Should I Sign With A ReTitle Library?

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Chris Jones recently wrote an article about re-titling over at SonicScoop. I thought it would be of interest to many and Chris kindly gave us permission to re-post it here.

By Chris Jones

With master recording licensing and synchronization now being the current revenue-generating and promotional system in the music industry, we see all the traditional recording exploitation boundaries disappearing.

Music libraries take on scoring gigs, produce artists/songwriters, and ad work while maintaining their catalogs of TV-ready production music. Record labels seem to be fully hitched to omni-lateral licensing pie, artist-endorsed ad campaigns, single tie-ins, whatever. Add the quick-and-easy factor of digital delivery AND soon-to-be ubiquitous audio recognition tech AND deeper metadata AND the slippery slope of what passes as acceptable quality both audio- and video-wise AND this is America, the land of excess. Production = bigger and faster, but not always better.

Point: The “production music” pool is one big pattern-recognizing server of every kind of gang. It’s all our turf. Can you dig it?

One of these “gangs” or business models in production music specific publishers is the re-title library or (to illustrate points using metaphor and acronym) “inert” libraries. It’s a (typically) Independent Non-Exclusive ReTitle music library that will rep your catalog after they give your (only) master a unique title. The library then registers that unique title to their PRO (be it ASCAP, BMI, et al.) as that titles’ “publisher” and can then go forward and collect future performance royalties on said title and also collect any other fees (direct license, sync) associated with licensing. From the research I’ve done, this model has the composer world polarized yet unified in one aspect: we seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

On the surface, one would think: What’s to lose? I have tons of crap sitting on my drive doing nothing for nobody no-how. If someone can make me money and wants to take 50% please be my guest. And it’s non-exclusive? Even better. I’ll look up every re-title library and get cracking. Man, I am sitting on a f*****g gold mine.

So, should I sign with an inert library? That question creates more questions and that is the universal choking sign of a deal to me. I agree that the inert model could be a positive way to crowd-source useful, high-quality, and (most importantly) available masters. But I speak from the viewpoint of a composer that has a specific agenda of producing a high volume of library music for the big exclusive Production Music Association (PMA) libs in addition to what I’ll call “custom” music like songwriting, sound design for composers, remixing, whatever.

There are many ways to poke holes in the inert model, but let’s start with imminent ubiquity of audio pattern recognition technology. BMI acquired BlueArrow almost 5 years ago, and ASCAP has been working on Mediaguide since 2002. These are technologies and services that give your audio/masters a fingerprint via audio analysis, not traditional watermarking (which is hit-or-miss and distorts the file). The tech then monitors broadcasts looking for matches. Soon (the sooner the better) all broadcasts are going to be monitored with this robotic vigilance. Unfailing accuracy. Amid endless dirty AM radio ads, it will be searching for your singularly unique combination of digital DNA. Wait, what-the? This track has 5 titles and 5 publishers…the robot computes.

I’m curious how that’s going to work.

Plus, I thought the whole idea in business was to be exclusive. Where’d that go?

So I send this stupid breakbeat track called “A” to inert lib A. Inert lib A registers “A” to ASCAP as publisher. Already I’m uncomfortable. I send the same exact file to inert lib B. All the way to f*****g Z. I have 26 people claiming to publish my tracks? Are they all undercutting each other or is there a standardized fee? The fee is nothing because you gave sync away in lieu of the slow buck? You just gave away my 50% of shared sync but I guess the contract says you are publisher so you have that right. Oh and the gig was non-broadcast so there is no slow buck. No buck at all.

Oh well I’ll see money on the back end.

Holy s**t, there are 50,000 tracks on this drive! The editor, overhearing my subconscious italics, says 50,000 is way too much b*****t to wade through and goes back to cutting a backend-less corporate video. Then he looks closer. He’s p****d because it’s the same 50,000 tracks the guy from inert lib G left last week. He went through a random 100 or so and they all sucked so he figured they all must suck. Therefore, all inert libs must suck, he thinks. No wonder he waived sync. To charge would have been criminal and there’s no way he paid for this music.

I only have 25 tracks on that drive. I hope the users find them. Back-end may not enter the picture because there’s tons of s**t you never see called non-broadcast. It’s all front-end. So if they waive sync I’m screwed. If they direct license I’ll do better at .0002%, unless it’s .0002% of zero.

I hope A-Z keep tabs on the reporting process. I hope the drives aren’t circulating. I hope an exclusive deal on a track doesn’t come along because that would mean having to turn down a lot of money. I wonder if I could call every editor in the world that FTP-posted or p2ped my slutty one-offs and say, “I own the copyright on these masters and I want to sell them.” Seems like inert libs and their supporters wave the flag on “copyright control.” But how do you retain total control if your choice to sell exclusive is removed? Note: I worked with one inert model that had an “OK to buy” option but again…how could you repo that master if it’s in A-Z and beyond? I fear being the real publisher of these types of masters for these exact scenarios of potential ass-biting to be honest.

So, no, I don’t like it. I want people selling my stuff like they own it because they do. If you own music and want to re-purpose it please do. But why not re-cut it into expected TV format and sell it to a proper exclusive library with sales, search, and broadcast (back-end) clients? Refuse to re-cut because you “channelled” something or claim “it would just feel like murder”? You are a precious lazy b*****d. It’s a reject of some kind. That’s why it’s sitting on your drive. Slap some make-up on and make a :30. If you get frustrated because you cannot re-cut a through-composed orchestral film score, just think what a TV editor will say.

Regardless of what type of library model you love or hate, consider this: you still have to go away and make amazing tracks appear out of thin air every day. None of these arguments apply to composers that are unaware of their music’s failure to meet the creative and technical requirements to be broadcast in the 21st century.

Should I Sign With A ReTitle Library?, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

310 thoughts on “Should I Sign With A ReTitle Library?

  1. Hey Art,

    I can’t wait to hear your take on last nights panel.

  2. Robin and I attended the PMA meeting on “Non-exclusive libraries and re-titling” last night. I’ll have a report later.

  3. Here’s my concern with re-titling. Say you sign a song called “Street Love” with a library. They re-title it as “Love on E Street”, and send you all the information showing they’ve registered the new title with the PRO. You can actually go online and see the new title on your PRO’s website.

    However, what’s to stop this library from re-titling it again under a 3rd title (ex: “Blind Love”), keeping you completely out of the loop? No license fee, no back-end royalties. Unless someone told you or you heard the song buried in the back of some commercial, you would never know that your song is generating revenue that you are not receiving.

    I’m not saying this is happening and I’m sure most libraries are not so unscrupulous, but the possibility of it happening is there, and that alone is reason enough for me to think twice about signing songs to re-titling libraries.

    Or maybe I’m missing something…

    • You could sign with a company who does not re-title and they could do the same thing. One of the reasons I have a Tunesat account.

      • Art, can I ask – do you sell your music on any Royalty Free websites?

        If so, how does Tunesat work if you don’t know where the person who is using your music has bought it from?

        ie. if you see from Tunesat that someone used your music on a tv show, surely they can just say “yea I bought it from x Royalty Free site, so I’m not paying you any royalties” – how can you differentiate with usages?

    • Gael MacGregor says:

      Nope, Anon,

      You’re not missing a thing.

      That’s exactly what DOES happen in some cases, and the way many of those agreements are worded, the composers are giving libraries the right to re-purpose the music any way the company wants.

      It’s even gone beyond that — and is the subject of controversy regarding use of composers’ works & recordings in productions outside of the programs for which the music was created (sorta like the whole AFM re-use thing — where you hafta pay additional money [that’s supposed to go to the musicians] if the tracks are used outside of the scope of the job/recording for which they were initially paid).

      • “(sorta like the whole AFM re-use thing รขโ‚ฌโ€ where you hafta pay additional money [that’s supposed to go to the musicians] if the tracks are used outside of the scope of the job/recording for which they were initially paid).”

        That works quite well. I have gotten a number good sized re-use checks for a hit I played on many years ago that has ended up in films and commercials. Each new use, ka-ching!

      • Wow, I was only speculating that this “COULD” happen, but if I understand your post correctly, this “IS” happening. Give me a whole new perspective on things.

        Art, you’re right that this could also happen with exclusive deals. I guess the only way to protect ourselves is with services like Tunesat.

  4. I have a question. As a noob to this whole production music field, I’ve carefully selected 3 non-exclusive libraries (that don’t seem to be in obvious direct competition though that’s not easy to ascertain) based a lot on what I’ve read on this site. I’ve put the same music into each of them with the intent that over the next 12 months the one that creates the best financial outcome for me will get to keep the tracks and I will pull duplicates from the other libraries. In the meantime, I will be pitching to some quality exclusive libraries with other tracks.

    Is this is a bad idea? I realise I will get quite a range of responses but I would like to consider pros and cons of this approach.

    Thanks for any replies.

    • Good idea!

      Make sure you do the trial with enough tracks – just a handful of tracks is probably not a fair test for the royalty free libraries – you’ll do better with some websites when you have a lot of tracks in their catalog. If someone’s looking for music, comes across yours and is blown away, they may very well browse through all the tracks you’ve uploaded and decide to buy a good number of them. Same goes for royalties based libraries – I know for sure that one particular network TV show (that uses a library I contribute to) discovered that I was a pretty reliable source of big dramatic tracks. I’ve got about 100 tracks in this library of over 5000 tracks, but the show keeps coming back to my stuff when they need that particular sound.

      The other reason it pays to upload a lot is some royalty free libraries (like Audiosparx for example) reward you by featuring you on their homepage.

  5. What a great string. Thanks everyone!

    • I was up late the other night, following a harrowing experience in the legal system. I was just in the mood to stir the fire with some legal theory about retitling. I didn’t expect so many flames to rise.

      I do think the issues have been put into focus. And I’m still uncomfortable with retitling, even though the concept of multiple opportunities for the same tracks seemed tempting — but probably too good to be true in the long run.

      Thank you for all of your responses.

      Cheers,

      Michael

      • Hi Michael,

        Firstly, thanks for writing such interesting, well informed posts!

        Your main point seems to be that re-titling might be risky, but it’s good for small time composers who make a living from royalty free libraries and low budget projects, not from performance royalties.

        I think there’s a significant point being missed here – re-titling is largely done because of performance royalty generation, when libraries are trying to get their catalogs used on TV, and re-title the tracks in order to receive the publishing royalties.

        I might be mistaken here, but isn’t re-titling largely unnecessary for royalty free libraries and other non-broadcast (non royalty generating) situations? Most of the royalty free sites I’ve worked with have not re-titled.

        I’m probably one of the composers you’re talking about, who isn’t making millions (yet!) from my music, and would love to keep open all possible sources of revenue. That said, I make MOST of my income from performance royalties. I have about 200 tracks in a few carefully picked royalty free sites, but I have over 1500 tracks in various royalties generating libraries, some exclusive, a lot that aren’t. Around 300 of those tracks have been re-titled at least four times. The re-titling makes me a little nervous, but I have always tried to be careful about not giving the same tracks to libraries competing for the same projects. That’s meant picking one reality TV library (purely royalties based), one needle drop licensing company (who go after promos and commercials), and one or two niche based libraries (sports, documentaries). Like anyone, I want to avoid putting any of my clients in the embarrassing situation of fighting over who had the tracks placed first, at the same time I want to take advantage of good opportunities to make some money from my music!

        • Hi Matt,

          Thanks for the kind words and advice.

          I admit not being clear on the “royalty-free” end of the spectrum. Logic dictates that if you’re not going after back-end money, then it shouldn’t matter. You’re most likely competing against yourself on price.

          With respect to royalty-free libraries, do you bother to retitle at all, or do you just upload your tracks to a number of sites, using the same title?

          As I said, way back 100 posts ago, I look at my tracks as an investment. Some tracks are worth more than others. Some deserve to be, and have been used on, network TV. Some, gathered during years of writing for non-broadcast producers, should be be in the royalty-free world, and accessible to the type of client for which they were created.

          So — what I’ve been trying to do is figure out how to straddle both worlds. I’m focused on achieving my higher end goals, but I do not want to just trash a large number of functional tracks.

          So my questions are:

          1) In the royalty free world do you sell the same tracks through many libraries/sites without retitling?

          2) Do you do this on an anonymous basis, or under an alias, so that your creative personas are distinct?

          I’m simply looking for a way to market my “downscale” product without affecting my upscale product. I don’t want to engage in retitling if it could harm my long term goals. If I do not have to retitle to market royalty-free tracks, then that solves the problem. Just looking to generate a little “lunch money” while working on bigger things.

          Just one question, which you’ve probably answered before, how do you separate the good royalty free sites from those that are a waste of time?

          Thanks again for generously sharing your experience.

          Michael

  6. Ok I get the whole retitle thing as being misleading to music supervisors. But what about the non exclusive deals that don’t retitle & just put a number or some kind of prefix before or after the track name? If the music supervisor got sent the same track, at least they would know straight away from the track title. I don’t think this is misleading at all.

    • oontz oontz says:

      Hey Anonymous,

      How are you?

      The “prefix” model does not work. If the same track (with 3 different prefixes) gets submitted to the same production, how does the supervisor decide which “prefix” to credit with the placement?

      Also, if the supervisor gets three versions of the same exact song submitted, you better believe that the license fee will go down significantly, since there are three salesman trying to sell the network on the same exact piece of music.

      It’s as if three hot dog vendors were trying to sell you the same exact hot dog on the street. Not the same brand, or type of hot dog, the same exat physical hot dog. How would you decide which one to buy from?

      In the end, this hurts the composer very badly and pushes rates down for the industry as a whole. I suggest you take the time to learn how to sell your music in a “business to business” environment (if you haven’t already) instead of worrying about non-exclusive retitlers that will never, ever make you enough money so you can retire.

      • Hi oontz oontz, I think you’re right on about the prefix situation.

        I’ve actually had a lot of success with re-titling libraries. I guess I’ve been lucky, but if you look around you’ll find libraries that have strong connections to network TV shows, and can get your music used. In fact, I’ve been pretty burned with exclusive deals, either where my music has been sitting on a shelf collecting dust, or where I got paid a little upfront and then the library has made 10’s of 1000’s of licensing dollars from my music. In fact, I heard a track I wrote for a library (who paid me upfront) used on the NBA final last night!
        My tip for finding good re-titling libraries is bigger isn’t better. In fact, you want to find libraries that are still fairly small, or lack the styles you’re good at. Also check out their credits – 2nd tier cable might sound impressive to the uninitiated, but pennies per minute isn’t quite the same as the $200 a minute (or $1500 for a featured performance) on prime time network TV!

        What any composer should avoid doing is going nuts with their tracks and basically placing them in every non-exclusive library in business. With GoDigital we’ve seen just one of the potential risks of that.

        • Gael MacGregor says:

          RE hearing your music on an NBA broadcast…

          Almost any sporting event, news or live broadcast can use pretty much any title and recording (famous copyright, library track or anything else) they want under what’s called an “ephemeral use” — and they don’t need to notify you, license the work or do anything but submit cue sheets to the PROs whose writers are represented in the broadcast.

          These are shows NOT intended to be re-broadcast or otherwise memorialized onto tape, video, etc. except for archival purposes.

          It’s one of the reasons that many compilations of old talk shows and comedy/variety shows don’t have as much music in them as you might think — the rights to license for DVD must be secured for all music uses and it’s just too expensive and time-consuming in a lot of instances.

          It’s also why some older films, which may have secured only theatrical and network broadcast rights get music stripped out of them and replaced when such films are them re-purposed for cable broadcast and/or onto DVD.

          • The “ephemeral use” exception has been interpreted to mean spontaneous, as in unplanned use. For example, a few seconds of marching band music gets broadcast before the broadcaster cuts away, or someone, like a live talk show host or guest suddenly bursts into song.

            An edited – pre-planned dip might be different. Chapter 1, section 106 of the Copyright Act is a little, shall we say, opaque.

            it’s been litigated and I think that the artists lost. Gael probably knows who, what where and when.

            • John (the other John) says:

              Always wondered about this. For instance; someone spontaneously breaking out with a chorus of “Happy Birthday to You” on TV.

            • I have friends over at Fox Sports Music, who tell me they apparently no longer do the ephemeral usage thing… got too much litigation from bands pissed their music was used without permission.

              The track used in the NBA finals was for a short historic featurette about the Lakers, so an ephemeral use would be really pushing it!

              • Gael MacGregor says:

                Hi, Matt,

                From 2004 and until late last year, one of my colleagues was the music coordinator at Fox Sports, working on Super Bowls, World Series, etc., etc. — and continues to consult for them.

                The “Big 3” network sports divisions are also big ephemeral use folks (I actually used to work for the person who is now in charge of music at one of those networks).

                Ephemeral uses remain the industry norm throughout sports broadcasts, news, certain talk shows and other live events.

                As far as a featurette… if it is intended for broadcast during the live event and is not being memorialized on to tape/DVD except for archival purposes, it could easily fall under the ephemeral use as the definition is applied today.

                It’s like those warm & fuzzy Olympic stories that get plopped in-between events to kill time. While they’re taped & edited in advance, they’re used within the framework of live (or tape-delayed) broadcasts of the actual events, and not intended for use outside of those parameters.

                If, however, the featurette is intended to be re-broadcast on its own (by itself or as a part of another broadcast, collection, etc.), outside of the live/tape-delayed event, it would NOT fall under the ephemeral use definition and needs to be otherwise licensed.

                I think you maybe referring to the brouhaha over Fox’s use of Arcade Fire’s “No Cars Go” in bumpers/transitions during the 2008 Super Bowl (which was very similar to the incident using “Salad Days” by Minor Threat during a 2005 Eagles/Broncos game). If I recall correctly, broadcasters prevailed in both instances and neither complaint even made its way into litigation because of the ephemeral use provisions (I could be wrong, but that’s what I remember reading about the 2008 incident that referenced the one from 2005 as well).

                Other restrictions and conditions apply to ephemeral uses, but the definition has expanded over the years (as have the conditions and technology under which they are applied).

                A statutory (compulsory) license is an exception to copyright that allows use of a copyrighted work without the explicit permission of its owner. Ephemeral uses fall into the realm of statutory licensing. Royalties and conditions for certain types of uses are set by law, and may designate a PRO or other copyright collecting agency or entity to receive and/or negotiate royalty payments.

                Part of “Sec. 112. Limitations on exclusive rights: Ephemeral recordings” of the Copyright Code:

                “…it is not an infringement of copyright for a transmitting organization entitled to transmit to the public a performance or display of a work, under a license, including a statutory license… or for a transmitting organization that is a broadcast radio or television station licensed as such by the Federal Communications Commission and that makes a broadcast transmission of a performance of a sound recording… to make no more than one copy… of a particular transmission program embodying the performance or display…”

                House Report No. 94-1476 states:

                “…Assuming that the transmission meets the other conditions of the provision, it makes no difference what type of public transmission the organization is making: commercial radio and television broadcasts, public radio and television broadcasts not exempted by section 110(2), pay-TV, closed circuit, background music, and so forth… the ephemeral recording must be ‘retained and used solely by the transmitting organization that made it’…”

                We’ve come a long way since the piano rolls that spawned the whole issue of statutory licenses, but the basics still remain.

                Oh, and @ MichaelL — A number of the changes to the 1972 Copyright Act were as a result of the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002 and involved SoundExchange & The Voice of Webcasters. While some modifications were Internet-specific, other areas (including those affecting ephemeral uses) were also addressed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

                Cheers!
                Gael

                • Hi Gael, very interesting! Thanks for the clarification – I haven’t dug too deep into the whole issue, I just know they’re using a lot more library music now : )

                  I really appreciate reading your well informed posts here!

                • Hi Gael,

                  I submit to your knowledge and experience. Thank you for sharing it.

