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!
25 thoughts on “Re-Title Publishing – Update”
I work with artists who write music for film and television. We only do re-titled licensing. The artist signs a non exclusive deal allowing us to re title their music. That way the artist can also license that same song under the original title and we can keep our earnings separate. That way everyone wins by the hard work they put into the process. What ever songs the artist license we collect nothing from them. We supply all information about the artist and the songs. So if someone really liked the band they would be able to contact them.
My company is different from all the music publishers and other companies that license re titled work.
My company splits all licensing fees 50/50. We also split our publishing shares with the artist 50/50. Other publishers keep 100% of the publishers share. So to do the math, the artist is getting 75% of ALL earnings the song will bring in. For all the work that we do for the artist we basically charge 25% of the earnings.
What happens in this industry is you got greedy bastards wanting to drain as much as they can from the artists not caring about them. My company is filled with other artists who love what they do. We are not in this to become millionaires (we all ready are). We just collect enough to cover the work we do for the artists. Are main goal is to get your music heard.
So re titled work is not a bad thing if you get with the right company. Try talking any other music publisher into allowing you to keep your copyrights and ask for 50% of the publishing shares and see what they say!
It’s good to hear from a re-title publisher and get your perspective. Here are some questions your comments raise, which perhaps you can respond to:
1) Is the music you license production music or songs?
2) Many online music licensing companies take zero from publishing royalties. Why should an artist work with you, given that you take 50% of publishing and re-title the works?
3) You aren’t charging 25% of the earnings, you are charging 25% of the publishing royalties, which is different. You are splitting the licensing fee 50/50…
4) Why do you mention that “you” are already millionaires? What purpose does that serve?
5) You write “we all ready are”, which should be “we already are”. You also write “Are main goal…”, which should be “Our main goal…” Are you sure you are a millionaire?
6) You don’t mention the name of your company.
On a side note, I understand that registering a song separately allows you to track the earnings of your placement. Other businesses I’ve looked into take zero of the publishing and so don’t have a need for this…
Thanks for writing Bill. I’d love to learn more about your company, so perhaps you can address these issues and straighten us out…
First of all I apologize for the grammar errors. What purpose does that serve to point out the errors I made? Are you trying to discredit me? I tend to rush the process of responding and do make some errors. That is why we have lawyers to do all the paper work.
I was just trying to make a point about music licensing. There are many different things to consider when your licensing your music. Due to the Internet there is so much out there.
You can go with the old fashion music publisher and sign your rights over to them and lose your publishing shares of the royalties. Now the new thing is online music libraries. You upload your songs to their database. You add keywords, descriptions, the instruments you use. The mood of the song and so on and so on. It takes time. They keep 50% of the licensing fees that the songs generate. You keep 100% of the writers share and 100% of the publishers share.
Some companies go the re titled route. They keep 50% of the licensing fees. And 100% of the publishers share as you stated in your article.
To answer your questions:
1. The music we license is instrumental production music. If the song has lyrics we do not re title the song. We sign an agreement with the artist if we place that song in a project they agree to split the licensing fee from that song 50/50. They also agree to split the publishing share 50/50 for our efforts in placing that song
2. Online music licensing companies take 50% of the licensing fees and allow the artist to keep the publishing share because the artist has to do all the uploading of the songs and all the descriptions and so on. If the licensing company receives $50,000 for a fee and splits that with the artist that is $25,000 that goes to the licensing company for allowing that artist to do all the work adding their music to the database. The licensing company is collecting the fees because they direct the artist to their clients and I feel that is fair.
3.I apologize for the error trying to explain the percentage we collect from the artist. After watching the debates I should have known to be more careful with my numbers. We split the licensing fees 50/50. As for the performance royalties, 50% goes to the writer, 50% goes to the publisher. That = 100% of the royalties, right. Now correct me if my math is off. We split the publishers share 50/50 so that means the artist gets 75% of the performance royalties. That is more than what they would get from the standard music publisher.
Most music publishers have the artist sign their songs over to the new publisher. The new publisher now gets 100% of the publishers share. The artist can no longer license that music. He does not own it. He can contact the publisher and tell them that someone contacted the artist and they want to use the song in a project. So the artist did the work and got his song placed. The new publisher now collects $ for the work that the artist did.
