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.

Latest Film/Music TV Survey

Ever wondered if what you’re getting paid for your film/tv/game tracks are commensurate with what’s being paid in the industry in general?

I’m definitely sure I’m NOT getting paid enough, or at least for ALL my placements. With TuneSat and some better ASCAP reps now in arming me with the technology and power I need to hunt down those ever-elusive back end royalties, hopefully that’s changing.

Here’s the latest 2011-­‐2012 edition of Film Music Magazine’s Salary and Rate Survey, with data current as of June 2011. They compiled this information based on “extensive research, interviews and information gathered from professionals throughout the film and television music industry.”

DownLoad Here

Writer gets back music rights after all these years

Great piece about songwriter from the Village People, who has finally terminated a publisher’s rights to his music.

“When the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978, it meant that songwriters could terminate copyright grants to publishers and record labels 35 years later. If they were to do so, however, they need to send their termination notices not fewer than two or more than 10 years from the intended termination date. The result is that 2013 is the first year in which musicians can effectuate a termination notice, and a number of them who created works in the late 1970s are now under the clock to do so or forfeit the right for the foreseeable future.”

Good Article on Approaching Music Blogs, Writers, and Other Music Press

This article has some great tips, in particular, how to pitch a unique story (you as the unique individual). In my case, I have the advantage of the still commonly-held view that women doing anything technical or with making beats is “unusual” and not a part of our DNA. Hogwash!

I also agree that keeping the story local (although Los Angeles is hardly a small town) is good, and as is being very specific about how you approach each person (and don’t spam them with follow up emails!)

Read more: 5 Tips for Approaching Music Blogs, Writers, and Other Music Press | Echoes – Insight for Independent Artists.

Tunesat Update

Just a quick note to say how pleased I am so far with Tunesat. In only a month’s time, the software has already brought up 50 detected instances of my music on TV. Excited to announce a few new networks I’m on now, like FUEL and Comedy Central!

The majority of the instances are for my song “5 Reasons Why”, which got licensed to Tria Laser for an informercial. That sucker is airing constantly all over the place! I think we can look forward to some nice backend royalties for that! I’ll have to get on the horn with Lynne Enman from ASCAP about 6 months from now to document everything…

Exclusive vs Non-Exclusive Contracts with Licensing Companies

Exclusivity in contracts with licensing partners is something I am nervous about.  It’s a tough call, because the “re-titling” process is looked down upon, but offers me more flexibility to proliferate my music (although I’m careful to limit things so that I am not “spamming” myself everywhere).  At the same time, I think I have seen (well-established) companies work harder and the monetary rewards bigger with exclusive situations.  For example, I have a couple partners (Harpo, Musikvergnuegen) that
compensate me upfront for writing tracks for them, then the arrangement is that they exclusively own those tracks but I collect
the writer/performer royalties for my lifetime.  Both companies have been doing GREAT with getting the tracks placed a lot and lots of revenue coming to me (both from front end licensing fees and back end royalties).  However, a few other exclusive deals I had amounted to nothing and I had to work hard to end those contracts…some really good tracks “went to waste in hiding” in my opinion, for several years while a company tried to get its operational ducks in order, etc.

Welcome comments about your experiences and opinions!

Competitrack to the Rescue

If you think that ASCAP has records on hand of all your music being used on TV commercials, and are PROACTIVELY working on getting you those back end royalties….THINK AGAIN.  Also, don’t expect any companies you work with that license your music to be tracking that stuff carefully either.

Now I can only say great things about the folks at ASCAP that handle that stuff…ONCE YOU HAVE GATHERED ALL THE EVIDENCE AND CONTACTED THEM.  That means, the invoice sent to client and commercial promo checklist (both of which you can acquire from the company that licenses your stuff, if you don’t do it directly yourself), an mp3 of the song used, all the ifo about the registered title on ASCAP (the track ID, your member #, track name, etc) and finally…

I’ve been using a site called They are amazing!  If you know the advertiser/product (in my case, Aquafresh Whitening Trays) and the approximate time period in which it aired on TV, you can do a search for the commercial and watch :15 second video clips.  Within minutes I found my track and the reports showed that it aired 4,000 times.

I turned in these reports along with everything else to ASCAP, and followed up weekly with an email/phone call to check on progress.  As a result, ASCAP finally confirmed everything and deposited 7K into my bank account.  That’s right.  $7,000.

I have about 5 other cases open with ASCAP, one of which is confirmed and will be paid out in the next distribution Jan 4th.

So make sure you get all the details from your licensing partners!  It’s “found money” for both them and you, so they shouldn’t be resistant in the least when it comes to getting you all the documentation you need.