                  I could have use your insight 10 years ago, when half of my catalog was being hijacked! ๐Ÿ™

                  Cheers,

                  Michael

                  • Gael MacGregor says:

                    MichaelL,

                    10 years ago I didn’t have quite the “insight” or knowledge I’ve gained in this decade, so I probably wouldn’t have been much help [lol]! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Gael MacGregor says:

      It’s not as much misleading (most supervisors have a handle on which libraries are “re-titling” libraries now, and if they’re not sure, they’ll ask if they care)… it’s that a lot of supervisors actually are concerned about the value of music and how composers and artists are treated (astounding, I know).

      For many, it’s a self-serving caring, in that the lower the perceived value of music falls, the lower the supervisor fee can fall as well; others are advocates for composer rights.

      Regardless of the reason(s) behind the desire to not use re-titling libraries, more folks I know are hip to the practice and don’t want the inherent headaches that can arise as a result.

      There will always be those who could care less where the music comes from, who gets screwed or anything but “How much is it gonna cost me? And it better be cheap.”

      Cheers!
      Gael

      • So Gael (and any seasoned pros who want to chime in),

        What advice do you have for a 40 something writer who finally has time in life for “chasing the dream” of becoming a professional composer? I know where you stand on re-titling and you are pulling me toward your camp.

        I have about a dozen tracks in 5 retitle libraries since I started this a few months ago. Of course, no licenses (well one for $40). I should have known, if it seems too good to be true … Do you suggest:
        1) I pull my songs out where possible and search for exclusive libraries who will accept my stuff?
        2) Leave them and start concentrating on building a library of my own that I can submit to exclusive libraries
        3) Submit to exclusives first, then submit the rejects to the retitles?
        4) All of the above? LOL

        Thanks for putting in so much time here.
        Cheers to you!
        Alan

        • What about trying to sell your music directly to the production companies?

          Get yourself a box.net account, an imdb.com “pro” account, and a DVR. All of which are tax deductions.

          Please believe me when I say that Supervisors will have IMMENSE respect for a 40 something year old guy trying to wheel and deal his own tracks. It might take a couple of years, but you’ll be keeping 100% of your royalties instead of giving up a good percentage of your royalties to a company who names your songs $72t22h2hhh.MP3

          • never had any luck with box.net – no good for files larger than a couple of MBs

            • John Fulford says:

              Try the professional version as opposed to the free version. You can personalize your box.net site with your logo, in addition to a bunch of other useful things. It’s probably given me a 1000% return on my investment of $15 per month..

              • Thanks for the recommendation. Does the pro version work well with larger files? I use ftp for my clients, most people can figure out how to use Cyberduck. Hosting 200GB for ftp/email is $40 a year.

                • John Fulford says:

                  Hey there,

                  The pro version works well, the customers can stream the files before they decide to download them, which is key for some Supervisors.

                  I use FTP as well for certain Supervisors. I also have a yousendit pro account that some people prefer.

  7. one thing I am still not really sure about. . . . .
    is ALL re-titling unethical?

    I ask because it seems that re-titling is always called “non-exclusive re-titling”. . . and it seems the contract I was recently offered is an “exclusive” contract. I still didn’t ask the guy just what they mean by “exclusive”, but I am assuming they mean that if I sign I will then not be allowed to sign with another re-titling library. . . .???

    is exclusive re-titling less unethical then non-exclusive?

    • Gael MacGregor says:

      Eddi,

      To some folks re-titling is perceived as a perfectly ethical practice. The mindset is “It’s my property [the copyright] and I can do with it what I want.”

      Others feel the entire concept is ethically flawed [I consider myself in this group].

      As with most arguments that involve commerce, some find their opinions changing along with wherever the money leads.

      You have to decide what you feel is right for YOU, since this is a practice that has yet to have its day in court (so to speak).

      Personally, I feel that if I create a WORK [in this case, a composition], I am obliged to treat that work as a unique creation and market it accordingly. Any recording I make of that creation is a unique sound representation of the work, and is equally unique in its treatment of the work. As such, for me to consider re-titling either the composition OR any recording so a company that had nothing to do with the creation of the work or the recording, paid no money to me to have it created, recorded, mixed or anything else — and then expects to have all or a piece of the publishing to that “title” and recording of it IN PERPETUITY (as in forever) is pretty cheeky. Place it in something and split the upfront license fee with me (whether it’s $9.95 or $9,500) and leave your grubby mitts of my back-end (pun intended).

      These libraries exist with such success because they rake in the back-end bucks — for works they did NOTHING and paid NOTHING to have created. The money some of these libraries make is obscene, when you think of how much of that money is made on the backs of the composers whose works and recordings they have commandeered in these “non-exclusive” deals.

      And make no mistake: Many who say they are “non-exclusive” really are NOT. They put conditions on that “non-exclusivity” in different ways, including saying you cannot license the same work/track to another library. Uhm… and that is NON-exclusive HOW? Oh, yeah… you’re allowed to plug your own stuff yourself, but not avail yourself of any other avenues out there that might compete with the particular library wanting to wrap up your works/recordings into THEIR stable? I don’t think so, Tim.

      Friends of mine who write for magazines are completely baffled at re-titling in the music world. None of them re-title articles to re-purpose them for another periodical or website. If it is reprinted elsewhere, it’s reprinted, and so noted; otherwise, their take is “I can always write another article.”

      Cheers!
      Gael

      • Gael,

        Thanks for all of the insight . As I’ve said, I haven’t signed with a retitler and probably wouldn’t. I’ve been following the issue to decide what to do with my 1500 tracks.

        My opinion that retitling will not go away soon, is simply based on the fact that it’s long long road through the courts to the point where laws are changed through legislation.

        As far as ethics go, there are a million stories in the naked city, and equal amounts of dubious conduct in the exclusive world. I’ve got co-writers who’ve never even heard the tracks that they “co-wrote.”

        So, I’ve got a lot of tracks and want to be very careful what I do with them.

        Thanks again,

        Michael

      • Thanks Gael…
        I asked companyX about what “exclusive” means in their contract, and he replied just what you said — Under this contract I am not allowed to work with any other pitching company.

        But, it is not “forever”. They claim that if the contract is terminated they will delete all tracks from their database.

        It is not like I am still considering their offer, because from the beginning I have had a terrible feeling in my STOMACH about re-titling…. but I continue to analyse this contract as it helps me to understand this business model.

        Gael, so what I am hearing from you is that an EXCLUSIVE re-titling deal is even WORSE than a NON-EXCLUSIVE re-titling deal.

        • Gael MacGregor says:

          Actually, no, Eddie.

          While I’m not a huge fan, an exclusive deal, under the right circumstances can be a good thing for certain composers in certain arenas.

          I know composers who negotiate a 50/50 split on publishing (and, of course, also keep all their writer’s share) for everything they create for an exclusive library. It’s often based on how much money is paid to them up front to cover the creation of the work and the recording of it.

          It is, however, more common to be paid a good upfront composing fee, the company picks up the tab for all musicians and recording costs, and the company then takes the full publishing share and ownership of the master recording. It’s basically a work-made-for-hire — in the fashion of film/TV composers.

          As for “not forever” — don’t fool yourself. They retain certain rights to any TITLES whose revenue stream rights you have assigned to them. That means no matter how many times “Cheesy Horror Film” plays on Premium Cable Co’s #3 station in France, and in theatres in Germany, they will still be receiving revenue for the use of your “Killer Stalks Stupid Chick in Nightgown With a Candle Walking Through Dark Castle” that’s in the movie. Of course, you’ll still be getting your writer royalties from your PRO, but they still “own” the publisher revenue stream IN PERPETUITY for that title — even if they are no longer licensing the work in any new features, etc.

          Confused yet? [lol]

          • …but it seems fair enough that if they work to find a placement, and this placement generates back-end, then they should be entitled to continue collecting that back-end as long as it keeps coming. I don’t think it would be fair that if I would terminate the contract that this should also block back-end on stuff they worked to get.

            I don’t really see a problem with this (….or???).

            My main fear would be if they would really actually delete my tracks if I would terminate…. the contract does not detail this – it only says that the deal can be terminated with 60 days notice and that all revenue streams from their placements will continue.

            • Gael MacGregor says:

              Sorry, Eddi, I disagree,

              Barring artist/publisher contracts (which are almost entirely exclusive deals)…

              Unless someone is PAYING FOR YOU TO COMPOSE THE WORK and also PAYING FOR THE MUSICIANS and PAYING FOR THE RECORDING SESSIONS and PAYING FOR ALL ACCOMPANYING COSTS in the creation of the work AND the recording of it, NO ONE (and I repeat, NO ONE) is “entitled” to your back-end royalties or publishing.

              Finder’s fee or cut of the up-front licensing fee, yes — that’s fair.

              But if they think that they’re owed a piece of YOUR creation FOREVER just because they got you a placement (or two or three or whatever) in a movie or TV show, big whoop-dee-doo. Their cut of the license fee is more than fair compensation. Ownership of YOUR creation is not, although they’d fight me to the death on that point.

              It just doesn’t fly with me. Never has, never will.

              • [by the way, a word to the administraters – – – the lay-out of this FORUM is very very frustrating. . . there are SO many sub-threads on this one thread that it becomes impossible after a while to find all the replies you are looking for.- I think the standard FORUM lay-out, found on most forums is much better – – each new reply gets put below the previous one regardless].

                Hi Gael,

                Ok, yes, I hear you.
                Yes it is a bit like an agent takes 20% of the gig fee for getting you the gig. . . . but then they do not demand that they take a 50% cut on all the CDs you will sell at that gig!

                so now I am understanding quite clearly where the 2 camps sit:
                1- The Artists’ camp which maintains that all back-end goes to the Artist
                2- The Agents’ camp the claims that they are entitled to back-end as part of their payment.
                [gross over-generalization]

                Yes, I see it now, and it is all about “Self-respect” and Self-valuing”.

                It can be tough— there is no much music out there, and so little appreciation, that even when one sweats for years to create what we know is good music – – – after a while one learns to under-value one’s own work simply from lack of appreciation.

                But you are right Gael, and my gut feeling in now, and has always kept me on a course such as you are advocating.

                Yes, maybe it means I “sit” on my music my whole life. . . but I do have this gut feeling, that it is mine, and ought to remain mine. I would not be opposed to simply having my work and copyrights bought out if I felt comfortable with the price.

                – – –

                anyway, my plan is to simply to begin to approach film makers directly with my music.

                • @ Eddi “[by the way, a word to the administrators – – – the lay-out of this FORUM is very very frustrating. . .]”

                  Let’s see, you are spending a lot of time on this site, obviously benefiting from the expertise of a number of seasoned people, it’s free AND you’re complaining?

                  Granted, on this particular thread, a forum setting would be easier but generally the blog format works fairly well. Trying to convert this site to a forum format would be extremely time consuming, unless of course you would like to hire someone to do it for me:-) BTW it’s “administrator” in the singular. While I have enjoyed putting this site together and maintaining it. Writing music is my first priority!

  8. The PMA is hosting a panel on re-titling this Monday June 21st. Anyone who is planning on attending can have dinner on me before the event. I live about 100 yards from the venue.

    Please look to the PMA homepage for time and place…

  9. Ladies and Gents,

    A few years ago, a class action lawsuit was brought upon a major TV network conglomerate, on behalf of copyright owners.

    The settlements were paid out based on the number of TITLES that were supposedly used illegally.

    If you only had one COMPOSITION placed illegally, but under three different TITLES under three different “LIBRARIES”, you might have seen money come through that was three times as much as it should have been.

    Now, these class action lawsuits pop up every 10 years or so. Do retitlers actually think that the TV networks will be OK with this?

    Also, it screws over composers that do not retitle because the retitled songs are double/tripple/octuple dipping in the pool of settlement funds.

    These networks have MILLIONS of needle-drops a year, so it would be IMPOSSIBLE to decipher which compositions correspond to which titles for any TEN YEAR period.

    All the networks have to do is not use the retitle companies. If you as a composer are known to frequent retitlers to “distribute” your music, your compositions will most likely be looked over, regardless of who sends them to the network.

    • AND the lawyers make far more in a class action suit than the individual plaintiffs.

      Michael

    • Gael MacGregor says:

      There’s actually another one in the works already — don’t recall all the details, but it was brought up at a panel on which I was participating a few months ago. It is expected that there will be more to follow, and from a number of sources. The issues aren’t going away any time soon.

  10. I just had to laugh just now. I am still talking with the guy from “companyX” who is trying to convince me to sign his contract…. this is what he just wrote in his last email:
    Wouldn’t you say he sounds just a bit confused????

    “I don’t know how else to say it– there are no “dangers” to re-titling. There are plenty of people in our business who rip artists off, and some of them do use the alternate-title process to do it.”

    • Have you checked out “company X” on this website? See what others say about their experiences with this company.

      If you can’t find any comments, just identify “company x” and ask.

      If you have serious concerns, you could limit the term of the deal. Give them six months.

      But … I must ask… have you registered the copyrights on all of your tracks? If not, do that before you do another thing.

      And seriously try to find a lawyer to help you. Are you in the US? If you cannot afford a lawyer, you might be able to find one to help you pro bono. In my city they have an organization called “volunteer lawyers for the arts.”

      Michael

      • I thought I was not supposed to reveal company names if what I am saying could be taken as slanderous? Anyhow, I didn’t find this company on this lists here.

        I am a SOCAN (Canada) member, but live in Czech most of the time. I don’t fully understand the copyright process so I don’t know to which level my stuff is copyrighted.

        I have my music on self-published CDs on CDBABY (edward powell), and all titles are registered with SOCAN. Also note that in Canada we do NOT need to have a publishing company to collect publishing royalties – – I just double checked this with SOCAN . . I am automatically considered the owner and publisher of my own work as long as there is not another publisher listed.

        So I told this company that I can’t afford a lawyer based on some “promise” of future income. . . and I have no trustworthy recommendation for this company. . . therefore, and since my CURRENT catalogue took me years of work to make, I will simply not sign ANY retitling deal because of the inherant risks.

        Maybe I’m missing out on some money by refusing. . . but I have no way of knowing without a recommendation, or cash upfront, or an excellent lawyer – – – – none of which I have.

        • @Eddi

          “Also note that in Canada we do NOT need to have a publishing company to collect publishing royalties – – I just double checked this with SOCAN . . I am automatically considered the owner and publisher of my own work as long as there is not another publisher listed.”

          My PRO is IMRO/Ireland and like SOCAN it does NOT require a publisher attached to make any payments. It operates on the same premise as SOCAN

          I was informed by a US library that ASCAP/BMI HAD to have a publisher attached to make payments. Is this true and if so why ? IMRO is partnered by ASCAP is the US. It will collect 100% of US royalties for me, from them, if there is no publisher attached.

          If this is true, what do our US cousins do, form a publishing company and self publish? Bizarre if true.

          • I don’t know the details, but as far as my understanding goes it has to do simply with US Law. Our American cousins need to form their own publishing company if they want to self publish and get paid — as far as I understand it. Bummer for them ๐Ÿ™

          • Hi Denis,

            It’s not all that difficult to form a publishing entity to self publish. A composer can register as a publisher with their PRO. Fees vary.

            Depending upon how you want to do business, it can be as simple as opening a bank account titled “composer A d/b/a (doing business as) XYZ Publishing. In this model you are acting as a sole proprietor.

            If one really intends to do some serious publishing, they may want to incorporate or form an LLC. Doing so, however, opens up tax and other issues.

            Hope its a lovely day in Ireland today!

            Cheers,

            Michael

          • Gael MacGregor says:

            BMi allows a writer to be noted as the publisher (author published) on a cue sheet and the writer WILL receive associated performance rights royalties.

            ASCAP does NOT recognize the “author published” notation but instead holds those monse “in trust” (whatever THAT means, since I know writers who have never seen past due royalties when they did finally register a publishing entity with them).

            It’s $25-$35 for ASCAP registration, around $150-$250 for BMI (the latter has a higher fee partly to discourage those who are not really professionals in the field to register company names that will have zero-five or so works attached to them, which causes huge admin fees).

            Since BMI DOES pay “author published” royalties from cue sheet designations, no need to secure a publishing entity there unless you’re going to have a larger body of work and want to possibly “up your street cred” with other industry folks, but if an ASCAP writer, drop the few bucks and create one so you at least have a chance of getting your performance rights royalties from the publisher side of any placement.

            Cheers!
            Gael

  11. Can I ask a question?
    From all the writers out there that get placements…. about what percentage are strictly “media composers” (people who dedicate themselves mostly to this craft, and build personal libraries for the express purpose of trying to get placements.
    …and what percentage would be writers/musicians who put groups together, put out CDs, play gigs, try to get known primarily as performers.

    thanks

    • I kinda do both. Just finished a CD and did a video with my wife but not interested in gigs (been there, done that), just interested in making all kinds of music. BTW this particular CD took a few years to come together. The library stuff goes much faster!

    • I am definitely in the media composer camp. I was in bands many years ago. I like being able to control my own output and destiny to an extent.

      • thanks, this is all super interesting for me ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Hi Eddi,

          I’ve been both. I was a media composer for a Looong time. I had a contemporary jazz (hate the term smooth) CD chart in the 90’s.

          Took a break, HA, to become a lawyer. Now I’m a “recovering attorney” — ran back to music as fast as I could.

          I’ve done the art route. Media composer now. I respect what we media composers do as an art form, in and of itself. I have a film background. There’s something to be said for versatility — being able to write in many styles. One day it’s an epic orchestra the next, I’m digging out the NI B4II and working on a Memphis groove.

          Man is that NI B4 a lot lighter than my old Leslie Tone Cabinet!

          Michael

          • thanks again, this is all giving me a clearer picture of what is goin’ on here – and possibly how I can fit myself in.

    • >what percentage are strictly “media composers” (people who dedicate themselves mostly to this craft, and build personal libraries for the express purpose of trying to get placements…and what percentage would be writers/musicians who put groups together<

      Hi Ed, Michael Nickolas here. I played in bands for the first part of my career, until I got tired of playing for the drunken college kids, private party guests and tourists at the ski areas and islands. ๐Ÿ™‚ I got a great education working for Cakewalk Music software for a bit, and built a studio in my home. I've had some success (as you know) getting TV placements, but the bulk of my income for the last five years came from songwriting for the children's educational market. Haven't had a kids project in a while so I'm building up my library and shopping existing tracks. Oh- an article I wrote is published in the July issue of "Recording Magazine.

  12. Are you all saying that you think every 1 minute track should be priced the same no matter what the quality? Theres a large difference in quality between a track made from loops and a track “composed” using high quality samples.

    Like it or not, there is good and bad music out there – yes its a matter of opinion on which track is what. Good music deserves to be sold for a higher price. Its like seeing two plumbers in a yellow pages – one is $2 an hour, another is $40 an hour. You get the $2 an hour plumber and he fixes your pipes with an elastic band, but it brakes a week later – should have paid extra for the one who would have done a proper job. (bad analogy I know lol..)

    My main point is what others have said – good music does deserve to sell at a higher price…and yes it is a matter of opinion as to what constitues “good” music, which is why its such a complex issue and will never be solved

    • @ Emmett — I’m not sure who you’re responding to, but I think that I agree. What I suggest above is looking at our tracks as investments of different value. I do think that something I labored on for days should be worth more than something that only took a few hours.

      That said, in the strange world that is the music business, I’ve actually LOST money on music that was labored over with love, and expensively produced with live “A list” musicians. Conversely, I’ve made approaching 30K in royalties for a track that took only
      6 hrs to write and produce, with samples, for which I was originally paid $150. AND, the royalties should be 2X that, but the publisher made a relative, who has probably never even heard the track, a co-writer.

      @John the other John — I agree that compositional skills matter. I can’t comprehend writing as quickly as that video. I have a very similar set-up regarding technology. I write until I sweat blood. It takes longer than 9 minutes for my template to load.
      As far as what’s memorable and will stand the test of time, I’m sure that there’s a place for that in the production music world. But….. so many of the productions that this music is used in are not memorable in and of themselves.

      However, for an unscientific survey…..would you say that exclusive libraries more than retitlers favor compositional skills and originality?

      • John (the other John) says:

        Funny you mention that MichaeIL. Yes, the two I mentioned that respect compositional skills and originality happen to be exclusive libraries. Don’t know if it’s a pattern though.

