gmail.com

  17. JILL Cohn 05. Oct, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    Hi
    pump audio /getty images are crooks.

    i’ve hired a lawyer to fight them, nearly 1 1/2 years after i terminated my agreement with them, they are still licensing my music.

    while everyone is belly aching over the 50% to 30% thing, no one has failed to realize the whole business model is to kill what little revenue we can make as song writers.

    they have licensed my music for 5 to 20 dollars, for major uses.. so, really 50% or 30% makes no difference.

    there are other issues with their contract, and the more artists we have join our law suite the better.

    i have a lawyer who is taking it on pro-bono, and he is ready to fight. he won a land-mark case against AOL for copyright infringement 5 years ago.

    this is no joke.
    please email me your story, and or you can call me to varify that this is real.
    thanks. we need you to take a stand, so we can WIN rights back to the songwriter.
    thanks. JIll Cohn http://www.jillcohn.com (206)954-1893

  18. losupreme 17. Dec, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    I have songs that pump audio did this to as well. At first I was concerned, but when I check my BMI account it clearly shows that those songs still exist in my account under the same name with all of the info correct. The only difference is the fact that there is also another entry for that song that is registered to Pump. While this seems a bit shady there are ways to get around this. The main way to do this would be to create a publishing company and sign yourself. Pump audio is able to get a hold of your publishing royalties, because you don’t have a publishing company listed. When you don’t have a publishing company listed BMI assumes you are the publisher and you are supposed to get that money by default. If, however Pump Audio comes and says ‘hey, we are the publishing company’ and has papers signed by you, guess who now gets that publishing money?

    Basically, people need to do all of thier research and actually read and understand your contracts.

  19. Yadgyu 17. Sep, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    Pump Audio is only “hated” because it is a big company.

    I find it funny that musicians want their work to be heard by the masses, but berate a large company like Pump for playing by their own rules. Getty Images was smart for scooping up Pump. This will only help small composers to become more successful and prosperous.

    From many of these comments, I can tell that some people here are bitter and a bit envious that they were not accepted. It took me a few times to get songs added to Pump. But I just kept plugging away.

    I did not cry and talk bad about this company. It doesn’t help at all!

  20. EZPowell 13. Mar, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    This is an odd one. Firstly, if you do not have an ASCAP, BMI or SESAC writer’s account then Pump creates one for you, and actually probably has to in order to collect performance royalties. Secondly, you can for instance with ASCAP create a publisher’s account in addition to a writer’s account. So yeah Pump might well set themselves up as a publisher if you don’t, because they are one. Also their deal is not exclusive. And for unknown artists who have nothing going why not – maybe don’t give them your best stuff (which might not get you noticed), or give them your best and write more and better music when those who buy music might have started to notice you :) Let’s face it really – this is probably a much rougher industry to make it in initially than it probably is to keep success going once some interesting people have noticed that you produce good stuff.

  21. Kathryn 16. Oct, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    Class Action Suit tells me everything I need to know.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pump Audio Music Licensing Controversy | The Music Snob - 06. Oct, 2009

    [...] split from 50/50 to 65/35 in their favor. The post I wrote (holy sh*t!) exactly a year ago today Pump Audio’s Re-Titling of Songs for Publishing and Pump Audio Reduces Artist Licensing Payments from back in May are still getting pretty frequent [...]

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