4. I apologize for the remark I made about being a millionaire I did not become a millionaire licensing music. I am involved in different projects in the music industry. From hip hop to country. The reason I made that statement is the artist has to find a company that works with and for that artist. You do not want a company to be self centered. You want to find an established company. Do research and find out as much as you can before signing anything.
5. Question # 5 is total bullshit. What was the purpose to that? Look, I never stated I was a lawyer, have an English major, went to collage, never stated I was a reporter writing articles in the newspaper, and so on and so on. Your statement is if you are not at the top of your game or if you make errors writing a comment on a Internet website, or if your not on the collage level of someone else you cannot be a millionaire? Look at Mike Tyson, he is as dumb as it gets!
I am am just the average Joe Six Pack who started playing, writing music when I was 11 years old. I never went to collage. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to turn my dreams into reality. When I was younger I spend hours playing music, playing in bands, and touring. I graduated from high school, that’s it. I put 100% into my music. To be honest with you if I did not have my company and my music I don’t know what I would be doing. All I know is music! That is why I have collage graduates working for me. That is why I have lawyers and accounts working for me.
6. I do not mention the company name for this reason. I read MANY articles and all I see is greed, people competing, and jealousy. One guy is saying one bad thing about another company stating “My company Douchebag Publishing is better that that Douchbag Publishing. Sign with my company and we will make millions together” and so on and so on. I am not that shallow. EVERYONE who has a dream of making it in the music industry, I hope to God you make it, stupid or collage level. I don’t bash companies. I am not trying to get publicity for my company. There is no need for you to know what my company name is.
And for your final statement at the bottom of the page:
The other companies allow the artist to upload their music and keep the publishing share, I understand that. But this is what my company does. We do all the uploading to different databases. We add all the keywords. We add descriptions. We track all the songs. We send reports out to the artist every 3 months. An artist said once, “Thank God for you guys, I would never be able do all that you do with the time I have.”
We also have our clients that we work with. We make promo CDs. Each CD when it is said and done, we spend close to five grand on that CD. From producing to sending it to our clients and always looking for new clients. We pay for shipping. We pay for the supplies, We pay for the recording studio. We take each song and edit the song into 30sec. and 60sec. pieces so that the clients have the full version and the 30,60 second versions. If there are any legal issues we have our lawyers take care of it.
So for what we offer the artist I don’t think 50% of licensing and 50% of the publishers share is to much to ask.I hope I answered your questions. And God forbid I made a mistake.
All I was saying is “there are many different ways to go, just make sure you do your homework and research.”
Bill, thanks for taking the time to write such thoughtful responses to my questions. We haven’t heard from anyone that does re-title publishing and so your perspective has been helpful.
As an independent musician, not a publishing professional, my main doubts about re-title publishing arose because few people I talked to in the industry seemed to know what it was, those who did expressed great skepticism, and my own sense of self-preservation tells me that if someone wants to literally change the name of one of my songs, then they might be up to something…The music industry is rife with stories of people getting ripped off, and this has sounded like one of those possible instances.
In response to your responses:
1. From an artistic perspective, I would object much more to changing the title of a song / music with lyrics, than a piece of production music. Instrumentals obviously depend much less on words for meaning, and, honestly, I doubt anyone that hears a piece of production music is really going to try and find the composer: unless they are making a film and need production music!
2. I have no problem with an online music company collecting 50% of the licensing fee. Seems fair to me. But I was hoping you would address why a musician should work with a more traditional “publisher” like your business, when these online licensing companies don’t take any publishing, as you mention?
3. In this climate, signing your song over to anyone seems like a death wish. Thankfully musicians don’t have to anymore…
4. The millionaire remark just struck me as odd. Successful people usually don’t feel the need to flaunt their success. There are lots of bullshitters out there. I can’t count how many “CEOs” of one-man “music” companies I run across on the web these days. It sounds like you’ve been very successful with music, so congratulations to you…
5. Again, your grammatical errors alongside your claims of success raised red flags for me. Given this is the internet, you could say you’re Bill Gates and I will never know. Remember, this IS The Music Snob, and I AM a snob. And I DO have a degree in English. LOL. So yeah, I’m sensitive to these things.
You are correct that Mike Tyson is dumb as shit. Which is why he’s lost all the money he ever made.
6. If you have no desire for anyone to know your company’s name, that’s fine. Generally people mention things like that to lend credibility to whatever they’re talking about. But I can certainly respect participating in debate for the sake of it, and not seeking any sort of publicity or promotion. At the same time, how do I know you’re not working for the Evil Empire?!