        • I think that’s likely to be the case. They’re looking at a long term investment. They want tracks that will payout over years, particularly if they’ve put out money upfront.

          I would love to have more of that work.
          Ah …here’s X amount of dollars, now go write us some great music.
          I can dream.

  13. There are 2 of us doing it full time and one of us has a good teaching practise ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Also we can live really cheaply ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Maybe, good media composers are just fabulous musicians with LOTS of good ideas who have the skill and talent to work really quickly. To say that if one prats about for a year and can only come out with ten tracks that one is happy with just makes one slow and lacking in ideas.
    Almost certainly such a person is not cut out to be a media composer. Just wait until they get a call from the director saying the the 10 minute scene you have just received needs the music by tomorrow. And if you think that the said director would be happy with MUSIC that is not “highly valuable”…and …”Artistic” then you really have not understood what “media music” is all about.
    Just saying!

    • You’re not taking into account people who have other jobs aswell as composing. I work a completely separate job 40 hours a week, have a small company of my own not related to music for 10-20 hours a week, and try to compose in my spare time aswell.

      This is because I’m saving up for my MA next year – to be honest, I really don’t know how people can survive as a composer starting out without at least a part time job to pay for rent. People who make a proper living off royalties and pure composing for media are few and far between now (most teach music lessons/play in bands for extra cash) – it takes years to get to that level, and the people at the bottom of the ladder like myself have to try and balance it with another job to pay the bills until we get lucky ๐Ÿ™‚

    • for sure, you have all valid points, and I am talking in BLACK AND WHITE terms, in an area where generalisation is impossible.

      however, I still stick to my point, in that the majority of music made by “media composers” is (subjectively speaking), very low quality. They are concerned with volume, and applicability, rather than musical integrity. Sure there are great musicians in this game who are able to crank out excellent MUSIC for media – – but I think they are very rare.

      my point is that for those able to crank out a tune in 15 minutes, and put their name on that, then the retitling model is not such a bad thing. But if you take a lot of time and care with your music, it deserves better than re-titling.

      I am NOT saying that great music can not be made quickly. . . . but this is very rare. Sometimes the time factor is hidden – for example John Coltrane could crank out tons of great music in no time, but what we don’t see are the years of sweat and practice. So when a musician has put in the time and effort (in prior practice, or current composing), and the quality fo their music thus shines thru – then they deserve much better, than the jack of all genres, mediocre, 3000 track media composer.

      Black and white again — ooops!!

      The truth I think is that we all lie somewhere grey in between, and it is up to us as individuals to decide what is acceptable for us.

      • Yup agree with you completely. I’ve seen people pumping out 40-50 tracks a week – that works out at approximately one track an hour – don’t think you can create a quality track within 1 hour to be honest….

        Take a look at audiojungle.net and have a look at some of the top authors – they have hundreds of useless tracks. The term “garage band looper” comes to mind at times ๐Ÿ™‚

        • exactly, so it is meaningless to lump garbage music together with quality music, and expect the same kind ot marketing and deals for both, right?

          • Yup, but thats quite a complex issue, and how exactly do you resolve it?

            A lot of the “good” libraries won’t accept garbage, and charge high prices for the music. The bottom end libraries accept most crap in general.

            Its also a matter of the opinion of the music reviewer then, as to what constitutes good or bad music. One persons bad music, could be good music to someone else ๐Ÿ™‚

            Its a great discussion, but a tough issue to resolve correctly I think ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Whoa — dangerous territory Eddi — likely to offend a great many composers here.
            One person’s garbage is another’s treasure. I’d be very careful to label something.

            Producing a large quantity of music does not necessarily mean that it is garbage. It may simply mean that the composer is highly skilled and efficient.

            Mozart “cranked out’ a lot of music. Was it garbage?

            • Nicely put Michael. I never comment on the quality that I perceive in other peoples music. If I dont like it I dont listen to it or in this case buy it. There are a lot of extremely talented composers who write for retitled libraries or write production music. It is a craft in itself and anyone who thinks that their music is somehow better than this will get a very hard shock down the road, if they are trying to license it, retitled or otherwise.

              • I agree with both points of view here, but you have to admit, there are composers out there in *certain* libraries, that feel if they create as much music as possible, regardless of quality, then the sheer quantity the produce will give them a greater chance of having their music found.

                Not trying to offend people and say people who can create music in 5 mins, must be making crap music, but you have to admit with the technology thats available nowadays, anyone can make “music” – the range in quality of music nowadays has a greater range of bad/good due to this.

                Not saying everyone that creates music quickly makes crap music, just that everyone knows there are people out there who just flood music libraries with stuff they made quickly so they show up in a lot of searches and get their stuff heard.

                • OK. Here’s a reality check from Mike Patti, one of the founders of Cinesamples. — Dramatic music in 9 minutes.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvQBpoh1N6I&feature=related

                  Still think you can’t produce a quality track quickly?

                  Michael

                  • @ MichaelL You beat me to it, I couldn’t remember his name.

                    @Emmet I dont necessarily disagree with you, but even getting into this area of criticism can be seen as elitism by some. If there are some websites out there who sell “garageband loop” music for 2 dollars then so be it. Maybe its only worth 2 dollars to those who purchase it. Either way this is the price of technology and putting what were very expensive tools into the hands of the masses. I just accept it and move on.

                    • I give up lol. Looks like I should be composing bucket loads more music so ๐Ÿ™

                    • John (the other John) says:

                      Don’t give up Emmett. Some libraries still respect compositional skills and originality.

                      IMO, the video is a good showpiece for technology, but definitely not composing.

                      In the process shown in the video, I’m sure one could knock-off a dozen generic tracks a day. But will they end up being the best the composer can do? Will they end up being original? Will they show good compositional skills? Will they be memorable tracks that stand the test of time? I think not. These kind of tracks will be forgotten as quickly as they were made.

                      Composing is a tedious process with many decisions to consider in harmony, melody, counterpoint, orchestration, etc. Sure, these extra elements can be ignored in creating quick generic tracks – but I sure hope this isn’t going to be the beginning of the end for well thought out creative work.

                      I know there are many libraries that could give a hoot about quality of compositions as long as the production quality is present, but I also know at least two library owners that respect compositional skills and originality.

                      I love today’s technology. There are a lot of good tools to make the composers job easier. But let’s not forget about quality music in this high-tech process.

                    • After decades in this business I don’t feel qualified to critique others artistic output. Different strokes for different folks!

                    • Art,

                      I agree. The problem with stepping onto a high pedestal is that you run the risk of a long fall.

                      Some people judge genres that they don’t like as crap. To that I say try doing it, and see if you can cut it. I suspect that “crap” maybe harder to produce authentically than some might think.

                      Conversely, brilliant and labored over “art” may be too inaccessible, and have no commercial viability.

                      Geeze, clearly, I don’t want to work today.

                    • Me neither. I did get as far as turning my DAW computer on. LOL!

                    • Gael MacGregor says:

                      Gandhi, when asked how he could be so patient with others who had so many faults and exhibited “bad” behaviour is said to have replied with something like ‘How can I find fault with others when I have so many of my own?’ (I don’t remember the exact quote and don’t have time to search it out, but the gist is there [lol])

                      I figure the same thing applies to music — I may not like a particular style of music, but can appreciate the talent and technique(s) used to achieve it. I may not like a painting, but someone at the museum had to have said “Behold! a great work of art!” in order for it to be hanging there. I’ve loathed films with multi-million-dollar box office revenues and loved others.

                      All art is subjective.

                      Whatever floats your boat.

                      That includes the licensing and library worlds.

                    • Denis W,

                      We should have a beer!

                      Technology still seems pricey, but the quality of today’s stuff for the price is amazing.

                      I’m old enough to remember that that a Synclavier was 150K and a Fairlight was 75K.

                      No point in complaining.

                    • I remember shelling out $5K for one of the first Emulators. Then selling it for a few hundred dollars not too many years later. Technology moves so fast!

                    • I’ve still got mine. Have I got a deal for you…. ๐Ÿ™‚

                    • Probably worth more today as a historical artifact!

                    • Serial Number 485, out of about 500.

                      Any bidders?

                    • @Art, Michael

                      I still have my Emulator 2 in storage complete with the external CD rom drive. I also used a Fairlight series 3 for many years, 55 K Sterling new .The biggest heap of c**p ever.
                      Ah those were the days. The only thing i kept from that era is a Korg Wavestation which I dont turn on at all !!! If you guys are ever in Ireland myself and Emmett will take you out. Us older ones can reminisce about how much money we wasted on gear, and how much we would have made if we invested that money in Apple stock !!

                    • GUINNESS and you’re on.

                      Thinking about turning my old emu into a floor lamp!

                    • Guinness is on us ๐Ÿ™‚

                    • @ Denis W, @ Emmett

                      Now that would be so cool. So many folks I would love to visit over the pond. One of these days!

                    • @art @ Dennis @ Emmett

                      Yes, that would be very cool. Of course, if you all end up on the US east coast first, our local brew is on me.

                      Michael

                    • @MichaelL, Darn, just got back from 2 weeks in Connecticut. Where are you located?

  15. Thanks everyone for your valuable feedback – I am learning a lot and this is fascinating!

    Can anyone tell me what this word “notwithstanding” actually means…? especially in THIS context (which is from the same contract):

    Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, Licensor shall retain
    all right, title and interest in and to the Works.

    • Gael MacGregor says:

      Eddi,

      In this context, the use of the word “notwithstanding” implies that something is true, even if there is an opposing condition. Basically, this particular paragraph seems to be saying that despite whatever else is said in the contract, the actual rights to the works remain with the Licensor (writer, whoever).

      • so…. I guess these dudes aren’t quite as “bad” as they looked at first. That can be the problem with taking bits of a contract out of context.

        there is a guy at SOCAN that I trust and respect – and after hearing what he had to say about the re-titling model, well….. seems the obvious thing to pass. ESPECIALLY since I am NOT the kind of artist that cranks out hundreds and hundreds of tracks. I create a very small number of works and each is the best I can absolutely do. So there is NO way I am taking any risks at all with my copyrights – even if that means they sit on the shelf my whole life.

        • I’ve been observing the retitling issue closely, with great interest. I’m a composer AND a “recovering attorney.” I haven’t decided yet whether to go try the retitle route.

          I’ve contacted the US Copyright Office for clarification. I’m may also consult with some attorney friends and a former law professor or two.

          My general opinion, and this should not be construed as legal advice, is that the retitling apocalypse. for a number of reasons, isn’t going to happen — at least not the legal Armageddon vision.

          There is are several reasons why this business model has been around for years without it becoming a Supreme Court case.

          First, the parties most likely to sue under the retitling model, would be libraries arguing over whose title of a particular copyrighted work is due PRO payments.
          The problem is that neither of those parties owns the copyright, so neither has standing to file suit for any issue relating to the underlying copyright. Only the copyright owner can do that. He/or she presumably doesn’t care which version of their track gets credited, as long as it gets credited. But, it seems that it would be easy enough to identify the source of the work. Moreover, what’s the basis of the cause of action –infringement? The retitlers don’t own anything that can be infringed upon.

          Next, and this is the biggee — MONEY. Copyright law falls under federal jurisdiction. You must file suit in federal court in a copyright infringement action. The lawyers that handle these claims typically charges hundreds of dollars per hour. They generally do not work on a contingency basis. The cost of filing, pre-trial motions and discovery, would in most cases far exceed the amount of money in question. Typically your talking about tens of thousands of dollars. $100,000.00 in legal fees would not be unheard of. The good news is that the winner can recover their legal fees.

          Speaking of the amount in controversy, if we’re not talking about $75,000.00 in damages you cannot get into federal court under diversity jurisdiction in the first place. How many retitled tracks earn $75,000.00 in PRO royalties? So unless there is now a copyright “small claims” court, as was proposed several years ago, you’ve got to have $75,000.00 in damages to get in the game.

          Next, the courts in our country generally like what is good for business, especially competition. The retitling model is competition for the traditional library model. The courts are not likely to see that as a bad thing. And that leads to potentially huge legal hurdles for the anti-retitle movement.

          There is a dangerous flip side to campaigning too vigorously against retitling. Several articles and postings have reported that some “major” entities are essentially blacklisting libraries that retitle. That is potentially a more clear cut violation of the law than retitling. The libraries that retitle are businesses. If a group of companies boycotts these businesses across the board, you stifle competition. Even if it’s an unspoken, but everybody knows about it rule, the blacklisting companies expose themselves to antitrust claims. Blacklisting is not a good idea.
          See United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. et al., 334 US 131 (1948).

          I Believe that retitling will evolve. Essentially, it is the commodification of music. Tracks are going into the marketplace at $35 a pop, like cans of soup in the grocery store. That, however, is a viable business model. The goods are tracked via bar code. The manufacturers know which cans of soup sold in store A versus Store B. They know what types of soup are popular and where. Technology now allows musicians to earn a living marketing their music in a similar manner. In theory, watermarking will eliminate the need for retitling. Library A could offer the same titles as Library B. The watermark will act like the bar code, and will identify the source of the license.

          We can debate whether the commodification of music is a good thing, but I think the horse is already out of the barn on that one. Some say that retitling devalues a composer’s work. Possibly it is creating a market for works that otherwise might not see the light of day. I see no value in the argument that a composer should let his or her work lay idle, rather than potentially earn income through retitling.

          The bottom line is that retitling is a well established business model that provides a form of employment for many people, and it encourages competition. These are two things that courts are likely to favor over abandoning the model. Legislation could modify copyright law to accommodate retitling.

          The wheels of justice turn slowly. It can take years for a case to wind its way through the courts. It is quite possible that technology will render the question moot before the law changes. And, the Supreme Court will not hear a case if the issue is moot.

          Only my opinion — not legal advice.

          Cheers,

          Michael

          • Hi Michael,

            Thanks for posting that. I am not an attorney but I have been saying basically the same thing for the last few of years. Though you have put it so much more eloquently!

            It seems to me that the “retitling” genie has been out of the bottle for far too long to have the massive meltdown that many have been predicting. I think, generally, technology will always be ahead of the law and the law will adapt accordingly.

            Art

            • Personally, (and I am a TOTAL newbie here), I think that the problem is because of the term “MUSIC”. We use that term assuming it means the same thing.

              This is not true. There is a huge difference in the nature of the “music” made by a true quality-based Artist that makes perhaps one album a year and puts everything into this – and the “music” of a musician who is simply trying to crank out as many cues as possible, in order to create a personal library of hundreds and hundreds of tracks in dozens of genres, in order to have sell this “music” for whatever TV show or whatever.

              I am NOT putting down the mass producer of music… all I am saying is that there is MUSIC, and there is music. There is a BIG difference.

              Retitling is great for those mass producers…. but if you have made MUSIC that you have honestly put your heart, soul, time, and tons of energy into, and come up with ten amazing tracks in one year. . . . then for this, it seems to me that the retitling model sucks big time. It would be a cheap and risky sell-out for highly valuable works of art. IMO

            • The real question might not be “should I?” –but rather “what should I?”

              Again, this is not legal advice, just an opinion.

              The legal issue often sited by those who oppose retitling is the potential confusion regarding which retitling library was the source of music in a given project. That sort of issue, is not a copyright issue, and could be fought in a state court. The parties would most likely seek an declaratory judgement as to the source, not ownership” of the music. Again the amount of money in question has to exceed the cost of the litigation, otherwise there’s little benefit to litigating. Unless A LOT of money is at issue, like 100K, people will sit down and figure out where the music came from before it get’s to that point.

              The significant thing is that this kind of litigation is a squabble between two parties that is not likely to lead to legislation resulting in a change in the copyright law, to close the alleged loophole, nor will it result in abandonment of the business model. If anything, legislation could accommodate and validate the “loophole,” by providing a proper procedure for retitling. This is not far fetched. Copyright law favors the rights of the copyright owner.

              It should be pointed out that retitling libraries often serve different markets than exclusive libraries. Again, globally, there are thousands of utilitarian uses for retitled music, ranging from TV and film production to music on hold, corporate meetings and environmental music. There are thousands of desktop video producers who use retitled and downloaded music, or buyout music, because digi-drops are not in their budget.

              These utilitarian uses have nothing to do with the narrow demographic of high- end film and television productions. The courts are not likely to overturn a business model the serves so many based upon the concerns of only one, fairly small (but powerful) group of consumers.

              This is not a monolithic business. There are many many layers of quality, and vastly different budgets, and many different purposes for licensing music.
              Both models should coexist, and composers should be free to market their music where appropriate. The key here, is “where appropriate.”

              I think that the answer to this question can also relate to Eddi’s question and the sub-thread going on here. There is a difference between art and commerce. Sometimes they overlap.

              The reality is that composing for music libraries IS, and if I could increase the font size, IS a business. Libraries do not exist to put “art” into the world. They exist to market music for a profit. Those of us who do this as a profession do so to make a profit — dare I say — to earn a living. Along the way, we might have some fun and create some art. Personally, I find the creative “all you can eat buffet” of writing in different genres to be interesting and fun. It’s also worth noting that some of us probably compose “serious” (concert) works too. I do.

              My question for you Eddi, would be: what do you consider an amazing track.? Do you think that John Williams only writes ten amazing tracks per year? A good pace for a working composer is about 2 minutes of music per day. With respect to heart and soul, I’ll paraphrase an oft used quote. This business is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

              Not to be harsh. I understand that you are an artist and not working in the trenches. I cannot comment on the specific deal that you were offered. You should have your lawyer do that. Generally, however, if you are convinced that you have ten amazing highly valuable tracks, and you would feel more secure with an exclusive library, submit your tracks to a number of exclusive libraries for consideration. You will find out very quickly if these libraries think that your amazing tracks have market value. If not, you can try the retitle/download route and consumers will decide.

              So — following Eddi’s question, perhaps we should ask “what should I retitle?” — not simply “should I retitle.”

              Perhaps we should look at our tracks as investments. Some investments are safe and some are risky. Some have higher yields than others. Deciding where you market your tracks is like deciding where to put your money. Conventional wisdom says to balance your investments across risk levels.
              So — if i were you Eddi – and I had ten amazing works of art, I might try to get the highest long term yield, which might be in an exclusive non-retitle deal. But, if I only have ten generic utilitarian tracks, I might consider an alternative.
              Also, I don’t know what kind of music you do Eddi, but if it’s a here today gone tomorrow style, it might be out of style before an exclusive library could get it out.

              I would closely evaluate arguments against retitling to see who benefits from the argument. Are they thwarting competition, and to what end? Why say I “can’t use your music,” but “I don’t you to have the power to market it another way?”

              Change and competition always create friction, especially in tough times.

              Michael

              • As a follow-up — I do recognize that not all retitling libraries use the low-end download model. There are certainly retitle libraries that rep their catalog to more upscale users.

                I reference the low-end download market just to illustrate the
                wide range between the exclusive libraries and non-exclusive libraries, and the potentially distinct niches that each business model fills.

                Michael

          • Gael MacGregor says:

            The most likely court scenario is actually from the broadcaster side.

            Why?

            Fees for blanket licenses from the PROs are partially based on the size of the catalogue (remember, with the PROs registration is on titles, NOT works). So the catalogues are grossly inflated due to the growing practice of re-titling. That’s fraud — whether intended or not. Broadcasters are already suing the PROs on a variety of issues, including overcharging, the right for expanded direct licensing, etc. Results are mixed, but the big boys ain’t happy and they’re taking the PROs to task. Class action suits are also being brought against the PROs. Again, mixed results and lots still pending, but the fight is on.

            I’ve gone ’round and ’round with this, talking with numerous entertainment attorneys (most of whom specialize in intellectual property and music). I’ve spoken with several folks at the U.S. Copyright Office, and as I said before, had a conversation with their General Counsel. While he said it would require a lot more research to determine exactly which practitioners are skating on thin ice, his admonition was to always err on the side of caution and protection of one’s copyright with clean, unencumbered registrations.

