Pump Audio Reducing Licensing Payments to Artists by 30%

Yo yo yo. Any of you guys using Pump Audio to license your music may want to pay attention to a change they’re rolling out in their artist agreement. 

Beginning July 1st, 2009, Pump Audio will move to a 65/35 split with artists, instead of their existing 50/50 split. This means that licensed artists will see a drop in their take from each licensing fee by 30%. Awesome.

I was alerted to this Wednesday by an existing Pump Audio user. I followed up with their Artist Relations contact, and unfortunately the bad news is true. 

Here’s what they said:

“…this move is being made to support the growth of our business on a global stage…”

“We believe and will work tirelessly to insure that Pump Audio continues to be the top music licensing company for real artists.  As we grow and succeed, you will grow and succeed right along with us.  Pump Audio has always been, and will always be one of the biggest supporters of independent artists, and our intention is to see all Pump contributors make more money with us in the coming years.”

Well. Naturally, my gut reaction is negative. Anything that means less money in the hands of music creators sounds like a bad deal to me, being a creator myself. The prevalence of web-based music licensing services, while making some media placements accessible to the average nobody musician, is contributing to the overall commoditization of music, meaning that its perceived value continues to drop. And now, not only do placements pay less because the availability of music is overwhelming, but Pump Audio will be paying you a smaller percentage of those fees

Sounds like a winner for Pump.

Pump Audio also practices Re-Title Publishing, which means they re-register your songs under different names with their own publishing company, meaning the artist receives a smaller share of the backend royalties. Awesome.

So. Be forewarned. I’ve gotta get back to my night-shift at the local minimum wage national chain. 

By the way. If anyone has any experience using Pump, please let us know. I heard from someone recently who had a placement in a national TV campaign, and only found out about it when a friend told him he’d seen his song on TV. Apparently this was last September, and no money has materialized thus far. I’m registered with them too but have nothing to show for it. My songs must suck!

35 thoughts on “Pump Audio Reducing Licensing Payments to Artists by 30%”

  1. Hi David. Yeah, that’s pretty disappointing/lame.

    Good to hear from you. Looks like you’ve been a lot busier on the music front than I have. Nice work. I’ve been getting back into the thick of things a bit with some good guest posts. Hope all is well at http://www.KnowtheMusicBiz.com.

  2. I’m also signed with Pump, but have not heard anything back since they confirmed receiving my signed agreement, which clearly stated 50/50 split. I don’t see how they can change pre existing contracts that are signed and delivered. That’s defaulting on the contract. If they have a signed agreement with me that states 50/50 and they decide to make changes to the split, they need to have a new contract signed with that agreement, which I will not do, and if they default on my contract and change the terms without my written consent, I will sue them.

  3. I’ve been with Pump since 2007 and I think it was purchased by Getty Images that year. I just recently found out that I had back payments due after hearing from a friend that they heard some of my music on a commercial. They have been very slow in updating BMI with their proprietary registration info, apparently they are busy. Getting my checks cut is taking a while, emails go unanswered and I have to continually follow up [I have received one out of two checks due from 2008]. Now to hear that they are reneging on their 50/50 split to artists is just unbelievable. Although Getty has helped with placements in Europe, it looks like they are getting a little too big and need some competition. What’s next, 80/20? 90/10?

    You have to really stay on top of things with Pump/Getty and I will definitely be looking for alternatives. Just when I was thinking they were cool it turns out to be another artist-leaching corporation.

  4. I haven’t had much success licensing my songs with ANY service (wah-wah), but from my interactions and interviews with the various services we’ve covered here, Rumblefish has more favorable terms for artists, as does MusicSupervisor.com. I spoke with both CEOs and they are musicians themselves and believe in the artist’s right to backend royalties for their work. So, check those guys out. Here are the interviews / articles I wrote on them last year:

    Music Licensing with Rumblefish

  5. Hi,

    I recently got many of my pieces of music into Pump’s library and because of the email I received from them this week with the new splits agreement, I’m pulling out all 70 of my tracks…I HOPE you all will do the same and write them letting them know that you have no interest in doing business this way…it is NOT THE NORM in music licensing.


  6. I just googled “Pump Audio”, and themusicsnob.com ranks 11th for them. If you are pissed off about their contract changes, you could do yourself and other musicians (not to mention this website) a favor by linking to this post from your websites. That way, musicians researching licensing opportunities will have a better chance of educating themselves beforehand…

    By the way, there have been some great comments on this situation posted on the Pump Audio and Re-Title Publishing article. Check them out. Thanks to everyone for writing in…

  7. Pump Audio evolves from innovator to corporate dinosaur. The great rock and roll swindle lives on!

    So, things going bad at Pump eh? no cash to invest in growth? hell just take it away from the musicians! take their money instead. I can see this ‘logic’ being worked out in an office full of suits. Suit one says, “hell boys we’ve got these artists by the balls, they ain’t going anywhere”. Suit two says, “lets make them investors in the business but, better still, don’t give them any shares”.

