BMI, Tunesat, and how you did it…..

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  • #33434 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    OK. Question for you guys / gals –

    BMI writers specifically. I know ASCAP is different, and possibly, ASCAP might be better for me.

    As we all know, BMI doesn’t accept Tunesat detections as proof of broadcast.

    Art and others have commented that Tunesat has helped them collect royalties. Anyone care to comment on who, what or how they did this since BMI doesn’t acknowledge Tunesat?

    BTW, I’m not talking about commercials. I don’t live in that world, I’m talking about TV show and Film underscore. I understand how getting a Tunesat detection on a commercial can lead you to figuring out who’s using it with competitrack, etc.

    I’m specifically interested in underscore applications where cue sheets SHOULD have been filed. Or perhaps not filed..

    I don’t even do tunesat, and even then with a tiny slice of my catelog – maybe about 2% – I’m aware of literally hundreds of detections of cues that BMI is not picking up, cue sheets that have not been filed, cue sheets that have been fraudulently filed, cues that BMI doesn’t care about, or performances that have just slipped thru the “BMI” cracks into the ether. All with networks and shows that BMI HAS paid me on before – go figure. If I put in my whole catalog to Tunesat, I believe it would be insane.

    I have pretty much 0% doubt that there are thousands of detections in my catalog that are not being paid out on. I have 10’s of thousands of cues registered with BMI. The content I’ve put out in recent years has tripled, placements quadrupled, and BMI payments only growing by single digit percentages – at best. If I put all the thousands of cues I have on Tunesat, it would cost a bloody fortune, and from my experience, it would not net me any more ground with BMI than I frustratingly have today.

    I can’t get a straight answer from anyone at BMI on this. Sorry if this comes off as negative. I am just looking for knowledge from someone who’s successfully negotiated this murky water and gotten paid….

    Many thanks!

    #33435 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    PS – a

    1.
    2.
    3.
    4.

    laundry list of steps would be appreciated beyond measure, and I’ll buy you the nicest dinner you can find at the next PMA, AES or NAMM settings….

    #33437 Reply
    Advice
    Participant

    ASCAP doesn’t accept Tunesat detections either.

    Tunesat has helped me with info I went back to the LIBRARY with who in turn contacted the production company about the cue sheet issue. Libraries have a vested interested since they get 50%.

    It can also clue you in to where to look to get actual video of a broadcast which the PROs do accept. For example, if it picked up a use on a show that reruns a lot you can look for that to run again and take video. (I’ve never done this so theoretical).

    None of these are frequent occurrences. Not at all saying Tunesat is the royalty savior. But having information is always better than not.

    And yes, few can afford the paid version. Only worth it for publishers and composers with maybe 100K income or more per year.

    #33438 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    For example, if it picked up a use on a show that reruns a lot you can look for that to run again and take video. (I’ve never done this so theoretical).

    I have done that. I didn’t take the video but found the re-runs on Netflix and told BMI the timings where the music was found. I was paid the broadcast rate on them (they were still running on cable).

    I have pretty much 0% doubt that there are thousands of detections in my catalog that are not being paid out on.

    I agree with you. I have an acquaintance who’s been at it since the early 80s. They made deals directly with production companies so they get all the cue sheets. They were getting severely underpaid by BMI and designed their own system to reconcile their cue sheet timings with BMI. Now they get paid what they are supposed to.

    #33440 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    So everything said is essentially a confirmation that no, BMI won’t accept Tunesat detections?

    I understand it’s a tool. And a great one if you have a small library, but as mentioned, I’ve got thousands of cues, floating all over, getting sub published, and then split off with production companies, who sub-pub and split off and on and on and on… It’ a daunting task to just keep writing, much less trying to corral all the lose cannons.

    Somewhere, there is a serious chasm – a black hole that music documentation is falling into because our PRO’s hold onto the distant past and try to make cue sheets continue to work decades after we’ve had significant computer software to accomplish more accurate detections. (And no, Tunesat is the best method for that IMO, even though a great tool.)

    I know all about working the publishers. Most of the legit publishers I’m with are VERY good about getting the cue sheets filled out and registered. I could care less about P5 and the like. They are not getting any significant broadcast placements anyway from my experience.)

