PMA (Production Music Association) meeting 10-20-2011

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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!
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OK. I was at the PMA meeting in NYC last night.

There were three areas of discussion: technology, “new media” and retitling.

The night was hosted by Tunesat, so a good deal of the discussion was focused on its technology, i.e. fingerprinting. As we all know, the PROs rely on cue sheets from producers in order to properly credit writers and pay royalties. What many of you may not realize is that filling out cue sheets (especially manually) is tedious, a low priority for producers, and is often done by the lowest person (or intern) on the totem pole. So…according to Tunesat 80% of broadcast performances are missed or inaccurate.

With respect to “new media” we’re talking about the internet, youtube, facebook etc. Royalty levels are set by a rate court, not just the whims of the PROS. Read this http://www.broadcastlawblog.com/2008/05/articles/internet-radio/rate-court-determines-ascap-fees-for-large-webcasters-some-interesting-contrasts-with-the-copyright-royalty-board-decision/
One measure the rate court uses to what the PROs can collect is the sync fees paid (and the size of the market / audience). When a library charges little or nothing for internet sync fees the number that the rate court uses to set the backend is driven down. Thus, we as composers are shooting ourselves in the foot if we give away our tracks hoping for backend money, because by giving the tracks away we are reducing the backend payout.

Finally — retitling — clearly not considered favorable model by the PMA. As a composer and a lawyer, I am not comfortable with the practice. If I put tracks in a library that retitles, it would be my choice to treat it as an exclusive deal. The issue with international money stems from several factors: 1) in the there are three PROS and in the rest of the world each country only has one PRO, e.g. in the UK its PRS., 2) much international publishing is done with the assistance of sub-publishers, who are members of their respective PROS, and they will not touch retitled music, because the copyright, for lack of a better term isn’t clean.

For clarification, as I said in another post, the issue with retiting for the most part does not apply to the RF model, if you retain your publishing rights AND do not retitle.

The issues of technology and retitling overlap. Within 3 -5 years the PROs will most likely adopt some form of technology the uses fingerprinting to stream,line or eliminate cue sheets. This technology only identifies the track, It is not capable of differentiating between publisher A or publisher B. This will create a major headache for the PROS.

Unless technology develops that will allow the PROs to distinguish between retitlers, AND the PROs adopt it, retitling in multiple libraries is a risk.

If I has a crystal ball I would have won the lottery,and not be writing this. However, I don’t. So my personal choice is to protect the long term value of my music. In five years that may change. And, if it does, I’ll just write more.

Other things mentioned of value to writers: “The better your tracks are the more value they will have for years to come.” As I said in another post. Your tracks are an asset. High quality tracks grow in value. Tracks made with “Garage Band” presets make make you short term money, but “won’t have much value two or three years down the road.”

Cheers,

Michael

12 Replies to “PMA (Production Music Association) meeting 10-20-2011”

  1. If the PRO’s do adopt digital fingerprinting, then couldn’t each re-titled track have it’s own fingerprint, therfore eliminating the possible confusion caused by re-titling?

    Eb

    1. What you are talking about is a watermark.

      A fingerprint is a digital image of the track’s waveform, more or less its DNA. You can’t change the fingerprint without changing the track.

      1. Thanks for the clarification Michael. Then wouldn’t a watermark on each re-titled track solve the problems of having the same track under different titles in multiple libraries?
        Each publisher would be required to attach the watermarks and there would be a database hosted by the PROs or tunesat.
        Might be a lot of work in the beginning, but then would just be one more step in the process.
        I’m guessing you’re not a fan of re-titling, but this may solve the problems.

        Eb

        1. “Then wouldn’t a watermark on each re-titled track solve the problems of having the same track under different titles in multiple libraries?”

          That question was already answered earlier in this thread by Ron Mendelsohn from Megatrax.

          Maybe Art can point you toward it. Basically, no, not with current technology.

  2. Michael thank you for taking the time to relay info about the PMA meeting. There are a few things that I gleaned from it.

    1. It would be a valuable asset to the Composer to subscribe to a fingerprinting service (i.e. Tunesat).

    2. Know thy libraries operating procedures that you are submitting your music to.

    3. The shotgun approach to submitting music is not the best way. This approach only devalues your music over the long run.

