As MLR attracts more and more newbies to the music library world I’m collecting various posts that deal with recurring questions. Please check these links first! Continue reading
MichaelL attended the PMA meeting on October 20, 2011 in NYC and commented about it but I thought it deserved it’s own post. Thanks Michael!
Robin and I attended the PMA meeting, June 21st 2010, on “Non-Exclusive libraries and retitling”.
Tunesat sponsored this event and it was great to finally meet some of those folks, Mellisa, Chris and Lara. They are as nice in person as in the many e-mail conversations I’ve had with them! Chris was on the panel and was particularly eloquent in explaining Tunesat, fingerprinting and detection. It is the future!
Another nice surprise was when one of the panel members, Catherine Farley, Director of Music Licensing, for the Disney ABC Television group mentioned that she uses Music Library Report for research and recommended that others use it. Wow, cool, so they are paying attention. Very gratifying. Thanks Catherine!
The panel members included: Catherine Farley (Disney ABC), Cheryl Hodgson (Trademark and Copyright attorney), Ron Mendelsohn (Megatrax), Alicen Schneider (NBC Universal), moderator Randy Wachtler (615 Music) and Cris Woods (Tunesat).
It’s not hard to imagine how most of the assembled panel and guests felt about the topic. You can read more about their position here: http://app.e2ma.net/campaign/27456.af55d60b404c79870d1c9931918a94fc
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, many of their points were well taken. In particular, I can see it from the networks’ point of view. Alicen Schneider (NBC) and Catherine Farley (ABC) both spoke of the increase of multiple claimants on music that has been aired. They also spoke of music that is overexposed because of the retitling issues. (Then again, at least with production music, how many people are going to recognize a short piece of music from one show to another, buried under dialog?). There is also the issue of 3rd party deals that might conflict and how they may impact foreign sales as well as potential legal and ethical problems. All very good points, and they opened my eyes a lot wider.
On the other hand, from the PMA’s point of view, it all seemed a bit self-serving. The old library business model appears to be failing and there is a mindset that the “The sky is falling”. It’s fine to protect the interest and value of music, no argument there, but the genie is out of the bottle regarding non-exclusive libraries and re-titling. There must be tens of thousands of re-titled tracks available through non-exclusive libraries. One of the biggest arguments against re-titling is the potential loss of ownership of your copyright. Call me naÃ¯ve, but I find it hard to believe that the courts would take the position that all of those thousands of copyrights (involving untold numbers of libraries and composers) are in jeopardy because of re-titling. I think one of the answers lies with the PROs and finding a mechanism for keeping all those income streams straight. And yes their are other potential problems but I don’t think the “sky is falling”. Then again I’ve always been a “glass is always half-full” kind of guy!
For those of you who are new to this: Generally speaking, you have a number of options to promote your music to the film and TV world. There can be many variations depending on your negotiating skills and/or demand for your work:
Exclusive – Up-front Money. The music library will pay you, upfront, for each piece of music, up to and including, all recording costs and expenses. You will give up ownership of the copyright in perpetuity and will not participate in any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties (but not the publishing share). There will be no re-titling of your music.
Exclusive – No Upfront- Money. The music library will NOT pay any upfront fee or costs. You will give up ownership of the copyright in perpetuity. You might participate in any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties (but not the publishing share). There will be no re-titling of your music.
Non Exclusive – No Upfront Money. The music library will NOT pay any upfront fee or costs. You will NOT give up ownership of the copyright (any music placed with a show will stay with that show in perpetuity). You probably will participate in any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties (but not the publishing share). Your music will be re-titled.
Go It Alone – You will NOT give up ownership of the copyright (any music placed with a show will stay with that show in perpetuity). You will receive 100% of any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties AND the publishing share. Your music will not be re-titled.
Because the exclusive library route is not possible (or desirable) for the many and the “Go It Alone” takes a particular personality trait, the non-exclusive avenue is an attractive alternative.
One member of the audience asked the panel what they would say to a non-exclusive library owner who says that this is the only business model that works for him. A member of the panel gave a rather sharp reply; “go exclusive or get out of the business”. I found his comment not very constructive. I would assume he also feels the same away about composers who are unable to get signed exclusively by one of the major libraries.
