Royalty Free (RF), Non-Exclusive, Exclusive Library – Definitions

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Abby 3 months ago.

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  • #29186 Reply

    LAwriter
    Participant

    Yes, I think its time to get into non-ex libraries while I still can. RF is a nice alternative too.

    pike60 – you mention Non-Ex vs. RF. The differentiation between the two is something that’s eluded me for years… What’s the difference between the two? Or anyone can answer. Thanks!!

    #29187 Reply

    pike60
    Participant

    If you have a track with a Non-Ex library it means you can still send that same track to as many Non-Ex libraries as you want.

    An RF library is similar to a non-ex library except that mainly small businesses will usually buy the writes to use your track (in perpetuity) for a fee set by you and split with the RF library, but you can get backend royalties (if used on TV) if you register the track with your PRO.

    That’s the way I understand it.

    #29188 Reply

    LAwriter
    Participant

    I’m still not seeing the difference between the two. Both are non-exclusive. Both will net you a back end royalty if registered with your PRO. Both can be used in perpetuity (unless the NE libraries specifically forbid that). Both split sync licenses with the composer.

    What am I missing here? I’m not trying to be a PITA. I honestly want to understand the differences, if in fact there are some. Are the terms NE and RF used interchangeably depending on who’s talking?

    Thanks!!

    #29189 Reply

    BEATSLINGER
    Participant

    I’m still not seeing the difference between the two. Both are non-exclusive. Both will net you a back end royalty if registered with your PRO. Both can be used in perpetuity (unless the NE libraries specifically forbid that). Both split sync licenses with the composer.

    What am I missing here? I’m not trying to be a PITA. I honestly want to understand the differences, if in fact there are some. Are the terms NE and RF used interchangeably depending on who’s talking?

    I totally get you LAwriter. If I might, I think here might be the difference..

    A RF Library doesn’t really have a initial/primary goal of getting any kind of “back-end results” like a Non-Exclusive does (as per the usual contract, composer gets the writers, and the Non-Ex gets the publishing)

    The RF is primarily looking for “one upfront payment”, and if anything else comes with it they are open to some of that as well..

    #29190 Reply

    LAwriter
    Participant

    OK. That’s helpful, thanks. But still kind of confusing….

    So….is Non-Ex is ALWAYS re-titled for the sake of the library collecting the publishers fee? Or not?

    And is RF is NOT retitled? Even if not retitled, RF is Non-Exclusive as well, isn’t it? One can be in multiple RF libraries, no?

    From how you described it, it sounds like who holds the publishing is the delineator. But I’m not sure that’s even right. Seems very convoluted with a lot of confusion and cross-definitions going on – like some use RF and NE interchangeably from what I’ve seen.

    From my traditional mindset – “royalty free” is not whether or not a piece is registered and collected on by the PRO – it’s the fact that the initial license granted to the “buyer” is in perpetuity (hence the RF) and not controlled as to how they can use it. But I don’t think that’s standard usage in 2017.

    And to REALLY confuse things, I’m seeing “layers” or “tiers” of RF now with simple and more complex licenses. Or is that drifting into non-exclusive libraries.

    Sorry if this is messing up this thread!!! I think the libraries themselves don’t even know what they are. Art – is there a thread or article you can point me to, or if not, perhap’s you can take these posts and put them into a new thread?

    Many thanks for all the explanations guys. but I’m still confused…. 🙂

    #29191 Reply

    Alan
    Participant

    Non-Ex vs. RF. The differentiation between the two is something that’s eluded me for years… What’s the difference between the two? Or anyone can answer.

    Non-Ex vs Exclusive is pretty clear to most on MLR. There is no shortage of debate about it, that is certain.

    If I were to explain RF to my plumber friend (who charges me $80 per hour 😉 I would say this:
    a Royalty Free or RF library is vendor that sells the right to download and use a piece of music for a one time fee. Each each vendor has its own terms of sale. Some charge a flat rate regardless of where/how long or how many times the music is used, others vary the license fee based upon the intended use/audience size. I expect to make $20-$100 per sale.

    My OPINION: The term Royalty Free is nothing more than a marketing trick. The customers are mostly independent film producers for non-broadcast, web based videos or local broadcast commercials. I believe that newbies in film once feared they were responsible to pay music royalties for anything they created for broadcast. I think the RF term is only meant to assure the buyer that they will not have to pay performance royalties down the road for their production. I base my OPINION on what I remember was on some of the website home pages when I first started at this. I recall seeing “Never Pay Royalties” somewhere.

    Do side-by-side Google searches on Royalty Free Music and Production Music. I think it is safe to say that everyone but us composers consider RF Music and Production Music the same thing.

    I consider all the income generated from my music as Royalties (That’s what all those 1099’s say, haha). I break my royalties into three categories.

    1. PRO payments – payments for broadcast performances from my PRO (ASCAP) which now includes TV, radio, film, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon internet etc. I have two PRO accounts, writer and publisher. I honestly don’t know where the money comes from. You can probably answer that LAwriter

    2. RF/Production music license sales – my cut of “consignment shop” music sales, $20-$100 per sale

    3. Sync fees – gray area here. I consider a sync fee as a one time use license. They are generally 3 to 4 figures and are used in a film, Network or higher budget TV show, national or global tv or web ad.

    In my own mind I put the libraries I’m in into these same three categories.

