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.”

Continue reading “Pump Audio Reducing Licensing Payments to Artists by 30%”

Music Licensing and Re-Title Publishing, Pump Audio…

Who is this man?! Why is he on this site?!

Read below to find out…

We’ve been having a very interesting and informative dialog in the comments section regarding re-title publishing.

Re-title publishing is when a company re-registers your songs under a different name with a performing rights organization (ASCAP, BMI, etc), so they can license your music and collect a percentage of the publishing royalties, and track these royalties separately from any other licenses you may have given out for these particular songs.

Check out the comments section of a previous post on Re-Title Publishing, where you can read the opinions of someone who claims to own a re-title music publishing company. He argues that re-titling is a decent option for bands that don’t have endless hours of time to spend promoting their songs to online music libraries and music supervisors. His particular company seems to promote their catalog actively, spending money to create promo CDs, edit tracks, etc., which you certainly aren’t going to get from a fully-automated web service.

It’s an option.

Continue reading “Music Licensing and Re-Title Publishing, Pump Audio…”

Pump Audio’s Re-Titling of Songs for Publishing

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!

Review of Online Music Licensing Services

To date we’ve reviewed several web-based services that help artists make a few bucks licensing music. To review the articles and interviews we’ve done, go ahead and browse the Licensing Category.

Below is a table that compares several basic features of each service examined so far…

  Rumblefish MusicSupervisor.com Pump Audio Music Gorilla Song Catalog
Annual Fee
Licensing Split
flat fee

Back-End Publishing

50% of publisher share
Re-Title Publishing

To help you understand it, here are a few definitions:

Licensing Split: When someone buys a license to your music, they pay an upfront fee to the middleman service. The split determines how this money is divided between you and the middleman.

Back-End Publishing: Another source of income from licensing are the royalties generated when your music is used in certain situations, such as on TV or in a movie. These are generated every time your music is “performed”. In most cases, you the artist will receive 100% of the back-end publishing, because you probably don’t have a separate publisher. But in the case of Pump Audio, they re-register your songs with ASCAP, BMI, etc. under new names so that they can “administer” the royalties “more effectively”, and gain access to 50% of your publishing royalties. Sketchy.

See here for an explanation of this practice, known as Re-Title Publishing.

If you are interested in having us review your service, let me know: brian@themusicsnob.com

In related news, Rumblefish put a post on their blog about our two part Rumblefish article

Using Online Services to License Your Music

As CD sales continue to dry up, music licensing has taken on an ever-increasing role in the independent artist’s career. In the old days, the barriers to license music were very high, and the opportunities much fewer for the musician without connections. Today’s web-based world has changed all that; more opportunities than ever exist, but the competition has increased dramatically.

There are several ways to go about finding licensing deals for your music:

1) Contact ad agencies directly
2) Seek out music supervisors (the people that select the music for film/TV)
3) Have your record label do it for you (we all have record labels, right?)
4) Use an online service that connects music buyers with music sellers

We are mostly in interested in #4: the services like Taxi, Pump Audio, Music Gorilla, Song Catalog, Sonic Bids, The Orchard, etc. that aggregate content from various artists and make it accessible in a centralized location for the ad agencies, music supervisors, and whoever else that wants to license music.

There are many permutations among the online licensing opportunities. Here are some basic questions / differences to keep in mind:

1) Do I retain control over when and where my music is licensed?
Some companies require that you agree beforehand to accept whatever deals they generate, while others will give you a choice based on the particular opportunity.

2) Is there an annual fee for participation?
Fees can range from $0-$400+ annually. Are they worth it? Sometimes…

3) Do I have to pay (additional) fees to submit to individual opportunities?
Some companies charge no fees but take a higher percentage of the licensing income. Others may charge to screen candidates and earn a little extra for themselves.

4) What rights am I ceding by using a particular service?

Most of these types of companies use non-exclusive agreements, meaning you are free to list your music with any and all of these companies at the same time. If a deal comes through and the buyer wants to have the exclusive rights to your song, then you can negotiate on a case-by-case basis.

Maximize Your Exposure and Get Better Results
While each of these companies has a slightly different model, most of them are legitimate and represent new ways for your music to get heard. Don’t just use one and expect to make millions. Your best bet is to try using as many channels as you can and thereby improve your odds. If your budget is tight, you can still submit your music to the services that don’t charge anything up front.

Further Reading

Go here for an overview article on licensing from Larry Mills, VP at Pump Audio.

Re-Title Publishing – Update

Last week I wrote a post about “re-title publishing”, and how I couldn’t really find much information on it. Which was part of the problem. Today I talked to the CEO of a popular music licensing service and he explained in detail why this practice isn’t great for artists and that it’s not industry standard.

What Re-Title Publishing is…

A company actually changes the titles to your songs and registers them with different names under THEIR publishing company. For example, if you have a song called “My favorite day is Tuesday.” They might rename it “Tuesday is my favorite day,” and register it under Douchebag Publishing with ASCAP or BMI, etc. You split the upfront licensing fees, and since they’ve published it under their own company, that entitles then to some or all of the backend revenue, which is what is generated whenever that movie, TV show or commercial is re-aired in the future.

Why It’s Lame

1) You get less money – whereas most licensing companies split the upfront fee with you and you keep ALL your future publishing earnings, this means you lose a percentage of those backend dollars.

2) It’s harder for listeners to find your music – If your song’s name was changed so some company could license it to a movie, people watching that movie are going to search for it by its new title. And because the only place in the universe it appears under that title is in the movie, they will have a harder time finding, and buying, the song.

Who Does It?

Granted, earning some money is usually better than earning no money. But there are plenty of companies that don’t require re-title publishing, if it ruffles your feathers or raises your eyebrows as it does mine.

Pump Audio is one of the big names in licensing that does re-title publishing. So, consider yourselves warned!