            Also, it should be noted that few outside of our industry have even heard of the practice. In fact, many IN music (but not in the library world) don’t have a clue. The head of one of the three major TV networks (yep, one of the Big Three) was completely flummoxed when I explained re-titling to her. She was both surprised and appalled. In recent conversations with some rather renown film and TV composers, they expressed THEIR surprise (which surprised ME). All their compositions consist of one title attached to one work (which is usually a work-made-for-hire) and re-titling isn’t a part of their world.

            At the WCS, as I spoke to reps from non-U.S. PROs, and there were two issues that particularly perplexed them: (1) the weighting of instrumental music at 80% less in monetary value than music with vocals as it pertained to performance rights royalties, and (2) the re-titling of unique works and recordings.

            Their take on (1) was (IMHO correctly) that music used in film, TV, advertising, etc. should be based on HOW the music is used, not WHAT music is used. As for (2) they uniformly looked askance at it. The president of one fledgling foreign PRO said bluntly, “Why would we want to do business with anyone engaged in such a thing? Why would we want to put ourselves at risk?”

            The genie may be out of the bottle, but it doesn’t mean that there’s a clear potential winner on either side. I just prefer to stick to the simple road: Unique titles for unique works, and all recordings reflecting those titles and works.

            Re-titling is a dirty little secret, even if many of us are completely aware of what’s going on. We tend to insulate ourselves and think that just because WE know about something that others do as well. That’s just not the case, but as more issues are brought forward, the higher the chances we’ll see this (and more) tested in court — and not by a composer or two, but by broadcasters that are tired of being held hostage by the PROs and their lack of transparency in exactly how they arrive at the prices they charge.

            Cheers!
            Gael

            • all of this discussion is very very interesting and highly educational!

              thanks all for taking the time to contribute.

            • Gael,

              You may be correct, I’m not saying that you aren’t — with respect to the broadcast and entertainment world. But, what you fail to address is that there is a vast world that exists outside the ivory towers of the broadcast world.

              There are thousands of small music users who produce everything from corporate meetings to wedding videos. These producers have low budgets their work is never broadcast and, as such, is outside the purview of the PROs. It is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT universe than the one the you do business in.

              These independent non-entertainment producers have been using royalty-free and buyout music for decades. Now they are downloading inexpensive music, most likely from retitlers.

              With respect to copyrights, this may come as a shock, many of the retitled works are never registered. I spoke with one composer who hasn’t registered anything in 30 years!

              As to whether the size retitlers catalogs constitutes fraud, that’s very gray. If you consider the grocery store / commodity analogy, It’s not fraud simply because many stores carry the exact same brands of soup. If there is a danger that the PROs are paying to much, then perhaps they need to adjust how they calculate payments to retitling libraries.

              Moreover, many of the web-based retitlers do not report to the PROs. They only pay license fees for downloads.

              To simplify my point, I don’t believe that you can, or should, throw out a business model that serves perhaps hundreds of thousands of musicians and media producers globally — individuals whose work and product has nothing to do whatsoever with the broadcast world and/or the PROs.

              The problem for all involved is that sometimes the two worlds collide. Five retitlers may annoy you by pitching you the same track with different titles. But, also perhaps, someone in your industry may look for a cheap download to save money.

              As a composer, and perhaps as a lawyer, I would prefer that my works destined for broadcast use not go through the retitle model. And, if I did sign with a retitler, I not sign the same work to another retitler if I new that the retitler in question was going to actively pitch my work to music supervisors.

              On the other hand, if we are talking about bread & butter generic work destined for use by non-broadcast producers, I would have no problems placing those tracks with passive web-based, search engine driven, retitling sellers.

              The point of my original post was 1) that either through negotiation, legislation, or simply technology, retitling is likely to be refined and legitimized in some fashion, and 2) there is a separate and distinct world of media production that exists outside of the realm of your concern, in which retitling works and does not involve the PROs.

              I do not know how to say this without possibly offending you. I do not mean to. If I do, I apologize.

              But please, recognize that there is whole world of production that exists outside the broadcast / entertainment / PRO world. A great many individuals derive their livelihood in that world — perhaps more than in the broadcast world.

              I’ve been fortunate, and had some modest success. I haven’t yet assigned anything to a retitler, nor have I signed with any web-based sellers.

              What bothers me is that 99.999% percent of media composers will never even breathe the same air as “renown film and TV composers.” Many of these composers will never ever see a PRO check. Wholesale abandonment of retitling, rather than refining the business model to a workable solution, would eliminate a valuable revenue stream that helps many composers, who will always remain outside your world, survive. Is that what you really want to accomplish? I don’t think so.

              For this reason I believe that there needs to be a workable solution, rather than simply eliminating retitling. My gut sense, legally, is that courts would, in the long run, look for a solution.

              Cheers,

              Michael

              • Gael,

                Just a footnote to clarify my post, and to emphasize that is not directed at you, and that I had no intentions of offending — if I did.

                As I said, I’ve been fortunate, and I am personally uncomfortable with retitling — with respect to the broadcast world.

                However, I have real empathy for the many many composers who struggle outside the broadcast / entertainment world.

                As such, I strongly advocate for a solution that does not destroy their livelihood.

                Cheers,

                Michael

                • so…………………….. M., you say;
                  “As a composer, and perhaps as a lawyer, I would prefer that my works destined for broadcast use not go through the retitle model. And, if I did sign with a retitler, I not sign the same work to another retitler if I new that the retitler in question was going to actively pitch my work to music supervisors.

                  On the other hand, if we are talking about bread & butter generic work destined for use by non-broadcast producers, I would have no problems placing those tracks with passive web-based, search engine driven, retitling sellers.”

                  So it seems even you will clearly also agree that re-titling is not good for broadcast – – – – hence, refering this back to the offer I got, since companyX clearly wants to market my stuff for broadcast – then you would also agree that it would be unwise to sign this contract?

                  • I assume that this is coming from Eddi,

                    To clarify:

                    1) For broadcast purposes, I would prefer to have my music represented by one company that has solid relationships with music supervisors, like Gael, and productions companies.

                    2) If, however, the company that I assign a particular track to is a retitler, I would not assign the same track to another retitler, so there could be no confusion down the road regarding its source.

                    The problem is that because some companies are engaging in a form of blacklisting against retitling libraries, you run the risk of having your track go nowhere if the library that you sign with does not have solid relationships with producers and supervisors that trust them.

                    I cannot tell you what to do. Clearly some doors are being shut to retitlers. Obviously, however, some are not, otherwise the practice would not continue.

                    Ask the library for references. Who uses their services? What’s their success rate? I wouldn’t tie my tracks up with someone who’s just blowing smoke your way.

                    The other half of your question deals with more generic, utilitarian music. I had a client who used to refer to this style of music as “forward motion” or “pallet movers.” That’s sort of over generalizing. There are many non-broadcast uses of music. For example most large corporations (Fortune 500) produce videos for training, marketing — whatever. The same companies sometimes have meetings and seminars where they use music to motivate their employees. In addition to these “industrial” users, producers sometimes use library music in educational films and documentary films. Then there’s music on hold, etc … the list goes on. There are many non-broadcast uses that exist outside the PRO world. Radio ads for the most part are outside the PRO world, even though they are broadcast.
                    The point is it’s not all film and television, ASCAP and BMI.

                    In contrast to the higher quality music that I would license for broadcast, I do not see a problem with distributing more utilitarian music to non-broadcast users through as many outlets as possible.
                    I’m speaking of search engine driven download distribution.

                    Depending upon where you are in your career, and what you want to accomplish, you need as many revenue streams as possible.

                    I probably didn’t give you the answer that you were looking for. I don’t think that anyone here is going to say “Eddi go sign that deal.”

                    Have you submitted your work to any other companies? You might try that first.

                    Michael

                • Gael MacGregor says:

                  No offense taken, MichaelL.

                  You should know, however, that I do not breath the glorified air of the Alex Patsavas & Bonnie Greenbergs of the music supervision world. I work on mostly indie projects and have done a lot of cable films & TV.

                  I am also an artist and writer. I play eight instruments, can orchestrate and arrange and am a studio singer — made my living as a singer for decades. I’ve played dives and major arenas, sung backup for everyone and their dog (famous and non) and have a bead on the varied financial spectrum of our industry. I’ve repped artists and their work on many levels (kinda happened by default), and know how different the worlds of high- mid- and low-commerce can be.

                  I don’t, however, feel that my opinion of a practice should be dictated by how much (or little) money is to be made. There are ways to accommodate the often disparate worlds without compromising one’s ethics in the process.

                  While I completely understand what you’re saying, from my own experience I KNOW it is not that difficult to modify an existing composition and recording to make it a unique work and recording. You make enough melodic and sonic changes to qualify (at the very least) as a variation. This way you are providing unique recordings and works to each licensing portal. Simple. No worries, no hassles, other than a little time.

                  Yes, it takes a little effort, but who ever said this business was supposed to be easy? I think we (especially in the U.S.) have gotten into the mindset to simply throw whatever we have at the wall and see what sticks, and put as little effort into it as we can to make as much as we can.

                  I am not saying that is what you are personally advocating, but the business models certainly do.

                  As for registrations with the PROs?

                  The libraries don’t register those new titles with the copyright office, because to do so would make the fraud official. They would need to note pre-existing registrations/titles of the work and be taking ownership in the copyright instead of ownership of certain revenue streams.

                  I’ve been advocating for the rights of composers and artists since the mid-1970s when I worked along-side Mark Halloran, Jordan Kerner and a number of other industry attorneys with the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Committee for the Arts — in which we advocated that artists learn about the business side of the biz.

                  And about the aspect of a “boycott” — it is not that I (or other supervisors) are calling for an industry-wide boycott of re-titling libraries. We have simply made a choice (as a consumer) to not do business with those whose business models we find to be potentially detrimental to the fulfillment of OUR duties, or which we feel might compromise our own personal ethics. I don’t shop at Wal*Mart either, and am quite vocal about the reasons why. I have the RIGHT to choose the folks and companies with whom I do business.

                  I was once asked by a large film/TV company after securing licenses for one of their partnered TV movies if all the music being licensed had been “commercially exploited.” Alarm bells went off and I asked “Why do you ask?” Seems they wanted to OWN the recordings and publishing, so in case the film or any of the music hit big with the viewers that they’d (1) be in line for works “original” to the production for awards consideration and (2) they could make lots of money off recordings they had NOTHING to do with creating OR paying for.

                  Not cool.

                  I contacted the band I knew had sent me a new song, told them to make up six copies of a CD single and sell ’em to their grandmother if they had to and call me back in an hour to tell me they had “commercially exploited” their work. They did, and I could honestly go back to the company and say “Sorry — everything’s been commercially exploited, you can’t own any of it.”

                  So please know that when I say I’m concerned about the artist, I mean it, and I live it. I AM that same artist/writer, because my own music is licensed in film & TV, AND has been used in anniversary & wedding videos, etc. (the market you’ve described).

                  One of my litmus tests on a contract is “Would I sign it, or would any of my colleagues sign it for my/their own music?” I don’t care what the scenario it is — big project, film, TV, video game or wedding video — if I am uncomfortable with the terms or the business model of the company seeking MY work, then I am certainly not going to advocate anyone else sign on the dotted line.

                  So for composers who are straddling both worlds, I say create. Make the extra effort to ensure that all your works and recordings are unique to each marketplace. You can reap the financial rewards without putting yourself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”

                  Cheers!
                  Gael

                  • Excellent reply. Thank you. Sounds like you’ve been around as long as I have.

                    That said. Please see my next reply to Eddi.

                    If someone has good tracks , I’m speaking of instrumental, not songs, how do they pitch them for placement if the retitlers are being sidestepped?

                    You and others will have no way of knowing that a composer has only placed a particular track in one library, and that is unique, if that library happens to retitle and you bypass them.

                    I’m lucky. At the moment I have someone who’s willing to go the direct route for me on some cinematic stuff. But, I have another 1500 tracks that I could produce, vary and reproduce day and night for the next five years.

                    I like your litmus test. One of the benefits of being a recovering attorney is being able to tell how badly a contract is written against me.

                    Thanks,

                    Michael

  16. thanks guys…
    so I think I get it. . . . this deal is NOT the typical non-exclusive re-title deal talked about in the above articles . . . in that they are asking for the exclusive right to re-title and exploit my tunes? So they are perhaps trying to avoid future problems simply by not allowing me the possibility of sending the same tunes for re-titling by a bunch of other companies? Hence, the word “exclusive”?

    – – – here is the contract, from the very beginning up to the “exclusive” part:

    Placement/License Agreement
    Page 1 of 7

    MUSIC PLACEMENT/LICENSING AGREEMENT

    This agreement (“Agreement”) is made day of , 2010 by
    and between BAND MEMBERS NAMES o/b/o himself and the band known as
    BAND NAME (hereinafter referred to as “Licensor”) with an address at
    ARTIST CURRENT MAILING ADDRESS and companyX, a California
    corporation (hereinafter referred to as “companyX”) with an address at PO
    Box 592 Culver City, CA 90232 pursuant to which companyX shall be engaged
    to solicit and license commercial exploitations for certain music works and
    master recordings (collectively the “Works”). As used herein, the term
    “Work” or “Works” refers to the master sound recordings and the musical
    compositions embodied therein.

    WHEREAS, Licensor solely owns and controls all right, title and interest in
    and to the Works;

    WHEREAS, companyX is in the business of licensing musical works and master
    recordings to third parties for inclusion in films, television, video, and
    advertising (referred to herein as “Licenses”);

    WHEREAS, Licensor desires to engage companyX to license the Works, or any
    part of them, for exploitation, including but not limited to use in or in
    connection with films, television, video, and advertising (referred to herein
    as “Placements”) and Aperture desires to accept such engagement pursuant
    to the terms and conditions hereof;

    NOW, THEREFORE, for good and valuable consideration, the receipt and
    sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, companyX does hereby
    acknowledge and accept such engagement, and agrees to the following:

    1. TERM
    The term of this Agreement shall commence upon the full execution hereof,
    and may be terminated by either party subject to sixty (60) days written
    notice to the non-terminating party (the “Term”). Notwithstanding anything
    to the contrary contained herein, companyX shall be entitled to its share of
    revenue, royalties and/or fees due following the termination of this
    Agreement with regard to any and all Licenses or Placements made or
    substantially negotiated during the term of this Agreement, renewals and
    extensions of same, and licenses issued following the term for the same
    Work in connection with related projects, such as sequels, prequels or spinoffs.

    Placement/License Agreement

    Page 2 of 7

    2. EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT and TERRITORY
    During the Term, Licensor hereby grants to companyX the exclusive right to
    solicit, negotiate and enter into non-exclusive license agreements with third
    parties providing for the exploitation of the Works, or any part thereof,
    including but not limited to use of the Works in or in connection with
    soundtracks, audiovisual projects, theatrical motion pictures, videos and
    television programs as provided herein. The territory covered by this
    agreement is the World.

  17. Hi Everybody…. I have been a musician and composer for ages but never before licensed my stuff. I was very recently contacted by a RE-TITLING company who wants to pitch my stuff (they found me on CDBABY).

    After finding out more about RETITLING I declined their offer.

    But still I am very curious about a few things – for example, here is one paragraph of their contract. I am confused by this word EXCLUSIVE. I though retitling companies were non-exclusive – so WHY is this company asking for exclusivity — or am I just missing the point???

    2. EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT and TERRITORY
    During the Term, Licensor hereby grants to companyX the exclusive right to
    solicit, negotiate and enter into non-exclusive license agreements with third
    parties providing for the exploitation of the Works, or any part thereof,
    including but not limited to use of the Works in or in connection with
    soundtracks, audiovisual projects, theatrical motion pictures, videos and
    television programs as provided herein. The territory covered by this
    agreement is the World.

    • That is strange, but it’s hard to say for sure what it means out of context. Perhaps the word ‘exclusive’ means they don’t have to run everything by you every time they make want to make a deal?

      Agreements with libraries usually spell out the nature of the deal in the first one or two sections (either right at the top or in a section called ‘License’). It will usually say something like “Composer grants Company…the non-exclusive right…during the Term to exploit, market etc etc”.

      • I have/had a similar deal with a commercially released CD a few years back. The library retitled the cuts so that they could collect publishing royalties from their PRO under those titles. I was still free to market the CD, but just couldn’t license the tracks to or through another library. That’s how it was exclusive AND retitled. I wouldn’t do it again, given the opportunity.

        Michael

    • Gael MacGregor says:

      Eddi,

      The biggest problem is that the contract refers to the WORKS, not titles. As such, this agreement could be construed as giving the company the rights to the works themselves, not an interest (via contract) in the proceeds from specific titles and attached to the company’s revenue-generating acts.

      Remember, a COPYRIGHT is a bundle of rights to a particular WORK. To assign, give, transfer or contractually obligate oneself in such a way as to put your rights to that work in jeopardy is a big no-no if you want to continue to own that work.

      Cheers!
      Gael

      • Hi Gael,

        The substance of what you are saying is correct. But, I’m not sure whether you’ve ever mentioned being an attorney. I am.

        Sharing general copyright info, may be OK, but contract interpretation is best left to Eddi’s attorney.

        No matter how correct your advice. If someone relies upon it to their detriment, even if it’s misunderstood, it could haunt you.

        That said, Eddi, if it smells bad, it’s best to stay away.

        Cheers,

        Michael

        • Gael MacGregor says:

          Michael,

          Operative word in my post was “could.”

          Actually, the info I passed along was from the General Counsel of the U.S. Copyright Office.

          In a conversation last year at the World Copyright Summit in D.C. he told me that the concept of re-titling was ethically shaky at best, and its practice could easily put composers at risk for losing the rights to their own works once it is eventually tested in court. I figure he knows what he’s talking about. ๐Ÿ™‚

          My take is that if he wasn’t 100% sure of all the potential ownership ramifications, then I’d hazard a guess that a music library’s attorney wouldn’t have a crystal ball either. As such, I’d rather make choices that ensure the ownership of my works remains clean and uncluttered. I advise others to do the same for their own protection.

          Although I suppose I should put the same caveat in my posts that I put at the bottom of all my articles:

          “And a reminder (from my attorney): All statements above are my opinions and not intended as legal advice or counsel. No warranty or representation is made as to the accuracy of these statements. You should hire an attorney before entering into any agreement or contract. So there!”

          Cheers!
          Gael

          • Gael,

            Your attorney is right. It is a good practice to use the disclaimer.

            Feel free to keep sharing your wisdom and experience. It’s just better to practice “safe advice.”

            Cheers,

            Michael

      • Hi Gael…. so from what you are saying, in pointing out that the contract refers to the WORKS rather than the TITLE, it seems like in fact this could be a trick to potentially steal the artists’ copyrights (or at least, have a contract that would be strongly worded in their favour which would help them if anything ever came down to a court case).

        • Gael MacGregor says:

          Eddi,

          I’m not saying they are necessarily purposely misleading folks, but the potential for cloudy ownership down-the-line is there because of contract language (same caveats as above apply here — my opinion, based on info received from the Copyright Office, including that of their General Counsel).

          But yes, any contract that is worded in favor of the company over that of the writer/artist could be used as leverage in any potential court case.

          I applaud you on your restraint and listening to your “gut” instinct instead of just jumping on an offer.

          Cheers!
          Gael

  18. Hey guys, just saw an interesting press release about non-exclusive re-titling libraries. It’s written by the owner of Megatrax (a big exclusive / pay upfront type of library), so keep that in mind:
    From:
    http://app.e2ma.net/campaign/27456.af55d60b404c79870d1c9931918a94fc

    SHOULD YOU SIGN WITH A NON-EXCLUSIVE RETITLED LIBRARY?
    Get the facts before you decide.

    Many composers and songwriters are lately being offered what seems like a deal too good to pass up: get film/TV placements of their music and a share of sync fees from non-exclusive distributors while retaining 100% of their copyrights. While this may appear to be an irresistible bargain on the surface, it is essential that writers fully understand the ramifications of this business model in order to make an informed decision.