So, what’s a composer to do? I’ve been a writer/producer all my life with a modicum of success. Certainly, I have not been able to earn enough to live on. That doesn’t mean I will stop writing or producing as I love what I do. The various “Big” libraries I have tried to get into are not interested. I’m also not interested in smaller exclusive libraries that offer nothing more than a promise and want my music in perpetuity. Does that mean I should “get out of the business?” Not gonna happen. In a perfect world I would rather work exclusively with a company that I believed in and that believed in what I did. In fact I had that many years ago as a writer with a couple of major publishing companies. In the meantime, I’m comfortable working with the few non-exclusive libraries I work with and yes, the retitling issue is a problem and will have to be dealt with. If nothing else, last night opened my eyes to the potential problems.
I do think a workable solution can be found. It’s too bad none of the non-exclusive libraries, that were asked to participate, chose not to do so. The only way to solve these problems is for all sides to come to the table, be open, communicate and work out a solution.
My wife Robin and I attended the PMA (Production Music Association) meeting Thursday 9-24-09 at the Courtyard Marriott in Sherman Oaks, CA.
The panelists included:
Randy Wachtler – President and founder of 615 Music Companies;
Cassie Lord – General Manager/Executive Producer – 5 Alarm Music/Rescue Records;
Ron Mendelsohn – Co-founder and CEO – Megatrax
Shain Miller – Senior Director, Music Clearance – Evan Greenspan Inc. Music Clearance
Adam Taylor – President – Associated Production Music
Randy Thornton – CEO – Non-Stop Music
Steve Winogradsky – Attorney – Winogradsky/Sobel
The PMA consists mostly of music libraries and some music creators – songwriters and composers. (Although it is now much harder and very expensive for a composer to join). Their overall mission is to create a strong, unified presence within the entertainment industry in order to protect the rights of music providers for television and other media. Like any trade union, they are out to protect their rights and ensure their ability to negotiate the best possible deals for their members.
On to the meeting.
Randy Wachtler acted as moderator. Here are some of things that were discussed.
1.) Everyone was pleased that ASCAP is appealing the decision that downloads are not a public performance.
2.) They are trying to come up with some sort of standardization of meta-data. They realized there were many variables but some general standard, industry wide, would be beneficial to everyone. This would also carry over to ID Tags in the MP3 format.
3.) There was concern voiced of “meta-data dumping” (which I would call “keyword stuffing”). Evidently some are “stuffing” the meta-data with keywords that really didn’t match the mood and feel of the music in hopes of coming up in a search. This makes searching irrelevant.
4.) Of course re-titling came up and much of the concerns voiced here and other places were brought up. Some felt it would blow up soon. Some could see both sides. Steve Winogradsky called a re-titled piece a “shadow copy” and used the term “legal fiction”. Some concurred that the PROs don’t seem overly concerned about the practice.
5.) Much talk about the “fingerprinting” technology. Only until recently the school of thought was that music could not be accurately detected under dialog and effects. Tunesat seems to have changed that and most agreed that Tunesat or some other company’s product was the future. Matching up the detection with the underlying meta-data would be the next big step. Cassie Lord from 5 Alarm mentioned that they have a Tunesat account with about 120,000 tracks.
6.) There was discussion about how the major labels were getting much more aggressive in going after music libraries that they thought were infringing on their artist’s music. The major libraries are concerned enough that both APM and 615 have taken all references to artist’s names out of their meta-data. Descriptors like “Sound likes” and “Sound Alikes” would not be used. Ron at Megatrax felt that having an artist’s reference was like putting a target on your back.
7.) The phrase “sustainable business practices” came up often. The fact that many libraries were charging low sync fees, or not collecting any at all, was a race to the bottom. At one point, Ron Mendelsohn of Megatrax (I believe it was him), was bemoaning this downward spiral and asked everyone (especially new libraries) to be aware of other library’s rate cards when setting their prices. Steve was very quick to point out that could be considered price fixing, there were anti-trust issues and that the PMA itself could be subject to litigation.
8.) Direct source and per program licensing was discussed and how that was impacting pricing as well as PRO payment.
9.) Indemnification. It seems that more and more clients are demanding indemnification from the libraries. Being on the hook for a potential million dollar law suit for a $1000 sync fee raises a lot of concern.
10.) Bundled rights. Where once the libraries were able to “carve out” rights for different pricing, more clients want all the rights in a bundle.
There was much, much more and very in depth. There were a lot of “real world” stories of various negotiations, particularly from Steve Winogradsky. Fascinating stuff. I’m sorry we couldn’t get all of it in. I tried to be as accurate as possible here but there is a good chance I may have misquoted. It would be nice if the PMA had the text of the evening’s discussion. It would make great reading!
BTW they had a decent buffet which was a nice bonus:)
Art (and Robin for all the note taking!)