Overall, it sounds like the placements you guys do are of a different sort than an artist might access via an online licensing company. You talk of deals worth $50,000, spending 5k on a promo CD, and editing songs to short clips. It sounds like you have an existing channel to lucrative deals, and these types of deals seem much less likely to happen in cyberspace anonymously.
You are correct that there are “many different ways to go,” and since all I’ve heard about re-title publishing was skepticism, I was sharing this skepticism with the music community. I’m just a music snob and a musician, putting perspectives together on a site as I try to help myself.
Thanks again for contributing your perspective. I WOULD still like to hear you address why a musician should work with a more traditional “publisher” like your business, when these online licensing companies don’t take any publishing, as you mention…
If an artist has the time for self promoting, he/she should do so. That way they are giving up only 50% of the licensing fees and collecting 100% of the performance royalties. Like I stated in the last posting, now days with the Internet there are so many options that the artist can go with. You can pretty much cut out the middle men and earn more money, if you have the time to do all the things the middle men do.
I stated in my last posting what my company does for the artists we work with. We do not just upload music to online music libraries. We have are own clients along with a few online companies. The nice thing about online music libraries is once you do all the work you can sit back and do nothing. The online companies do all the paper work for you.
So as a musician you should try to do all of this one your own. That way the only thing you are losing is 50% of the licensing fees. If you can get in good with some music supervisors and production companies, you could collect 100% of the licensing fees and 100% of the performance royalities. That is the best way to go for an independent artist. But that takes A LOT of time. You have to research and find companies that will allow you to send your CDs to them. Like I said before it takes a lot of time doing this and if you are in a band touring, recording etc. You probably do not have a lot of extra time to sit on the computer.
So to answer your question, “Why should an artist give up 50% of the publishers share?” The bands that we work with state that the 50% of the publishers share is well worth giving up for what my company does for them. They are out playing making money, selling CDs, T-shirts and so on. They are making money on there own and they do not have to split that with us. The 75% of the performance royalties and the 50% licensing fees they collect from us doing the work we do is extra cash flow and all they did was give as permission to license their music. You never charge an up front fee. The only way we collect is when that song is placed in a project. It’s a win win situation.
As an artist you have to do as much as you can to get your music out there. If your lucky to place your music in some films and television, you could be collecting royalties for the rest of your life off of that one song. Look at the show “Cops.” That Jamaican band is living off of that one song, the entire band!
I truly understand your thoughts about credibility and how can I stand up for my company if the don’t give out the name of my company or allow people to go on a google facts finding journey. I just wanted to throw some thoughts out there on my experience with re titled works. I am not trying to sell anything or trying to get the approval from the industry. The solo artists and the bands I work with are very happy with what we have done in the past years. And that is what counts the most to me.
I know you are the music snob and you can be sarcastic. My last posting I was being sarcastic in a fun way. You are doing a great job. Its good to see that there are people out there watching the back of others. As a musician you have to look at all the angles and if you have a bad gut feeling about something (like re titles works) you have to do research and ask questions. The Internet is a great thing but also it can cause damage. You have to be careful with who you deal with.
I hope I answered your question. If not I will try in the next posting.
Bill, I suppose that the irony here is that you are making a good case for your company by presenting such thoughtful answers, but won’t tell us what your company is! lol…
That’s fine, really. I appreciate your willingness for dialog.
The only question I still have from what you just wrote is: In a previous comment, you said: “The music we license is instrumental production music. If the song has lyrics we do not re title the song.”
If that’s the case, then how are you able to work with bands so effectively? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that “production music” was very different from the types of songs typically generated by bands?
My opinions are shaped largely by the “facts” that I am able to put together in this void known as the internet, so take them with a grain of salt. But what I take away from what you’ve written is this:
There are probably bands benefiting from re-title publishing, and it sounds like companies like yours may have more happening on the relationship/individual biz dev side of things than an artist is going to get via an online service, where they are just another anonymous track in a database. I can see allowing someone to re-title my work if I’m a “nobody,” and they have some ins with specific supervisors and producers. This is different from sites like Pump, where nobody is advocating or representing your music to the end users, really.
In the end, I’m leaning again towards the idea that those of us making $0 from our costly recordings should try out as many different scenarios as we can. Hopefully something will stick and we won’t have to declare bankruptcy!