    What Is Non-Exclusive Retitling?

    First, let’s clarify what is meant by the term “retitled libraries”. This term does not refer to libraries that exclusively own the rights to their works and for whatever reason decide to re-release the works under alternate titles; it is a library’s prerogative to re-release or repurpose tracks in such a manner. Rather, for the purposes of this article, this term shall refer to libraries that engage in the practice of retitling tracks without obtaining exclusive rights to the works. For these libraries, retitling is simply a way to market and license non-exclusive content and collect performance revenues by registering existing works under different titles.

    How Does It Work?

    Retitled libraries solicit content from composers or songwriters promising that they will “retain ownership” in the works and simply license their tracks on a “non-exclusive” basis. They offer to retitle the works and share publishing revenue generated from their placements of the retitled tracks. (There is generally no upfront cost involved for the writer, although a few retitled libraries have been known to retain all or part of the writers share of performance royalties- a definite “red flag”). This sort of arrangement can obviously be appealing to a writer who might have dozens of songs, scores, demos and other unused musical material just “sitting on the shelf” gathering dust. Why not monetize these tracks to generate some extra revenue? For that matter, why not sign the same tracks with as many retitling services as possible to maximize income? Before signing away your tracks, let’s delve a little deeper and explore some of the repercussions of these deals.

    One Song, Many Titles

    The most obvious drawback with this model is apparent on the client side of the equation. With more and more companies dumping retitled content onto the market, situations are starting to arise where multiple parties are claiming ownership in the same work. In fact, several top Hollywood music supervisors are now refusing to accept material from retitled libraries after being pitched the same song from different sources under different titles (and at different rates!). The potential for confusion has led at least one major studio to issue an edict stating that they will only work with music companies that represent their content exclusively.

    Similarly, for broadcasters or other library clients who are often highly sensitive about market exclusivity, it could be devastating to sign a deal with library X only to hear the same tracks used by a competing station who signed a deal with library Y. Such a scenario could easily happen if both libraries are offering retitled music.

    On an industry level, it is hard to argue that the industry will benefit from situations where multiple parties are claiming rights to the same song and bidding against each other for the same placement. This practice only serves to further erode sync fees and devalue music in an already hypercompetitive marketplace, as well as feed cynicism and mistrust towards the production music industry in general. There is, after all, a certain aspect of duplicity surrounding the notion of the same piece of music having multiple title aliases depending on the situation or vendor. Such confusion, if unabated, will just encourage more unreported music uses and piracy due to the lack of publishers’ ability to effectively monitor and police their works. Furthermore, at a time when music rights are under siege by legislators, broadcasters and technology companies alike, it is safe to say that adding more confusion and uncertainty to the music rights landscape is probably not a sanguine development for the industry.

    Identical Fingerprints

    It is widely accepted in the music community that fingerprinting [1], in one form or another, holds the key to performance monitoring in the years ahead. ASCAP and BMI have already tested and implemented fingerprinting technology on a limited basis (Mediaguide and Landmark, respectively), and a more extensive rollout of these technologies is planned in the near future. Since every piece of audio contains a unique “fingerprint”, the day will soon come when digital algorithms will automatically detect each piece of music and (ideally) every performance will be tracked and paid- without the hassle of cue sheets or the burden of physically watermarking every track. Most libraries consider fingerprinting to be a critical step towards improving the fairness and accuracy of PRO distributions. In addition to performance tracking, fingerprinting systems are also being increasingly used by libraries to monitor sync uses of their catalog and by broadcasters to automatically generate cue sheets.

    All of these scenarios present an obvious conundrum for retitled music companies: since their audio files are not unique, each detection can no longer be linked to a unique title record, making accurate performance identification virtually impossible. Clearly, the practice of retitling only serves to stymie these important initiatives and therefore runs counter to the best interests of the industry.

    Legal Challenges Loom

    It is only a matter of time before legal challenges arise from these practices. Whose title of a song was ultimately used in a film or TV show if multiple versions were pitched? Which title and which master are being referenced in a composer contract? Is anyone vetting these tracks for rights clearances or potential infringement issues? Do these companies even have the legal right to license these tracks, considering that copyrights are based not on title (titles are not copyrightable) but on the underlying composition and sound recording? How many non-exclusive catalogs have unwittingly entered into exclusive overseas subpublishing deals? Only time will tell how these issues will play out on the legal front.

    The Artist Perspective

    Industry considerations aside, what’s in it for the artist? The argument is often made that this model “helps artists” by allowing them to “retain control” while giving them “exposure” and generating “additional income”. To some extent, this may be true; a writer can sign a track with a retitled library while still releasing it on an album or otherwise exploiting it themselves. But often overlooked is the downside: once a writer signs a non-exclusive deal, that basically preempts any future possibility of signing an exclusive deal with another library or label. No reputable exclusive library is going to acquire or distribute a track that already exists in other permutations in the marketplace, and such exclusive libraries represent the majority of library music use in film and television. What may seem like a great deal is actually a dead end.

    Writers also tend to overlook the fact that non-exclusive libraries are less likely to actively promote or pitch their tracks since they have less incentive to do so. These companies know that the same recordings might be available on other services, so often the tracks are just dumped on a drive or server and forgotten.

    Another little known but critically important fact is that non-exclusive retitled catalogs miss out on significant revenue streams related to international distribution. Since libraries are generally represented by territory on an exclusive basis, retitled libraries technically cannot enter into these deals (to the extent that they do anyway, they are in breach of their contract). To drill down further, in many foreign territories music licensing is strictly controlled by mechanical copyright societies such as MCPS (UK), SDRM (France) and AMCOS (Australia). These societies, who are responsible for the vast majority of licensing in their respective territories, set the rates for music licenses as well as collect and distribute payments to composer and publisher members. In order for works to be represented by these societies, they must be the exclusive agents for their territory. Since non-exclusive content is often made available on websites or drives without regard to international borders, these catalogs do not qualify for registration and consequently their international income potential is severely limited. In the event a publisher or website representing non-exclusive content does attempt to register tracks with one of these mechanical societies, both the writer and the publisher will be in a potential breach of contract situation.

    Last but not least is the new title itself: is it as effective and appropriate as the original title? Song titles should not be randomly generated or done in bulk fashion; they are more important than ever as they play a critical role in determining which songs get selected and auditioned by clients. It is not an obvious thing to effectively retitle a song with lyrics; by way of example, can you think of an alternate title for any of these hit songs: “Beat It”, ‘Like A Virgin”, “Hard Day’s Night” or “Are You Lonesome Tonight”? In lieu of donning a new title, some retitling services have resorted to simply adding a catalog number to precede the original title, i.e. “xyz001-My Love”, “xy002-My Love”, etc. It is hard to imagine how this scheme will accomplish anything except raise the amount of confusion among writers, clients and PROs to a whole new level.

    Ultimately, writers need to weigh the perceived benefits of retitling against the potential pitfalls:

    * Devalues your music
    * Potential licensing disputes
    * Potential legal challenges
    * Risk of being blacklisted by film/TV clients
    * Can create confusion around your catalog
    * Can attach inferior titles to your songs
    * Limited potential for international income
    * Performances not tracked by fingerprinting
    * No possibility of exclusive deals
    * Limited potential for infringement claims with non-exclusive representation

    A Song Is Still A Song

    In conclusion, the practice of retitling does not pose a problem if the same entity, or combination of entities, controls the rights to all title variations of the same track; however it is very much a problem when multiple entitles lay claim to the same work non-exclusively based solely on title permutations.

    Amidst all the technological change and upheaval buffeting the music industry over the past several years, some things still haven’t changed: a song is still a song and should not have multiple aliases depending on the situation or “who got the placement.” Clearly, the best strategy for composers and songwriters is to take the time to craft original, high quality music and develop a solid relationship with a reputable library that can represent their tracks exclusively and invest the necessary time and resources to properly tag, organize, promote and pitch their tracks. Integrity still counts, especially in the digital age.

    -Ron Mendelsohn
    April 26, 2010

    Ron Mendelsohn is President and CEO of Megatrax and a founding member of the PMA

    • I should add that I don’t think it’s smart to put your tracks in non-exclusive libraries that compete with each other for the same business (some libraries are semi-exclusive, for this very reason). I try to make sure that if I give my tracks to one library that primarily deals with performance royalties (getting stuff on TV shows), I don’t give the same tracks to a similar business. Of course, there are other outlets to give the same tracks to – license fee based libraries (who target advertising agencies and promo departments), and royalty free libraries. It probably doesn’t matter as much to give the same tracks to various royalty free libraries, the only consideration is that customers might shop around and find the same tracks in a cheaper site… more reason to avoid low ball bargain basement sites like audiomicro.com etc.

      • I agree. I was in the business for a long time and got out for about 10 years. I went back school and became an attorney. BUT — law ain’t music, and it was certainly not my first love.

        That said. The retitle thing makes me a little uneasy. Id’ rather determine which libraries perform well, match the music to the library, and treat even the low end guys as if they’re exclusive.

        Michael

        • One additional comments on Mr. Mendelsohn’s piece.

          The online/retitling libraries offer a bit more of a level playing field for both the writers who can’t get a foot in the exclusive library door, and for small producers who can’t afford expensive needle-drop fees.

          The world is full of little guys who produce corporate videos, power points, meetings, etc., for whom the royalty-free libraries are a good and appropriate source for music.

          There is room for both business models in the light of differing clientele.

    • I’ve written articles about this and singing this song to an almost deaf audience since 1999 — that re-titling is ethically shaky at best, and will eventually become a big monster court case because of its fraudulent nature. As sound recognition technology has evolved, more people are starting to listen, and many supervisors have come around — and will never knowingly accept or license a retitled work.

      Why not?

      (1) It can create MORE work for us. I personally had to go through every CD submitted on a project after it was aired because someone contacted us, claiming that we’d not licensed the work/recording — which we HAD… Turns out that it was a retitled track — same recording, same composition, but different titles — which meant we had to listen to everything all over again instead of just checking the titles — and it had been submitted by not two, but THREE different libraries. We couldn’t even search for the piece by a title, but had to listen to everything all over again. We’d gone with the first CD that crossed our desks, so the other two submissions weren’t even heard by us. It took a HUGE amount of time to track down all the who, what & where from data so we could clear things up. Now, this was over 10 years ago, when retitling had not yet become the tsunami that is now swallowing up the exclusive library deals. The more I saw of the practice the less I liked it, the more I researched copyright and contracts — and the more certain I was that it was going to become a huge issue as technology continued to quickly evolve.

      (2) In conversations with several folks from the U.S. Copyright Office (including general counsel at last year’s World Copyright Summit in D.C.), their opinions were the same: that the practice of retitling is ethically shaky at best, and could, in many cases, actually put the composer in jeopardy of losing the actual copyright to their work. Oh yeah… and that this is a loophole in the laws that will eventually have to be tested in court due to the practice’s exponential growth.

      (3) The audio recognition technology is a big factor. Also at last year’s WCS I was given the first public demo of Blue Arrow, and the re-titling issue was part of my first question as I saw the titles popping up. I wrote an article about it that appeared in “Film Music Magazine” describing it in detail. Chris’ comments in his article reflect my own opinions about how technology is affecting the practice and the legal challenges to come. Since the tech recognizes the unique work, not the title, there’s no way to find out who should be receiving the revenue from any given use without a huge amount of digging. Let’s see… my song “Blue Love” has been re-titled six times and each title has popped up with respect to that premium cable airing… just which library actually licensed the track, and to whom? Or is someone using it without a license? Hmm…

      (4) Think of “The Producers” and how they sold off percentages in their shows: You can’t “give 110%” folks. You can’t sell off or loan out more than 100% of anything. PERIOD. A 12″ pizza is still a 12″ pizza and when the last piece is eaten there is 0% left. A copyright for a composition/song is a bundle of rights attached to 100% of a SINGLE WORK. The copyright to a recording is a bundle of rights attached to 100% of a SINGLE RECORDING of the work. If you’re contractually obligating more than a hundred percent of the work and/or recording of it to various libraries, you are, in essence, a party to the fraud. The libraries do NOT record any of these new “works” with the Copyright office because to do so would be OFFICIAL fraud, since they’re not new works, merely a retitling of an existing work under copyright. Now call me a goody two-shoes, but official or unofficial, I don’t want any part of it.

      As a supervisor I don’t want the potential hassles associated with the dog fights over one bone and all the work it takes to clear things up when more than one party claims to have placed “their” composition/track in a film or TV program on which I’m working. I don’t care if I get a piece from several sources, as long as the title is the same, so if there are any hassles later, it’s quickly researched, and simply a matter of “Library A’s track crossed my desk before Library B’s did, so that’s who got the license.”

      As a writer and artist I don’t want there to be ANY discrepancy as to who owns the rights to MY work and/or recording of it. I have one title for each composition, and whether I choose to have it repped exclusively by one source, or non-exclusively by several, the title and the publisher info will always be the same.

      • Gael,

        I agree, for the most part. As a composer and a lawyer, in that order, retitling makes me uneasy. I’ve not yet submitted anything to a retitling library. AND, I’m very hesitant to do so.

        But — what about the thousands of productions that exist outside the rarified world of music supervisors? What about the corporate videos being produced basement studios with Final Cut? Those producers and their projects, which probably have budgets equivalent to .001%, or less, of a Hollywood production, need music too.

        Why deny a struggling composer, who may have no other way to market their work, the opportunity to do so? Why force a mom and pop video producer to license music they cannot afford?

        I have many tracks that deserve to be in your world. My library music has been used on ABC, CBS, Bravo, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and PBS, etc. I’ve had four themes running in syndication for nearly tens years.

        But — I also have a catalog of useful tracks, that are meant for non entertainment producers. Should I let those works sit on the shelf and pass on the potential income from downloads?

        I would really appreciate your input, because I’m at a loss. I’m working on some tracks for an exclusive as we speak. But what about the other material, the “everyday” stuff?

        Michael

      • Christian says:

        Well Said Gail!!!

  19. Hello All,

    First, let me say, Art, this is a great site. There’s a lot of wisdom being shared very generously here (thank you Matt). I’ve been lurking for a few weeks. Now seems like a good time to say hello, and to seek general advice.

    I was in the business for a long time, scoring documentary films, writing production tracks, did some sound design, wrote a few TV themes and had a CD on the charts. About ten years ago, i “dropped out,” went to law school and became a lawyer. That, it turns out, is a pretty dismal way to live. So, here I am. At least I can tell how badly they’re trying to screw me when I read a contract.

    My current setup is fairly good on the sonic front. I have about 2000 tracks in all many styles that I’ve accumulated over the years, e.g., drama, comedy, romance, kid music, cartoon music, jazz, new age, corporate, sports. I’d like to rearrange, recut are market these tracks.

    As a lawyer retitling makes me a little uncomfortable. On the other hand it seems to be working for some of you.

    One thing about Chris’s piece that concerns me is this quote:
    “None of these arguments apply to composers that are unaware of their music’s failure to meet the creative and technical requirements to be broadcast in the 21st century.”
    Well it WAS the 20th century when I was active.

    If anyone can elaborate on 21st Century requirements, and getting in the game, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Michael

    Oh yeah –the answer to the obvious — 99% of my previous clients are retired, deceased, or out of the business. I was able to find an open door at two libraries still operating.
    One foot in front of the other!

    • John Fulford says:

      Hey Michael,

      Drop me an email, I may be able to help get your cues licensed out. I’m currently slangin’ tracks to 40 shows direct to the supes/editors..

      John[at]JohnFulfordMusic.com

    • I think what Chris was implying was that music needs to stay current – stylistically and in terms of production quality. If you have live recordings of classic genres like rock, blues and jazz, then your tracks are probably fine. It’s the sample / synth based tracks that age fast and might be considered cheesy by today’s standards.

      • Matt

        Thanks for your reply. I’m definitely in the VI world –LASS, Symphobia, EW, etc.
        I try to avoid cheese on the tracks.

        Michael

        • Awesome, I bet your stuff sounds great with all those new sounds.

          • Yes, it’s pretty amazing. Fortunately, I’ve been able to reconnect with a few exclusive libraries that I wrote for previously. But, I’ve got a catalog of about 2000 tracks that I want to recut and license. I think that the online royalty-free guys would be a good place for some of it.

            Thanks for all of your insight.

            Michael

  20. Just listed “Lights Cameras Music Publishing” and moved the comments from here to there. Link at: http://musiclibraryreport.com/music-libraries-h-to-l/lights-cameras-music-publishing/

  21. oontz oontz says:

    Hey “tryin to get a break”, you sound like this guy named Yadgyu….

    Re-titling is a bad idea. It all but ruins your personal brand. Several TV networks are putting policies in place that are instructing them NEVER to do business with re-titled copyrights. Is that something that you want to be associated with?

  22. tryin to get a break says:

    Well, from all the research I have done, for someone like myself who is trying to establish a name for themselves, I really see no down side to a re-titling library. All I want to do is get my music out there right now as I try to establish myself. If I can have one or more of my songs in several different libraries under different names I am more than happy with that. As your article suggests, it definitely is not doing anything sitting on my hard drive. I have to trust my PRO that when I update my track with the different names it will find them and collect for me.

    I can see once I get established and hopefully start getting requests for compositions for specific projects, I will be more selective about where my songs end up. And hopefully if I work on a project big enough I would not want those songs anywhere else except in that project.

    My thoughts….would love to hear from others.

  23. Hey Chris,

    I’m thinking of going to NAB for the first time ever. I’m trying to get blanket licensing deals with networks and production companies for my library of instrumental tracks for background cues, and for my library of urban vocal-ups for source cues.

    Can I get your thoughts on the matter? Thanks!

  24. I’ve never got any royalties from anything I’ve ever composed or sold. However on average now, I make between $200 – $500 a month by selling my tracks on about 7 different sites – 2 of which make the majority of my income, and another 2 I’ve never sold anything on. Thats with about 40 tracks

    I’ve been at it for about 2 years now since I finished college, so I can see how a gradual build up over the years once you get more and more tracks, can definitively support you as a full time job.

    • Hey Emmet!
      I know someone in LA that has 500 tracks over a 17 year period.He posts at Gearslutz
      and I think his royalties look pretty good.What you have going is your youth.I’m an old school guy with tons of experience and 5 cds of stuff.I write with a guitarist/bassist, who is an awesome player but not tech savy.We have an amazing working relationship since the first time we played together as 18 year olds.We are both 52 now.So I wrote all those years making good money and not owning any of it,but the production was compromised to some extent IMO.All I can say is hang in there and if you can find someone who can do what you dont do well to collaborate with it can expand your creativity.Something to consider unless you can pay that person upfront for the expertise.Good food for thought!

      • Wow yea, I could well imagine that over a 17 year period it would mount up for sure. What I find hard is finding the time to compose, while keeping a full time job – I’m saving for my Composition Masters, so have to work 40 hrs a week, but then compose on top of that too so it gets tough. Lived at home there for a month a while ago, and it was great – got about 8 new tracks done. I suppose the balance between it all is what I find difficult.

        I’ve tried collaborations once or twice, but I always found they just never worked out. I find it easier to just do it all myself to be honest. So far, I’ve just gone by the mantra of “If it sounds good, it is good”. Works perfectly for library music anyway! Theres a few things I’m starting to pick up along the way aswell, such as when you finish a track, make a 30 sec + 60 sec version of it – it might take you a short while longer to do, but its definitively worth it in the long run. Also, keeping all of your original source files, really helps in the long run!

    • The Key is being prolific, even when you don’t have clients waving paychecks or a publicist shouting the “heal all” qualities of your music to all the right people. Work and work and work and before you know it years have gone by and you look back and say WOW, I have a much larger collection of works! Now I can throw out the crap and still have a good pool of tracks, now get back to work and make better ones;)

      As a client/project based producer I often find that no matter how many tracks I get of however a diverse set of styles, the next job opening always seems to be not quite exactly, or completely different from anything you have available. My very first paid music hire was for “Circus Music” and you can bet that took me by surprise…I sure didn’t have a CD of that layin around;)…but if someone ever asked me again, at least I have a sample and don’t have to scramble to make one on spot;) Just one example.