    Another nail in the coffin for the performing royalty based licensing market.

    Brain, I am going to write an article and add it to a couple of my sites .

    Hell, this is such a big issue I think I will add it to all my sites.

  8. Hey Ambient guy, thanks for the comments. I checked out your website for licensing electronic music: what is your company’s policy for licensing splits and how does the royalty-free licensing you offer work?

  9. Hi Brian, thanks for checking it out. I offer a 50/50 split on gross sales. Ive heard some libraries even say 50/50 AFTER I take my costs off. As a musician myself I understand the costs of being a musician. So I make it simple; I take the costs of sales and marketing the musical works out of my 50, the musician takes their costs out of their 50. It should be that simple but sometimes I hear it isn’t.

    Royalty Free music doesn’t ever get you to the big time in films or TV theme work but it provides smaller businesses with a way to purchase a track for use as background music for a project for example.

    I believe that artists today should be building a catalogue of registered music and separately non-registered music for royalty free opportunities. Its a growing market. Hope that helps :O)

  10. WHY IS IT that people continually rob the least fortunate? Why? Because we don’t fight back, or if we are not so well-known or don’t have fortunes to spend on lawyers we are less likely to cause problems for a company in question that is doing the robbing? YES, you make a good point in that this is just further commoditizing of our work–further devaluing our hard earned abilities. I may not be the greatest composer in the world, however I am an educated, real composer with many years of experience and a wide range of real abilities. This just seems to be more and more greed driven by corporate America. And God help you if one should compose anything that doesn’t fit the status quo these days. Pump Audio is just another big, fat company eating off of my plate. I can’t say too much because I don’t have my own licensing company–but in my opinion I think this SUCKS.

  11. I got a nice surprise when Getty emailed me about this a few days ago. I’m not going to sign off on that crap. Looking for alternatives – maybe YouLicense?

  12. This is disgusting on so many levels. I too registered some of my creative works with Pump Audio a few weeks ago (June 1st 2009) only to be told after I submitted a fully executed contract that these new % splits go into affect on July 1st 2009 and they wont accept my submissions unless I sign their “amendment”.
    The endless stream of bottom feeders never cease to amaze me when it comes to creative works and the business types that try to capitalize on it. Greed, nothing more.

  13. It can take up to a year in some cases before you will see any Royalties from anyone of the societies and or companies that administrate your publishing. In other words 1/2 year plus 45 days after the quarter that your Particular composition generated its first penny lol wow!. That is the approximate math for ASCAP and BMI. In Pump Audio’s case and in the Majority of Publishes companies they pay out twice a year. So before you freak out understand from the time you first hear one of you songs in a commercial it may take from 7-12 months to start collecting your first check. Thats why it is so important to stay consistent that way your money stays consistent over time.

  14. Bob, I think the answer is that they have turned corporate. You see it across all industries, small businesses that are fast and dynamic turning into office blocks full of keyboard tapping salaries and processes. Look at Microsoft once a leader, now a follower. Google will be next. Pump has turned corporate alright.

  15. I myself did not accept and didn’t sign Pump’s “amendment” !No big deal really as Pump’s PR and hype is bigger than their actual success. I agree with Bob ! One of the problems the artists have in the biz are “we” the artists ourselves, we just don’t fight back and accept anything that is forced upon us. I for one will not accept Pump anymore or any source like them. I’ve been with Pump for over 2 years, I seen their web site become more elaborate but their ethics have gone down hill big time !

  16. Thank you all. I came across PumpAudio and the idea was very appealing. Now I know what the users of Pump Audio think. Thank you for the warning, you have deterred a potential customer of Pump Audio.

  17. I too have rejected the “amendment” and even sent them a letter giving them a very clear understanding of what they’re doing to current customers and potentials as well and basically told them to blow the contract out their wazoo. I know that, as they explained in some email exchanges, that the percentage change is only applicable to the licensing fee and nothing else. The other points remain the same as before. The 50% on publishing etc (re-publishing that is). Plus you’re still getting 100% of your writers share. But I felt pretty uncomfortable with a company taking my catalog, changing the song titles to republish them so they can take 50% and nobody knows who you are in tv/film credits and you have no insight or information on the licensing they’re doing with your music, so… whew… anyway, you get where I’m coming from. I’m on the “DUMP THE PUMP” Bandwagon too! I kinda like that actually lol… Dump The Pump. New slogan for the Music Snob perhaps? For everybody perhaps??