    1. Broadcast libraries – They mostly provide music for cable TV. The only income I expect is from PRO payments. M_ _ _ , SK, JP etc. I do get sync fees almost every quarter from one broadcast library. Most, but not all of these are now demanding exclusivity

    2. RF Music/Production Music/Stock Music libraries – I do not expect to see any PRO income from sales here. A few “RF” sites offer PRO registration options (ha) and I always opt in. I have seen a few small PRO payments for sales from these sites, though nothing significant. I think pretty much all of these are non-exclusive.

    3. Sync fee “boutique” libraries – Higher end specialty libraries that provide music to productions with significant music budgets like films or Network/Pay TV. For me, only a few licenses per year from libraries like C_ _ _ _ _ _ and the other A_S. These average around $500-$700 each with an occasional 4 figure surprise. These almost always generate significant PRO payouts too. I once had a network show use the same track 4 times in one episode. I got $500 for EACH USE. You don’t get that on Bravo, ha! The couple I have gotten into are non-exclusive. I feel this is because they are a tool to help a Music Supervisor find that perfect music for a scene, and they are willing to pay for that.

    There are a few oddball libraries that try to do it all, but they don’t seem to do well for me.

    That is my dissertation on RF as I see it. I’m sure many will disagree, but I’m set in my ways and probably won’t change my mind or the explanation I give my plumber. 🙂
    Cheers!

    #29192 Reply

    Alan
    Participant

    So….is Non-Ex is ALWAYS re-titled for the sake of the library collecting the publishers fee? Or not?

    A Non-Ex broadcast library will retitle so they can get their PRO income. The smart ones (IMO) completely change the title to there is no chance someone else gets their publisher cut. For example. I title my track SONG by Alan and register it with my publishing. Non-exclusive library BB re-titles it SONG-BB by Alan. I can say from experience that library BB has lost their publishers share due to a mistake on the cue sheet that gave me the publishers share. UNLESS they bought SONG by Alan from a RF site, hmm.

    RF is Non-Exclusive as well, isn’t it?

    Yes, I know of none that are exclusive

    One can be in multiple RF libraries, no?

    Yes, you will find most of us here with the same tracks in several “RF” libraries.

    And is RF is NOT retitled?

    All RF/Production/Stock site I use are non-Ex. They don’t care what you call the track. I use a couple of pseudonyms with different libraries and sometimes retitle in case a buyer searches to try to find it cheaper elsewhere. I price my tracks the same on most sites to avoid this too.

    #29195 Reply

    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    I will add that I cover this topic quite extensively in our book “Make Music? – Make Money!”.

    Shameless promotion but you guys left me an opening, LOL!

    #29197 Reply

    LAwriter
    Participant

    Thanks Art.

    #29198 Reply

    Mark_Petrie
    Participant

    There are a handful of royalty free sites that are exclusive, that come to mind.

    Additionally, a lot of the non-ex ones offer a better share of the sales, should you give them the music exclusively.

    #29199 Reply

    boinkeee2000
    Participant

    now im more confused than ever…i though theres a heiarchy to this with

    a) elite traditional libs (mostly PMA) EX/NE with upfronts,no sync split and backend,
    b) mid tier traditional libs EX/NE with no upfront, may or may not have sync split, and backend c) RF EX/NE with no upfront, add to cart/buy once, use as many times, and backend/no backend option….

    so i had this analogy of…… elite/mid tier traditional libs = brick and mortar store and RF libs = self serve vending machine…thus NE & RF are apples to oranges, and traditional & RF are apples to apples

    do i have it wrong here?

    #29201 Reply

    LAwriter
    Participant

    I have a solution….. We can no longer “categorize” a music library into a category. Each one must be taken on it’s own merits. They are all morphing too much to lump into a category.

    #29204 Reply

    Alan
    Participant

    I have a solution….. We can no longer “categorize” a music library into a category. Each one must be taken on it’s own merits. They are all morphing too much to lump into a category.

    I like that idea. I’ll add that the successful libraries I’m in seem to cater to a certain clientele. Not one size fits all music supply. This is the reason my simple brain likes to put them into boxes. And each library has their own terms with composers. Ex/Non-Ex, upfront $ or not, perpetual or term length, split percentage, re-title or not, name your own price or not, etc.

    I think MLR need a glossary of terms. I nominate Mark Petrie to write it …. anyone care to second? 😉

    Seriously, do any of you have Wikipedia knowledge? Maybe this can be updated or tweak a bit.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Production_music

    #29213 Reply

    Mark_Petrie
    Participant

    Haha Alan! I’d love to help out. Just a bit busy at the moment.

    I think you pretty much nailed it in your long earlier post. Also, Emmett Cooke did a great job in his eBook, with his glossary.

    I’ve also noticed that libraries are blurring the lines a little, like you guys said.

    For example, some trailer music companies, once super protective of their premium catalog, are now allowing use of their music for royalty free level fees, for very limited use, like monetizing a video for $50.

    Also, more and more libraries want the music exclusively. So you can have a RF site that has learned the value of owning their catalog. A couple of years ago, a RF library that goes by the name P___ B__ was bought for mid eight figures because the entire catalog was exclusive. Owning, building up and then selling a library could be a solid business / retirement model.

    #29300 Reply

    Mark_Petrie
    Participant

    There’s a GREAT glossary, here, it’s behind a pay wall, but it’d be worth it to anyone unsure about the terminology surrounding higher end libraries, to pay a one time fee to see this article:

    https://www.soundonsound.com/music-business/all-about-library-music-part-10

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