Netflix and our collective futures..aka…are you depending on BackEnd?

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  • #28313 Reply

    There is certainly non-verified evidence to point to the fact that our very own PRO’s are using this windfall in various “other ways” than to pay out streaming royalties 1:1 to it’s writers.

    As cable and network royalties begin to fall further, it will be interesting to see how they start to squirm. Right now, I think they see it as a windfall that writers/publishers are not used to getting – so there is not so much scrutiny. But as things shift more over, there’s going to be a freaking riot going on….

    My PRO talks go something like this :

    Me : Hi – this is LAWriter. Can I talk with my account rep?

    Them (receptionist) : “Oh, I’m sorry (not really), we’re prepping for a big writers seminar today.” Or fill in the blank with any one of their BS functions.

    Me : OK. Thanks. I’ll call back later.

    After 2-3 times…..I might get lucky and actually get past the receptionist to an actual human being that I can talk with.

    Me : “Hi – this is LAWriter – just in case you’re not familiar with my account, I write for abc, def, ghi, jkl, mnnop, and a host of others. My statement has become quite long, and I’m hitting all the usual outlets – foreign, domestic, radio, youtube, streaming, etc.

    Them : “Wow, that’s an impressive catalog”. Congrats!

    Me : Well….thanks, appreciated – but that’s not really why I called. Can you explain why I’m adding exponentially more content each quarter, but my royalties are ALWAYS capped around $xx k per quarter? Give or take 5-10%?

    Them : “We pro-rate payments based on the Neilson ratings”.

    Me : Yes, I’m aware of that, But I’ve added 50% more shows, and my payment went down 8%. Also how does Neilson apply to Streaming shows? Streaming is taking 60% of my statement now, and paying out only 1.5% of my total payment. How is that right?

    Them : “Well, facts are facts – you made 8% less”. That’s just how it is.

    Me: Yes, but WHY? With 50% more shows, shouldn’t I be making more?

    Them : “That’s not how it works”.

    Me : Really? I add more content, but make less? Can you explain how it works then?

    Them : “No, it’s too complicated, and it is proprietary, and we can’t divulge that”.

    Me : So you can’t tell me how my royalties are calculated?

    Them : “No, that’s not what I said. I said it’s proprietary and way too complicated for me to tell you…”

    Me : Do you understand it?

    Them : (starting to squirm) Um…. (no real answer)

    Me : OK. Then can your check my join date and tell me when I can leave?

    Them : “Oh….looks like you just missed it. (That’s actually the first thing they check when they get an aggravated composer on the phone) We’re sorry. Why would you want to leave us?”

    Me : OK. Nevermind. Maybe I can get answers in another 22 months.

    Them : “Well now….”

    Me : How about you do less functions, and pay out more fairly, get your attorneys to sign off on some “transparency” issues and figure out how streaming income is changing the face of back end income – FOR THE WORSE. I’m tired of all the invitations to party with you and the beautiful folks, meanwhile, my royalties are stagnant while you post record earnings ever year, and give no accounting.

    Them : “Now LA, you’re just being argumentative. We’ve been through this….”

    Me : Yeah, I guess you’re right. Let me put a reminder on my iPhone to call in and cancel my BMI membership in 22 months. Bye.

    The above conversations have played out pretty similar every time I’ve tried to reach out for verifiable stats, facts or reasons as to why statements are wonky.

    BMI seems to have forgotten that they work for ME. And you. And the rest of the creative music community. They have their own agenda, and it has nothing to do with fairness of pay. They pay as fairly as they can get away with, meanwhile shifting monies into various other venue’s to make keep other big name parties happy and staying with BMI.

    Me? I’m not jaded. LOL That’s my thoughts on it anyway.

    #28315 Reply

    Great Post LA Writer and bravo for rattling the chains. In all fairness, I did just decide to roll back and study the number of pages my statements are for the last several years at BMI. I am discovering that the statements are increasing incrementally: 9 pages to 12 to 17 to 22 to 26 etc…going back several years. I have to say that my income from them is increasing still. As the pages increase, the royalties increase.

    Are you saying that your statements (page counts) are longer than ever, but royalty income is down?

    If that is the case I’d be upset too.

    #28317 Reply

    Weird. Lost another post. Can’t figure out why. Luckily I could hit “back” this time. I’ll try again….

    Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. There was exponential growth for years, and placement growth seemed on par with income growth – then……stagnation. I seemed to hit the “glass ceiling” as far as royalties go….

    Meanwhile, my career and placements are going large. 2+2 doesn’t = 4. Actually, once you hit the glass ceiling, BMI starts to do math like this : 2+2+3 = 5. 2+2+3+4 = 6-7.

    Actually, there is SOME growth, but nowhere near the amount of growth I’m generating with placements. In other words, income growth goes up 4%, but pages go from 100 to 120. That’s a 20% increase of “reporting”, but only a 4% increase of earnings. Pages go from 120 to 150, 2% decrease, etc., etc..

    You’ve inspired me. I think I’m going to do a study of pages increase vs. royalty increase. Back in the old days, that was always a pretty good barometer. Pages vs. Income. It’s not scientific, but it used to be an indicator. No longer for me. I think I’ll do it on network / cable. Then on streaming. Then on all combined. When I get around to it…. 😀

    The REASON for this? IMO of course, and only speculation…. There are more and more and more writers, and BMI has to stretch the pie thinner and thinner as they don’t want an entire generation of writers leaving. This combined with my estimation that they are playing hanky panky with the streaming royalties and pushing the bulk of those funds elsewhere…. That makes getting people paid fairly a very tricky endeavor where you have to stretch and contract things that shouldn’t be stretched and contracted.

    And of course, no accountability, and no transparency. I’d shut up and take what I can get if they would do that. But…..

    #28318 Reply
    Art Munson

    Weird. Lost another post. Can’t figure out why.

    I just white listed your IP address. Hopefully that will help.

    #28319 Reply
    NY Composer

    Hey Art,

    That’s been happening to me to. Writing a long post and it disappears.

    #28320 Reply

    yep me too. then it appears a few weeks later out of nowhere.

    #28321 Reply

    LOL Glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

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