Changing Trends in Micro/Major Sales

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  • #37727 Reply
    reallife4
    Participant

    Hello all!

    Long time member but rarely a poster. I wanted to essentially reach out to all and see what strategies people are using to compete with a.) the race to the bottom in microlicensing and b.) the diversification of mid/major sync companies (including a move towards exclusivity) and the consequences thereof.

    Quick background: I / We (myself and 2 partners) run a collective composed of two production companies, an admin/licensing company and a record label. We have good returns from both micro and major opps. Annually countless micro sales and roughly 30 mid/major cuts. All told we represent around 2.5k songs.

    Micro: Essentially, it seems like our golden gooses (geese?) are dying. Pond, AudioJungle, AudioSocket, Sparx, etc all used to deliver pretty consistent sales for us across the board. Years ago, as AJ shifted its pricing and focus, we moved away from them (although we did return to adjust our pricing up once the option became available), same with AS and AS, others, and now it seems like Pond is going that direction as well. I knew once their percentages shifted that this would be the outcome, but we are finally here…I have experimented with undervaluing some of our material just to see some pick up in volume (and to be fair, it has been somewhat successful), but these are simply not the price points we desire (or can afford) to keep. A few companies have maintained, for instance Triple Scoop, but most have not. How have others shifted focus, found new outlets, etc to cope with these micro shifts? (I appreciate that some of you may consider this proprietary information – only share what you want – just trying to see what everyone else is doing)

    Mid/Major – While the micro stuff has steadily declined, we’ve actually seen a pretty exciting amount of movement in the mid/major realm with the large qualifier that it seems like everyone new is exclusive. Like some of you, we have tried to avoid the exclusive world as best we can (placing individual tracks here and there but no larger catalog signings), but I can now see the writing on the wall and we have established some exclusive partnerships with some promising companies (old and new) and it seems that is what we will continue to do. I always had some awareness of this exclusivity shift, with Crucial being essentially the sole major non-ex left, but I’d like to hear from both those that have not made this shift yet (how?) and those that have (strategy?).

    When I got into the digital portion of this game maybe 15 years ago, it felt like we were all well ahead of the curve and we profited from that. Now it feels like another bend is coming up (although not as drastic of one) and we are trying to look towards the future. Hope all is well and thank you all for the time and responses! And thank you to Art as always for running this site. Perhaps in the near future a MLR Zoom/ClubHouse/Sykpe might be fun/educational (if anyone is interested)!

    #37728 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Thanks for the post reallife4. I think most of what you have observed we can all agree on. I don’t know what the outcome will be (free music for all?). I don’t know what the ultimate solution is. I’m mainly non-exclusive but I do have a couple of exclusives I will work with (with reversion clauses), because they have generated some decent income.

    And thank you for the kind words. Sure, we can Zoom but a lot of folks seem to want to stay anonymous.

    #37729 Reply
    Music1234
    Participant

    @reallife4, the only asset we all have is the catalog itself. Those music files that I OWN are the only baby in town producing $$ for my family. Once you start giving that away (often for free) to exclusive publishers who are just preying on weak handed music producers, you already have shot yourself in the foot.

    Just stay the course, keep your prices at a respectable level, one off sync licensing is still very much so alive and kicking because not every buyer out there needs 50 tracks a month from subscription. Most need a great track for 5 or 6 projects a year and they will pay the asking price. The race to the bottom only happens for those who join that race. Those bottom races start with writing for $200 buyouts, too much participation in subscription, caving into bullying demands to sacrifice writers share to greedy publishers. Music Producers simply need to say “no” to these deals. Otherwise, when you say “yes I’ll accept that deal” (to every deal presented) the race to far less income will be your end result

    I often think about what my income would be today had I signed an exclusive agreement 12 years back and supplied music to even my best performing library. Had I done that and not distributed my music for sale to several other platforms, including DSP’s and Content ID, my income probably would only be 25% of what it is today. Even if that one (hypothetical) exclusive publisher bought everyone of my tracks for say $500 per master, I still would have far less income.

    In conclusion this business is a never ending negative feedback loop where you have publishers doing everything they can to take advantage of, intimidate, bully, and extort music assets from original creators for nothing to extremely cheap. It’s all about ownership and control. Everyone knows that without ownership and control, you essentially have nothing.

    Also be aware of the fingerprinting shift that is happening very quickly. I recently received an email from a European sub-publisher about how they want ISWC codes, and PRO Song #’s (aka work id’s, BMI song #, ASCAP song #’s …etc) to supply to BMAT for fingerprinting. BUMA and SABEN supposedly will soon be doing away with manual cue sheets and all performance royalties will be paid based on fingerprinted detection technology with BMAT being the service provider for that data, to those PRO’s.

    Here is the bad news about this: It would take me probably 40 to 50 hours of my time copying and pasting these two codes (ISWC # and ASCAP Work ID) to every title in my master metadata spreadsheets.

    I suppose the good news is that detection technology is finally taking over and replacing manual cue sheets.
    If BUMA and SABEN, then PRS, GEMA, SACEM,….Then of course BMI and ASCAP adopt the same position, then its bye bye to cue sheets and hello detection reports from BMAT.