    4. There are more bad things that happen when the music is retitled than good.

    5. You do not own a crystal ball.

    1. Hi Steve,

      1) I think that Art has found it to be worth the price of admission.

      2) Absolutely, this is a must. You wouldn’t go on a job interview without knowing anything about the company, would you? How interested is a library likely to be in you, if you’re not interest enough in them to know what they do and for whom?

      3) IMHO, no. Submitting 70 tracks to a non-exclusive (re-title) library and only getting one or two accepted is, to me, waste of time. I’d rather put those 70 tracks (if they are not complete collections) into several RF situations where I can generate sync fees (and maybe some backend). If those tracks can be grouped in to complete collections, i.e., 10 sports tracks. 10 dramatic tracks, 10 romantic comedy tracks, with full, bed, 60, 30, and 15 edits, I would shop them to exclusives first (after researching their catalog).
      There are a lot of factors that go into devaluing music. Libraries that do gratis, or low ball blanket deals with networks just to get backend devalue music, because the networks (like MTV) get for free what the used to pay for. That worked well for the first library to do it. But now that a lot of libraries have thrown free music at them, your tracks are a snowflake in a blizzard, with a 1 in 100K chance of getting used. Those are the same odds as being in a large RF library, except that the split from sales in the RF library is likely to exceed the backend from 15 seconds on MTV.

      4) I can’t say that’s true one way or the other. But, perhaps it might be that fewer good things happen. I think that there’s a reason why a number of top writers choose to treat non-exclusives as exclusive….for now. Here’s a another thread http://johnmazzei.com/2010/04/14/exclusive-contracts-vs-non-exclusive-contracts-with-music-libraries/

      5) No I do not have a crystal ball. Heck, I’m not even an “oracle.” I don’t know how technology, or the law, will evolve. If the technology exists, a few years from now, to watermark and differentiate between publishers, AND, if the PROs adopt that technology THEN it will be a game changer for everyone. Will I lament the tracks that I have in exclusive libraries when the gates open? No. There’s more where they came from.

      Cheers,

      Michael

    2. I know I may get some grief from a few folks here but I am still in the non-exclusive camp. I haven’t seen anything, to this point, to make me want to tie up my music in an exclusive deal where the music may just sit. I do want my cake and to be able to eat it. 🙂

      1. The right amount of money from a library that I know is in the Soundminer system of a major TV network that is using that library’s music every day would work for me. I’d gamble on being tied up in that situation. 😆

      2. I generally feel the same way, Art. It’s funny because years ago in this business, there were no options except exclusive publishers. Now that we’ve had this other option (even if in the longer run, it MAY be causing problems for the industry), it’s hard for us to go back. We’ve had our cake and eaten it, for better or worse. And I do agree there is plenty of “for worse” in that with the loads of duplicate crap out there.

        I think most of us would sign an exclusive if we felt that the track record of the company was solid. You have to give to get, sometimes. Where it gets dicier is signing exclusives whereby we are not so sure.

        🙂

        1. I agree. I’m currently working with 2 exclusive libraries which didn’t pay me upfront, but I have a good working relationship with them and more importantly there is a fair reversion clause.

          I would love to work with more exclusive libraries and I’m currently working on a new CD that will be pitched primarily to exclusives, but I can’t see myself committing 15 to 20 new songs exclusively to one library without any money upfront. As mentioned before; where is their risk?

          Although a high end exclusive can get you bigger cash payouts, it’s still a 50/50 chance of getting placements.

          Commit your work to one distributor for no money and no guarantee or offer it to multiple outlets to increase your odds of gaining revenue? Most business’ will look at this as a no-brainer. But then again this is like no other business 😉

          1. Well I’ll chip in again from the UK perspective : It’s Exclusive or nothing. Which is fine, I have absolutely no problems with that.

            I continue to dabble with Royalty Free/Retitle Libraries and to be honest it ammounts to about 2% of my income and only two of those kind of libraries turn over that 2%.

            So for me, banging 15 to 20 tracks around half a dozen non-exclusives on a regular basis isn’t the way to make a living. But again, I’ll stress, thats a UK perspective.

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