  18. Dump The Pump! Dump The Pump!
    Let’s hear it everybody! It’s about time that corporate America takes notice of their bread and butter and treats it with respect. I don;t care how “global giant” they want to get. it only means more money for them, not us, especially when they have control over the whole deal. Would be fun to see a company like this go down the drain because all its “artists” pulled out of their catalog. More power to the artist! Without us there would be no music business to begin with. There’s plenty of other avenues to take besides Pump. Dump The Pump!

  19. I agree with Paul. There seems to be an assumption here that artists will roll over and accept this reduction just so that Pump can “finance its global expansion” How dare they use the artist’s money to finance their own growth? hell they aren’t even giving the artists any shares in the company for financing it for them!

    It would be good to see them dive for this… however I suspect this is all bull and that the “global expansion” thing is really a screen for “survival – our overheads are way too high and we aren’t doing so well against the new competition”

    So lets wait and see shall we?

  20. Excellent point Ambient Guy. This could very well be a survival ploy on their part. Mind you, they’ve merged with Getty Images who is a pretty big heavy hitter in the Stock Photo and media departments so they have some support I assume. I’m no expert and maybe Getty is dropping in the markets for all I know, hence this sudden need to make contract changes etc right after merging with Getty. Suspicious.
    Who knows what the “real” reason is, but the bottom line is screw you Pump, go ask your grandmothers to put more birthday money in the envelope this year, because you’re not getting it from me. It’s all about principle now.

  21. Not me. I’m out. I have one CD with them and was planning to submit a new one soon. No way after they changed the contract.

    Shopping the competition now and watching for a class action on this one. Too bad. I enjoyed the one royalty check I got from them but I won’t do business like this…

  22. We should all stand our ground on this one like Jim. Is the tail wagging the dog? I think this is a message to say this industry is really about the artists, not the other way around, and so a partnership, a fair and just one, that provides reward that equals value, is the only fair way ahead.

    If Pump AUdio get away with it, I would imagine others trying it on too.

  23. What a great resource, thank you very much themusicsnob.com. As an artist considering licensing companies I thank God for directing me to this discussion. This is a HUGELY critical issue and no artist worth their salt should allow Pimp Audio to get away with such a violation. A strong stand for artists on a 50/50 split on licensing is imperative.

  24. I have a few cues with Pump, and have been impressed with how cheaply they license the cues, and with how many licensings they get! I was able to retain my 50/50 split, but only if I agreed to let them have exclusive use of the cues. Since Pump allows you to cancel the agreement after a fixed term – I think a year – it might be worth it to try for a year and see what the oney looks like…

  25. I guess some of you don’t actually read your agreements that well. Sure Rumblefish says that the slpilt is 50/50, but did any of you notice that they also charge an additional 15% for administravtive fees as well? 50% – 15% equals 35%, which is what Pump audio gives as well. Also Rumblefish licenses don’t always get registered with BMI and ASCAP so you loose out on that extra royalty money. I’m an artist with both Pump audio and Rumblefish.

  26. After numerous failed attempts to log in to my Pump Audio account, I was just FINALLY able to get into my Getty Images/Pump Audio Account. ANd I saw that one of my songs was used for a Travel Channel show. Yippee! BUT then I noticed … the address on record for me in my Royalty statements is totally wrong (on the other side of the country!) How the heck did that happen?? I’ll inform BMI , but I wonder what other usage I’ve missed out on? Yikes!

    AND – after reading all these comments I now wonder if I will ever see any money at all? I hope so…

    Glad to find your web site, though – very informative.

  27. Hey losupreme, you might want to double-check your agreement with Rumblefish as well. As I recall, it’s a 15% admin fee before the splits are administered, which would mean 42.5% for you. Also, as they are not your pub admin, it falls on whoever is to follow up with cues and such – that’s why Rumblefish isn’t taking ANY of your back-end royalties.

  28. Hi folks-
    I just wanted to give an update on my experience with Pump Audio/Getty Images (see comments above, dated January 20, 2010.) I have now been paid by them for usage of my music. They responded to my emails and then squared things up. And my P.R.O. (which is BMI) has had the usages reported to them. Just wanted to set the record straight…

  29. I will make this short and sweet pump audio is great. They have worked very well for me so it is hard for me to understand were these comments are coming from.

    Allen Copeland

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