One other question: What other topics would you like to see covered here at TheMusicSnob, and what do you think might be helpful for others to know about that we haven’t really covered?
I like to stay anonymous because I don’t want to be like some of these other guys. How they post negative feedback about others. They sit and tell you that your idea sucks and you will never make in the industry and then in the same line they say” if you want to make in this industry come over to my company because that company sucks.” And then they leave a web address and you go to check it out and they have a domain name parked at godaddy.com or some shit like that. There is a lot of competition out there and I have never been the type of guy to say negative things about people or throw things up in your face. If your dream is about music I hope you make it. My postings are about the musician who wants to make it in the industry, not about my company.
I will try to explain about the songs with lyrics.
We get a lot of instrumental music from different artists in different genres. These are full version songs. We take the songs and edit them in 30 sec. and 60 sec. pieces. Good for commercials, bumpers, transitions. These artists are independent. So you don’t have major obstacles to jump over talking about record companies, other publishing companies things like that. Most of the time these guys are publishing their own music and its one guy maybe two at the most writing the instrumentals.
When you work with a full blown band you have many obstacles. Many numbers of writers, publishers, record companies, etc. The bands I work with were introduced to me by my other clients. I sat down with the guys and explain what my company is about and what I can do for them. We come to the agreement with everyone involved that we would split 50% licensing fees and when they receive the performance royalties from ASCAP they would send my company 50% of the publishers share. They would then split the rest of the money with whoever they had to split it with. We make some money and they make some money. For the band its not a lot once they split it with everyone but they had to do nothing to collect. We did all the work. For the band the upside of that is when we make our promo CDs and place their music we give out the bands name and their web address. We send fans their way. We do everything we can to help the band. The majority of our work is in the instrumental mood music category. But the few full blown bands we work with have been productive.
The majority of music we place are instrumentals. When you have a song with lyrics it has to fit into a scene just right. One wrong word and it can through off the whole scene. So to be honest with you instrumental mood music is the best way to go.
My thoughts on Pump? That is not a good deal. They want to retitle so they can keep the publishers share. There are to many websites out there that only ask for 50% of the licensing fees. All performance royalties go to the artist. Good and promising sites are Musicsupervisor.com, Rumblefish.com, Audiomicro.com, and Sounddogs.com These are just a few of the sites that I have done research on. My advise to you is watch the small print. When you click on that little box that states you agree with the terms and conditions, make sure that you have read the terms and conditions!!! Like I stated in my first posting, there are some greedy bastards out there and they will screw you if they can.
I hope I answered your question. My final thoughts and advice to others.
I started out as a musician. Played in bands and then went solo. I am still writing music and own a publishing company. My love for music as been my whole life. I have been truly dedicated and it has paid off. First don’t ever give up on your dreams. When I first started out I had about 65 songs taken from me by a music publisher. I was young did not know anything about music contracts. I thought this publisher was going to make me rich. I signed the copyrights over to him. I believe I collected about $35.00 in royalties. And that happened many years ago. The guy is no longer in business and he owns 65 of my songs and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. So if your going to allow someone to license your music make sure everything is legit.
Now days an artist or full blown band can do anything because of the Internet. It takes time but if you can do it on your own you don’t have to split your earnings with anyone. The big thing in television is mood music. You have a better chance to place an instrumental in a project because there are no lyrics where you have to try to fit in. It is much easier fitting instrumentals.
As a musician you have to find music supervisors, contact production companies, ad agencies, producers and also contact the companies I listed above. You can do this on your own but it takes time. That is how I started.
As far as topics, keep doing what you are doing. When you are not sure of something as a question. That is how you got my attention. Now days with the Internet artists can cut out the middle man. There is no reason for an artist to get ripped off. Nothing pisses me off more then when I read an article about some asshole in the industry taking music from a band and screwing them. Be smart!
And Brian, don’t correct my grammar! LOL
If I can be of any help let me know.
How out of the ordinary is it for a fan (maybe into music production) to want instrumentals from an artist? Im sure music publishing companies dont just hand them out, even if some do say things like ‘if you want a free copy of the album or its instrumentals call…’ im imagining it isnt that simple.
Any advice? Would bribes work? lol.
Hmmm, a very interesting debate here.
