Subscription Survival…..

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This topic contains 58 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Glenn 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #29926 Reply

    LAwriter
    Participant

    Some subscription survival talk, OK? 🙂

    At this point, my faith in production music as a career is on wobbly legs. This weeks topics have been brutal for my fairly optimistic spirit.

    I suppose I’ve been living in a state of blissful ignorance as I’m not really in that many libraries. Just ONE REALLY GREAT one, and a couple other so, so ones. Probably a lot less than most of you. The reason this is so shocking is that I’ve been looking to branch out, as my #2 has softened significantly over the last few months, and BMI is starting to be hit with more and more streaming and less network / cable performances (which BTW are freaking BRUTAL even beyond subscription madness…..)

    I’ve been thinking it’s time to expand. Well, I WAS thinking about it. Now, I doubt it’s worth the effort in light of what’s shaking…

    Even though I was I was hit smack in the face by having my contract broken, and my music put into a subscription plan @ xxxxxxhero.com a couple of years ago, I’ve essentially been living unawares – and caught with my proverbial pants down around my ankles I’m afraid.

    In pondering what this means for us, I do think there’s some merit in this :

    Mark said :

    We should be differentiating unlimited download subscriptions from ones that have a cap.

    I think there’s some merit to that – although I do think that “unlimited” is an overstatement. Let’s call it stupid giveaway downloads vs. logical cap downloads.

    The subscription library Mark was found in was : https://www.amazingmusictracks.com/production-music-artists/mark-petrie

    Upon studying their subscription plan, it really doesn’t seem to be a subscription in reality – more a play on words in the popular topic of “subscriptions” from a users perspective. Essentially, it just gives users who purchase large numbers of licenses a discount if they pay in advance :

    https://www.amazingmusictracks.com/subscriptions

    Not too bad, and really, (although I don’t know the split), better than AJ as he mentioned. I don’t really view this as a subscription, even though they call it one. More of a costco approach of, “buy more, save more”. So….not tooo bad. If they were all like this (they’re not), I wouldn’t have so much of a problem.

    An the other side of the coin (I won’t even justify a link) :

    The Prodigy
    $9.99 / month
    50 Downloads of Royalty Free Music or Sound Effects per month
    Only 20 cents per Track
    No Hidden Fees
    Cleared for YouTube
    Customer Support
    Royalty Free License
    Upgrade, Downgrade, or Cancel at Anytime!

    CHOOSE THIS PLAN
    The Action Hero
    $19.99 / month
    100 Downloads of Royalty Free Music or Sound Effects per month
    Only 20 cents per Track
    No Hidden Fees
    Cleared for YouTube
    Customer Support
    Royalty Free License
    Upgrade, Downgrade or Cancel at Anytime!

    CHOOSE THIS PLAN
    The Super Hero
    $29.99 / month
    250 Downloads of Royalty Free Music or Sound Effects per month
    Only 12 cents per Track
    No Hidden Fees
    Cleared for YouTube
    Customer Support
    Royalty Free License

    This is complete and total INSANITY!!! Especially as the license is worldwide, in perpetuity, with no limits to any type of broadcast.

    That’s $10 a license / track (with a 50/50 split Mark???) compared to a $0.10 cents a license / track with no split (who cares anyway), because the publisher bought out the contract up front. Neither good. One is crazy, the other just bad for composers….

    So…where are we headed in this whole mess?

    At this point, as mentioned, I’m on wobbly legs. And I’ve perhaps been one of the biggest proponents of being able to make 6 figure income annually in the prod music market.

    With Streaming and Subscriptions I think that’s in the past. I have no idea where this music is coming from that’s going into these libraries. Maybe folks who live in Indonesia with a laptop and internet connection living on $20 a month?!?!?! I have no idea if people are so desperate to make ANY money in the music business that they will sell their souls and futures for a couple of puny licenses….

    One thing is certain, we have only seen the beginning of this. If one of the Big Guns PMA’s follows suit…..which I suspect is in the wings…..watch the house of cards topple…..

