Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive Strategy?

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  • #8911 Reply

    I’ve gone full on exclusive myself, even with non-ex libraries. When I just started this biz was when all these ex/non-ex confusion/debate started, so I had the chance to choose to treat all my tracks exclusively signed as opposed to parking them everywhere. I’d rather play it safe now than to have to try to fix things later on down the line. Nobody really knows what the future holds, personal choice I guess & being mainly an instru writer, I can churn out tunes pretty fast.

    #8912 Reply
    Mark Lewis

    Ah I see, thanks for the explanation MichaelL


    #8913 Reply

    Hi All,

    The level of caution that I detect from some of you is really overly cautious.

    A friend of mine and I were recently talking about re-cutting our old “improperly mixed and mastered” songs as instrumentals for licensing opps in the NE and RF library world. Because my friend is not as knowledgeable as I about these areas he called a rep at BMI. BMI is his PRO and he asked…”If I publish my songs with a publisher what do I need to do? and what do I need to know?” The BMI rep said “Just make sure the publisher you sign on with gives the songs and tracks  new title’s so you can keep your original title for your pub co and within your control.” ….You see, as of 2 days ago, BMI was advocating retitling!

    We really should stop the worrying and fear mongering in these threads. It’s OK to re-title…really, it is…many of my tracks have been “retitled” and there has been no chaos or confusion or fighting amongst publishers about who placed the cue. 2 different NE publishers are sometimes placing the exact same cues for me every month. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

    #8914 Reply
    TV Composer Guy

    I agree with Glen. I have spoken with my PRO & they have also said the same thing & have no problem with having your music represented by different publishers.

    Think of it this way, Apple don’t sell their products exclusively in one retailer, they wouldn’t have as large a market share if they did & profits would not be as high. Understandably though, they don’t sell the same product twice & call it 2 different names, this is what is wrong with the re title model. The publishers/libraries should never have called them completely different names, they should always have just put a prefix on the title so they can claim their share on their placements

    In regards to digital fingerprinting, cue sheets will still have to be filled out as there will always have to be a paper trail. You can’t rely completely on technology, what if the detection software crashes for a day, no placements would be recorded & who would get paid?

    Yes there are some hassles with non exclusive deals, I have had cues of mine that I placed in TV shows directly with music supervisors that have later been incorrectly assigned a publisher by the PROs, even though on the cue sheet I was the publisher. The mistake was rectified with a few short emails to the music supervisor & the affected library.

    Everyone just needs to relax & go about their business how they feel. If you want to just do exclusive, then do that, if you want to do just non exclusive, then do that, if you want to do a mix, then do that. Make your decision & own it.

    For the record, I do both exclusive & non exclusive & also deal directly with music supervisors. I have had the most success with dealing directly with music supervisors (every time I have been given licensing fees).

    #8915 Reply

    Amen tv guy.

    #8917 Reply

    @Glen and TV Composer, I’m not sure who you’ve spoken with at your PRO, whether its just a rep who answers the phone or a higher up exec.

    I’ve spoken with upper level people at both BMI and ASCAP and they both said re-titling is a bad idea, and advised against it in the light of coming changes.

    That was last summer. Maybe their policy is evolving.


    #8921 Reply

    I have just one more important to make. TV Composer Guy talked about how Apple sells their I-pads and phones in multiple retail outlets. Well, so does P&G, Coke,  Pepsi, and Kelloggs. What do all these companies have in common? They want their products in every store possible, world wide,  with the most user-friendly shelf space so consumers buy, and buy often.  Why should it be any different for composers? Isn’t that what were in business to do? Read the article in this issue of ASCAP’s Playback magazine page 15 of the hard copy: 10 tips from music supervisor Daryl Berg

    The question was:  “Should I be building my music with a couple of libraries or is it better to diversify?

    Berg’s response:  “Meaning going out to a bunch of different library companies?    I would sell your music to whoever is buying.”

    I don’t know about you guys, but I am not getting rich at this profession. I have licensed, sold, or really…”generated revenue” from about 7 different music brokers/ libraries , and sold some tracks myself independently, in the last year and I am not about to stop because some are claiming this approach is not in the best interests of publishers. It certainly is in the interests of composer’s and I will continue to “sell my music to whoever is buying” now and forever.

    #8922 Reply


    If re-titling is such a bad idea, why do major (extreme music for example) still using re-titling as a way to make sub-publishing deals with A&E for example? (they split the publishing on the re-title). How is it different then a non-exclusive re-titling deal?



    #8925 Reply

    @Glen. I think that you may be misinterpreting the nuances of Mr. Berg’s statement.

    I have music in 7 exclusive libraries, and they did in fact buy and pay for my music.

    Exclusive does not mean that you write for only one library, it means that you don’t put the same tracks in multiple libraries. In that sense, yes, I would sell my music to whoever is buying.

    I’ve been a professional composer for 30+ years. I’ve learned to make money in this business a number of ways. I’m also a lawyer with knowledge of contracts and copyrights.

    Right now, there is enough conflicting information and speculation about the future that it warrants caution with respect to protecting your primary asset, which is your catalog.

    When you speak of what is in the interest of the composer, you have to consider short term interest v. long term interest.  My personal opinion is that re-titling, while attractive in the short term is, at the moment, a potential risk to my long term interest.

    Once the issue is resolved, fine, I’ll take advantage of the new normal, and I’ll be able to do so because my catalog will be free and clear of any complications or encumberments.




    #8926 Reply

    >If re-titling is such a bad idea, why do major (extreme music for example) still using re-titling as a way to make sub-publishing deals with A&E for example? (they split the publishing on the re-title). How is it different then a non-exclusive re-titling deal?<

    @music pro, that’s an excellent question. Sub-publishing has been around for decades,without any problems. As we all know, there are ways to register alternative titles and sub-publishing arrangements with the PROs.

    I suspect that the problem  re-titling is two-fold:

    1) the re-titled works are being registered as original titles and not sub-published titles so that the re-titling library can take 100% of the publishers’ share. In a sub-publishing deal, however, they would only get a portion of publishers share. Imagine if you were the original publisher, and instead of JP, SK and Crucial etc., each being an original publisher of your re-titled work they were each sub-publishers. Everyone would now have only a 25% publishing share (including you). That is the legitimate way of doing it, for which there is no controversy.

    2) The other problem is that these re-titling libraries are providing their catalogs gratis to producers. So producers have the same music from different sources, but each source is claiming to own the whole pie rather than just a slice of the pie (sub-publishing).

    It’s kind of like trying to a get a gallon of milk from a one quart container, instead of four 8 ounce glasses. Part of the issue is that the Networks, who pay blanket license fees to the PRO’s have figured out that they are paying for a gallon of milk, but only getting a quart, and they’re not happy.

    EDIT: I forgot to add that sub-publishing deals are most likely limited in scope. In your example, Extreme enters into a sub-publishing deal with A&E. That arrangement should be limited in scope so that it only extends to shows produced by, or aired on A&E. It would not allow A&E to start the A&E music library and then license that music elsewhere. What happens with re-titling is that composers are entering into multiple deals that look like sub-publishing, only they are giving up their publisher’s share, and deals are limited. All of the re-titlng “sub-publishers” are competing with each other, providing gratis licenses for the same works, which may result in more or less a big “feedback” loop if and when fingerprinting is adopted.



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