Royalty Free Libraries. Should You? Who's Right?

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This topic contains 128 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by  Krisemm 4 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #14774 Reply

    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    If the big exclusives represented by the PMA want to stop the race to the bottom, they need to reach out to get new composers on board IMHO. In the past there has been an elitist view of their own product and a marked disdain of any music that wasn’t controlled by them. Possibly motivated by fear and shrinking revenues ?

    That’s exactly what I talked about with a PMA board member at lunch last week and he agreed. Hopefully, by joining, I can start that conversation.

    #14764 Reply

    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    Royalty free libraries are cool to me. As a matter of fact, I fully embrace the royalty free music model!

    If composers want to make big money, they probably should not be solely focused on the royalty free music libraries. They should only work for exclusive libraries such as those affiliated with PMA. Those libraries are the best ones for career-minded individuals that are seeking to make a living from making music.

    But the royalty free companies are for those that are not necessarily chasing $200,000 a year in royalties. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a composer being content with making $1,000 a month from music.

    The guys that want to make $1,000 a month from music need a marketplace and also deserve a marketplace to sell their creations.

    People with nice day jobs and a love for music do not need to compete and fight as hard as the guys that choose to have full time careers in music.

    So there really are no problems with the royalty free model itself. The model should be free to exist because it is beneficial to those who gain from it. It is not harmful to those who do not gain from it. It just is not relevant to those that want to earn big money.

    No need to fight about these things. No one should feel bad about working for less money or not being fully immersed in music creation. A man should not be judged by the size of his royalty checks!!

    There is zero downside to working with royalty free libraries.

    #14778 Reply

    More Advice

    The question is not being framed properly in this thread

    Royalty Free Libraries. Should You? Who’s Right?

    The question at hand is will RF slowly erode the back end royalty model that is clearly, without a doubt, a more profitable model! If it will erode it, why are we supporting it?

    Can we count on PRO libraries and the PROS to win the battle in the broadcast arena? I personally don’t have a problem with folks buying our music for cheap to use on personal or small business web projects, but if the Networks slowly migrate to shop at RF and the royalties disappear, we screwed ourselves! again!

    Guys I just received $2500 in foreign royalties for 3 tracks that aired in the Netherlands, and let me tell you the music ( 2 out of 3 cuts) was not that special. This was a bizarre case where I just tossed some cues out there and someone gobbled them up and stuck money in my pocket. I did not see this coming. Clearly this is 10 times better then waiting around for 200 sales to occur in RF.

    I know we all want and need multiple revenue streams from multiple sources, but if we slowly destroy the PRO income along the way (and enrich just a few i.e. the owners of these RF sites), that is not good.

    #14779 Reply

    Edouardo
    Participant

    I do not understand why some of you guys consider that because the music is sold on a RF site it means there will not be any back end. Many of the well implanted non-excl site offer assistance to clients in helping them deal with cue sheets. Me too, on my all fresh flashy website have set up a full section to explain licensing to potential clients: They pay once the sync fee, then they just need to inform the broadcaster of their project about the music they used (Track Title, Name and CAE Number of composer).

    Before quitting to dedicate fully to composition, I was a researcher in chemistry, developing ecological alternative for the industry to replace currently used toxic solutions. Sometimes these solutions could not be implemented just because the information just didn´t reach the customer. In addition the stakeholders, felt it was too much trouble…

    The problem appears to be the same in the music industry.

    I actually find that the RF system is very flexible and fair for both composers and customers as long as everybody does his part (Composer: Make good music obviously; Libraries: Offer ranges of licences depending on use; and Customer: filing Cue sheets or making sure the broadcaster get’s the data needed to do so)

    The only model I reject, is sites that forbid PRO registration of the tracks submitted (for me this is ridiculous)

    For the exclusive model, Tim’s arguments did hit a chord, but in my current status, much too risky, like paying for a lottery ticket. However, as we say in France: If you don’t play, you can’t win. So I will probably start taking 10% of my future tracks and put them in an exclusive box. The question becomes… Which library can I trust? A little research first seems appropriate…

    #14780 Reply

    woodsdenis
    Participant

    That’s exactly what I talked about with a PMA board member at lunch last week and he agreed. Hopefully, by joining, I can start that conversation.

    Thats great Art , keep us informed.

    I like you, have been around the music business a few years, but only the library part of it for the past 4 years or so. I am also going to pursue the exclusive route now, diversify and don’t rely on any one income stream is my motto. Also for me, its important to be ready to adapt to what is a very fast moving industry and world.

    #14783 Reply

    Edouardo
    Participant

    its important to be ready to adapt to what is a very fast moving industry and world.

    +1

    #14789 Reply

    Chuck Mott

    My plan has been modified to work on choosing some select royalty free libraries, maybe start with adding 150 or so tracks, then trying to expand and branching out from, doing a mix of NE and exclusive. My understanding is royalty free is a misleading term that in that the royalties come in the form of back end payments. My assumption, looking at this business, is similar to the stock market, diversification being the way to go. Am I wrong…I have been an active musician playing in cover bands for like 30 years on and off, writing the occasional song over the years, dabbled in recording off and on but have been pretty committed for the last 2 years to recording, for the last year posting songs of which I have around 40 now (not counting alts)…..hope I am on a good track here.

