- January 16, 2018 at 12:29 pm #29262
I’ve got an offer from a library where I’ll be paid a small up front fee for an exclusive contract. I’ll keep my writer’s share, but the company keeps 100% of any sync fees. Their reasons for not splitting the sync fees is that it’s an accounting problem for them because music doesn’t generate sync fees like it used to.
The up front fee is a good gesture, but I don’t like the idea of the library potentially shopping the music where a sync fee will be generated if I can’t get a cut. Yeah, give me a little something up front, but then you land a $5000 sync for a commercial and I don’t see ANY of that? Might not be likely, but you never know… Doesn’t seem right.
I’ve got one other exclusive deal (with another company) where we split any sync fees generated.
Is it a common practice to not cut the writer in on sync fees?
Thanks in advance for any insight.January 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm #29265
No, I don’t believe it’s common practice, although I expect libraries would like it to be.
I wouldn’t suggest falling for their line about it being an accounting problem. There is absolutely no excuse, ever, in my book, for a library to pay you 0% of sync.
Sync fees are over 80% of income for some composers I know. I’ve heard that the writer’s share of back end is what is dying these days (Netflix, Amazon etc) and sync fees might be all that’s left.
To be honest, I find it pretty sad when a library offers 0% on sync with what seems to me like a pathetic excuse about it being too difficult to run a report and send you your cut as the reason for this!January 17, 2018 at 1:10 am #29266
I’ve worked with about 30 – 40 libraries, and the vast majority of deals follow a basic rule: upfront fee = no licensing. There are several large – the largest really – libraries that do this type of deal all the time.
It is a bit of a sucker’s deal, as the licensing can last years, if not decades. But, depending on the fee – and your financial situation, it can be an acceptable trade off. I still do the occasional deal like this if the fee is really good, like $1000 or more per track and I know the library will push the music hard for TV airtime.January 17, 2018 at 6:14 am #29268
How much is the upfront fee? Compare that with how much money your tracks typically earn lifetime on split sync fees (on the average).January 17, 2018 at 8:08 am #29270
This is the standard “old school” library contract. No sync split, but an upfront buyout fee. It USED to be a fair fee/deal for most libraries (10+ years ago), but is slipping. In some cases so dramatically that it’s laughable. $0-$100 for a buyout? Hahaha!!! Find another composer. At this point, with back end’s future in limbo (streaming), if you take this type of deal you’d better be sure that the up front fee is enough income for you for that piece in perpetuity. For me, at this stage, I’d want significantly north of $1k to take that deal – OR – to be able to create the entire cue in a few hours making it essentially a a good hourly wage for creating it.January 17, 2018 at 6:32 pm #29291
Thanks for the insight everybody. I knew something was up with the whole “accounting nightmare” excuse that was given.
@mark_petrie – I’m sort of struggling with the “up front fee = no licensing” statement you made. Are you saying that it’s either one or the other? Up front fee or back end?January 17, 2018 at 8:19 pm #29293
No. Up front buyout, AND back end PRO writers royalties.
Traditional library contracts — think PMA libraries like Megatrax, FirstCom, etc. — have used this exact contract for decades. They pay you $$ up front to buy out the masters and the copyright (publishing). In return for the up front fee (it can be anything from $0 to a couple thousand depending, but these days, it’s getting horrifically low) they own your music and copyright in perpetuity and they do NOT share in the up front syncs. The writers ONLY royalty beyond the up front payment is their PRO writers share. Standard stuff. NO LICENSING (sync) payout. Many writers have made mega-bucks on these style contracts. At least they have in the past. The future remains uncertain to me, and I thing the only thing you can count on is that the next 20 will look nothing like the last 20.
On the flip side of the coin, some of the newer upstart exclusive companies share the sync’s with the composer, but generally the upfront payments are $0 or close to it.January 17, 2018 at 8:29 pm #29294January 18, 2018 at 3:18 am #29295
LAWriter got it. Just FYI, in case you were wondering if I used the wrong log in – we’re not the same person : )
In fact, although we agree about most things, I’m not sure if fighting for more than $1000 is good advice here. Those kind of fees are reserved for composers that libraries are desperate to have write for them. Not likely to happen if you’re just starting out.January 18, 2018 at 7:38 am #29296
Agreed with Mark!! Those types of fees are virtually unattainable at this point. You’ve got to have something they really WANT that they don’t have.
And even then – you’re not guaranteed any back end placements. One of the reasons I’m looking elsewhere than these types of placements.January 18, 2018 at 9:05 am #29297
Good morning everyone.
Here is the main question: Have you done your research to see what their library has done, who some of their clients are; and found information on their marketshare?
I am in a few Libraries that “Used to” break off a portion of the Licensing/Sync Fees quarterly; in addition to my back-end PRO earnings. It was fun to see those little “bumps”. But if they are feeling that it’s an action they needed to exercise (it was a clause that is in most contracts) I look at the overall relationship, and if this may be something they need to do to “survive”.
If it looks like they will get you the placements, and keep you busy; I would say that’s more important than holding out for sync fees..February 9, 2019 at 3:08 pm #31623
Hi. I do a lot of work for many production libraries. The $1,000 per track fee for exclusive cues is really only available from the top libraries who have the most money and are backed by bigger publishers/labels such as FirstCom and Kliller Tracks (Universal), Extreme (Sony/ATV), APM (Sony/ATV & Universal), Select Tracks (BMG) etc… And even these libraries are starting to offer less and less upfront fees.
Like Mark & LAwriter mentioned, the libraries really have to have a need for the style or genre of music you can provide. And you have to have a solid resume and be at the top of your game production-wise to even be considered to receive such a fee.
In most instances, the fees for smaller libraries is zero – $200 per / cue for 100% writers and zero publishing and if you are lucky, you get 25% – 50% of any synchs (not including blanket deals). Also, you should do your due diligence and research the libraries to see which networks they have blanket deals with (Viacom, A&E, AMC, Comcast) etc… If the libraries are a “preferred vendor” with any of these networks, then you can expect a good amount of placements (if your cues are good). So despite, the lack of upfront fees, you could potentially make way more money in the backend than some composers who get bigger upfront fees. However, the waiting period to see your backend royalties could take anywhere from 6 – 18 months after your music actually airs, depending on the production.
Unfortunately, this is where production library music is today. The upfront fees and backend royalties are dwindling by the day. However, there are still opportunities with the right libraries and the right shows to make a solid living as a composer if you are up to the task. Good luck!!March 4, 2019 at 1:31 am #31804
Great thread, guys and great response, Joe – when you say carry out “due diligence and research the libraries to see which networks they have blanket deals with” how is it possible to go about that?
I know Universal and Audio Network here in the U.K. work on the buyout basis, but they are considered more lucrative on the backend than most libraries