    Thoughts?

    #29929 Reply

    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    I think we need to be nimble and try to think outside the box. I’m for pushing the blockchain idea and I’m following that technology. It will allow us to control our copyright, track our music (and get paid) wherever it’s used. We will still be struggling with low prices but what if we are just doing bigger numbers?

    When we lived in Nashville there was story going around about a famous songwriter who told his publisher they could look after the dollars and he would look after the pennies. He was very wealthy, so the story goes.

    In the meantime I keep writing, submitting to a few sites, submitting albums for digital distribution and searching, searching, searching…

    #29934 Reply

    Music1234
    Participant

    @LA Writer. Just hang in there, Your voice and wisdom are needed. Keep contributing here, there are a lot of people listening. It may not seem that way but there are. Throughout my period of dancing in the digital licensing game, it has been challenging, filled with hard work, but I have seen growth. So there is some positive take away here. 2018 will be interesting. I am definitely concerned about revenue growth slowing or potentially being threatened by these ridiculous give away pricing models.

    For the writers who are reading and want to make a difference, there really are things you can do to make an impact. It’s so easy to say “well this is kind of out my control so I will just sit back and hope for the best.” Sorry, but “hope” and “laziness” and “inactivity” will not make a difference.

    What can you do?

    For starters, take the time to remove your music assets from companies that do not send you money. I personally come to some conclusions about companies that do not pay me: They either lost the battle to the competition and do not have the money to market the site, they are just too small to make an impact, the owners of the site are not putting in the effort it takes to compete, or…they may not be 100% truthful about what is being sold or somehow have decided that all assets in their ecosystem are for them to deal as they see fit.

    By not removing the assets (from sites that are NOT PAYING you) you empower them to divise other business models – like subscription models. These companies are sitting on thousands and thousands of tracks and the temptation to just “dump” and grab as much money as they can is clearly there (with the subscription model)

    The bottom line is that during this very long and involved discussion not one writer came on here and stated anything positive about the model. No one chimed in and said “I am involved in this model, and I am getting paid well every month.”

    No one can explain how accounting can be implemented fairly?

    It does not take a rocket scientist to discern what does in fact work – just look at the ratings section on this site and it’s clear which models work for production music writers.

    If you do not remove your assets from sites that are not paying, you may simply be undercutting yourself without even knowing it. Indeed we all uploaded away 10 years ago to figure out which music sites would make us money. The results should be in for many of us.
    I know which places make me money, those are the places I will work with, the others, sorry…I am out. I will not be a lazy enabler and just say “ah screw it…I took the time to send these guys my tracks…they still send me $10, $20 a year, I’ll just keep the music there anyway.”

    Sorry folks but THAT IS the problem right there. That kind of thinking IS the problem.

    If you have good music and are a professional in this business, remove your catalog from companies who are not paying you. If 3 years have gone by and you are still getting $0 to say $100 or $200 a year from a company Is it really worth it to house your assets there while they cook up a new subscription dumping model to devalue you? THINK hard about what I am saying. Please.

    What else can you do? Don’t participate in these models. Spread the warnings to others, talk about it, write about it, link colleagues to this knowledge base, put pressure on publishers to not engage in these models.

    I only see things from within my own Prism: if anyone has another side of the story to tell about these models and how it can be healthy for writers long term, I will listen.

    #29936 Reply

    Vlad
    Participant

    Music1234,

    You are right on removing music from companies that aren’t producing income. I am now making a list of my libraries that are on the chopping block. It is sad that so much time + energy goes into getting music to some libraries that literally flat out fail to produce income.

    #29937 Reply

    RPG

    Does Amazing Music Tracks still take 25% of the writer’s share of royalties? They did when I got my offer.

    #29941 Reply

    Musicmatters
    Participant

    In the last 24 hours, I have removed all my tracks from 3 libraries. More to come… If we all act together we CAN make a huge difference. Thanks LAwriter and Music1234 We can weather this storm and we will see much better days ahead.

