Not getting paid on submitted cue sheets?

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  • #26517 Reply

    I was reviewing my last two domestic royalty statements from ascap and noticed I wasn’t paid for ten episodes of UFC Tonight that aired during the first two quarters of 2016. Those cue sheets have been in ascap for some time, so I thought it was strange no payments were made.

    Have you ever had cues submitted to your pro that didn’t show up on your statements?

    #26525 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    Somebody with more knowledge may be able to explain it better, but I believe that just having a cue sheet doesn’t guarantee payment. It all has to do with what and when channels are “surveyed” by ASCAP.

    #26529 Reply

    Have you ever had cues submitted to your pro that didn’t show up on your statements?


    that “survey” (ASCAP) really makes me scratch my head..I had a bunch of new placements in the last year or so and just got my LOWEST pay out in years…embarrassingly low..and yes I know there’s a 9-10 month lag with placements..

    #26536 Reply

    I have a ticket in with ascap and will report back when I hear from them.

    #26538 Reply

    I have cue sheets that haven’t lead to a royalty payment in my ASCAP account and, in one case, I was told they had not received any air schedules from that particular station.

    curious to know your results. My experience has been ASCAP answers email inquiries in about a week.

    How many cues did you get placed before you saw a PRO payout? I know there are a lot of variables but I’m still new to the game and am seeing Tunesat placements and cue sheets land but I’m still waiting on the big payday 🙂

    #26545 Reply

    Hey Sabal, I’d call ASCAP and be a thorn in their side.

    I had a similar situation in 2015. After some nosing around and phone calling I found out that cue sheets for an entire season weren’t in BMI’s database. From what I understand, (and I have every reason to trust the library as they’ve always done right by me), it was essentially due to a monumental failure by the production company. (Not typical of them either. They’re a well established production company and had always submitted cue sheets previously… I’m pretty sure they handed off the cue sheets to the wrong intern :p)

    You may not have, or be able to get enough info depending on your relationship to the library, but you should certainly follow up with ASCAP and ask them what their policy on paying retroactively is…

    Case in point: I was almost ready to talk myself into assuming it would work itself out. But after BMI told me there was only one more quarter to go, (they only pay so many quarters retroactively), I got in touch and asked if they were aware that cue sheets for an entire season weren’t showing up in BMI’s database. Ultimately it wasn’t just good for me, it was good for the library as they have a lot music in the series and that would have put them in a bad spot as well… Everything fell into place.

    That being said, if you do have the means of reaching out to the library or production company it’s an issue you should approach with care. I have a fairly strong relationship with a few guys at the library above and this kind of thing hits a sensitive nerve if you approach them with the wrong attitude, even if you’re in the right…

    They routinely field emails from upstart composers who either don’t understand how PRO income works, or fail to understand that these things just happen sometimes, typically can be fixed, and are equally in the interest of the library to straighten out… They need to pay their mortgages and staff as well…

    Anyway, if you have the means of contacting someone just ask if they were aware of it and if not, how they can correct the situation. Most likely the bells will ring and they’ll realize its a financial problem and make it right fairly quickly…

    The moral of the story is find out what ASCAP’s policy is, don’t assume anything will work out, and most importantly, don’t assume it’s the library or production companies fault, at least in the sense of it being deliberate negligence… These companies often have so much on their plate they’re just treading water and clerical mistakes can slip by…

    Hope you get it worked out!

    #26546 Reply

    Thanks @soundspot! Hard earned advice.

    I’ve read here and other forums the expectation is that the library gamewill take 1-2 years to start seeing a return and then years beyond that to possibly go full time, etc And there’s a thread on MLR that says full time volume would be 1500+ placements.

    I’m just wondering what the average number of cues written before the returns started happening for others? 200? 500? 1000? Not counting edits.

    I know there’s a ton of varialbles and everyone’s story will be different but I’m hoping for some sort of consensus.

    #26549 Reply

    I had an long chat with an ASCAP rep yesterday who was gracious enough to answer a myriad of questions on a variety of topics. I asked why I have not received ANY money from 50+ placements with cue sheets on the Reelz channel. He explained many “Low music value” channels are not require to submit all program cue sheet and we only get paid if our placements air during a survey sample (for Reelz I think it was twice per year).
    I have thousands of Tunesat detections that will get me nothing.

    #26550 Reply
    Art Munson

    That’s why a number of composers have switched to BMI or SESAC. BMI seems to pay better for TV. REELZ is a low payout but we do get paid.

    #26552 Reply

    Reading things like this makes me think I should leave ASCAP but, on the other hand, in the case of the infamous ASCAP survey system it could potentially work in a composer’s favor if their music gets used a lot on a series within the window of time of the survey.

    And I wonder…are there ways that ASCAP pays better than BMI or SESAC?

    Just trying to get an accurate lay of the land because I’m early into the library game so switching would be less painful for me than others but I can’t even initiate that process with ASCAP until September anyway. Maybe I’ll see more positives in that time.

    Wouldn’t It would be nice to be able to just focus on the creative and quit worrying about all the other variables we have absolutely no control over?

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