      • This is why I write with a partner.We challenge each other and the quality comes up from taking the criticsm.That said I am versatile enough to know how to stay genre specific if needed.Of course the best way to get work is if clients hire you for what you like to do most but all the playing in top 40 bands over the years,as well as jazz in school back in the day and the ongoing classical playing I do to keep up my chops helps immensely.

    • “I’ve been at it for about 2 years now since I finished college, so I can see how a gradual build up over the years once you get more and more tracks, can definitively support you as a full time job.”

      If you want to make a living at this, you need 200 plus tracks with a regular turnover. Thats not something your going to do quickly ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Not with any quality in mind! You have been at it only for 2 years.Give it time and be your best.

        • I spent my first year figuring the whole music tech side of it all out. I spent about half a year composing, then spent a year away in Oz. So I’ve only really been composing for about half a year or so, and with a full time job. So I don’t think 40 high quality tracks is bad for that.

          I’m composing about one new track per week on average now – also don’t think thats bad with a full time job. I think any quicker and quality begins to suffer. As I’ve said before, I make a lot more on a particular website, than a guy with 250 tracks on it. That just goes to illustrate the point that quality FAR outshines quantity in the music library business

  25. Okay DP, I’ll stop drilling you. I’m just always curious about big pay-offs. I’ve had a lot of TV placements (some Primetime), but they pale in comparison to your pay-offs.

    Whatever you’re doing, keep it up.

    Best, John

    • John:One reason I made that kinda money was I started back in 1992 and agreed on a % of what potentially might happen.Move to the present,it did happen albeit no contract and started dropping as 2008.Hell of a run.
      Best year was 1997 or 8.Made 300,000+.Best year ever.I think my former employer decided he and his wife were not going to ever pay out that kinda money to a independent contractor,me!I’m still getting paid but very very little in comparison,he admitted than he never knew exactly how to pay me,a huge gray area.When the royalties stop for good,I’ll spill the beans.Till then,Have a good day!

  26. Well, that’s that. Great comments from all. I feel bad for Yad (if he is truly the way he is). But he sounds like a kid. At least he acts like it. He’s vindictive, contractdictory, categoric: a nut. I agree with possible ruses but even so…you have to be a nut to do that as well. Like you said AM, so many problems I don’t know where to start. Whatever, I help people who deserve it and anyone who says there going to take and take until they have enough power to cheat back? Big mistake. Who cares his music just isn’t good enough that’s the fundamental issue. He doesn’t deserve the good advice we all gave off ourselves. Thanks Yad you actually taught me something: don’t engage in online shootouts with trolls whose sole purpose are online shootouts re: self-empowering conflict initiation from the safety of your computer. Who’s going to NAB? Roll call!

  27. Hey DP,

    I’m not asking for your contact info, just the gig that made you $150,000- $200,000 a year for 15 years. Say for instance if it was the theme track for “Law and Order”. You should be proud to post that kind of success story. I definitely would.

    • It was not just one thing,it was many different commercials.It all adds up.
      I have heard,may have been from Chris Jones if he works for megatrax that a spot for the big commercials could generate as much as 500,000 for a world wide campaign.
      I also heard from my former employer whose lawyer saw a royalty statement from someone who had written a theme for one of the big primetime shows,dont know which one but he had cowritten the piece with 2 other people and his 3rd of the royalties on the performance only was yep….a million dollars,but then your sister better be having sex with the producer of the show……Don’t really know the ha ha ins and outs of how it really worked but seems to big a big payoff.I was blown away myself!

  28. Yeah,Everyone wants to know that.Now why would I spill the beans and create yet more competition.
    As SR Dhain has said,how well do you know them.
    Out of all the relationships my former employer had,only one of them really panned out into a profitable one over time.Thats after doing hundreds of commercials for a handful of companies.A few years back I went to a convention where these companies go and it was 1/3 the size it was 10 years ago.
    What everyone should know is TV advertising is a pay to play your product and when it doesn’t sell and your music is along for the ride,its done and ther is no money.
    When it does work it’s like a snowball effect,as the product sells, that royalty check can grow and continue until the company pulls the trigger on it.
    That said,I know that the one relationship that did pan out had told us when I did work there that he gets demos every week from composers trying to get in.
    You guys are like sharks,but I cant blame you 1 bit really.I’m still working some of these people currently and it took 2 years to get my 1st job.Better have some staying power.
    By the way guys,thanks for the positive comments.
    My brain seems to be thinking more clearly since………well thats a personal story.

  29. Thanks for your insight DP, but I was more interested in the kind of gigs you were getting that generate that kind of money, e.g., Disney movies, McDonald commerciales, etc…

  30. Well guys,onward!John,What I will share with you is that its wayyyyy more about the business and literally kissing ass.Most of the business types we did biz with knew very little about music,that is for the industry I wrote for.You still had to have fairly good music that fit picture and was delivered on time.The latter more important.
    Of course if everyones music is somewhat on a par,this is where your business acumen comes in and why the guy I worked for had tunnel vision when it came down to it, and the reason I’m gone and he’s still trying to make it happen.Much,much harder since the economic downturn.
    I never listened to yads music but if he hasn’t had much success,his music must,well not be very good.I have listened to some of the music by you posters,and some of it is good.
    Art,I checked out your music and Liked everything I heard.Emmet,checked yours and liked it as well as a few others.
    Some of the orchestral stuff I heard at some of the sites was downright awesome and my hats off to some of those guys.I am someone who loves to get my ass kicked by other talent out there.Its humbling.
    It all adds up to a learning experience and really thats what life is supposed to be about.
    Heres a phrase someone I did some broadway stuff once told me years ago:
    The only thing constant is change:
    Change is the only thing constant;
    I’m loving this healthy debate when you can have it across the globe.
    Keep on writing chumps and keep the comments coming!

  31. To be honest, I’ve always thought that Yadgyu is just some very clever guy who is trying to waste other composers time here by posting ridiculous stuff on here, and watching the chaos ensue. I’ve wanted to reply to a lot of his posts here, but just didn’t bother or else typing for a long time and its a total waste of time.

    Best thing is to just ignore him if he comes back. If he is actually genuine, then feel sorry for him. However, very hard to believe he is actually genuine – nobody can come out with that much bs – he even said he has a family (although he sounds like he is 15). Lots of stuff that doesn’t add up.

    Either way, Adios Yadgyu!

  32. Wow! 150 to 200 thousand dollars a year for the last fifteen years! That’s some success Dp. A big congratulations. Care to share some of your successes with us?

  33. Yadgu has been banned. I’m sure to the relief of many!

  34. I’m beginning to agree that this is a joke or we’re dealing with one sicko puppy. It might be better to ignore his posts and hope he goes away. I won’t waste any more time on this ignorance.

    • Yea, I’m done with him. I think we have all given him more help and encouragement than he probably deserves. Yadgu has been banned.

  35. Hi Art, and everyone else.

    im contributing to this debate again, cause

    a) ive been added to the reply list and noticed a beehive of activity just from here

    b) i actually care enough about people to want to say something

    c) i love music and its encompassing spread in the fabric of our lives.

    Yadgu

    Dude, you need to take a serious look at WHY you want to do – or dont- do this AT ALL. Make no mistake, even with this fantastic site that art has taken the time and effort to keep going, as well as all the contributors, whom id like to believe , actually come on here with GOOD INTENTIONS to help and please, you still have to have a MODICUM of understanding the framework of the business and social strata of the industry youre wanting to be a part of . In other words, SOCIAL AND PEOPLE SKILLS are not only a must, THEY’RE ESSENTIAL if youre to make good on your artistic contribution.

    If you feel youre getting ripped off, rejected all over the place, and suffering too much from a pragmatic perspective doing this, then dont JUST DO THIS, but do other things as well. Make no mistake, i dont think ANY OF US here have just done this in itself on its own from year dot- i could be wrong, in which case, feel free to correct me, and no offence meant or intended- simply cause this industry now has A LOT OF PEOPLE competing for the pies and cakes. Admittedly, there are LOADS MORE pies and cakes, as it were, to go around for all – e.g. the gaming industry is now worth BILLIONS as well- but talent is not even half of it dude. That’s not to say it doesnt matter, but PEOPLE SKILLS , and PATIENCE are integral. Most importantly, you have to LOVE, LOVE and LOVE again what you do, to the point where your focus is realistic, yet bright and strong enough to cut through the rejections.

    Invariably, if its all bad news, then just leave. Pure and simple. After all, although god loves a tryer, no one loves a kamikaze pilot.

    People like Art himself, DP above, and many others here are grafting away for the LOVE of it. Of course, we all want due rewards, but if it was ONLY about money, then im certain most of us would do other things full time, which would be less uncertain, but not as fullfilling on other levels. Dp is also right about the numbers involved; the more you have, the better the chances you have. Knocking off stuff like an automaton doesnt cut it, and thankfully the better licensing houses arent happy to have the dregs either.

    Have passion, man. It’s tough out there, yet there are SO MANY ways to make a little for yourself too.

    Big L to all

    S R Dhain

    Juicy Audio Productions.

  36. Yad you got the wrong attitude.Without trying to find something positive in all this you will fail.
    I have made 150-to 200 thousand dollars a year for the last fifteen years and last year was a bad year.I made 90 thousand from royalties and another 20 thousand from some part time teaching.I worked freelance for someone else who actually has a library here at MLR that I cowrote nearly everything in the entire library but I wont go into any specifics since I don’t work there anymore and never had a contract.My biggest mistake.
    Now I am making deals here with some of the companies here at MLR.I have an exclusive with 1 of them.I made all of 200 dollars from them in 2009 which was their first year in business.I split that with my writing partner.I have heard others say it takes a good 3-5 years to build up your own library and make things happen.
    I Made more from another job I got on my own and royalties still to come.This is really the only way to make any kind of money until you can have upwards of a couple hundred tracks
    and a good deal of those making money for you.I have recently completed our 5th cd and as we all know to have any kind of quality takes time,time,and more time but there is no choice,I have to remain optmistic.

  37. Yad also says, “I only seek out the day to gain enough power to cheat other people.”

    Wow and I encouraged you and gave you positive feedback? You’re definitely on my non-grata list. Sorry.

    • It’s not my fault. I was conditioned to be like this because I know that I was weak and naive before. I was a sucker for doubting myself. I should have never been such a sucker. I have to be as hard as nails to get in the industry and make some money.

      I do not want to be this way. But I have to be like this at least for a while. Once I establish myself to the point where I have a huge disposable income, I can actually use my power to help out others and teach people. But for now, I am not at that level.

      I wish this were a joke. But reality is indifferent. I have to make the difference myself.

    • Yea, and to think I felt so sorry for him I asked him to call me to help him through his last “crisis”. He did and I thought we had a rational conversation. I think he must be off his meds again. LOL!

      • Hi Art! Moto-Wrays tonight in Brooklyn. I’ll think of you during Shake and Stomp.

      • Hey Art,

        I enjoyed our conversation. I think you handed me some good advice. I think you insight into the business was vey helpful. I know that you have worked hard and long to attain success.

        Unfortunately, it was not the right advice for me. I am a different breed of musician. Not better or worse, just different. I respect the opinions of most of you guys here. I am not here to belittle or heckle anyone. I just do not believe that following the paths of others will benefit me.

        I am no genius but I am smart enough to figure things out.

        • Yad says:

          “I can actually use my power to help out others and teach people.”

          “I only seek out the day to gain enough power to cheat other people.”

          “I constantly laugh at elitist musicians here who scoff at signing exclusive deals for no money.”

          “I think that some of these people here have you fooled. They aren’t doing anything. Many people here make great music. But they don’t have the hustle or drive to make things happen.”

          Yad, how do you reconcile the above with this:

          “I am not here to belittle or heckle anyone.”

    • Chris, sorry to see that this conversation got dragged off course by a stray bitter self-absorbed, self-pitying attitude. Your original article was thought provoking and not the least bit SPAM (in fact your open association is more like a disclosure in this case).
      The good people on this site have given thoughtful contributions to the discussion and probably (altruistically) spent too much time trying to teach the unteachable.
      I haven’t done any library work, so I am trying to learn the game options from anyone who has any level of experience in it. Seeking advice is not a waste of time IF one has an open ear/mind and the capacity for discernment. It’s a strange and volatile industry with ever shifting paradigms and anyone willing to offer freely of themselves from what experience they have should at least be treated with respect and not dressed down as though they were liars and scammers conspiring to keep someone down, or ignorant fools who know nothing. My music work has been client based, and if there is one thing I DO KNOW, it’s that if I were to display an attitude like the one in question here, I wouldn’t have any clients real fast.

  38. Guys,

    This Yadgyu guy is a joke, literally…it HAS to be someone playing a prank. Nobody would really say those things and mean it. I’m totally convinced this is a joke.

    “Yadgyu”, keep posting man, this is some entertaining stuff. You should start a blog!!!

  39. Good news!

    I am about to sign about 30 tracks with an exclusive publisher in Europe. I will NOT be receiving any advance or fee. My tracks will be signed to this company into perpetuity. I have been told that this is a bad move. I have been told that I will probably never make a dime from these songs. But I don’t care now.

    The more I read the posts on this site, the more confused I get. I do not know of anyone here making big money from doing music. I am sure some of you are getting nice checks, but no one person really is going to give the scoop on here for free.

    I am not seeking to make better music. I am not looking to work with the best companies. I am not looking for answers any longer. I now realize that no one is going to hand me the answers. I understand that no one here is really going to look out for me. I am going to have to learn things the long, hard way.

    If this means being cheated, then so be it. I have been cheated my whole life out of many things. But that is a part of life that most people will never escape. I only seek out the day to gain enough power to cheat other people. This sounds nefarious, but this is how the world works. I realize that being nice and working hard will not get me anywhere.

    I am just going to take risks until I establish myself. There is no other way to get ahead in life.

    Feel free to argue amongst yourselves.

    • Yadgyu says: “I only seek out the day to gain enough power to cheat other people.”

      Sigh… Yadgyu, you’re are so misguided it’s hard to know where to start, so I won’t even try.

      • So true , Art. Nail on the head:)
        One usually gets back the attitude one gives. There is only one primary rule to the music biz …learn the game and the playing field and go play like like it matters, or invent your own game and be prepared to support it.
        As Composers, griping isn’t in our job description and I don’t like to make it part of my free time either;) I really don’t know anyone who has succeeded at complaining their way into a job/contract;)

    • Yad,
      Quit acting like there is some magic bullet answer to your questions that everyone is withholding from you. People here have offered great and sincere advice and very few of us here have anything remotely like a definitive magic answer. Every deal is a negotiation anew. standard pricing does not (and in most cases probably should not exist).
      I know someone who makes a living from doing only exactly what you sat you are doing(because the European model works a little different than ours), BUT, He produces state of the art broadcast ready tracks which began to prove themselves as sale-able material…once proven he gets specific requests to create genre oriented tracks.
      Yup, you are right, it sure is long hard work, and a lot of figuring it out for yourself!
      But not because anyone is holding back “secrets’ from you.
      It’s because everyone’s music, skill, business model, & resources are different…and every negotiation is just that. If you want a step by step, paint by numbers procedure that will make everything easy for you, you are in the wrong business.

      • That is my point, my friend!

        I had the assumption that there was a magic formula or some secret society that would help me. I finally realized that no one cares about me. I realized that no one here can give me the answers because people here do not have the answers. They are just as confused as I was before.

        I am beyond being sad and depressed. I am just going to submit my songs and let them do what they can do. I was wasting time trying to seek advice and help. Time is wasting away and putting too much thought into deals is only going to kill my momentum.

        Also, I believe that American libraries are a waste of time to anyone who does not own equity in that particular library. How can a composer make any money from a non-exclusive? The owners of these non-exclusive libraries do not actively push songs. This is why most people who have songs with these companies make little to no money.

        Europe is the place to be. America is over as far as the music industry. I think Asia will dominate in the later half of this century. But for now, I am working Europe hard. I will possibly going to be tackling Australia in the next few months, just for the challenge.

        The money is out here. I can smell it!!!!

        • I smell somethin…but it ain’t money.

          Keep posting though!! Can you make videos and post them on youtube.

    • Yad say, ” I do not know of anyone here making big money from doing music.”

      I don’t know how you could possibly make such a statement without any knowledge of the people here and what they have accomplished. There are several of us on this forum who are making a very healthy 6+ figure income from music. Misinformed statements makes you look like a fool.

      Yad also says, “I only seek out the day to gain enough power to cheat other people.”

      A life seeking negativity and harm to others is a life doomed to failure.

      • This is not true. If people were that successful, they would be bragging about it. I know that I would. Why come here and play innocent if you have the knowledge and the money?

        I think that some of these people here have you fooled. They aren’t doing anything. Many people here make great music. But they don’t have the hustle or drive to make things happen.

        As far as cheating goes, you are going to get cheated for a while unless you wise up. Once you do, you gain power. You then use that powere to make things happen for you. You do not have to cheat all of the time. As a matter of fact, most successful con artists know when to cheat and when to play fair. It is only the fools who cheat into oblivion.

        Negativity is all around us. You just learn how to play the game and become great in your own right.

  40. TAOXproductions says:

    @MusicLibraryRpt Not sure why you thought that was spammy? Because he named the source of the infomative article? It inspired discussions.

  41. First of all, great site ART.

    This is a very interesting discussion. I just submitted to one of the big re-titling libraries. I am still awaiting a reply but in their blurb when you submit it states that their biggest client no longer accepts re-titled tracks. They have some other way around it. I will wait until I hear back from them and then post it. Could be that things could be changing.

    • Hi Denis,

      Glad you like the site.

      What some libraries seem to be doing now is to prepend or append their own code or number to an existing title. That way it’s not a strict re-title but they can still keep track of the accounting.

      • That’s a smart workaround! The fact remains however, that multiple libraries will still be submitting the same tracks, which what I imagine is the biggest beef the music supervisors and editors have with re-titling.
        They have tons of music to sift through without coming across duplicates, and the headache of having to choose which one to go for if they like a track with re-title duplicates. Is the cheapest offer legal? Why is it cheaper? etc etc

        I’m beginning to think that the re-titling concept will be banished to the online royalty free world, where it doesn’t matter as much.

        • Yep!Until your pro’s catch on to this we’ll see the status quo for now!
          One of the companies right here at MLR said that they will not retitle but put there company name in front of my Track title.I think this in most cases will work fine.
          What we need is Standard fees everybody can agree with.{wishful thinking}But everybody would benefit.
          I have looked online at some of the local licensing companies in SF bay area where I live and found some companies charging 3 -5 dollars for music.The tracks are you can guess barely begining 101 music class for novices who deluge the market with complete crap.Art,hope thats not too slanderous!

      • That is exactly what they are going to do.

  42. There are many royalty free music libraries out there, some of them decent and ethical, others less to say the least. My advice is that each time you find great music suited for your needs in one of these stock music catalogs try just a track or two each time, see how they operate, how they correspond and feel them. If they seem nice and act according to your ethical standards, then they probably have legitimate contracts with their composers and partners, and no legal problems should occur. Get tips and referals from colleagues minimize your risks. After all, there is a reason that most productions don’t use original music, its the price! Like everything else, pros and cons …

    • is this a very spammy ad in disguise?! Not cool, reflects very poorly on the site you are advertising – Hollywood Production Music. Especially considering you mention the unethical practices of some of your competition!

      • Hey matt, sorry you feel that way. The fact that i am active in a music library doesn’t mean that i don’t have something to contribute to this debate. What i wrote comes from personal experience and I think it can help the readers. I prefer not to go anonymous, and i am happy to give HPM as an example of one of the good guys … I don’t think it reflects poorly on the site and i don’t think that this is their niche target anyway.

        • It just seemed deceptive to use a link to your site with the words ‘there are many royalty free libraries out there’ and ‘one of these stock music catalogs’.
          Felt like the zillions of spam emails we all get every day.