    #29943 Reply

    Jerzy

    Hi:
    I have finally come to the point of searching for good music libraries and frankly, the more I research/read the more I am confused. I am about ready to subscribe and dive into the (current, hope) report on music libraries but is it going to help anything? How honest and detailed opinions/experiences will I find? It is not $20+ bucks, it’s the time I will have to spend to go through something not worth it. Someone from the business told me that the selection is too personal to make any recommendations. Yes, in the end, it will be my decision who to try to go with but isn’t it better to start following someone’s recommendations at the beginning rather than start blindly?
    Whether I will find/land somewhere or not, it will not stop me from making more and more music, but unfortunately, the luck of some reward slows me down from time to time.
    Any suggestions?
    Cheers,
    Jerzy

    #29945 Reply

    Music1234
    Participant

    @music matters – I have requested removal from 3 or 4 in 2018 for sure. Seriously, why bother letting our very important intellectual property sit with an entity who is unable to pay us? or simply is not paying? or just does not have the ability to attract customers. Times always change, and ownership of our assets allows us to change with the times!

    Jerzy, if you are looking for short cuts…provide some links to your music here with an e-mail where you can be contacted, and maybe a nice pro, veteran can guide you somewhere.

    I kind of agree, part of the problem with subscriptions may very well be young writers not knowing what else to do! So they sign in and hope for a positive outcome. This enables and perpetuates the problem.

    #29946 Reply

    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Someone from the business told me that the selection is too personal to make any recommendations.

    True, to a point, but there can be a general consensus that might help steer you in the right direction.

    #29948 Reply

    Paolo

    @Jerzy

    I am about ready to subscribe and dive into the (current, hope) report on music libraries but is it going to help anything?

    You’ll find that specific feedback about a library is rooted quite a bit in personal preferences and experiences. BUT looking at trends is also helpful – what folks tended to says about certain deals, types of libraries, submission guidelines, contracts, etc.

    #29949 Reply

    Jerzy

    Thank you Art – this is exactly what I mean.

    And yes, Paolo, opinions might be “rooted quite a bit in personal preferences and experiences” but it gives you something to start off of and won’t stop from forming your own in the end.

    Now, Music1234 – as long as I am not violating this forum’s policy regarding self-promotion here is my website – http://www.jag7music.com – and my email – [email protected]

    So far I started with pond5 although didn’t have the time to place enough material to have any results. Also, believe that an exclusive library, once accepted, will really push the music because it’s “their” money as well.

    Appreciate all responses.

    Thank you,

    Jerzy

    #29950 Reply

    LAwriter
    Participant

    I think we need to be nimble and try to think outside the box.

    YES Art! This has always been my philosophy and has served me well too. I think that’s pretty much all we can do. Look to the future and not to the past, thank smart, and stay on our toes….

    LA Writer. Just hang in there, Your voice and wisdom are needed.

    Ha! Kind words Music1234. Sometimes it seems more like the voice of gloom than wisdom. I hate the way the industry has become these days. Everyone – publishers and writers alike – in lock step marching for the bottom. I love mentoring up coming writers, but it’s hard not to feel disingenuous – giving them advice when you feel a future career is not looking like a true option. I’m sure I’m over-reacting, but I’ve honestly never seen things looking so dismal And we haven’t even been discussing A.I. LOL

    Cheers all,

    -=LAWriter=-

    #29951 Reply

    Music1234
    Participant

    I actually felt as though the bottom was in at $19 to $20 a license, but for some reason someone always has to try to be extra nice. Wow, crashing to 12 cents per unit cost (in your example above), from $19 seemingly overnight is pretty insane.

    Which brings us to the next question: Why do people want to be nice (and cheap) to corporate customers? Who needs music for films, YT videos, spots, and TV shows? Corporations do! of all sizes.