    If there are indeed as many unpaid / undocumented / unfiled cue sheets as are indicated from the look of things from tunesat’s perspective, there isn’t enough time in the day to track down and “video capture” them all or even contact publishers.

    Our PRO’s are falling down on the job from my perspective. And yeah, that’s a helluva negative thought. Admitted.

    If anyone else has any actually protocol for getting BMI to accept Tunesat detections, I’m all ears…. I know one fellow who suggests just giving BMI the list without the Tunesat info.

    #33441 Reply
    jdt9517
    Participant

    The PRO’s will use a model that maximizes their bottom line. Here’s an example of my experience with BMI:

    I have a composition that was a minor hit about 15 years ago. I knew that commercial radio was spinning the song thousands of times. A spin on commercial radio is good money. I saw royalties on my statement for less than 1% of the spins. I knew what the spins were because I was following all the radio stations playing my tune and they were giving me their playlists with the number of spins that were being reported to BMI.

    IMPORTANT: All the spins that I was trying to seek royalties on were actually reported to BMI.

    I challenged BMI on this and I was going in totally documented. The result? BMI’s “policy” at that time is that spin royalties were paid based upon their “samples” of radio station plays. Their “samples” were final and not appealable. The fact that I had thousands of documented spins reported to BMI did not matter. BMI got the royalty payments from the radio stations and in many cases zero went to me.

    I firmly believe that unless the composer is affiliated with a heavy-hitter publishing house, the PRO is not the composer’s friend.

    #33442 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    If anyone else has any actually protocol for getting BMI to accept Tunesat detections,

    Probably never happen as Tunesat is about 80% accurate, in my experience.

    @LAwriter. It sounds like, with your catalog, there is no easy answer. If a standard ever arises with block chain technology there might be hope there but we could all be gone by then!

    #33443 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    To follow up a bit more on using Tunesat.

    I’ve noticed that I’m getting a number of detections on Tunesat, each quarter, for a few shows on Reelz that I’m not getting paid for. Some shows I do get paid for and they pay decently (about $14 per 60 seconds). I’m going to sign up for a month of Reelz, on my Roku account, at $1.99 for the month. If I can confirm that it is indeed our music, and where it occurs, then I will take to BMI. Worked for me in the past and hopefully will with this case.

    #33447 Reply
    yzzman1
    Participant

    Tunesat has been really useful for me. It’s knowledge that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. With that said – many of you on here have read my many posts in the past about recovering royalties, TuneSat and the PRO’s. I’m in an interesting situation right now with a library that I will leave unnamed – but one that is well known on this forum.

    The library is well known in having editors that work in house for various productions/networks sports coverage. I have a cue that has been used almost every weekend – many hundreds of broadcasts now – on a major network and a census surveyed (ASCAP) sports network over the past five years. It has only been reported on a cue sheet correctly ONE TIME. I reached out to this library three years ago in reference to not reporting it and they claimed it was not their placement. There was only one other possibility and in reaching out to the network – it was determined it WAS this library all along – even though their own employee told me it was not. Funny how the library tried to say I never came to them! lol.

    Could this be a large mistake? Sure it’s possible. Could this be something deeper? That’s possible as well. In general, cue sheets unfortunately over the course of time have had the tendency to be misreported on accidentally, misreported on purposefully (to fraudulently enrich someone else’s pockets, sometimes within a particular organization that is involved), not reported fully on (to minimize annual usage in relation to blanket licensing fees to the PRO’s) and sometimes just not reported at all. There’s a plethora of articles on this from Billboard to legal journals and the like. This is always murky water. It’s unfortunate that as many have mentioned, the PRO’s are still hanging on to ancient ways for their own benefit. I do believe soon however, this is going to change.

    As for this particular library – I’m giving them a short time to rectify the issue – as they deserve the benefit of the doubt. It they don’t – I have 25 years of allies in the music business at my disposal to make some interesting noise – I’ve done it before to success. Hoping it doesn’t come to that. We all have cue sheets that never turn up – But when it gets to many hundreds of uses of a single cue from the same user that is never being reported or consistently being misreported – it’s time to do something. Our sources of income streams have been slashed dramatically over the years – we all need to try to preserve what is left of them.

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