          • Think of it as a signature, just not only at the end of the comment … Its certainly not the main message of the comment. But you know what, i think i understand where you’re coming from and i’ll take your words into consideration next time i comment. Its not worth risking credibilty …

  43. Getting back to the subject at hand…

    I’m glad the debate about re-titling is still a pretty hot topic. I was one of the first on this site to go into detail about why I did NOT prefer re-titling. I see the pros and cons, but I really hate the “long term” cons, as some have mentioned in earlier posts.

    I think re-titling is just like anything else in this music industry. Unfortunately, you have to play the “game”, and be smart about it. I think you could take advantage of re-titling and have some success if you have a pretty large catalog of material to work with. I’m a songwriter and producer, so I’m thinking about looking into re-titling for maybe my instrumentals only, for example…and keep my songs (with lyrics) outside of re-titling..*shrugs* It’s just a thought.

    Ultimately, I’m most interested in working with those that have a good reputation and overall keep things as fair as possible. There ARE some out there that re-title that seem to be very good at helping composers get placements.

    Learn the “game”, and play it to the best of your ability….period.

  44. I guess the only way is to experiment. Thanks.

  45. Speaking of success probability, has anyone branched out into the other kind of business of self promotion thru Tunecore and Jango radio? I know on musician forums that band touring and promotion is the main forte. I’m wondering if there’s any feedback about non performing library musicians trying this out, and if there’s any likelihood of succeeding with radio friendly tunes. (whether the income from Tunecore distribution sales is more than the $15 or so dollars for a single plus the $30 for 1000 airplays on Jango). Anyone try this with catchy instrumentals?

    • Ive had some success – bigger than the outlay for sure ๐Ÿ™‚ – using tunecore to put out e.p.’s , and its only NOW that theyre offering sattelite products like jango et al. But make no mistake; the competition out there for “pop” related product is now ULTRA FIERCE. If you want to sell something, you better get ready to spend 16 hours aday for a while, just talking about and getting others to talk about how great you are.

      Marketing is KEY NUMBER ONE when it comes to music sales using i-tunes etc. To the point where ironically i know an artist who spends too much time – seriopusly- just going on and on about all her ventures in musicland, but it hasnt translated to sales yet. Even though shes spent 5 YEARS building up a multi faceted profiel using the web as a great marketing tool. All because the music has obviously not reflected all the P.R. and she hasnt made enough music per se to justify the publicity.

      its swings and roundabouts Mike. You cant be all things to all people, all the time. Stick with the strengths and soldier on, in my book.

      regards

      S R DHAIN
      JUICY AUDIO PRODUCTIONS

  46. I may not quit completely, but I am taking a break. I have contacted a great deal of companies so far. Now I am just going to work with a solid five companies that I think would suit me best.

    I am going through my songs and I am cleaning house. I am going to delete most of the songs I have and start over. I will also be getting some new equipment. I probably willl not be making anything new for a good 90 days or so. I have already deleted all but one of the songs on my soundclick page.

    Thanks for the good words of encouragement.

  47. And Yadgyu, don’t give up! I searched for your stuff and found a track on YouTube and it was pretty cool. Had a very unique sound. I will say it did sound like a low quality file. If you sent it to libraries like that maybe that’s why they didn’t accept it.

  48. If it sounds good, it is good. -Duke Ellington

    I’ve made my career following that motto and won’t ever flag from 100% believing it!

  49. I think the normal listener donsn’t care whether it is a sample or an acoustic instrument. It’s only the people in the music business that gives a hoot.

  50. Man, it sounds tough for everyone here.

  51. I love the style of prose – there’s even a warriors reference (“its our turf”) ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks for noticing…you are the first to call it out.

      • It’s cool chris, i hear what youre saying. I get the vibe and the flavour here, even though im in the UK.

        Maybe its cause i spent 5 years trying to do all of it off my own back -ive had over 20 placements using that method and make no mistake, it was A REAL HARD SLOG – that i thought “ok, everyone is using libraries, so ill take a bit of a plunge”. I was (still am i think), part of a group on linked in that was all about libraries and licensing houses, and thats how i came to find out about this website and was probably one of the first ones here.

        I had a few days of mind numbing accounts and paperwork , which i counterbalanced by trying to check out all the sites Art had then put up in the original list – the site itself has undergone a radical look revamp since then- and discovered a lot of libraries etc that id never have known about. This site is the dog’s nuts for many reasons; the primary one, being that it saves a lot of well meaning composers and producers shedloads of time in vetting the good and the bad. I myself have signed to two organisations since discovering this site. the others ive had good relaitonships with for years, but as youve pointed out Chris, they are indeed struggling.

        My point is perhaps one of the middle ground. I can see Art’s point of view, cause not everyone can end up in hans zimmer’s, chris franke’s, and so on position, no matter how good they are, simply cause they may never get the chance to be “in the right place at the right time” (which believe me is a BIG part of it as well), as well as have that extra special je ne sais quois that is required. Its almost akin to winning the lottery. And yet ALL OF US (i believe) on this site, DO want the big gigs too. That means everyone soldier’s on, due to the LOVE of what they do. I actually heard some stuff from a few guys’ here on yooka, and i was moved (Emmett, your piano pieces are pure quality..top notch stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ ), cause they quality IS there. Ill make the assumption that most here can deliver the goods AND THEN SOME MORE.

        And yet Chris, you are right too. If we all feed the system constantly , then it’ll get harder and harder for ALL, because oversupply will reduce prices drastically. However, even im puzzled as to why so many music libraries hoarde so much music, if only say 10% of it (which drops to 1% in some cases) gets used per annum. Is the rationale “oh you never know…we might find the next great one amongst the hoardes” or is it “when we reach 50000 tracks, we’ll ameliorate/amalgamate/ sell to one of the big guys”? or maybe its both? …

        To conclude, if anyone is to be culpable, its the guys saying “come on in…well take it!”, simply cause unless someone wants something, no one will sit and stockpile music forever… Or is it the happy, optimistic in all of us composers, who is to blame for this scenario?

        So…which comes ( or goes) first…the chicken OR the egg?

        Peace out

        S R Dhain

        Juicy Audio Productions

        • Respect…and I 2nd that this site is great.

        • Thanks very much – its great to hear from people that they like your music – especially from other composers! Had a listen to your tracks aswell on your website a while back – was very impressed by your production quality (something I lack lol ๐Ÿ™‚ ) aswell as your compositional standards aswell.

          I agree with all you said in your post – some interesting ideas about where the music licensing industry is going in terms of there being too much music available, and the amount keeps growing. I suppose a part of that is also “updating sounds”. By that, I mean instrumental tracks can always sound better – by using better samples, production techniques etc. which are still evolving. Granted, they are nearing life-like depths at this stage, but I think libraries with say 50k tracks, must be filled with at least 20% of tracks that are just unlicensible due to their “outdated” sounds.

          I do know that some libraries pride themselves on having a small amount of tracks compared to some of those other 50k libraries. I wonder will this be the way libraries might move towards in the near future? Surely people can’t find the track they would like in a library so large?

          It will be interesting to see how the whole industry does evolve – will it hit boiling point and if so, what will happen? Also – agree – awesome website Art ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, very interesting to hear you have never got any offers from big libraries or $1000 per track offers etc. – I thought your music was very high quality Art.

          Would be interesting to see exactly what kind of tracks do attract the attention of the “big” libraries and the offers of $1000 up front fee

          • Your sound is superb Emmett. Your stuff instantly stuck a chord with me, cause i know a lot of classically trained pianists ( i stopped after a year, which i occasionally regret), and theyre determined to play ANYTHING but melodic stuff, which is perhaps an indication of the decades theyve spent on music theory and so on, or theyre just so heavily into the avant-garde, that making anything too melodic is anaethma to them right now

            .For example, I went to an audio accoustic night the other day, in a church,with multiple speakers carefully set up around the place and ALL the pianists made non-melodic tone poems. The non pianist made…music. It was absolutely freezing in there, which added another element I suppose.Coming back to your stuff, a lot of care and subtle nuances are present in your music and its a top notch sound man..im sure yooka are also more than happy that youre keeping it coming ๐Ÿ™‚

            Coming back to your quesiton, its not even necessarily the libraries, but more the CLIENT(S). It IS a client driven market after all, and hence a combination of the usual factors :-

            * supply and demand
            * the sales pitching
            * the added value which is percieved or granted to the artist and the library(s) themselves.
            * the spread and breadth of the artist

            In all fairness, its the first three- especially the third one- which is the kicker when they decide to pay out 1000 plus for a piece of music.

            In effect, this is why when yadgu (bless him) said something about starting his OWN library, then i remembered thinking the same thing many many moons ago. However, until ive made enough of a name for myself, it may be counter-productive for now. Also, the business aspects are tougher than ever out there, so you then have to wear multiple hats ALL THE TIME, cause the irony is youll be competing with everyone…including yourself , unless you can pull all the stuff from all the places its already sitting.

            The times they are a changin’..and about time too ;-D

            • Thanks man – really appreciate it. Out of curiosity, would you think it was made with Reason? I know a lot of people think it was a real piano – which brings up a whole other question of “Do non-musicians/normal folk hear the difference between live music/samples?”

              Anyway, yea interesting points there….the whole “wearing multiple” hats thing is where it can be very difficult for musicians and composers to do – especially seeing as how composing can take so much time up normally by itself. I suppose we’re destined to rely on music libraries in the end

              • I was convinced you’d used a high-end ROMPLER or VST piano to do the lot. If youve used reason, then you get double kudos for making it sound so crisp. ๐Ÿ™‚

                • Ha thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ If you use Reason 4.0 – just use “5 foot grand piano” I think – thats all I do – no effects or EQ lol ๐Ÿ™‚ Suprisingly easy – I just go by the mantra discussed already – if it sounds great, then no need to change it.

  52. Here’s the other (uncut) version of that article. It has some other interesting points.

    http://circa70.org/versiontwo/?p=383

    • Hey Chris,

      Will you be in LA anytime soon? We gotta hang man, that article is THE TRUTH!

    • Hi Chris,

      I read the article and have a few thoughts. I do hear a lot of anger in your article so this is obviously something that touches you deeply.

      From my point of view, as a composer who has never been courted by the big libraries, never been offered $1000 per track and never had any major placements, I look at it a little differently. Maybe someday that will happen and I will continue to try and improve my skills to that end. In the meantime I have a few hundred cues and the only interest for that music is from re-titling (non-exclusive) libraries or small exclusive libraries that pay no upfront fee. So what do I do? I’m not interested in letting those cues sit on the shelf when I know there is a market for them and I know I can earn extra income. Not all re-titling libraries are the same. There are the Pump Audios of the world but there are many other (and better) choices. That’s the main reason I started Music Library Report.

      I’ve only been at this end of the business for a few years and hopefully, in time, will make it to the better paying gigs and better placements. But, every composer, no matter how successful, started from square one. We are all looking to better ourselves, our skills and our lives. Some are further along the path than others.

      Just my two pennies worth.

      Art

      P.S.

      I also want to correct something you said in your article that many people don’t understand.

      You said: “Think about that when BlueArrow or TuneSat spits out 10 titles for the same rejected demo.”

      I don’t know about Bluearrow but Tunesat can only identify one title. When you open a Tunesat account you send them your music to be fingerprinted along with your title. When it detects usage it only refers to the title you gave to Tunesat. It does NOT recognize other titles.

      • Art-

        First and foremost–you are reading the uncut freewrite on my blog. The published article doesn’t refer to TuneSat. I took it out for this and other reasons.

        I’m sorry you think the article is angry but it really is not. The column is called Subconscious Headset…which is my vocabulary for ranting out loud to yourself. That article has been circulated all throughout the PMA and I’ve never gotten that reaction. I’m from NYC; the angry agitator is part of my brand and we are all in on the joke.

        It’s an editorial. It’s supposed to be humorous and is aiming at a very specific type of music supervisor–inept ones. I realize people have different levels of career-dom. Look back ^^^ at me encouraging Yad not to quit music and he said my article was petty and pointless so believe me: I don’t knock anyone creating music ever. I’ve answered about 5 emails asking for demo critiques (you all know who you are) so it hurts me to think that I’m viewed as hating on composers or belittling their efforts. Am I just assuming that?

        I’m disappointed you don’t feel the spirit of what I’m saying. The article is knocking the re-title practice first…not indie small libs. The article is a call to arms. I’m saying that we are the creators of this object called production music and don’t turn it out for an iffy quick buck with a re-title lib that is bound to fail somehow. Take your tracks, title them what you want, and create your own library. If you are bound do be doing your own admin with an INERT than do it for yourself and be proud. Some of the INERT libs just don’t know what they are doing so be careful. I’m also trying to guide people toward the truth of this: just because your track EXISTS doesn’t mean it will get placed on TV. It must be edit-friendly and function from the word go. And it must be sold and placed by motivated publishers. Motivated publishers are ones that OWN their music exclusively by paying for it. Please look at the plain business of it. Re-title libs = department stores of production music. Worse. Outlets.

        • Big time Truth right there from Chris :

          “… just because your track EXISTS doesn’t mean it will get placed on TV. It must be edit-friendly and function from the word go. And it must be sold and placed by motivated publishers. Motivated publishers are ones that OWN their music exclusively by paying for it. Please look at the plain business of it. Re-title libs = department stores of production music. Worse. Outlets.”

          I hope the right people take this to heart, seriously.

        • Hi Chris,

          I understand that you are not knocking composers, per se and I get that the article is about re-titling libraries and the practice itself. I agree that many of those libraries are ineffectual at best (at least in my limited experience). But there are some that provide a legitimate output for those of us who have no place else to turn. Of course there is no “one size fits all”. A library that is successful for one person may not be for another.

          You also mention about creating ones own library and I agree. For the last few months I have been working on creating a music licensing web site for our own music. It will all be done with open source software so the cost will be minimal. Once I have it developed I will share the process with everyone so they can do the same.

          Anyway, Namaste (I just got back from Yoga, so L.A. LOL!)

      • I hope this doesn’t take away from the discussion. I noticed you said: “the only interest for that music is from re-titling (non-exclusive) libraries”

        Do you mean that every non exclusive lib IS a re-titling? I thought that only some of them were! I’m trying to stay away from the retitling aspect, but I love the idea of non-exclusive. I thought non-exclusive was just non-exclusive and if somebody notices my music on another library, oh well that might have some disadvantages, but prob. wouldn’t happen with the same person who is searching for music.

  53. Guys, Alan Ett doesn’t turn down anyone, this is all a joke.

    • I was never formally turned down by Alan Ett. I never received a response back after sending in a package. I had also sent a package to Opus1, which is affiliated with Alan Ett Music Group. I never got a response from Opus1 either. If you know something I don’t please let me know.

      • Don’t count “no response” as a NO. Keep calling then until you get a live person on the phone. Focus all of your hustle energy Alan Ett and pigFACTORY

  54. Yadgyu,

    If your heart isn’t into the composing end anymore, you may want to consider a music business career. You could start your own music library. With the Internet today, it doesn’t seem all that difficult. And with all the music out there seeking libraries, you’d fill up your music library in no time. Actually, I’ve been toying with the idea myself.

    You could start with blanket licensing. Send your complete library on CD’s to NBC, CBS, etc. for consideration. I hear some libraries charge 5- $6,000 for a three month blanket license. Multiply that by several networks, and you’d be rolling in money.

    Just one thing; make sure you save room for some of my tracks. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Good luck in whatever you do.

    Best, John ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 2nd…and I want to print some of the stuff I said to you privately in the email. Don’t quit.

      Don’t quit because you love music. Don’t quit because it’s a positive thing that you like doing. Don’t quit because it works your brain in different directions. Don’t quit because if you are making music to make money and not the LOVE first you will never get better and I think that’s what you want. Don’t quit because your stuff isn’t too far gone. Don’t quit because you want to prove to yourself that you are capable of growth. Don’t quit because all those peeps that “hate on you” will say “see, I told you” and screw them. Don’t quit because music is the greatest thing on Earth and one of the greatest things about being human.

      DIY like these ^^^ posts say. Get organized. If you cannot edit your tracks into dynamic storytelling machines find some who can, either way that’s good producing. Come on man get out of your rut and into the game. If I thought your tracks were absolutely useless I’d agree and say maybe you should reconsider. Get mad you SOB. And drop the self-loathing bit it’s bad business! ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. Well, it’s been fun. But the music has stopped playing for me. Thanks for all of the advice, guys. Good luck with your music.

  56. Because of the potential mess of having multiple libraries laying claim to the same song, we’re trying to limit the number of libraries we submit work to. If a song is accepted with library A, we don’t submit it to bunch of other libraries.

    Now, if library A rejects it, B gets a chance and so on. I don’t know if it’s the right approach or not, but it’s our strategy for now… We’re still very new at this – my wife and I.

    Has anyone tried revoking a title from a library? It appears a library only re-titles if they actually place the song. So removing a title/song from from a library that for whatever reason fails to place it might make sense, if another library tends to produce better results for you.

    • Just did that with one of the libraries I was with. They were not having any success with placing what they had so they agreed to pull the ones that they hadn’t submitted. Those will have to wait till my contract ends.

      • I knew one with a 2-year minimum or written request to pull ASAP. Inert libs aren’t going to be touched by any well paying placement opps sooner or later. Probably sooner THAN later. Just DIY.

  57. Good commandment check list! You’ll want to excite the listener from beginning to end.

    Although, when listening to background music on TV, it doesn’t always fit this criterion. Sometimes TV music is very boring when listened to without the film.

    However, to get accepted into many libraries, it takes a stand-alone, knock-your-socks-off type of production. Yeah, I know; kind of a double standard.

    • Right but who is making it boring? The editor or the composer? That’s the thing I’m trying to shed light on. What you hear in the show may not be what the track sounds like.

  58. I think the best thing to do re: demo critique is just put some commandments up. Again: do what you want. But I can guarantee these are some reasons libs pass on work.

    1. poor fidelity
    2. poor sounds
    3. boring and beddy with no dynamics, edit points, pay-off, drama or storytelling.
    4. generic styles/no identity/derivative/played
    5. not enough styles
    6. all of the above

    One of the analogies I always use is this: when the camera shows a flashlight scanning a dark room eventually you see the body. And just because you hear beds on TV DOESN’T MEAN WRITE ONE. Imitate function NOT FORM. NOT ONE client will say “I dunno just give me some boring stuff”. ALL editors want their stuff to pop even if they don’t have the moxie to do so. Sounding like everyone else does not translate to competence as some people think. You are better off missing a brief entirely with some highly original sounding tracks than imitating what you hear and think the clients wants. This goes for record production too. Don’t imitate hot producer X because you think that’s what the production wants: If they want hot producer X they will call him.

  59. Yad-

    Everyone here is giving you sound advice. I especially agree with the music is passion comment. Passionate = I’m doing it no matter what until I die.

    You sound down on yourself. Stop beating yourself up. I listened to you tracks and have some thoughts. I’ll email them over unless you want me to post here.

  60. Guscave is absolutely correct Yad. It’s all about passion. There are many other vocations that can generate money easier.

    Music is a life style. You live it every minute. If the passion isn’t there, then you’re better off finding a new direction.

    Most of us here (at least I’m assuming) would be doing “it” regardless of the financial compensation.

    Only you know how bad you want it. To me; it’s my life. I’ve been composing for 50 years.

    John

    • I’ve been discussing and developing an expanded model for the music aspect of an audio/video post production partnership I am involved in. We were sitting back, honestly analyzing payout/investment rates and lengths of wait for various music,production and IP scenarios. My partner says (merely factually) “well I can make more money than that doing corporate videos… and without having to wait years for the return.” He didn’t mean it as an imperative…just a true observation, but my first response just spilled off my tongue…
      ” So when your 80 years old you want your creative legacy to be the right to to be able to say ” I made more money doing corporate videos”?
      We both had a good laugh and kept forging ahead;)

  61. Yad
    Tell us more about what your setup is at home, how you compose, etc.

    Go to library sites and listen to catalog samples in your genre and listen carefully to everything about those pieces. Honestly compare what you have to what you hear and seek out how to bridge the gap.