I’m very happy first of all that I stumbled on this site and this thread. I was about to send off a CD full of songs and a signed contract to Pump tomorrow, but now I’m going to think twice. In no way will I accept ANY publishing company renaming my songs and registering them as “new” songs and have them collect whatever publishing share they arbitrarily choose. Without expressed written consent from the copyright owner of the song, that is outright theft and fraud. After re-reading the aforementioned section in the Pump contract regarding granting them permission to register my songs in the form licensed by Pump, I see no mention of renaming the song, nor do i see any percentages in regards to what they plan to collect for themselves before sending me my share of these royalties. Besides, all my songs are already registered with PROs (SOCAN here in Canada) with predetermined representation in the US which I have chosen already.
Clearly Pump has worded this clause in hopes that not many will understand it, and I think there is only a VERY small percentage of artists with the resources to pay a lawyer to look over what “appears” to be an exciting, enticing and beneficial contract.
Contracts are meant to be negotiated. This contract leaves NO room for negotiation, or for amendments that I would see as prudent, such as representation for mechanicals, which I have here in Canada and who would allow me to collect mechanical royalties should any movie or TV show get published to DVD. It adds up to a fair chunk of change my friends! And as the owner of the work, you’re entitled to being paid for duplication. As it’s been said here before… do your homework, research things and get educated.
As for Bill C, I would also like to know who his company is, for the simple reason that I may be a potential artist for you to represent.
Anyway, thank you Brian for providing this site and watching our backs. More than ever we need resources like this if we (artists) are to survive and attempt to make a living doing what we love in an age of faceless ones and zeros, and to help us steer clear of the sharks and the nets as we meander in the immense ocean of the entertainment industry.
Good luck to us all!
I’m being offered to have one of my songs instrumental versions used for possible placement on an MTV program. The deal is I collect only on the ‘back-end’, which I assume means royalties.
The company will retain 100% of the cue sheet publishing portion of submitted tracks.
Does this sound common practice or should I beware?
Kliff: this is the sort of things publishers do. But they usually manage to get an upfront fee as well and they keep on plugging to a wide variety of opportunities. I wouldn’t give up the publishing for just one placement in an MTV show. Tell them you’ll give them 100% of the upfront fee and see how good they are, rather than being someone that happens to have MTV’s e-mail address.
I stumbled onto this site during my Google search for advice on a couple problems similar to those mentioned in an earlier post here by Bill C. on Oct 11, 2008. He just touched on the subject and I’m hoping to find a “definitive” answer. That may not be the word I’m looking for but, it will have to suffice.
Situation #1 is: Back in the 70s and 80s, when I was cranking out several songs a week from my little bedroom studio, like Bill C, I knew very little about publishing agreements and was sure I was on my way to fame and fortune when I signed my first publishing contract with no reversion clause. I thought, worst case, after the passing of a reasonable number of years with no cuts, I would simply contact them, ask for my songs back, rework them and move on.
I should explain that due to family responsibilities and my “day job” I wound up getting away from the creative part of the business for some twenty years. Now, I’m getting back into it.
Though the paper boy can still cash my royalty checks, some of the aforementioned contracts were fruitful – actual commercial cuts with real BMI payments, however small.
The problem now lies in those that were not. Of the half dozen companies I’ve been searching for over the last few weeks, I have managed to contact the owners or former owners of two. They both were more than happy to provide written statements returning those songs back to me. There are probably a dozen or so that I have had no luck in contacting. Is this material just dead? Could I assume that after twenty five or thirty years that no one would remember it, anyway?
Situation #2 is – A few of the songs that are contracted to these defunct companies are listed with BMI on spec that they would be cut, I suppose, which didn’t happen. I’ve tried contacting BMI via their email for advice on this, but thus far they are confusing copyright returns with simply crossing these publishers off the “royalty share” list. I tried to no avail to explain that these companies no longer exist and therefore will not be getting a piece of the pie. Is this something I really should pursue further or is it worked out between new publisher and BMI? What if I sign one of these songs to another publisher and they try to register it?
Thanks very much for your time and for the opportunity to ask my questions.
Very interesting site.
1. Can we take up the issue of Pump announcing:
-Licensing fees will now be 35% to the artist, 65% to Pump Audio/Getty Images
-This model will take place as of 7/1/09
2.Before doing that, let me suggest to Paul that he is reading the wrong part of the Pump contract in order to see the royalty split. Read section 10 “Allocation of Publishing Recipts”. The split is 50-50 in my contracts with Pump.