    #14791 Reply

    Chuck Mott

    Art feel free to remove the question addressed once I read the entire thread. Great topic and posts.

    #14792 Reply

    euca
    Participant

    @More Advice, That is a nice payout from your foreign royalties. But I have to say it is a bad example. Ascap royalties from the Netherlands pays out once a year, so the $2500 you received from that country is over the course of a year.( If I remember correctly you are with Ascap) So it comes out to $208 per month. I have and still do make $208 a month from my top 3 tracks in RF. So it basically balances out.

    Don’t take this the wrong way, I strongly believe in PRO income and it is much larger than my RF income. I actually prefer working in the PRO model. I am just pointing out that it isn’t the best example.

    Beyond that, congrats on the nice foreign payment!

    #14793 Reply

    Edouardo
    Participant

    @Michael: What message didn’t get through?

    #14799 Reply

    MichaelL
    Participant

    OK never mind “never mind.”

    I do not now, and never have, put music into any royalty free library with the expectation or for the purpose of generating back-end royalties.

    If composers put cues into traditional RF libraries in the hope of generating backend royalties, they are sorely misguided. Back-end royalties are not the focus of RF libraries. It is the occasional icing on the cake. Is this news?

    The business model that threatens back-end royalties is the new “performance free” model, in which the composer receives no sync fees, no sales, no backend…no further remuneration beyond a tiny upfront fee, maybe up to $200 (which is far from worth it). This is completely different from RF libraries, as we know them.

    It really helps to take the time to understand the nomenclature and distinctions between business models, how they function and who they service, however subtle.
    You even need to understand the subcategories within business models…e.g. RF libraries that do promote actively to broadcast producers, those that don’t and those that charge reasonable license fee and those that don’t. You cannot lump all RF libraries into single pile anymore than you can put all composers into the same pile.

    It’s all about multiple revenue streams, which I believe requires multiple catalogs, and even different products. I believe that composers should put appropriate material into the proper business model to get their music / product to its most likely consumer.

    Different types of music will perform very differently across business models. Obviously, if you have a limited catalog, or you are a one trick pony, this won’t be easy.

    Don’t forget that in the RF world, you live and die by metadata / key-wording. If your language skills fade after the fourth key word, or if your imagined use for your cue is way off base, don’t expect to do well. If YOU don’t market your music well YOU lose.

    So…because of the variables (controlled by the composer), and different purpose and/or focus of the RF business model, comparative analysis is of little value. If you go to a baseball game expecting to see tackles and touchdowns you will be similarly disappointed. We are talking about apples and oranges.

    There are no guarantees, roadmaps and/or shortcuts to success in the library business. Know your own strengths, diversify and market accordingly, i.e, put your music where it belongs.

    Best of luck.

    _Michael

    #14801 Reply

    woodsdenis
    Participant

    It really helps to take the time to understand the nomenclature and distinctions between business models, how they function and who they service, however subtle.
    You even need to understand the subcategories within business models…e.g. RF libraries that do promote actively to broadcast producers, those that don’t and those that charge reasonable license fee and those that don’t. You cannot lump all RF libraries into single pile anymore than you can put all composers into the same pile.

    How come you can say things clearly in one paragraph when it takes me five LOL. Anyway + 1000, this is really important.

    #14802 Reply

    MichaelL
    Participant

    How come you can say things clearly in one paragraph when it takes me five

    I spent many many hours in, and a lot of money on, law school. I guess that’s why some legal documents are called briefs. 😉

    #14803 Reply

    Edouardo
    Participant

    @Michael, thank you so much for this great advice!
    I did feel there was gold in what you were about to write.

    Actually, I have started to sense this differentiation recently and in the scope of my upcoming batch of cues, have started to write music aimed at specific markets (understand by markets, those addressed by the different RF library categories).

    Yet, I still will submit them in all categories of RF businesses that I work with, i.e. that follow certain ethical business guidelines that preserve our profession: Even if I write a track for Library A’s market and because of this, the chances of licence sale in Library B are smaller, they still exist…

    #14808 Reply

    MichaelL
    Participant

    So it comes out to $208 per month. I have and still do make $208 a month from my top 3 tracks in RF. So it basically balances out.

    Actually, euca, it depends on how long you’ve already been getting $208 per month, and how long you continue to get $208 per month.

    If MA’s 3 cues are one and done in the Netherlands, you may already be ahead of the game.

    One year’s performance is a very short time to judge any business model. My experience with library income over 35 years has been:
    1. upfront fees (7 exclusives)
    2. royalty free sales (going back 30 years)
    3. back-end money (3 out of 7 exclusives)
    4. sync fees (2 of 7 exclusives, one US and one UK)

    In my experience it’s a long term game, and many cues go through a “life-cycle.” Much of what I produced has aged out, and is ripe for “recycling.”

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