    Saying your music needs to get better doesn’t mean you suck, have no talent, should quit, etc. Everyone started somewhere.

    As others have said, it’s time to stop focusing on finding more libraries to pitch and focus on the music. I’ve seen others come from where you are and be successful. Does “successful” mean get rich on it? Probably not though if you work VERY hard you could develop an income stream in 3-5 years or more (yes, that long).

    Don’t give up! Put your energies in the right place and you can succeed!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I am using FL Studio 8 and some other VST instruments. I have a ton of wav files that I use for percussion. I tried to use Reason, but I was totally confused and lost. I have heard that I need to get a Pro Tools setup, maybe just an MBox. But right now, I am in no financial position to buy any new equipment.

      I have no musical training whatsoever. I just started using software on my own and learning as I went along. I thought that I could just pick up things by listening to other people’s music and asking a few questions. But no one really wanted to share without shelling out money for lessons or signing up for something. I guess no one really has the time to bother with me if I am not offering any real money.

      I am living paycheck to paycheck and I couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars on what most of my friends and family consider a “hobby”. I have responsibilities and bills that are draining me. I cannot get ahead at work. So music is really the only outlet I have to feel free, bold, confident, and in control. Turns out, I am not even good at that.

      Don’t feel sorry for me. I guess I brought this on myself by being such a jerk. I just had no idea that other people were that much more successful than me. 90-100% success rate? I don’t even have a 9% success rate. I think I had better stop fooling myself. There a difference between quitting and quitting while one is ahead.

      • Yad,
        You’re going to need to give yourself a lot of time (years, not months) of learning. Most of the folks in here have probably been playing, writing, producing music for most of their adult lives.

        You say that you have no musical training. That’s the first place you need to start from. Learn how to play an instrument. You don’t need to become a genius, just learn how to accompany yourself with an instrument. If that alone gives you a type of passion that you feel you could never give up, then you’ll be ready to move on to “trying” to make some money out of it.

        Something else to keep in mind. The music industry is probably the least compensated industry around. A doctor works on a patient, and he gets paid. An architect build a house, and he gets paid. A carpenter build a chair, he gets paid. The same can not be said for songwriters. We can spend years writing & producing music yet never see a dime for the work put into it. So do it for the passion first and foremost.

        Best to ya.

      • The internet is a treasure trove of free education. You can find lessons in just about anything from software to instruments, to building a studio. I am self taught (from the pre-internet world) and haven’t done library work before, just getting interested.
        I really can’t speak to the Library success rate issue, because I mostly work with clients, but even with over 20 years in the music biz (only a Film Composer for the last 10) and a couple distributed films and numerous corporate, commercial and music video projects under my belt, EVERY DAY is another day where I say “I need to keep steppin up my game, there is sooo much further I need to go!” educating yourself in the music biz never stops. When it does, staleness can set in and the “fresher” and “newer” starts to beat out the tired. So “Beginner’s Mind” is a good philosophy to reflect on ni matter where you are at in the biz..

  62. Wait, you got turned down by Alan Ett? This has to be a joke.

  63. Don’t give up Yadgyu! You only need one good company. Maybe the next one will be a winner.

    • Are you being sincere or sarcastic. I almost hate to find out.

      • Hey Yadgyu,

        I noticed pigFACTORY wasn’t on your list. They’re based in LA and are a good starting point, you should call them.

        Also, you should check out the 2010 ASCAP expo taking place in April.

      • Yadgyu,

        The music biz can be brutal and humbling. That being said, if music is really your passion you will never give up. If it’s only about making money, as you once pointed out, then it will beat you. Remember my mentioning that it’s all about the journey? It really is. I’ve had a fair amount of success in some areas of the music business but not much as a writer/producer. Still, many decades later I’m still chasing it because I love writing and producing.

        So, hang in there. Sometimes it can be a journey and sometimes you can catch a wave early. You never know. I have learned it’s only a phone call or e-mail away!

      • Yadgyu,

        One more thing about it only being a phone call or e-mail away. Last Friday I got an e-mail from a company I hadn’t worked for in about 3 years. They wanted a theme for a new series they were producing. Of course they needed it in a couple of days but we got it done and the network loved it. Of course anything can go wrong and they could change their mind. But the point is that the call came out of the blue from the most unlikely place. You just never know.

        • Yes. One of my mantras: Things happen in one day.

          Sometimes one hour. Your big lib contract will only take a second to receive, an hour to proof/lawyer, and a minute to sign. Good thing you have all that time to get your shizz together. Passion = inate, constantly renewing, drive to do something no matter what. It’s not discipline. Discipline (can be IMO) is forcing yourself to have passion. Just be careful to know the difference.

  64. You guys actually have that much success? My music must be horrible then. I have been rejected by a boatload of companies. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. As a matter of fact, here is a list of the companies that have rejected me so far:

    300 Monks
    5 Alarm Music
    615 Music
    AirCraft Music Library
    Alan Ett Music Group
    Amphibious Zoo
    APEX Music Library
    APM
    Audio Architects
    Audio Socket Music
    Agoraphone
    Astralwerks Records
    Audiobrien
    B&H Gold Production Music
    Beatbox Music
    Beatpick
    Big Dog Music Design
    Big Pig Music
    Boom Music
    Boosey & Hawkes PM
    Boost Music
    Bug Music Publishing
    Camboso Urban Production.
    Canary Music
    Carlin Production Music
    Casablanca Media Publishing
    Chestnut Mills Musicraft
    Cringe Music
    Crucial Music
    CTM Licensing
    Daddy Jack Music
    Dangerous Kitchen Music
    Davenport Music Library
    Deadly Dreams Music
    DeWolfe Music
    Dittybase
    Downright Music
    Dubeytunes Studios
    Ear Goo
    Earshot Audio Post
    Editor’s Choice Music
    EMI Music Publishing
    Encore Merci Editions
    ESL Music
    Extreme Music
    Fable Music
    Feature Sounds
    Fierce Music Entertainment
    FirstCom
    Fluid Post
    Flying Hands
    Freeplay Music
    G & E Music
    Gratis Music
    Groove Addicts
    HumToo
    Immediate Music
    Indidginus
    Julia John Music
    Jumping Jamali Pty. Ltd.
    JW Media Music
    Kid Gloves Music
    Killer Tracks
    Kondor Music
    Konga
    Los Angeles Post Music
    Magnatune
    Mainstream Source
    Malleryscores
    Mama Dance
    Manchester Music
    Manhattan Production Music
    MassiveMusic
    Mastersource
    Matchless Music
    Media Music Now
    Melodious Thunk, Inc.
    Megatrax
    Metro Music
    Missing Sync
    Morning Music
    Mudshark Audio
    Music 2 Hues
    Music Bakery
    Music Candy
    Music For Productions
    Music For Sport
    Music & Musique
    Non Stop Music
    Omnimusic
    Opus 1 Music Library
    Opuzz
    Panama Music Library
    Partners in Rhyme
    Peer Music Publishing
    PP Music
    Premier Tracks
    Productiontrax
    Prolific Arts Music
    Proud Music Library
    Putumayo World Music
    Quest Production Music
    Radical Music Library
    Red Igloo
    RipTide Music
    Royalty-Free.tv
    Rumblefish
    ScoreKeepers Music
    Selectracks Music Library
    Slick Tracks
    Smart Ass Music
    Sobe Entertainment
    Song To Your Eyes
    Song Zu
    Songs With Vision
    Sonicfreq
    Sonoton
    Sony/ATV Publishing
    Soper Sound Music Library
    Soundrangers
    Spider Cues
    Synchro Music
    Tequila Mockingbird
    The Decibel Collective
    The Diner
    The Hollywood Edge
    Transition Music
    TRF Production Music
    Triple Scoop Music
    Tsunami Music
    TunEdge Music
    TwistedTracks
    UBM Records
    Ultra Records
    Uncommon Trax
    Universal Music Production Library
    Valentino Inc.]
    Vapor Music Group
    V02 Music
    Vimusica
    Wacbiz
    Warner/Chappelle Music Publishing
    Water Music Records
    West One Music
    Westar Music
    Wild Whirled Music
    Yessian Music
    YookaMusic

    You are probably thinking “there’s no way he has sent music to all of those guys”. But I have. Even worse is that all of these companies have turned me down. I didn’t even get a response from many of them. Now you are thinking “man, this guy put in that much work and got turned down by that many people? Wow! LOL!”.

    Yes, it is all true. At this point, I am going to throw up my hands and call it quits. I am so frustrated, angry, and depressed. I just didn’t really know how bad I was. I thought that my music was OK. I mean, I hear worse stuff on the radio at times. Even though I work hard, I just don’t have the raw talent to be successful.

    Oh well, at least I tried. I can never look back and say that I did not try.

    • You’ve applied to a wide range of companies, perhaps without enough research. Some of these companies are very easy going with what they accept, and the rejection might be a harsh dose of reality. On the other hand, a lot of these companies have very high standards – Immediate Music (the premier trailer music company!) Selectracks and West One, to name a few.

      Look man, a lot of us on this site poke fun at your troll-like posts, but if you really are for real, and have just discovered that you need to ‘up your game’, then things can only get better for you. Now that you know where you are at (instead of where you wanted to believe you were at) you can start making serious strides towards producing music that those libraries would be interested in.

      Here’s my advice, I know it’s not asked for, but if you’re for real, then here’s what I suggest:

      1) Focus on music that you are most comfortable writing, and further develop those skills. This genre will likely start paying off for you in the shortest amount of time

      2) Divide your time at least equally between improving your composing ability AND your production (choice of palette, mixing, mastering) abilities. Production these days is actually more important than compositional skills (although don’t count out the latter).

      3) Be patient – from your posts it seems like you’re busting at the seams to make millions from your music. This energy is good, but I’ve seen plenty of guys from music school with that kind of intense energy fizzle out when they find out there’s a few more years to go (after college) before their music is ready to sell. It’s the ones that have a grounded, sustaining drive to succeed that eventually make their living from music. Contributing EVERY day to your production and composing abilities through practice is what pays off big time.

      4) Don’t be afraid of the truth – your realization of how far you have to go is a great step. I find what’s really useful (and humbling) is to compare a piece of music I’ve just finished (and am proud of) to a similar track by an A list composer. Play your track, then theirs, back and forth. Each time you do this, you’ll gain more of an understanding of how the A list guys write and produce their music. It’ll also help keep your ego in check when you think you’ve just created the world’s greatest masterpiece : )

    • Yagyu, I’ve emailed about 100 companies, but only got responses from about 10. Just because you don’t get a response doesnt mean they don’t like it. I only got a response from 300 monks last night out of the blue, about a month later. These things take time.

      Focus more on your writing abilities, get better sounds, spend more time on production – make your music sound great, then apply again. Also, if it is all about the money for you, try writing other types of music rather than your current style. You will broaden your possible market, and might even find another type of music that you like creating.

      As Hunter S. Thompson said “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side”. Don’t let it put you down ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yadgyu,

      You list Productiontrax, they don’t reject music. Anyone can upload to them. Are you sure you have looked at all of these sites?

    • Yadgyu,

      We don’t reject any content. If you had any issues setting up an account or uploading media, please let me know. My email is brandon(at)productiontrax.com. I’ll help you resolve any such issues.

      Also remember, the real key to success on any of these sites is to actively contribute. Don’t put a few songs up and then never add anything else. The more music you write and upload, the better chance you have of a customer seeing your tracks.

      • Yup agree completely – continuing to upload music is a really important factor in music sales. I’ve just started to upload again to productiontrax and I’ve had a few more sales of old tracks just from uploading new tracks ๐Ÿ™‚

  65. Whether or not a library re-titles is not the so much the issue (Many non-exclusive libraries don’t re-title). The real problem is that hundreds of libraries are presenting the same songs to the same clients because writers are no longer limited by the exclusive deals to just have their music under one umbrella.

    It’s a damn if you do, damn if you don’t situation.

  66. Thanks for all the comments. Don’t forget it’s an editorial. I was Sr. Producer for a very well known PMA lib in NYC for 8 years and I would make mixes of the year’s worst demos. If anyone ever wants some honest feedback as to the license-readiness of their music feel free to send me a link to your demo. I’m very positive and diplomatic when figuring out why your recordings don’t stand a chance; if your tracks sound like it’s 1992 you’d better pitch to clients from 1992 or fix them.

  67. Im fortunate that ive not adhered to the paradigm he’s described – great reading, and humurous with it – otherwise as i said to art and a few others a long time ago, the retitling model will eventuallly collapse in a heap of litigation and recrimination.

    However, as i also said then, and i stick to now, the other shoe analogy is perfect. Why? well look at it this way; with so much music out there duplicated in so many libraries, WHO has really provided the OPPORTUNITY for this to happen? The libraries themselves. WHY? To add value to their portfolios and product. And yet the value of sync fees is dropping cause theres SO MUCH PRODUCT as a result.

    The proliferation of exclusive libraries will increase over time simply cause:-
    a) they will make more money from the uniqueness of their product(s).

    b) its a more cleaner – ethical?- business model . No potential legal nightmare in 5 or 10 years to come (maybe), when 8 other libraries are claiming to own “my song number 3”, which has become “my dad’s song 3” “grandma moses’ song 3” etc..

    c) the tv/film/et al people are more assured theyre the ONLY ONES getting that piece of music . This adds value to them, too, and avoids any potential litigious pitfalls when it comes to ancilliary rights (dvd distribution etc)

    d) tracking technologies will become de rigeur with ALL the P.R.O’s because it makes their job MUCH EASIER and improves their R.O.I. by a significant margin. This may just mean theyll cough up more to members as a result (hurrah!)

    Its not difficult to get into a library – most here agree- but it all depends on what YOU want from this in the mid to long term. Make no mistake, the minute the P.R.O’s really take this on, retitling will vanish faster than a jug of beer on a hot day.

    kind regards

    S R Dhain
    Juicy Audio Productions

    • Question (and I’m asking this purely objectively…not as a person who feels they have a strong opinion on this topic yet):

      If it is a sure thing that the re-title structure will collapse in the very near future, surely then the re-title libraries are aware of this pending doom…..

      So why is it, then, that they are going about business as usual, signing new artists and building their catalogs?

      Maybe they know something we don’t? Or are they being delusional?

      • This is where im still a bit stumped to be honest, Erik. It could be that they think theyve still got another 10 to 20 years of making good, so to speak, and beyond that..well, i dont know anyone who can think beyond 5 years in terms of their life, never mind a business.

        It could also be, that they are privvy to other information about all this malarky that we arent.

        On a more realistic note, with the proliferation of music already out there following the retitle model, it will take a serious force of will to eradicate it all in one swoop, due to the complexity of the equation(S) here. Remember, the PRO’s are still making good, so are the artists, as are the libraries and film-makers et al, so upsetting the applecart isnt a PRACTICAL solution just on that basis alone. On a personal note, i sincerely hope there’ll eventually be a smooth solution to this potential timebomb, otherwise it’ll affect ALL OF US in some way or another down the line.

        However, Its a case of reality over logic at this moment in time in my humble – or otherwise- opinion, and other than in relationships with the opposite sex, xeno’s paradox isnt something that actually happens in real life very often ๐Ÿ˜‰

        If it works, dont break/fix, as an I.T. manager said to me many years ago, as i attempted to fix and fault find amongst a swathe of routers in a huge network; the same analogy is prevalent here too.

        regards

        S R Dhain

        • Yes, re-titling will only go away once libraries are legally forced to stop. There is way too much money to be made out here with the torrent of reality TV shows, commercials, and internet sites.

          A friend and I are actually thinking about getting into the business. We both compose music, but we don’t want to just make money off of our own music. We want to build up a collection and license our own songs. We would probably wait until we got about 50,000 songs and either try to sell our company or offer an IPO. I think the market for music is only going to grow.

          The money could be tremendous!!!

          • But what would you be selling in an IPO? Your company would actually have zero assets…

            • No. Our assets would be the intellectual property (music). We would have exclusive rights over our work and would have them stored on hard drives and discs. We would be a publishing company that dabbles in licensing.

              • Sorry, I thought you were thinking of acquiring 50,000 tracks by re-titling, I couldn’t imagine you’d actually be able to do that many tracks within one lifetime.

                So if you were to split the workload, and did 25,000 tracks each, how long do you think that’s take?

                Let’s assume you plan to do tracks much like your ‘duck’ tracks – mostly consisting of a few loops and synths… which can probably be taken care of in 30 minutes.
                25,000 x 30 minutes a track = 12500 hours, or assuming you work 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year, it’d take 4.6 years to do that many duck style tracks. This is not even compensating for lunch breaks, trips to the bathroom etc
                Then you’d have another problem on your hand, how are you going to market 50000 tracks that were each done in less than 30 minutes (and probably sound like it) ?

                • The other thing that mystifies me is why libraries are fighting their way into a market and model that has depressed prices. And if they are re-titling, they don’t even have assets to sell at the end of the day, as dozens of libraries have the exact same music albeit with different titles. So you can forget the IPO. Strange.

  68. I’d still want original music for my films. At the very least, original sound recordings.

    Talking about original sound recordings. I have two versions of public domain “Deck the Halls”. One is signed to an exclusive library and one is signed to a non-exclusive library. Wondering… if this can be done legally with a public domain tune, why can’t it be done with an original tune?

    • Because of just that…the song is in the PD so you are allowed to make any recording you want. Recording A is exclusive and Recording B isn’t. Once we are talking PD it’s just the recording that is controlled.

  69. Yes Matt, I think this re-titling business will come to an end in the near future.

    If I needed music for a film I was producing, I certainly wouldn’t want to use sound recordings that’s been used in several other films. I’d want the music exclusively.

    • But why? Movies use songs that have been used in other movies all of the time. Have you ever heard of The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Elvis, etc.? If a song is great and fits a particular mood or scene, it will be used in movies over & over & over & over again.

      These arguments are for lesser-known musicians to worry about. I myself am working on marketing myself so my music can be used from now until the Earth stops spinning. If you are popular, your music will usually take precedence over music from unknown, faceless composers. It’s all about building those relationships!!!

  70. I think the author nailed it when he said we seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    The widespread adoption of audio recognition technology will only highlight the trend of re-titling, by making everyone aware of the multiple publishers claiming the same tracks. At the least, re-titling libraries will be regarded as bargain bin set ups to be avoided… at worst – the re-titling business will be outlawed. Hopefully things don’t go to that extreme.

  71. uberVU - social comments says:

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  72. Great article. Retitling cost me over $1,000 when a re-title library undercut me with MY OWN SONG.

    I’ve submitted less than 20 songs for retitling in my career and it has come back to haunt me 3 times.

  73. This is a pretty petty argument. Most music that gets sent in to companies will never be accepted. If you send the same song to ten libraries, you can be sure that 5 to 7 will reject the song. A nice try, but a little out of touch with reality here. I hope that musicians will stop worrying about silly things like this and produce great music.

    • Well, speak for yourself! I’ve submitted to about a dozen re-titling libraries and the acceptance rate is around 90%-100%.

      • Would you be so kind as to make a list of the libraries and songs so I can check? I am not calling you a liar, but I think proof would help your case. What do you really have to lose?

        • A lot… I post a lot about different libraries on this site, which is why I go by the name of ‘Matt’.
          reason 1) I don’t really want every one of the libraries I contribute to knowing exactly who else I write for
          reason 2) I have been very candid about my experiences with those libraries, and want to keep anonymous for this reason.

          Of course you don’t have to believe me, but why would I lie?
          The only two libraries that have rejected my stuff over the past year are Crucial Music and Magnatune.

        • My acceptance rate is around 90-100% too. Believe it or not Yadgyu, taking yourself seriously as an artist and working hard to hone your skills as a composer/producer pays off from a business prospective.

    • If you are getting an acceptance rate that low, you might want to reexamine your music to see why it is so unmarketable in the licensing world. I’m with Matt on this one – an acceptance rate of over 90% from 2 dozen libraries.