Music for Measure M : One of the most important ballot initiatives in Los Angeles

Measure M is a desperately needed proposal to improve transportation funding and projects in Los Angeles, just in time when the population and traffic in the city have hit an all-time high. For LA to move into the next phase of being a mature, functioning megapolis, getting behind this measure is essential to avoid things becoming an utter mess in the future.

The campaign needed an upbeat track for their viral video…something that conveyed a sense of urgency, positivity and progress.

What better track than “The Time is Now”? Strange how the names of my songs end up deciding their placement fate. “The Time is Now” starts out with hopeful strings, then add tribal percussion, layer on an ethereal pattern of guitar notes loops on top…and from there just keep building and building the urgency.

When I wrote this track, I was definitely meditating on a positive uprising of sorts, and with the percussion, I was attempting to go for the same groove you hear on Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” Strangely, that title of that Talking Heads video is also a nod to the urgency of Measure M. It’s a measure that will definitely change lives.

here’s the video:

And here’s the original track so you can hear it on its own:

Hollywood Special Ops Video Reel

Very excited to share the custom track I wrote for Hollywood Special Ops to brand their work highlights reel.

Client asked for an exciting, driving track with heavy Daft Punk influences. This was one of those projects where I hit it right out of the gate with the first idea…from there, we just did some refinements to customize the orchestration and flow of the track to fit the exact experience/feel they wanted to convey in the reel.

City Year

Very proud to have been a part of the digital team that helped City Year San Jose win half a million dollars in the Google Impact Challenge!

These viral videos were a key component in getting out the vote and educating the public about what City Year provides: tutoring and mentoring in schools for at-risk youth. I composed two different versions of my song “School’s Out”. Enjoy!

Always Discreet

My song “Sneaky Sneaky” has been placed yet again on a national spot…this time for Always Discreet underwear. Who woulda thought the same tune would advertise prune juice and adult underwear? Good god. This song must be scatalogical somehow.

Who really cares because it’s helping our elders and there’s some nice front end coming from BMG and some nice royalties.


This song has gotten licensed to so many things… I think it’s because it sounds like that “song you heard somewhere before.”

Scripps Don’t Pay Schizz

Scripps–a “leader in lifestyle media” but a loser in compensating composers.  Anybody have any updates on this?

TuneSat has detected a lot of placements for me on some Scripps Network shows. I would have never known about them otherwise. I am fighting to get paid by the publishing company, as ASCAP apparently does not pay the backend.

One of the publishing companies I work with who placed these says they contract directly with Scripps and will pay me once my placements reach $50. So ASCAP is out of the picture entirely.  With this particular publisher, I don’t get a share in the upfront license fees (this is an atypical arrangement for me–a sacrifice I willingly made in order to have non-exclusivity.) But without ASCAP involved, it’s not a very empowered place to be as a composer; I have no idea how they are tracking placements or determining the “value” of them the way the PROs do. I think this blog post explains a bit more:

According to the above post/site, “Scripps demands that all of the music for its shows be ‘direct licensed’. In other words they do NOT pay any performance royalties to composers. How do they get their music? Most likely from libraries that do a blanket license with the shows producers which, in most cases, means that you, as a composer, will not share in any of those blanket license fees. To be fair Scripps is not the only company that refuses to pay PRO monies. I believe ESPN is another company and their are probably more.”

(wish they’d use spell check their posts, by the way…lol…some scrappy but often useful info on this site…)

Anyway, at least TuneSat has helped to track things.  I’ll be upgrading my account with them and doubling the amount of songs I track.

Again, this situation is like Pump Audio in that when you are one of too many artists in a huge library, and you don’t have exclusivity, you can’t expect much $$$.

Try to get an idea of how particular libraries work–how hard do they work to shop your tunes around?  How do they communicate with you and do business with you as a composer? Are they forthcoming with giving you a copy of license agreements they make with their clients? What kind of placements do they typically make? Do they want to proactively work together with you to hunt down backend?  If I don’t sense a strong relationship, I don’t work with them at all… or I limit the number of tracks and make sure those are non-exclusive, with a time limit on our agreement.  No sense giving exclusive access to my tracks forever to a library that does nothing or just places 5 seconds as background music on some awful reality show.  But another library that gets me on a national tv spot–that’s a whole different story!

Recently, I’ve been having such a poor experience with one library, no returned phone calls or emails in ages…I may need to work with my attorney to write them a letter requesting that they remove all my tracks from their library.  Sigh.  I hate to seem like an a**hole, but it just doesn’t make sense to continue down a fruitless path.

Pump Audio

So…something like 5 years ago, I went through the painful and laborious process of uploading some of my songs to Pump Audio‘s online portal. After the submissions being lost or rejected several times, and a few rounds of paperwork in their “old” and “new” forms, we finally got to the point where some of my tunes were accepted into their catalog. This was after a number of calls and emails to them–using some contact info I had to get through a friend who has a friend who works(ed) there.

So, thus far, not the most personal relationship, but I figured, we came this far, let’s see how it goes.

Just got an email notice last week about their online royalties system. Good step in the right direction, Pump. I guess there are some people alive over there! Today I got an email notice from “Workflow Mailer OAP1” (presumably Getty DB) to “~WF_ADHOC-398972” ( obviously me) with an unreadable attachment called “notification detail” (tried reading from gmail in 3 diff browsers, also tried downloading and opening, no luck). Sounds like Getty could use a real Product Manager over there to clean up the user experience. 🙂

So, I logged into my royalties area and can see that my track “Master Plan” (an earlier, grittier instrumental version of “Those Days”) was licensed by “Red Bull Media House GmbH”. (A quick scan of the term “GmbH” tells me that’s how the Austrians term LLCS). So I guess Red Bull Media House has a massive, ever-growing archive of inspiration extreme sports content.  Anyway, per the invoice from Pump they purchased several audio synch licenses for this song at $2.38/pop (I collect half, Pump the other half). It doesn’t say anywhere on here why type of media this will be synched to–it is a blanket license to sync to video or web or whatever?  And for what time period?  Indefinitely? a year?  Really vague. Knowing how these things go, maybe about 3 seconds of my song will be in the background of some dude doing a flip on a snowboard.

And $2.38 is a pretty sad number.  Obviously Pump makes its money off of a large volume of artists in bulk. $2.38 is hardly enough money to pay for anyone’s time.  Of course, this is more or less what I expected from a massive library and a non-exclusive deal. I’m just wondering if it’s really worth all the effort?  I guess if they have 100 of these deals a day…that comes out to… $238.  Still not much.  Seems to me that working with a smaller number of quality artists and valuing their music higher would be a better biz model?

But at least we’re starting to see a little activity.  I give Pump credit for trying to automate things and improve their system. At the price point above though, I won’t make an effort to give them any more tracks, even if it is non-exclusive.  That’s the problem of massive, non-exclusive libraries and teeny licensing fees–you run the risk of devaluing your music too much.

If only everyone could be as awesome as my latest licensing partner, Studio 51 Music. I love the guy that runs the company–he really listens carefully to our pieces and also to our feedback. He and his developers have a fantastic online portal for submitting music/paperwork and they do regular UStream meetings to answer all our questions. Plus, I’m must honored to be among the ranks of all of their quality, talented composers.

With Studio 51 and TuneSat flanking me, I feel I’m set up for much better ongoing success in 2012.