Returning to the new split:
1. Pump explains the cost of going international, which should benefit Getty (Pump is now wholly owned by Getty) and its Artists, requires the new split.
– My response is: if the Artists are going to invest in Getty’s expansion, will the Talent reap the reward if the venture succceeds? The Artists should expect a return to 50-50 split, with a return of their 15% investment, plus whatever it earned – like any investing.
2. Since when does Getty need capital from Artists!!!
3. Pump has explained that the Artists pay nothing out of pocket for Getty’s huge infrastructure.
– I explained that Getty pays nothing out of pocket to the Artist to produce the Artist’s work. THAT’S WHY 50-50 is a fair split. Neither Artist nor Getty would make money if the other’s services were lacking.
4. I LOVE the reference to __________’s Dillemma. (Forgive me, I am still learning its name!)
To give a name to the choice between love and revenge is a helpful way to organize one’s experience when in the flux of mind-dimming emotion.
IF composers had a union, and I was its leader, I would say – Let’s negotiate. We’ll give up our fair share of royalties for this new venture. If it fails, we walk away. If it suceeds, we want our investment back! And then a bit more!
But the organized party is Getty. Of course, in the Darwinian ecology of business, Getty becoming less fair allows a niche for a new “Pump” to develop, and claim the mantle of fairness with a 50-50 deal.
Forgive me, but isn’t this situation similar to the bank bailout: the debt and risk is Socialized. The profit, if it occurs, if Capitalism. That is, the taxpayer is disproportionately on the hook if the toxic assets prove worthless, and the private investors (hedge funds, et al) disproportionately shielded from risk.
BeatPick.com split 50/50 upfront fee. that’s it. back end royalties belong to the artists. Unless the artist decides he wants the company helping with back end admin. We still put a lot of effort in promoting artists, tagging music, sending cds to supervisors and so on…
I just wanted to give my two cents about Pump Audio (Getty Images) sending out their B.S. amendment to our previous 50/50 contracts…They say they need to keep their business successful with their 400+ employees to take care of..excuse me! Should we feel sympathetic with such a lame excuse to just screw the artist once again..I rejected their agreement..They said they need a statement in writing to have my music removed..Our contracts were with Pump and were bought as assets by Getty, I am thinking they really can’t legally change the terms of our contracts without our consent otherwise they probably would just do it..other music production websites have already started this trend for the race to the bottom lowering rates and licensing terms. It’s all very depressing to see how music seems so undervalued these days..I would hope that many of my fellow (former Pump) artists will stand up to Getty and refuse their contract amendment in principle.
Re: Hugh – I like your comparison to the banking crisis. Burden is the taxpayers, profits are the bankers…
I’m happy to see that so many people are pissed off about this and are participating in the debate. There are a lot of other options for artists looking to license their music, that aren’t trying to screw over artists like this.
Sam, your phrase “race to the bottom” sums up what I was trying to say about the diminishing “value” of music these days…Well said.
I just want to continue a little further with some information that might help any producers contemplating the Getty amendment with 35% to the artist or possibly other similar situations some of you may be facing…I came across some legal information that may be a clue as to why Getty needs us to sign and approve the contract proposals..I pulled this from a textbook “Business Law and the Legal Environment” edition 5, concerning the Uniform Commercial Code:
Parties make a contract attempting to control their futures. But one party’s certainty can be undercut by the ease with which the other party may obtain a modification. Section 2-209 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) acknowledges this tension by enabling the parties to limit changes. The parties may agree to …and insist that all modifications be in writing and signed. Between merchants, such a clause is valid. But if either party is not a merchant, such a clause is valid only if the non-merchant separately signs it. I am guessing that musicians would not be classified as merchants since in the case of Pump, we are providing music to a publisher- (merchant) without compensation in order for them to sell these intangible goods on our behalf. Even if our contracts were reviewed under the common law, the amendment would be invalid and probably unenforceable. The law in regards to music is tricky to say the least but I hope this info may give some sense of optimism and allow more artists to stand up to companies like Getty and not jump to sign anything just because they say you need to.
The way I see it is that if a music licensor licenses music that is registered with performing rights societies clearly a performing royalty is generated from that sale in addition to the sync rights that were earned up front. Therefore, the music licensor would feel its in their moral right to present a non-exclusive offer to a musician whereby they take a share of that earning too.