    We’ll see how it all plays out. I think ASCAP is using soundmouse, perhaps GEMA too.

    What can we all do? All I can say is respect yourself and the price of your music. Don’t cave into the subscription BS because
    A. there is very little money in that game and
    B. not every buyer needs or wants a subscription. Many just want to search for that one track for that monthly or quarterly media project and they will pay your asking price if the track really hits the mark for their video.

    We can also all aggressively lobby the PRO’s to give greater weight to YOUTUBE streams, Netflix usages, Facebook usages, ask them to pay us for all DIY, HGTV, BTN, ESPN, GAC , Cooking Channel, Travel channel shows, etc. Music adds value to all of these shows. These shows are supported by advertisers who sponsor these shows. Our music is broadcast to the public, we should be paid! Write to your PROS, call them, lobby them…ask for an explanation. Present your TUNESAT data to them. I do all of this all the time. Should an opening news theme airing in NYC three times a day (for 9 months now) not pay me a damn performance royalty? Does that news station just get the track “Gratis”? That was my argument to my PRO just 2 days ago, we’ll see what they say.

    #37730 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    It’s all about ownership and control.

    It’s all about ownership and control.

    It’s all about ownership and control.

    I can’t possibly overemphasize this enough. music1234 is dead on accurate on this. I have consistently been moving away from taking up front buyouts (even when they are $1000 and more) and moving towards keeping ownership – even when it means less money up front and short term. Long term, ownership – and control – is going to take care of myself, my kids, and probably their kids..

    I’m moving “new directions” that I’m not comfortable sharing yet as it’s unproven at this point. But suffice it to say that trying to make old school paradigms work for you in 2021 is not going to happen. For sure not going to happen long term. Placing music in “music libraries” as we have been doing for a few decades is done.

    Ownership and NUMBERS is more import than ever. Give it away at your own risk. Think outside the box. Follow the money.

    #37731 Reply
    Michael Nickolas
    Participant

    How have others shifted focus, found new outlets, etc to cope with these micro shifts?

    I shifted focus away from just about everything I did in the past. I took a break from the studio and didn’t submit anything anywhere. For me it was just too discouraging working so hard for literal pennies. Streaming pennies, Pond5 pennies, reality show pennies. I hit a plateau years ago and it seems and all music creation income is on the decline. When I got back to the studio I started working on songs that I’m happy to create, regardless of the income they might generate. I’m working with high profile musicians and a vocalist to produce full length songs that we will be proud of. No more “Happy Ukulele Cue 27”. Right now I’m in a position to do so, augmenting my income with a music releated side hustle.

    #37732 Reply
    BEATSLINGER
    Participant

    I shifted focus away from just about everything I did in the past. I took a break from the studio and didn’t submit anything anywhere. For me it was just too discouraging working so hard for literal pennies. Streaming pennies, Pond5 pennies, reality show pennies. I hit a plateau years ago and it seems and all music creation income is on the decline. When I got back to the studio I started working on songs that I’m happy to create, regardless of the income they might generate.

    I’m not sure if people are noticing. But the bottleneck in the traffic is happening in the same areas. There seems to be a LOT of “You can make it in music licensing for TV” schemes, and they are using the SAME roads, and the same “exhausted” list of libraries and companies to peddle the possibility of placements. As soon as you think outside of the “fast food variety placements” you will find yourself not being caught in this stagnant pool..

    I said about 4 years ago if you are trying to compete with modern musics (Trap/EDM/Pop, etc) You are literally trying to stop a volcano from erupting using a toothpick. Look into Your Goody Bags, and find musics that are marketable, while not trying to compete with current trends.

    There’s a LOT of money still out here. The thing is “Getting in where you fit in!!”

    Also, not bagging on the product, but bagging on the “mentality”. If you are thinking with the mindset of using a cracked Version of “SL Studio” and using a bunch of free plugins & software. Expect a $5 placement..

    #37733 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    I said about 4 years ago if you are trying to compete with modern musics (Trap/EDM/Pop, etc) You are literally trying to stop a volcano from erupting using a toothpick.

    At least 95% of my catalog is NOT in those categories, and it’s STILL like trying to stop a volcano with a toothpick. LOL

    #37734 Reply
    BEATSLINGER
    Participant

    At least 95% of my catalog is NOT in those categories, and it’s STILL like trying to stop a volcano with a toothpick. LOL

    You are one of the people I KNOW can weather the current “small but annoying” storm.

    No offense, you are still thinking with an old mindset though..

    #37736 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    How so Beatslinger? I’m not really even investing my time into pursuing music library placements anymore – other than when the right situation knocks on my door.

    #37737 Reply
    BEATSLINGER
    Participant

    How so Beatslinger? I’m not really even investing my time into pursuing music library placements anymore – other than when the right situation knocks on my door.

    Not sure what to say, because I know you always have something going; and you know how to play your cards close to your vest..

    I will say this though. There are some “Great Fishing Holes still left” and they are not necessarily Libraries. Or, at least conventional ones..

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