    News Flash to music writers and music publishers: Corporations have truck loads of money, start charging them some money for your service. We’re not in business to serve the amateur hobbyist music listener or youtuber, we’re in business to service corporations and businesses. This is not a spotify subscription model for God’s sake. Wake up and smell the coffee!

    #29952 Reply

    MichaelL
    Participant

    And we haven’t even been discussing A.I. LOL

    Let’s start. An agency friend of mine in NYC pointed out that computer-generated voice overs are now being used on some low-end projects. Despite having tons of money, there are some projects that corporations simply don’t deem worthy of unjustifed expense, even to the point of accepting mechanical narration as “good enough.” The amount of money that a customer has isn’t relevant to what they are willing to pay for something. If you have $1,000 in your pocket you don’t walk into McDonald’s and offer to pay $20 for a burger.

    We’re not in business to serve the amateur hobbyist music listener or youtuber,

    Libraries don’t see it that way. Many (not all) of the subscription plans are limited to such low-end use, while preserving higher-end license fees. Keep in mind the Google/youtube is giving away music to youtubers. And, if you haven’t heard, they are demonetizing videos for youtubers who do not have 1,000 subscribers and/or 4,000 hours viewed. Both of which mean that low-end users will have even less incentive to buy music, or post videos for that matter.

    Podcasting is another target market for subscriptions. I don’t even know how anyone makes money doing that. However, the technology exists to monitor, measure, and pay composers for podcasting tracks acquired under a subscription license. Whether that will pay anythng close to a typical RF license, I don’t know.

    So, why do “composers” contribute to the subscription model? LAwriter brought up a very valid point when he said:

    I have no idea where this music is coming from that’s going into these libraries. Maybe folks who live in Indonesia with a laptop and internet connection living on $20 a month?!?!?!

    You are absolutely correct and that cannot be overlooked or dismissed. There are thousands of individuals creating “content” in less affluent countries for whom the micro dollars generated by streaming and subscriptions do indeed amount to a lot of money, relative to their circumstances..

    These “composers” are literally putting thousands of tracks into the marketplace every month. So, to say all we have to do is refuse to participate is pure fantasy. They aren’t interested in our “first world” problems or our hardship of having to get by on less the 100K per year. Unfortunately, even if they were sympathetic, only a tiny minority of composers spread around the globe will even read any of these threads and hear the message. We can pack up our tents, but they will keep feeding the machine.

    LAwriter also said:

    I have no idea if people are so desperate to make ANY money in the music business that they will sell their souls and futures for a couple of puny licenses….

    Yes, see above. But also, to be honest, I think we are dealing with new generations that have normalized the devaluation of music. Perhaps starting with file sharing on Napster and Pirate Bay they have come to think that music should be free.

    There are actually people on youtube who complain about the high cost (seriously!?!?) of AJ licenses and they post tutorial videos showing how to remove AJ watermarks.

    We’re talking about an element that simply doesn’t care that people are actually trying to earn a living from putting music into libraries, all of which stems from the basic premise of “music should be free.”

    All that said, I think you can preserve your naturally optimisitc spirit LAwriter. Technology, like Blockchain, will have a major impact on keeping track of things and legislation will, hopefully, catch up to technology. https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8383741/music-modernization-act-passes-us-house-of-representatives

    When RF libraries began back in the 1980s, (I helped start one of the first, now defunct) I’m sure some composers thought the sky was falling. It didn’t. Similarly, when online RF libraries started, almost 20 years ago, I’m sure some traditional libraries and composers thought the world was going to end. It didn’t. When people started selling 200 tracks of production music on CD for $99, it didn’t end then either. Change is inevitable. You adapt. You roll with it. You reinvent yourself yourself. You update your catalog AND you keep writing!

    We need to modify our expectations for the economic potential of production music. There’s simply too much of it entering the pipeline every day, from highly-competitive sources, for it to all hold value. So, you up your game. That’s what competition is all about.

    #29953 Reply

    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Great post MichaelL and well put.

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