The way they make this work with the performing rights societies is to re-name the track so that they can identify specific uses of the music to them and therefore get their share of the use of that music from the performing rights society.
So, this happens (re naming) as a way to work the system laid out by the performing rights societies. If there are issues around this for the artists then perhaps the performing rights societies need to stand up to their claim to look after artists interests by designing a system that works for the music licensing business today rather than lag behind.
Nice site by the way, just registered for the feed.
Just a note about the re-titling thing. I’ve been with Pump for years and my earnings have consistently gone up, little by little. Originally, they didn’t do the retitling thing, and when they switched to that, I was a little skeptical. But the good thing about the retitling (and the problem I see with the other companies that *don’t* take a share of the publishing) is that if the licensing company has a stake in the publishing royalties, they are going to work to make sure that all the cue sheets for a song that they have licensed are submitted to the PRO. Very important, I think! That is some of the important work a publisher does. And since I’m my own publishing company and have no interest in trying to follow up on cue sheets myself, I think this is actually a good thing. And as I say, over the years my income from Pump and BMI has had steady trend up.
YES IF YOU CAN TELL ME HOW A MUSIC LICENSING OUTFIT CAN OFFER A NON EXCLUSIVE DEAL TO ARTISTS AND COLLECT BACKEND ROYALTIES ON THEIR BEHALF WITHOUT RETITLING THE MUSIC I SURE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IT. ALSO WHAT POSSIBLE REASON WOULD A LICENSING COMPANY TRY AND COLLECT BACKEND ROYALTIES FOR AN ARTIST UNLESS IT WAS TO COLLECT A PART FOR ITSELF. WAKE UP JACKASS
Only a fool would sign songs to an exclusive music library on 2010!
The argument against non-exclusive retitle libraries is only made by exclusive libraries. These companies are losing money to retitle libraries and are scared that the exclusive libraries will soon be coming to an end. The exclusive libraries are correct; their days are numbered and rightfully so.
Every legal and ethical argument made against non-exclusive libraries are actively practiced by exclusive libraries. Exclusive libraries get control for a song into perpetuity. This means that the library has the right to use the song however it wants. Many exclusive libraries enter into deals with foreign publishers where the library collects fees that they do not have to pay to the writer of the song.
Non-exclusive libraries only retitle for the sole purpose of splitting up the revenue streams from music. Sending the same song to different libraries makes perfect sense because your songs compete against one another instead of competing against songs from other composers. It is a win-win situation.
I have around 300 songs with non-exclusive libraries and I make a few thousand dollars every quarter. I believe that once I get up to 1,000 tracks, I will be able to leave my full-time job for good.
No exclusive music library offers the opportunity to get so many songs out in a short amount of time. The exclusive libraries are dinosaurs who are dying a slow and painful death. They are grossly unequipped to handle the demands of website, reality TV show, film, and video game customers. Their music is dated and does not stand the test of time. This is really the only reason exclusive libraries are upset.
Brian, I totally agree with you.
There’s some pretty reactionary stuff in the comments. I don’t think Pump and the like can make a composer a better income and look out for their interests more than a more traditional publisher involved with licensing like, for example, RipTide.
There is definite industry backlash against non-exclusive libraries, and not just from PMA. From editors, post-supervisors, music supervisors… some of whom happen to prefer working with significantly smaller libraries. There is some incredible music on Pump. There’s no question about that. But their library so massive and so poorly curated (i.e. very little gate-keeping) not everyone wants to wade through all that stuff to find those gems, especially not on a deadline.
I don’t fault anyone for getting their music with a re-title library. It’s so widespread it’s becoming difficult to avoid, and of course whether it’s for you or not depends on your specific goals. Giving my publishing to someone who is not giving me a writer advance and not representing me exclusively doesn’t feel right to me, no matter how common the practice has become. Race to the bottom indeed.
I think I solved the retitling problem. 🙂
One thing I recently learned about BMI and ASCAP is that titles really do not matter. Each time a song is registered, a new Work ID is formed.
I could register the same title with me as the songwriter and a different publisher for each version. The work ID would be unique to that particular registration.
Music libraries and publishers should use the work ID instead of the song title to add to a cue sheet. That Work ID is as unique as DNA. That alone would solve all retitle issues.
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